Coin laundries are becoming card laundries

Earn points or cash back while you wash and dry your clothes

Jeff Herman
Managing Editor
Career news journalist who enjoys chasing trending stories

Coin laundries becoming card laundries

Need to wash your clothes but forgot your quarters? No worries. Coin laundries are increasingly taking credit cards and even mobile payments. 

The coin-operated washers and dryers in my apartment community here in Austin, Texas, were replaced this week with units that take only credit cards.

With the change, the cost to wash or dry a load rose by 10 cents to $1.35. That’s the price of convenience, I guess. No need to save quarters in a bowl to do the laundry now. Oh, and I’ll earn points, miles or cash back with every load of whites, work clothes or towels.

Brian Wallace, president and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association, says the group’s 2018 survey found 12 percent of coin laundries now accept quarters, credit cards, debit cards, reloadable payment cards or mobile payments (or some combination of these payment methods).

As seen in the photo above, some washers and dryers even accept contactless payments – meaning you could pay with a card with the waves symbol (no dipping or swiping required), a mobile wallet or your Apple or Fitbit watch.

The shift to other payment methods reflects “consumer interest in using credit cards,” Wallace says. Vending machines often accept credit cards now, he notes.

See related: Churches embrace online credit, debit card donations

Cards also make it easier to pay for larger-capacity washers. When you’re feeding quarters to an XL appliance that will do the equivalent of four, five or six loads, you are going to be weighted down with a lot of quarters as you head into the laundry. Swiping or inserting your credit card is a lot simpler.

Some “hip” eco-friendly laundries even have smartphone apps, making payments easier – and adding some extra benefits. At Spin Laundry Lounge in Portland, Oregon, you can text STATUS for machine availability, and you will get a text alert when your laundry is finished. While you wait for the spin cycle or watch your clothes go round and round in the dryer, you can pay with your card, cash or Apple Pay for pastries, coffee, beer or wine.

At most self-serve laundries across the U.S., cash is still king, Wallace says, though he notes that as more laundries accept credit cards the name of the Coin Laundry Association may need to change. That’s a ways off, though.

“There are still an awful lot of quarters going through the laundries in the U.S.,” he says.

See related: Baseball fans, swipe your credit card for ‘Ice cold beer here!’


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Updated: 08-20-2018