Laundromat Vs Home Laundry Washing – Which Is Best?

Everybody already knows how great it is to have a washer and dryer in your home or apartment. But they’re not always better than a laundromat – so is one really better than the other?

In this article I’ll compare the pros and cons of laundromat vs home laundry washing, costs, and more.

Laundromat vs. Home Laundry Washing Compared

laundromat vs. home laundry washing compared

How Much Does It Cost to Wash a Load of Laundry at Home

The average cost per load of doing laundry at home is around $2 to $3 but that doesn’t include all the costs that come into play. Don’t forget the biggest cost: the money you’ll have to pay upfront to buy a washer and dryer.

It’s also good to consider:

  • The number of gallons of water used
  • The amount of electricity used and your power bill (you’ll be paying for this)
  • The gas required for some cycles if you’re using machines with a natural gas connection.
  • Supplies like laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets to make sure your clothes smell their best.

Cost of a laundry machine and clothes dryer

To figure out how much we’re paying for owning our own washer and dryer at home let’s take an example. We’ll use an average price of $500 each machine, one laundry load (wash + dry) per week, for 8 years time:

$1,000 / (4 loads month x 12 years x 8 years) = $2.60 per load additional cost.

Are Laundromat Washers Better?

Laundromats are not necessarily better or worse than self-service laundry at home. However, there definitely are some advantages that laundromats offer that you can’t get at home doing it yourself:

  • Going to the laundromat conserves water and saves money. The laundry service uses about 15 gallons of water per washing load whereas a home washer uses twice as much.
  • A laundromat’s load capacity is typically larger meaning you to clean more clothes than you could at home.
  • Laundromat washer and dryer machines can handle tougher washing items like bedspreads and comforters that home laundry washing machines can barely hold and often can’t wash well. 

Although going to the dry cleaners can be time-consuming, if you’re the type of person that needs a break it’s a good opportunity to collect your thoughts and relax. You can catch up on your favorite show, browse the internet for videos, or read a book while waiting.

While doing so you will save more money (altogether) than if you had a home washer and dryer. At the laundromat, doing the laundry may become a chore you enjoy or you can use it as a chance to run other errands in town while you’re out.

Which Is Best – Laundromat or Home Laundry Washing?

Both home laundry washing and laundromat use have pros and cons – neither one is “best” as it depends on what works best for you.

Laundromats are better in some cases:

  • You prefer to get out of the house and/or run errands while doing laundry.
  • You’re needing to wash larger loads of clothes or specialty items like comforters and bedspreads.
  • People who live in a shared building where the laundry machines are often occupied, wash poorly, or you’re worried about others disturbing your load of clothes.

Home laundry is better in these cases:

  • You’re very limited on time, as using a laundromat (overall) takes long with the commute and waiting.
  • People without a car or transportation for carrying the laundry.
  • You need to rest, relax, or do other home chores while your clothes are washing.
  • The cost of water and electricity is reasonable or low where you live.

Laundromat vs home washing cost comparison chart

Item Laundromat Home Laundry
Time required High (wait + commute) Low
Cost $3-5 typically $2-$3, $5-$6.50 w/ cost of machines 
Good for large items? Yes No
Accessibility (time of day/machines free) Fair Very good
Wash or dry quality Good Fair to good
Detergent cost High (priced higher, small quantities) Low 

As you can see, there’s not a huge difference in the cost of using a laundromat vs home laundry, although for larger loads a laundromat becomes more expensive quickly. 

For each additional load you’ll pay for both washer and dryer use.

Is a Laundromat Faster Than at Home

is a laundromat faster than at home

When it comes to washing clothes in a laundromat, technically speaking yes it is faster than washing at home. Commercial dryers allow more clothes to wash at once so you won’t have to load and unload as frequently. 

The problem is that when you consider everything, the total time to use a laundromat, including the drive to and from it, is more than doing laundry at home.

To begin, you have to gather your laundry from home and place it in a cloth laundry bag. After that, you’ll have drive to your local laundromat, whether it’s nearby or far, and then you’re having to depend on traffic.

When you finally arrive, you might have to wait for a customer to finish before you can start. As you can see a lot of things can get in the way and it really can add up. You don’t have those problems when washing your clothes at home.

How Hot Do Laundromat Dryers Get

how hot do laundromat dryers get

So, how hot do the dryers in laundromats get? It varies, but commercial laundromat dryers typically maintain a temperature range of 135°F to 145°F.

The drying temperature is determined by a load of clothing, the airflow, and the room temperature.

Can You Leave a Laundromat While Your Clothes Are Washing

can you leave a laundromat while your clothes are washing

While you can do it, leaving the laundromat while your clothes are washing isn’t a good idea. Here’s why:

  • It’s inconsiderate to leave your clothes washing or drying while unattended because once the machine stops others can’t use it until you’re removed your laundry. If you’re not there people have to wait.
  • If someone opens a washer or dryer for some reason while your clothes are in it the machine will stop. Once the timer runs out you’ve wasted your money and will have to pay to restart the machine.
  • Theft: in some cases, people are known to steal clothing or items you bring like your laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and even your laundry bag or basket
  • If it’s near closing time at the laundromat and you go elsewhere and get stuck in traffic you won’t be able to get your clothes until the next day. Not good!

What Do I Need To Know Before Going to a Laundromat

what do i need to know before going to a laundromat

Here are some good tips before you head out to use your local laundromat:

  • Sort out your belongings beforehand to get in and get out with ease.
  • Choose a time of day when you’re free and others will most likely not be there. Weekends tend to be busy so mid-day and mornings are especially good times.
  • Take enough $1 bills or change in case the laundromat doesn’t have change available.
  • More modern laundromats can accept credit or debit card payment but many don’t, so plan to get cash beforehand.
  • Always double-check to be sure you’ve good clothes detergent and fabric softener, etc., before heading out.
  • Many places don’t have food (or it’s overpriced snack food) so taking a snack, meal, and a drink is a great idea.
  • Laundromats can be boring so be sure to take a good book, e-book reader, or whatever else can keep you entertained.
  • Remember to keep an eye on your clothes. You should never leave your belongings unattended or someone may either steal them or move your clothes.
  • Also, make sure to wipe the dryer and washer before use. You don’t know what the previous user was washing or what residues may be left behind. It is a way to keep your clothes in good condition and avoid bad surprises like melted chewing gum the dryer or stains from ink for example.
James Marshall

About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »