Public Laundry & Laundromat Hacks for Travelers & Road Trippers

If you’re an RVer, roadtripper or even a frequent business traveler, you will have to use a public laundry or laundromat to wash and dry your clothes on the road. With that, there are advantages and disadvantages to using communal clothes washing facilities over doing your laundry in the comforts of your home, apartment or RV. We’re going to show some helpful public laundry hacks to turn your weekly laundry bore into a somewhat pleasant chore.

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Laundromat & Public Laundry Hacks for RV Travelers & Road Trippers

Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Clothes Clean on the Road and Away from Home

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If you’ve not been lately, public laundry rooms aren’t exactly the cleanest. We’ve found most public laundry facilities can be dirty, scungie and gross.

And, they’re never comfortable while you wait for your clothes wash and dry.

Add in a few pet peeves and lack of etiquette and BAM, laundry day becomes the most hated chore.

But, if you’re on the go whether for work or play, a visit to he laundromat is a necessary evil.

So, let’s scroll on down to learn the best public laundry hacks to use on the road whether it’s at a laundromat, campground laundry facility or hotel laundry room.

Who uses laundromats or public laundry facilities?

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People who use public laundry facilities and laundromats come from all walks of life. It’s not a speculative poor man’s way of doing laundry.

People who use public laundry facilities and laundromats:

      • Apartment dwellers
      • OTR truck drivers
      • Business travelers
      • Campground users
      • RV owners who do not have laundry appliances in their motorhome or fifth wheel
      • Vanlifers and car campers
      • Road trippers
      • Highline and pipeline workers
      • Emergency response teams
      • Military members on deployments
      • Military families enroute to their PCS
      • College students
      • and MORE

Without the availability of public laundry facilities or laundromats, we’d all be in a world of hurt.

✰ RELATED RV Washer and Dryer or Use a Laundromat?


What is the best time to go to the public laundry or laundromat?

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The best time of the day to do your laundry at public laundry facilities is quite frankly, when everyone is sleeping or out exploring. That’s if the laundry room is open to the public 24/7.

Now, if you’re not exactly a night owl like me, you may find it better to set your alarm and rise early in the morning to do your laundry when they open their doors.

The next question what are the days best days to go to the laundromat or campground laundry?

Based on our personal experience of traveling around the Country for 9+ years, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and even Thursdays are slow days in which you’re more apt to find empty machines.

The worst days to go to the public laundry are weekends (including Fridays) and Mondays when people are trying to catch up their laundry chores or prepare for the upcoming week.

Does doing your laundry at laundromats save you time?

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Doing laundry at a public laundry versus at home using your own clothes washer and dryer is semantics.

Laundromats offer convenience in the sense of time. Each has it’s advantages.

At a public laundry facility that has multiple machines, you can get 5 or 6 loads of laundry done in less than 2 hours.

However, you need to get dressed, pack everything in the car to traipse off to the laundromat. Sometimes you may have to contend with traffic depending on where the closest public laundry facility is located.

And, depending on where the laundromat is located, you may not have a WiFi signal on your phone to occupy your time. Or the laundromat tv may be broadcasting a channel you don’t care for. So, bring your reading or game tablet, book or your crochet.

The not so great thing is you’re sharing washers and dryers with people you don’t know. We’ve done our laundry in some pretty sketchy places. As well, some haven’t been the most hygienic.

Whereas, at home or in your RV that only has one washer and dryer, each load of laundry can take almost an hour to complete.

Doing your laundry at home or in your RV allows you a little more comfort. You can stay in your jammies, mind the children, cook, clean, or multi task other chores during each wash and dry cycle.

 PUBLIC LAUNDRY HACK  Pair your socks together with sock clips before putting them in the washer. This will help lessen time of rifling through your laundry pile to match socks. Plus, we all know those dryers like to eat single socks!

Are public laundry rooms & laundromats cheaper than washing clothes at home?

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First, when I say ‘at home’, home could mean your sticks ‘n bricks or your RV. Either way, the question looms, “is it cheaper to do your laundry at a laundromat than at home?”

Considering how expensive laundry appliances are these days and water usage costs, doing laundry any which way is on the pricy side.

You’re going to either what you call ‘buy now cry now’ with state of the art appliances or throw in a half roll of quarters for each load of laundry.

Now, if you’re more of a minimalist, doing laundry at a public laundromat may be more economical than paying for appliances up front or financing them (which isn’t smart, by the way).

And do remember, especially those with large families or you’re doing many big loads, you’re still having to pay for water and electricity to run your washer and dryer.

What’s the bottom line? We’ve done both. Each way of doing laundry is a personal choice. But, when you’re working or living on the road or roadtripping it, public laundromats may be your only solution to getting your clothes clean.


Public Laundry and Laundromat Payment Methods

Coin Operated Machines

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If a public laundromat uses coin operated washers and dryers, you’re going to need at least one to two rolls of quarters. Because depending on geographic location, DIY laundry costs can vary.

Plan on spending anywhere from $2 to $3 per load to wash your clothes. Dryers are typically cheaper as you can insert 25 cents for each 10-15 minutes of drying time.


Smart Laundry Card Machines

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With updated technology, laundry facilities or laundromats may not use coins to operate. Some laundromats washers and dryers take smart laundry cards instead of quarters.

A smart laundry card is a secure electronic system for facility owners who need to eliminate coins and cash from their commercial laundry rooms.

So, you’ll need to buy and load your smart laundry card with your credit card.

Be aware though, there may be a $5.00 startup fee for a new laundry card which actually doesn’t include your actual laundry money. But, you can add however much money to your card as you need by paying for it using your credit card.

Usually these laundry cards are non-returnable and non-refundable (to the campground or RV Park unless otherwise stated.

We are very calculative in putting only enough money that’s needed for that specific location because that card may no work at another public laundry. Laundry pay cards are typically only for specific laundromats.

If we buy one of those smart laundry cards and end up with a few dollars left on it, we’ll either gift it to our campsite neighbor or leave it on the free table.

You should always treat your laundry card like cash, as there’s no way to recover the balance of a lost or stolen card.

Credit Card Washers and Dryers

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Another high-tech modern payment solution for public laundry facilities is using your credit and debit cards.

Some facilities have independent payment stations at each machine while others may have a centralized system where you pay for any machine you want to use.

So, before carting all of your dirty, stinky clothes, towels and linens to the laundry room, check to see if the washers and dryers take cash or cards.

Now let’s talk about the do’s and don’ts of public laundry facilities and laundromats.

Money Saving Laundry Hacks for Laundromats

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Since using public laundry facilities are a bit on the pricy side, here are some creative ways to save money at the laundromat. 

1. Wash full loads. That said, don’t overstuff the washers or dryers either. Overstuffing laundry machines won’t get your clothes as clean. Plus, it actually affects the efficiency of the commercial laundry appliances.

2. Cold water wash cycles as well as smaller load options may be cheaper than long and hot wash cycles.

3. Use the high-speed or extended spin cycle in the washer to help lessen drying time in the dryer.

4. Air dry garments or thicker items instead of feeding the dryer more quarters.

5. Use a dryer that’s already warm. Doing so will help dry your loads of laundry faster. 

6. Clean out the lint filter before starting your drying cycle. By doing this allows the dryer components to work more proficiently.

7. Use dryer balls to help speed up the drying process. They also 

Public Laundry and Laundromat Etiquette

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Assimilating the times, it seems basic manners and etiquette flew the coop; including those in the public laundry rooms.

While we shouldn’t be telling people what’s acceptable behavior, there are a few common sense public laundry rules to follow.

Like you, no one wants to be there any longer than you. So, if we all work together for a common goal of getting our clothes clean, laundry day will be a rather painless chore.

✰ RELATED Camping Rules and Campground Etiquette You Should Never Ignore

Go to the laundromat fully prepared

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It’s important to, quite literally, have your shit together when heading to the public laundry room. 

Remember, it’s a public laundry; not your personal washers and dryers. This isn’t the time nor the place for that silly ‘all about me’ attitude.

So, to make laundry day go smoothly, show up with the right amount of quarters or fully-charged laundry machine card. Don’t be fumbling or counting out all of your coins from your change purse. 

Also, it’s best anyway to pre-treat stains a few hours before anyways. And, sort your laundry at home, in your RV or van or hotel room.

We usually will pack each load of laundry into separate laundry bags along with our prescribed laundry soap sheets. We like them better because there’s no messy liquids to measure or spill.

We also always throw in a laundry booster packet for the same reason. Plus, in some cities and towns, the water may have residuals that may discolor the water. Thus, causing your laundry to look dingy and dirty even though you’ve washed them.

So, in the game of laundry in public places is to be totally ready to plop everything into in the machine, pay for your cycle and do whatever it is you do while your laundry finishes.

 PUBLIC LAUNDRY HACK  Don’t put your clean laundry into the same bag that held your dirty clothes. Throw your laundry bag into the washer as well so you have ‘clean inside of clean’!

Don’t hog the machines at public laundry facilities

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Look, we all want to get in and out of the laundry room as fast as possible. I mean, we all got thing to do, people to see and places to explore, right?

But, we all must remember that none of us travelers own the laundry room and must share the appliances. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a public laundry; not your personal washers and dryers. 

In fact, I absolutely cringe when I see a single someone stuffing all of their laundry in all of the washing machines. That’s not fair to other laundry room users. I mean, you might as well just close and lock the door behind you (please don’t do that!).

In other words, don’t commandeer all of the washers or dryers at once. A good laundromat etiquette rule of thumb is only use half of the laundry appliances at one time.

If there’s 6 washers, only use 3 of them so people can use the other appliances.

Never leave laundry unattended at a public laundry

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Leaving washers and dryers unattended is one of the biggest public laundry users’s pet peeves.

Nothing pisses us off more than having to sit and wait for someone to remove their clothes from a washer or dryer.

In fact, it’s considered rude to leave your laundry unattended; especially at busy times of the day or on the weekends when peeps are trying to catch up on laundry.

So, stay with your laundry at all times to continue the usage flow of the washers and dryers. We’re all on a time crunch.

On a side note, if you do leave the laundry room, I highly recommend paying strict attention to the time noted on the machine. Then, set your phone or watch alarm 3-5 minutes before your wash cycle is complete.

That way, this gives you ample time to return to throw your clothes into the dryer without other machine users having to wait for the machine to open up.

That said, if you’re not present in the laundry room when your machine stops, do not be surprised nor upset if someone takes your finished laundry out of the machine and sets it on top of the machine.

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Use only designated appliances for pet beds & shop towels

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Another laundry room pet peeve is loading up the washers only to find your clothes caked with pet hair or smell like wet dog after the washing.

Be cognizant that some people are allergic to pet hair. Or, they don’t want to look like a wooly mammoth with caked on pet hair.

Unless there is a designated pet bed washer, horse blankets and pet beds have no business being washed in the public laundry.

This also goes for washing and drying your shop rags that smell like WD40 or leave a motor oil residue in the machines.

Now, what do you do if there are no prescribed machines for smelly, oily or hairy laundry?

First, be extra diligent in removing as much pet hair as possible. And, to help eliminate pet odors, use a pet-specific laundry booster. Adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup per laundry load along with your detergent should suffice.

This will not only help eliminate odors from your pet beds. But also, it will neutralize odors in the washer itself so the next guy’s laundry doesn’t end up smelling like Fido or shedding like Fluffy.

✰ RELATED ✰  Best Cat Beds for Home, Travel, RV & Boat!

Clean up after you’re finished with your laundry

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Another pet peeve of laundromat users is finding machines with leftover oil residue, pet and human hair or chunks of whatever the hell that was left in the washers and dryers.

So, after you remove all of your laundry from any given machine, check to see if you left anything behind.

Then, wipe out the washer and dryer using antibacterial cleaning wipes; making certain to get every hair and oil residue out of the machine.

Side note, we use cleaning wipes to wipe down the folding counter for hygienic and cleanliness reasons.


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Wrapping up our public laundry hacks for the laundromat

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As you see, laundry day doesn’t have to suck when you’re far from home. Knowing how to be prepared and what to expect at a laundromat is key to maintaining your sanity while getting your clothes clean.

You may already know some of these public laundry hacks while others may be new to you.

Hopefully these laundromat tips can add something new to your repertoire. Please let us know in the comments of your laundry hacks that we can add.

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Public Laundry Hacks for Travelers - Money Saving Laundromat Tips - Always On Liberty

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