Thursday, September 12, 2019

Where, Oh Where To Do My Laundry

Laundromat, Washer, Dryer, MachineIt is quite common for people in Alaska to do their laundry at laundromats because so many people do not have running water.  When I'm home in the summer, I end up taking my stuff to the laundromat because the water at my house sort of works.

Laundromats are also quite popular when traveling because they allow you to take fewer pieces of clothing and you can wash them frequently but have you ever wondered when and there they got started?

Places that will do your laundry for you have been around a very long time.  For a very long time, people were paid to hand wash clothing and sheets.  Eventually, people began tinkering with ideas and in 1858, the first washer was invented.

About 20 years later another man invented a household washer as a gift to his wife.  Unfortunately these machines tended to be quite expensive.  The first electric wringer washers made their appearance in the early 1900's but they were quite dangerous because the motor was directly beneath the tub so if water spilled out it could cause the motor to short out or shock the user.  Over the next few years, inventors tweaked it to make it safer.

Eventually someone in Fort Worth, Texas got the idea to start something called a Wash-a-teria during the early part of the Depression around 1934.  Instead of doing laundry for people, it offered the machines so people for a much lower cost could do all their laundry.  At this time, these facilities  charged by the hour to cover the cost of use including water and electricity.  Since many people could not afford a personal machine, these facilities allowed them to do laundry when they might not be able to afford it otherwise.  Three years later, the first automatic washers were released so it made doing laundry much easier.

In the following years, laundromats became much more popular and in  1945, someone invented the first coin operated machines so people no longer had to collect the fees and by the late s1940's facilities were open 24/7 but unmanned. So over time these facilities began looking quite shoddy and worn down.  During the 1950's management realized they needed a more hands on approach by continually monitoring the equipment, keeping the places clean, and offering laundry services for those who didn't want to do it themselves.  The use of laundromats continued increasing in the 1960's and 70's.

Over the past few decades, improvements have been made to both washers and dryers so they are much more energy efficient, and are much faster.  In addition, many wash-a-terias have machines that accept credit cards in addition to coins.  Unfortunately, many laundromats are located on prime urban land so owners can make more money by selling off the land.  Furthermore, the actual use of Laundromats has decreased on average 20 percent since 2005.

The original self serve laundromats were referred to as Wash-a-terias, Washeries, and eventually the name became "Laundromat" named after a line of washing machines sold between 1940 and 1945 when they went out of business.

So now you know about  laundromats and where they developed.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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