A laundromat (U.S.), launderette (British), Washette (Southeastern U.S.) or washateria (Southwestern U.S.) is a store where clothes are washed and dried. This is often done by coin operated machines that are worked by the client. Laundromats may have a staff to wash the clothing; this is referred to as Fluff-n-Fold or drop-off service. Laundries are equipped with both washing machines and dryers, usually specialized ones designed to survive heavy use.
The washers in many stores are of the front loading variety. The design of the machines uses less water and provides a gentler wash. Capacities of these machines can allow up to 85 pounds of dry weight laundry. In addition, the lower resource consumption of the front loader decreases the impact upon the infrastructures of the community.
Laundromats can have fulltime attendants, part-time or none. Often, you will find the laundries to have a bill changer to facilitate the operation of the machines. Recently, there has been a switch to card operated stores. The laundry will issue a plastic card similar to a credit card which will contain a value which has been pre-paid.
The name laundromat was originally coined by Westinghouse as a trademark for washing machines, however, due to heavy use of the term by others, the phrase is considered to be generic, and has, in all probability, lost trademark status.
- Fulling, from the Roman "fullery" (public laundry)