Tales of the launderette. 

Visiting the launderette has become a weekly chore since living in a van.

I personally quite enjoy this job, especially when we are travelling in Europe. I love the clean smell of laundry. The warmth a launderette offers when it is bitterly cold outside.

For some reason European countries understand the need for clean working launderettes.

Some of the highlights from European countries include:

All machines (washers and dryers) working and clean.

A selection of different sized machines.

Piped in music.

Free WiFi.

Snacks and drinks for sale.

Toilet facilities.

Laundry baskets.

Laundry baskets on wheels.

Folding area.

Change Machine.


Sometimes if the launderette is in the middle of the town then parking the van can be tricky. Often I will just park up and walk carrying the laundry. 

Often I have found a small launderette on the side of the road or in a petrol station where parking is super easy. Also residential areas will often have a launderette as the owners live above the premises, they sometimes have designated parking outside. 

If I am in the middle of a town I will often put the wash on and then take the opportunity to have a quick mooch around.

When I visited a launderette in Hanover, Germany I became very confused, after putting my washing and powder in I couldn’t find a slot for the coins. After a short time I realised that there was a large separate console, I had to find a number on my 

machine and then the same number on the console and put my money in.

I could talk about how great European launderettes are all day. When it comes to the UK though, it feels like a different story.

I can’t help thinking that the use of launderettes is looked down on in British culture. 

I often meet people in launderettes brandishing a large duvet exclaiming that they only visit such a place once a year with a 

“How exactly does this work? Oh I need coins!” 

Often I am forced to listen to a monologue about how their washing machine is broken, they seem embarrassed to be there.

Then there are the people who only use the dryers. I made one woman incredibly angry when I removed her stuff from the dryer as it had finished, I needed to dry my clothes and she was nowhere to be seen (controversial I know).

I have helped many people work machines, explained the need for coins and how many and yes you have to put your own powder in, would you like some of mine?

I must have the look of someone who understands the system as I was asked by two burly men in Belgium to explain the whole process. We didn’t have a language in common so there was a lot of pointing and acting. It was enjoyable.

The standard of UK launderettes seems low, they mostly seem to be dated, in need of repair and slightly grubby. Often there is no change machine and the chairs are dirty. It’s a shame and disappointing. 

There are a few hidden gems of course, including 

The Laundry Room, Totnes, Devon

Monarch Laundry, Yeovil, Somerset

Harbour Road Launderette, Barry, Wales.

The Washing Well, Glastonbury, Somerset.

I must say though, I have met the most interesting people in launderettes. 

There must be something about sharing the routine of washing and drying our most intimate items that makes people want to talk and share.

I have met artists, travellers, the recently bereaved, young mothers and older couples.

Some of the best conversations I have ever had have been in the warmth of a launderette sitting with our backs to the dryers sharing and swapping stories.

The alternatives to the launderette are to use friends and families facilities or to book a campsite for a night.  

The campsite idea is a good one as not only do you get a night on level ground in a safe place but you can also have a shower, drop your black and grey water, fill up with fresh water and possibly socialise with some like minded people. It’s a win-win for a small price.

I will continue to have my love affair with the launderette. If you see me, say hi, we can put the world to rights while we fold our smalls.

If you like this article then you may also like:

The Toilet Dilemma.