A self-service laundry or coin laundry is a facility where clothes are washed and dried. They are mostly well known in the United Kingdom and United States. They are also quite popular in Canada, Australia and New Zealand and known as laundromats.
The first UK launderette was opened on 9 May 1949 in London. It was almost fully automated and coin-operated. Nowadays some public laundries may be manned during fewer hours than the operating time each week. Their number slightly decreases. Rising utility charges and a lower purchase cost of domestic washing machines have been noted as principal reasons for the recent decline. However, they are still in use. Why?
This solution has great advantages especially for people who live somewhere only temporarily. If you are a tourist or a student, or businessman in a business travel, you do not need to buy a domestic machine. It's obvious. You may go to the public laundry and just use it when you want and as often as you need. Then, most UK households have bedding and other items which are far above the capacity of domestic washing machines, making launderettes the only means available for washing them.
Many public laundries offer additional services like ironing and dry cleaning, as well as washing the most requiring textiles and stain removal. They are still popular to busy professionals or senior citizens.
They are very often found in student accommodation houses. This is very simple – students have their laundry for own use, located very close to their home, and the laundry may be also commercially run at a profit by the accommodation provider. Public laundries have another advantage - if you have a really small apartment and no washing machine, you save you a lot of space.
Public laundries are also perfect as a meeting place. This is the place you can calmly talk about anything and make new acquaintances. Some also believe that this peaceful place ... perfect for learning. Whilst the future of launderettes in the UK is not assured, students, businessman and tourists are still their potential customers, thereby making the provision valuable to the community.