Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Laundry Room

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned in passing that I’d booked the laundry room for the afternoon today. A couple of comments I got on that from German vs. American readers made me realize that while this is weekly routine for me – having lived in rented flats all of my grown-up life and never having had a washing machine of my own! – the associations are not the same for everyone around the world… So as nothing else much exciting is going on at the moment, I decided to give The Laundry Room a post of its own. Here it is:


I live in a building with about 18 flats (three entrances and I think six flats in each). In the basement there is a common laundry room with one washing machine, one tumble drier, one heated drying cabinet (for hanging things that you don’t want to tumble), one mangle to press or flatten sheets, kitchen towels etc; two large worktops for sorting and folding, ironing board, sink; and brooms and a mop for cleaning up after yourself.


There is a booking board to which each apartment has its own ‘block’ with a key. This means you can only book one pre-defined period at a time and you cannot double-book. (The system usually works well even if it’s not foolproof, as people can of course still mix days up in their mind or forget about time or just be careless.)

I usually book one afternoon a week. Then I have the room from noon until 5 p.m. I can take the lift/elevator down to the basement, I don’t have to carry things a long way or up/down stairs. I never spend more time in the laundry room than needed. Each wash takes about 60 min and I always go up to my flat again in between (and set a timer to remind myself when to go down again next).


I usually get three loads of washing done in an afternoon, including getting all the things dried etc. The tumble or hot air drying, and access to the mangle for things like teatowels and sheets and pillowcases usually leaves me with only a few items of clothing that need ironing – and that I do in my own flat.

In the next building to the one where I live, there is a bigger laundry room with five machines. There you book two machines simultaneously; and the fifth is a bigger one for washing rugs and heavy things like that, which can be booked separately. So far I’ve only made use of that once (for washing a couple of rugs).

I guess some people living here also have a washing machine of their own in their flat; but as these houses were built in the 1940s, the bathrooms aren’t really designed for extra equipment like that, and then one also needs space for drying… All things considered, I don’t think it would really make life easier for me.

Before I moved here I lived in a much bigger building… must have been around 70-80 flats sharing two laundry rooms with 2-3 machines in each plus 1 which you could not book in advance but could use if you happened to find it free. There I had no lift/elevator; I also had to go outside to get to the laundry room; and with so many people sharing, there were also more frequent problems both with machines breaking down, and time-clashes etc with other users.

Where I live now it works okay most of the time. There have been occasional frustrations… But on the whole, those incidents have not been frequent.

By the way, it’s fairly common in Sweden to rent your flat rather than to own it. However, the choices available vary a lot from city to city. (“Owning” a flat in Sweden also usually means buying into a sort of housing cooperative, which I gather is not quite the same as buying a condominium. I’m no expert on the differences, though.)


This is not my building but it is similar apart from the colour (mine is yellow brick, not red). I went for a little walk before the laundry today and I took this photo just because I liked the green car matching the colour of the balconies! :)


It’s still snowing, third day in a row. They say it will continue to snow tomorrow. Then it might stop snowing, but will get even colder for a few days. After that there will be more snow… Certainly looks and sounds like we’re in for a cold spell!!!




  1. In the later years of my mom's life, after my dad passed away, she lived in a nice mobile home park. They had a very nice laundry room, and my mom's day for laundry was Friday. She enjoyed going down to the clubhouse and visiting with friends while doing her laundry. It was a good thing.

  2. i have never heard of or seen a mangle, or a hanging clothes dryer. this is all really interesting to me. now for all I know, they may have these in the cities where people live in flats/apartments to us. our laundromats are pay as you go, with putting quarters in and using as many as you want. a building full of washers/dryers and we drive there to use them and wait. thanks for sharing this. and it looks nice and clean and i love the idea of the mangle and hanging clothes dryer..

    1. I've seen the kind of laundromats you refer to in American films and TV-series, esp. from New York. Back in the late 70s I lived in a small private apartment house which did not have a laundry room and then I sometimes took my washing to a place like that (or to friends' houses). I hardly think they exist here any more because it's standard now that either you have your own washing machine or there is a common laundry room for the building/block.

  3. This last photo, is it real frost?? Look at the amazing shapes!!! The apartment laundry rooms here are not near as nice or comprehensive, I am so impressed by yours!!! The ones here usually just have a few machines and dryers and a table, and are usually not very clean and have dim lighting.

  4. It's good to be able to put a picture to the place when you say you are going to the laundry room. The last macro/close up is remarkable for the clarity and detail in the snowflakes.

  5. I have just returned from shopping and needed to expound on this even more. I have never seen a rel mangle. There are no irons in our laundry rooms, and they are not big, well lit, and clean! I am still amazed at this. In our house we have our own machines now and I am glad for that.

  6. Thank you, this was very interesting! Here in Germany, it is very common to live in rented flats, too, but most people have their own washing machine. Depending on how big the flat is, they either have it in there or downstairs. In a block of flats, there usually is a downstairs laundry room, too, but it is meant to contain people's own washing machines and tumble dryers rather than communally used ones.
    Where I live, we have 3 flats in the house; two owners (myself and the upstairs couple) and one rented one (downstairs). We have a laundry room in the cellar where each of the three households have their washing machines. I suppose I could get used to the Swedish system if I had to, but I am actually quite glad that I can do my washing whenever I like :-)

  7. When we were first married, we lived in a rented flat, with common-area laundry facilities in the basement. You couldn't book for a specific time, you just had to catch the machines when they were empty. Easy for me -- the laundry room was right beneath our bedroom, and I could hear when the washer or drier stopped!


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