If you don't have a washer and dryer in your home you probably wash your laundry in a commercial laundry room. Commercial laundry rooms may be located inside an apartment complex community area, where the landlords make a small profit from the coin-operated machines, or inside free-standing or strip mall facilities dedicated entirely to coin-operated laundry machines. Wherever the machines are located, they're shared by many people, which means some rules of etiquette do apply.
Keep it Clean & Courteous
Before and after you use a dryer, pull out the lint trap and clean it. Remove any lingering fabric-softening sheets and throw them away. Also, limit your use of chlorine bleach at commercial laundromats and wipe out any remaining bleach when you're finished. Remember to check the bleach dispenser for remaining bleach before loading your clothes into a washer.
Favor unscented detergents, as scented detergents tend to leave behind a smell which may transfer onto other people's clothing. Never use other people's laundry soap or fabric sheets unless they've given you express permission, even if they've left them unattended.
Don't take up all the machines at once; use only two washers and dryers at a time unless the facility is almost empty.
Stay with Your Clothes
While it's tempting to run other errands during the washer's half-hour cycle or the dryer's longer cycle, if you want to hang onto your clothes or avoid others handling your clothes, you should stay near them. Bring a book, a journal, a crossword puzzle or anything else which will hold your attention for a couple of hours. In the situation where you must leave your laundry, put your basket on top of the washer or dryer you're using. This way if someone removes your clothes, they will probably place them inside the basket instead of someplace unsanitary.
Wet Clothes Go Inside Dryers, Not On Top
If all the washers are full, it's hard not to get irked at an idle washer full of clean clothes. After waiting at least a half hour, it's okay to remove those clothes as long as you set them inside a dryer. If the machine user left a basket, that's an even better option. Use the golden rule here: You wouldn't want to see your clean clothes lounging atop a dirty table, or even worse, on the floor.
Your altruism should stop there, however. Don't add coins and start the load in the dryer since the late clothes washer may have laundered items which must air dry. If the person doesn't come back by the time you're done with the washer and you need to use the dryer, transfer the clothes you put in the dryer back into the washer from which they came.
Fold or Lay Out Other People's Dry Clothes
Dryers fill up too, and if you have to remove someone else's dry clothes, quickly fold them as you set them out, or at least lay them out in a way which will minimize wrinkling. If you know which basket is theirs, fold or lay them inside that basket; otherwise, choose a clean-looking spot nearby. Put their underwear underneath other items to hide them from view. Leave still-damp clothes inside the dryer whenever possible.
- Photo Credit laundry image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com