Inside the Wonderful World of Doing Laundry in NYC

Don’t tell Anna, but I actually love doing the laundry. Of course, when I want a favor from her I pretend to begrudge the laundry: “How could you not let me wear your yellow skirt when I’ve washed every single piece of clothes you own for the last. two. YEARS?!”

Last year, while in nursing school, doing laundry on a Friday afternoon was a real treat–no joke. It allowed for a solid two hours where I was being productive (hence, I didn’t have to feel guilty). Yet it was mindless, easy work.

There’s something really satisfying about the ritual of stripping the bed, loading up the laundry bag, lugging it down the stairs and then up the block to the local Chinese laundromat. Being a real beast of burden is very gratifying, and so is imagining what people on the streets must be saying (“Wow! What strength! What perseverance!  What a woman.) For a few minutes you feel akin to an African woman carrying water on her head, back to her babies five miles away.

O.K., maybe not quite as cool.


In the Lower East Side, the laundromat owners didn’t speak much English, but our relationship had a pretty solid understanding. I’d hand over a few singles in exchange for a bunch of quarters, and fill up the machines. Then I’d stand in the corner reading a magazine, or prop myself on a makeshift bench outside, while they ate big plastic tubs of noodles and listened to Chinese radio. I miss them still!

In Park Slope we have another Chinese laundromat, but our relationship got off to a rocky start when I gave them piles of dimes and nickels in exchange for quarters. She scolded me: “no more, no more!”

I contemplated boycotting, but really, who wants to lug laundry to a place further away?


laudnry2 laundry photo-120IMG_5239

Inevitably, the clothes are never dry enough by the time I’ve run out of quarters. But that’s O.K. because stringing clothes up around the house to dry can actually look quite charming.


Katie strongly wanted an apartment with an in-unit washer/dryer. But laundromats are much too fun to part with.

This entry was published on August 5, 2013 at 9:14 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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