Thursday, May 2, 2019

Flashback: The Economics of Laundry

Clothes drying on branch, Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. September 2011.

When I moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, I had to plug money into a washer and dryer to do laundry. This prompted my 2013 post: The Economics of Laundry., which I've pasted below.

Now that I'm in my 'permanent' domicile in Tucson, I'm again factoring in the economics of laundry, as my apartment has laundry facilities on site, but one pays. And, indeed, nowadays one does pay via pre-pay laundry card instead of having to negotiate the cumbersome quarters I messed with in the past.

Here in Tucson, it's $1.75 for one wash load and $1.25 for one dryer cycle of about 20 minutes. I still avoid buying white and light-colored clothing so I can throw all of my stuff into one load. Three out of four weeks, I do only one load of laundry per week.

November 2013
Rootless: The Economics of Laundry

Laundry day, Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. August 2011.

I dislike having to use a laundromat. Although one can pass the time at a laundromat in a relaxing or productive manner in a number of ways, still, I feel trapped there.
In Alamogordo, it was great – I had the use of a free (!) washer and dryer only steps from my front door. The distance was no greater than when I had my house and I had my machines in the basement.
In Playa del Carmen, it was also good – it was affordable to drop my laundry off at a commercial laundry, where staff would wash, dry, and fold (!) my stuff, and I could pick it up at the end of the day. I’m not sure if this would have been as economical if I lived there long-term, but for the time I was there, I loved this neighborhood amenity.
In Caucasus Georgia, well, yikes. My first hostess had no machines, so I did all my washing and drying by hand. In my second hostess’ home, there was a washing machine (yay!) and we hung our clothes out to dry. Because water and sometimes electricity were unavailable, it was good policy to not delay one’s washing routine, as the outages were unpredictable.

Laundry day, Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. August 2011.
Here in Lafayette, I’m delighted that I’ve got a washer and dryer on site. The laundry shed is almost as conveniently close as it was in Alamogordo. What’s even better is that the machines are in good working order, and fast. The wash takes half an hour and the dryer takes 45 minutes.
The downside: Each load costs $1.50 for each machine.

Laundry day, Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. August 2011.

The economic consequences of my new laundry situation:
  • The machines take only quarters, so part of my new living routine must include the regular acquisition of same. This isn’t that simple for me, because I don’t use cash much in my transactions. To feed the weekly quarter habit, I’ll need to score 12 quarters! Maybe I’ll find a place where I can get a month’s supply at a time. …. Ah, just realized I can stop at a local laundromat (and maybe a car wash) and get quarters from their money-changing machines. (On a national scale, all this money-changing for washing clothes and vehicles seems like a lot of busy work. … surely some places are going to pre-loaded cards by now?)
  • Each washer/dryer load costs $3, so if I separate my colors and whites, that’s $6 per week. Which works out to $312 per year.
  • This is an incentive to do my clothes in one load per week to save $156.
  • The cost is also an incentive to avoid buying white fabrics in the future. As it is, I have already tossed my whites in with my colors to achieve one load of wash instead of two.

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