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How to Tell if Your Laundromat is Dirty and Full of Germs

I managed a laundry service business for many years, and one thing I got good at doing is how to keep one very clean and sanitary. Most customers are clueless or just oblivious to the stuff people wash inside those public washers and dryers.

The same machine you’re about to use for your beautiful and nice towels were recently used for washing dog feces clothes, kernel washing materials, cat litter stuff, bed bug items, clothes with feces on them. Take a look at your average Laundromat and you’ll notice most customers just do not care about the total sanitary condition of the machines and dryers.

During my business days, I did sanitize each machine at the end of each day, and that caused an intense argument with my ex-wife because it added to our business cost in the form of higher utility bills. I am going to give you steps you can take to determine if your local Laundromat is sanitary enough for your clothes.

Steps to Spot a Dirty Laundromat

Dirty Floors at My Local Laundry

Dirty Floors at My Local Laundry

Check the Floors – A well-managed Laundromat would clean-up as the dirt accumulates, rather than wait till the end of the day. If you find all kinds of waste on the floor, it is definitely a tell-tale sign the owner does not care that much about cleanliness.

I just moved to a new state down south, and my local laundry is not only filthy but also very poorly run. I found dead and alive big roaches on the floor. Several customers confirmed they saw mice running around. The whole floor looked like it was never mopped. I found food plates with half eaten chicken under one of the seats.

Dirty Floors at My Local Laundry

More Dirty Floors at My Local Laundry

Mind you, this Laundromat is in a good location and probably making good money. I know I can double the revenue if I took over that operation. So when you first enter the Laundromat that you patronize, take a good look at the floor and see if it measures up to your standards of cleanliness.

Take a Closer Look at the Commercial Washers – A good way to tell if a washing machine is clean is by looking at the seals at the open door. The seals at the front, once you open the door, accumulate dirt like crazy. I used to make my employees take a hard small brush and clean is every night. If you see black stuff or dirt, know the washing machine is not properly cared for or cleaned on a regular basis.

Dirty washer when you open the front door

Dirty washer when you open the front door

The next inspection of the washing machine involves opening the lid where you put the soap and softener. The lids are made of hard rubber and will accumulate dirt at a rapid pace unless cleaned on a daily basis. If you find old detergent from other customers, and it appears hardened, that’s a bad sign.

The detergent and fabric softener container should be clean

The detergent and fabric softener container should be clean

The spot to put your fabric softener should also be clean and free of old cloth-softeners. Once you open the lid and find black dirt all over the soap and fabric softener container, you might be better off searching for a new laundry facility to get your clothes washed.

filthy soap and fabric softener slot

filthy soap and fabric softener slot

Take a Look at the Clothes Folding Table – A well run Laundromat will enforce the cleanliness rules as some customers will bring the same dirty habits from home. If you find food stuff on your folding table, or you witness customers eating on it without any challenge from the employees of the establishment, it means another sanitary stuff is being ignored.

I have seen folding tables with soap or bleach on them. It is supposed to be where you put your clean clothes. At my local laundry, some customers poured dirty clothes on the folding table and used it to sort the filthy smelling clothes, with not a word from the tired and clueless attendant.

Examine the Laundry Cart – the laundry cart should only be used for clean washed clothes, but some nasty customers have the temerity and bad habit of using them for sorting dirty clothes. A well-managed Laundromat will and must discourage such behavior, for the benefit of everyone concerned.

Dirty laundry cart

Dirty laundry cart

When I owned my own laundry facility, I bought several heavy plastic rolling carts that customers could use to sort dirty clothes, and it worked just fine. Believe it or not, most customers are not aware of the dirty stuff they do at commercial laundries, they need to be better educated or told to find another one to abuse.

The laundry cart should also appear clean and free of dirt. It should not be used to wheel clothes outside to the parking lot, or should it be used to wheel clothes in from the parking lot. A clean laundry cart should be reserved for clean washed and dried clothes.

Check the Dryers – The dryer is the final destination for your clean washed clothes, and you must examine each one before you using it. You’ll be surprised the types of abuse people do to commercial laundry dryers.

I have seen someone forget to check the clothes pocket and now a pen just ruined the whole clothes, while turning the dryer drum into an ink-fest that’ll require many hours to clean thoroughly.

It is your obligation to spin the drums of the dryer around several times, before putting your clothes into them. Sometimes nails from other customers will stick to the lint holes, and might just tear your favorite jeans into pieces. When you examine the dryer drums, you’ll be looking for gums, candy, ink pens, glue, or any other items that might destroy your clothes.

A good way to tell if the laundry facility is well managed is to look through the seal on the dryer door. The seal usually has small spaces where dirt and other debris will hide. By running your fingers through the seal, you should find some lint, and if you find a lot, that means the dryers are been neglected and not properly cared for.

Final Observations

Just like any other business, the laundry business is not for everyone. You must be aware of the steps needed to keep your washers and dryers clean and spotless. When you run a clean and sanitized business establishment, you’ll know how to educate your customer with the proper laundry washing etiquette.

A good customer will not use your clean laundry cart for sorting dirty clothes; neither should he or she be allowed to. The folding table should be reserved for folding clean clothes only. Customers will do just about anything you allow them to do.

If you own a laundry establishment, you need clear rules of cleanliness that should be followed by everyone using the facility. If you patronize a public Laundromat, the above tips will help you spot a clean facility where you can safely wash, dry and fold your clothes without bringing home any additional germs with your clean clothes.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • john August 14, 2016, 7:35 am

    As an owner of a coin operated laundry, bacteria has always been something that concerned me. I thought about it but never approached the issue with bleach and thorough cleaning on a regular schedule. The laundry looks clean, clean floors, table, walls, floors, restrooms and vending equipment. But it is only “clean looking”.

    When I purchased the location, the previous owners gave me a quick run thru and said enjoy your new baby. 16 years later, I have been living a life full of illness and misery. I have been from doctor to doctor, drug after drug. I recently ask my doctor if “the laundry” was making me sick. He said, “sell the place and get out”. And walked out the door. I took his advice seriously.

    When I arrived home, I did some homework on how dirty is a public laundry. Well, the answer is hard to find. The reason, the laundry associations in the U.S. do not want the data released regarding the massive amount of nasty germs in the facilities. I ask 2 men that work for public laundry publications why they never write articles about laundry safety.

    They both responded that they would never publish such an article because of the bad press it would cause. The data that I did find was quite scary. Everything I read pointed straight to my long term illness and my very poor health. I immediately began a thorough cleaning and sanitizing program along with keeping myself better protected from contamination.

    I really wish I had known this sooner. I have lost many years to bacterial infections due to my own business .

    • admin August 14, 2016, 7:30 pm

      Well, it is a place for the collection of germs and if not properly maintained can certainly cause illnesses. A good way to thoroughly clean any laundry is to use a high-pressure water hose with hot water, bleach, and pine sol, and attack all the dirt, including the ones under the machines. May I suggest, you also get a company to clean the vents for the dryers thoroughly. I learned first hand how dirty people can be. Goodluck in your operations and do come back and let us know how it’s going!