Paying someone else to do my laundry was one of the smartest things I've ever done

Laundry beforeJacqui KenyonBefore: My 14-pound bag of clothing.

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.

Laundry afterJacqui KenyonAfter: Totally worth 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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