Washing Machine vs. Laundromat (Which One Should You Use?)

Not everyone has a washer and dryer at home and if there’s a laundromat close, then there’s not really an urgent need.

You can wash your clothes just fine and it’s inexpensive – but is it really cheaper than owning your own?

You’re actually paying significantly more if you decide to do your clothes at the laundromat. Between the washer, dryer, transportation, and your detergent, it averages around 5.25 for one load and an additional $4.25 per extra load.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, however, so let’s take a closer look at the ‘washing machine vs laundromat’ conundrum and paint you a clearer picture.

Read on to find out why even a used washer is really going to be your best bet!

Cost Per Load

Costs will vary a bit, depending on the laundromat, but on average you’re looking at around $2 for washing one load of clothes and another $2.00 to dry it (unless, of course, that dryer is getting old and you need to shell out more to dry everything.

 Unless you’re walking distance from the laundromat, you’ll also spend at least $1 in gas and we hope that you’ve brought a book – you’ll be stuck there for a while, after all.

While this can work for a little while, you’re spending a lot of time and money per load, especially when you compare to a washer at home.

When you use your washer at home, you’ll be spending about $1.40 per load, and that’s .25 cents for the detergent, .29 cents electric, .35 cents for 20 gallons of water, and around .50 cents in electricity for your drying cycle.

Add in that you can do what you like at home (and some of us work from home) and already we’ve got a huge advantage.

If you are doing just one load at home, once every Sunday, then in the 52 weeks that it takes to reach a year you’re spending $273 at the laundromat and only around $73 at home.

Water usage

Water usage is kind of a gray area, but you’ll typically spend more at the laundromat. It depends on the laundromat, but smart owners will take a twofold approach to water.

First, they will invest in units that use less water, and secondly, they’ll charge a small amount more for their water than what you’d pay at home.

If the laundromat is particularly stingy about water, this might result in having to run a load a second time, and that can add to your costs as well.

Now, you can get washers that will utilize low water consumption, but that will cost you a little extra, but if you do then you will definitely use less water and pay less for it.


The time factor is another thing to consider. Travel time to and from the laundromat usually averages about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on traffic at the time that you usually go, and depending on the day you select, the laundromat might be busy and this can add more time to your visit.

On an ideal day when you have the laundromat to yourself, the time is actually one of the places where you’ll have a ‘tie’ or even a slight lead at the laundromat.

Laundry takes anywhere from 32 to 38 minutes to wash, on average and laundromats often have in industrial ‘Big Bertha’ type dryers that can dry 3-4 loads in about half an hour.

That said, you can’t get a lot done other than your laundry at the laundromat, unless you bring a laptop that allows you more options while you are stuck there, and most prefer to spend that time at home.

The Verdict: Washing at home saves you time and money

While you need to make an initial investment to buy at least a washer (if you can hang laundry outside) or a little more for a washer and dryer combo, it’s definitely the best solution for your time and for your wallet.

Consider this – washing machines have an average service life of 10 to 13 years and if you buy a used, 5-year-old washer, you can typically get it at half of the price or even less than it is when you buy it new.

Consider that just doing one load every weekend comes to around $273 and a used $350-500 washer is still a winning strategy.

The numbers don’t lie – that laundromat seems cheap, but it costs a lot more than most people think.

 It’s best to invest in a new or used washer so that you can take back your time and bank those savings!