Laundry outsourcing update

Yesterday, I wrote about how we’re outsourcing our laundry as part of my New Year’s resolution, and how we tried a wash, fold, and delivery service. Shortly before our laundry was returned from Prim, I received a notice that the service is closing down. I looked around for other services I could use, and the first thing I found was Washio. I signed up immediately. Nevertheless, I was a little daunted by Washio’s complex pricing scheme. They charge by the pound rather than by the bag, and it seemed to me that it could get pricey quickly.

Someone from Prim came by our house to deliver the laundry right on schedule. I commented that it was a bummer that the service was shutting down, and asked the delivery man what I should do with the “Prim” labeled cloth bags. He said I could contact the company and ask them what to do, or just keep them. One of the loads was in a plastic drawstring bag. I took that one and weighed it, by weighing myself, then weighing myself carrying the bag. It turned out it was only 10 pounds, so maybe Washio would be affordable after all.

It turns out laundry is still a pain, even if someone washes and folds it. For one thing, there are four people in my house, and there were some towels in the load, so I had to separate everything. That wasn’t too bad, except that there are also categories within individuals’ clothes — categories that wouldn’t be clear to someone outside our family. For instance, my six year old daughter’s leggings look a lot like her pajamas, so they all get bunched together.

Prim couldn’t know that we have idiosyncratic ways of dealing with our laundry. My wife hangs all her shirts, and I hang my pants, even jeans. I fold my shirts in an unusual way that I learned from my brother-in-law, who’s in the Coast Guard, and it seems funny when they’re not folded that way.

Prim didn’t really fold womens’ and girls’ underpants — they were just sort of bunched together. I folded Sara’s, but didn’t bother folding my daughter’s, since they’re small. Finally, there was one more disappointment. When I do laundry myself, it comes out of the dryer all fresh and warm, and it’s pleasant to touch and smell. The laundry from Prim seemed clean enough, but it certainly didn’t give me the warm fuzzies.

All told, I probably spent about fifteen minutes dealing with the sorting and separating, for what I think would be the equivalent of 3-6 loads of laundry.

Just out of curiosity, I ran a load start to finish while I was getting the kids ready for bed. I had this hypothesis that doing the laundry doesn’t really take that much time, but rather it’s just so unpleasant that it feels like it takes forever. I ran a stop watch while I was doing the laundry. Our washer and dryer are in the garage, right below our apartment, so I had to carry the loads up and down. Also, our dryer doesn’t finish a load on the first cycle — I have to do a touch up to get everything really dry — so that required an extra trip. All told, I spent about 8-10 minutes running the machines. I accidentally forgot to turn off the stopwatch at one point, so it showed 10 minutes, but it was probably closer to 8. Folding the load took seven or eight minutes. When I was done, the stopwatch read 17’33”.

So at that rate, outsourcing the laundry seems like a wash. Given the annoyance of separating the loads, and the reduced pleasantness of washed clothing, I’m starting to lean back towards doing the laundry myself. I might give Washio a try, just to see how that goes. Also, it might make sense to arrange a pick up from time to time when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Nevertheless, I think it would be possible to manage the laundry by setting some rules, like no laundry during prime weekend hours.

I’m still hopeful about grocery delivery, so I haven’t given up completely on my outsourcing project.