This round-up of the unique laundromats of New York City began because we were wondering if we could drink and do our laundry at the same time. These multi-use locations, often referred to as “laundrettes” exist in European cities, but don’t seem to have cropped up in New York City (yet). Why is something that seems like a no-brainer so difficult to come by here?
While we originally thought it might be a zoning issue, we spoke to someone who came very close to opening a laundrette and she tells us that the startup costs are high, $100,000-$150,000 alone for renting equipment. Layer on top of that bar costs, energy and water costs, and retrofitting a space for washer/dryer hookups if needed. She says that in some cases, “depending on your location (differences as minuscule as being located on one side of the street as opposed to the other) your water hookups and taxes could either be a huge cost or a moderate one.”
Nonetheless, New York City may be getting one soon. In February, EV Grieve reported that a “Laundry Bistro” was in the works for 44 E. 1st Street called The Wash House. In honor of this momentous change, we decided to do a roundup of unique existing laundromats. Let us know some of your personal favorites in the comments!
1. Sunshine Laundromat (860 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint)
This Greenpoint spot has five pinball machines and a tiki-club feel. The door is full of signs like, “Try our Gourmet Vegetarian Washing Machines and Vegan Dryers.” It’s only entrance is of course, a self-proclaimed “VIP Entrance.”
2. LG Laundry Lounge (1616 Amsterdam Avenue, Harlem)
Going to the recently opened LG Laundry Lounge in Harlem (between 139 and 140th Streets on Amsterdam Avenue) is no longer just about the clothes–it’s more like a weekend office station for some. While my clothes tumble and rumble in the sparkling machines behind me, I will be tapping away and working on my laptop, sitting at one of the pristine white countertops in the premises. Yes, this is no ordinary laundromat–you get WiFi access to the Internet here. [Reported by Aby Sam Thomas].
Media darling Dashlocker has four Upper East locations. It’s so modern, they don’t even need someone there to serve you. In three easy steps, you sign up via smartphone, place your clothes into a locker, get notifications by email, pick it up when it’s ready. The locations are accessible 24/7. Services include non-toxic biodegradable dry cleaning, hydrocarbon wash and fold and shoe shine. You can even get your mail packages delivered to the lockers. Dashlocker is also working with real estate companies, like Benchmark Real Estate, to provide Dashlockers as an added amenity to residential buildings.
4. The Laundromat Project
One of my favorites, the Laundromat Project is actually a non-profit that brings public arts programs to underserved communities in New York City, using the laundromat as a venue. The Laundromat Project runs two creative programs: Works in Progress (WiP) and the Create Change Public Artist Residency. These initiatives represent an amalgamation of art, social justice and community building. The organization’s multi-pronged efforts earned the LP an Echoing Green fellowship in 2009, when they were recognized as a notable art-based social justice startup.
5. Clean Rite Centers
The Clean Rite Center may be a chain, but its tagline, “The Laundry Service Superstore” may be quite apt. Operating as a franchise model, many Clean Rites seems to specialize in a side activity to bring in customers. Below, in Sunset Park, is the Clean Rite/Pawn Rite shop. In Clinton Hill, our Transit Talk columnist found a Clean Rite open 24 hours and housing arcade games and candy machines inside. This particular Clean Rite even inspired a 2010 long form New York Times piece.
6. Corner Frenzy (995 Manhattan Avenue)
For a creative local business, Corner Frenzy in Greenpoint is actually an ice cream/empanada stand in front. There are windows to serve pedestrians directly on the street and countertops inside for the laundry customers. The owner’s daughter, Miriam Benavides, wanted to open up her own store when her mother offered her a portion of the store. She continues to run the concession stand but tells me it’ll open again when it gets warmer.
This list is by no means complete, just a few I’ve come across. What are your favorite spots?
Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.