When I first moved to New York City in 2012, the tasks I like to refer to as “life admin” — grocery shopping, doing laundry, and other errands — got a bit more complicated.
For instance, you can’t exactly buy a 5-pound bag of potatoes without advance planning when you live a 10-minute, uphill walk from your local grocery store.
But one thing I just couldn’t understand was why so many New Yorkers used “wash-and-fold” laundry services, where you drop off a bag of your dirty clothes and pick them up the next day, neatly folded.
I’d been doing my own laundry for as long as I could remember, and this service just seemed like the pinnacle of laziness to me.
So for the first year I was here, I dutifully lugged my laundry down and up five flights of stairs to my building’s basement, hoping to find a machine that was a) functional and b) not filled with someone else’s clothing.
As time passed, my friends and I switched jobs, got promoted, and found ourselves with a little more disposable income. They all embraced wash-and-fold, and I begrudgingly decided to give it a try.
I haven’t looked back.
Why it’s worth it
It’s not egregiously expensive. In fact, I was surprised by just how cheap it ended up being.
The laundromats I’ve frequented charge between 65 and 80 cents per pound of laundry. I recently dropped off a rather large bag that weighed 14 pounds, which came to $US11.20.
It’s not like doing laundry myself is free, so I decided to crunch some numbers. To wash this amount of laundry all at once in a large machine would cost $US4.00 for a wash cycle. To dry the clothes, it would cost at least an additional $US1.25. That’s $US5.25 total — $US5.95 less than I’d pay to have someone else do it.
The real value in this situation comes from time saved. If I did laundry myself, I would have to carve out another chunk of my precious free time for life admin.
- 5 minutes to walk to the laundromat (I have to do this to drop off laundry too, but I can do it on my way to do something else when I’m dropping off, since it’s on my way to the subway)
- 30 minutes for a wash cycle
- 40 minutes (at best) for a dry cycle
- 5 minutes walking back home
- 10 minutes of folding (more if there are a lot of socks that need matching)
Conservatively, that’s an hour and a half of time that I could be doing something fun or otherwise productive. And the $US5.95 in savings from doing my laundry myself is just not worth it. My free time is definitely worth more than $US3.97 per hour.
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