Tiny Apartment Laundry – The Lazy Way

So you have a tiny apartment? No Washer/Dryer hook ups? Or no money to buy a washer/dryer? Is the laundrymat eating up your life savings and time? 
 
Here’s a simple guide to washing clothing at home in your tiny apartment without wasting so much time and money. 
 
First: Disclosures. 

  • There ARE cheaper set ups than this. One of the cheapest is the bucket and plunger system. (link demonstrating) There are wash boards, foot pedals, hand-cranks, and Japanese style bucket methods… I do not consider these in here because: it is a bit messy, loads more labor than the one I am providing, and is not as close to the luxury of a real washer and dryer. Also, many of these cost the same if not more for the machine than for an electric one.. And if you’re only saving $20 to manually wash clothes, to me I’d rather not bother at all. 
  • I offer several varieties based on location and budget to this system so that you can mix/match for one that works for you. 
  • These are not the only ways to do laundry! You may decide the towels just don’t quite dry well in your area and opt to do towels and blankets at the laundrymat while doing the rest at home. It’s really up to you. 
  • A duvet will be super helpful to you. If you have a thick comforter, this is not easily washed in a tiny apartment without a full sized machine. A duvet is cheap, easy to use, and will keep your comforter protected and washable without having to stick the whole thing in the washing machine. I also suggest using a lighter weight blanket that’s easy to wash in the summertime when you are likely to wake up sweaty. 
  • You must do laundry more frequently to keep up with it. If you’re hanging clothes from a tiny balcony or indoors, you don’t want tons of clothes everywhere all the time! When I did laundry in my tiny, I did it 3x a week. 
  • Adding onto the last point, have back-up items. 2 sets of sheets, and at least 2 weeks of clothing items. In doing laundry 3x a week, I had a “shirts, dresses, and smallclothes” day, a “pants/jeans/towels” day, and a “sheets/pillowcases/cleaning cloths” day. All the laundry from the previous week fits into a single hamper, and splitting things like that up into every-other-day routines made for having small amounts of clothes to wash, dry, fold, etc. 
  • Do NOT use too much detergent. You may be into the habit of using loads of detergent from washing machines.. You only need 1tsp – 1tbsp for these tiny washers. You’ll see! If there’s TONS of bubbles you need to rinse out afterwards, you’ll be kicking yourself for using so much. There should be suds in the water while it’s rolling around, but they should quickly “pop” and settle down once the washer stands still for a few minutes. If the suds fizz up like the top of a beer just poured and stay there, you’ve used too much soap which can make your clothes itchy and stiff to wear too. 

 
So lets get started. 
 
Washing your clothes: 
 
There are a few options here. 
 
The smallest, most efficient models: Pandas and their knock-offs.  
 
They are affordable, work well, and every single one I have ever bought is still working. You need only a small bucket to fill them with water, and they drain right into the bathtub (I find it best to use these in the bathtub directly) again with a simple hose. 
 
Different types: 

The one featured in the video has a spin-dryer attachment you can stick into the washer itself after it’s drained. This is the best model if space is 100% an issue for you and you only have a tiny amount of it to use. https://amzn.to/3fvvnzU 
This is a link to one available on amazon at the time of writing this that’s a knock off so it is a bit cheaper in price. Pandas are easier to find on Ebay than on amazon now-a-days. 

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdq834PUJAI This one is similar, non-panda brand, and has the spin dryer separate. This is very tiny, so it won’t fit everything, but it is an option for those of you with access to full-sized machines sometimes but want something in-between loads. https://amzn.to/3yor80A here is a link to one online. 
  • Larger split models. If your bathroom isn’t that teeny tiny, or you have access to the outdoors and a hose and can easily do your laundry on your patio/porch, and want to be able to wash anything at all, this is a larger model that can make washing clothes easier.https://amzn.to/3AabCpM
  • Something permanent to place in a bigger area and also looks good: https://amzn.to/3yp9fir this is pretty top of the line in terms of money and such, but even with the math we’ll see below, it is still affordable. Still, I mostly only include this to show the math on how affordable it is to lazily do laundry in an apartment from home. 

 
On to drying our clothes: 
 
So a separate spin dryer is going to be important IF your panda does not come with one. I kind of like the split-versions that have one in it myself, but my current set up has a separate spin dryer because I found it on craigslist used with two separate devices. 

  • The cheapest thing is a clothes line and clothes pins. Having already used a spin-dryer you get most of the moisture out of your clothing, this is plenty most of the time. If you have a porch, patio, and live in an area where this allowed, this is the cheapest way to go! They also have cheap hangers you can buy to hang lots of small items like underwear and socks like this one: https://amzn.to/3A4YCkY
  • Weather does not always permit outdoor drying, and consistent laundry is key in a tiny apartment. The next cheapest thing is hanging clothes to dry in the bathroom on hangers or on a drying rack. There are many kinds of drying racks out there, so pick one that fits your space well. Remember those clip-style ones I linked above too! What really speeds up drying time is a lot of WIND — so if you have a small hallway or can close your bathroom door and really get it windy in there with a box fan, this is the way to go! They also make smaller fans that are pretty powerful so if your space cannot handle a box fan get a smaller one. 
  • If you live in a place that is super humid all the time, you might want to invest into not just a box-fan but also a dehumidifier. This will help dry the clothes in areas where moisture is an issue–and likely be helpful for your bathroom anyways! 
  • If you have the space for it, there are few dryer options. This stand-up model will fit in an unused closet.
  • https://amzn.to/2VtXSqT
  • Naturally, there are apartment-style ventless dryers. They take a long time to dry your clothes, but you can shove them right in and get it going. Doing your laundry daily vs every other day will be helpful here. https://amzn.to/3Cg4KsI something like this one or even a larger one seems pricey, but we’re about to do some math. If you have the space and money, this is going to be your closest set up to a real washer and dryer. 
  • Another option if you get good sun on your patio: a small desk fan + PVC + heavy black plastic can create a hot box that will get your clothing dry and feeling soft without costing much of any money. Just make a quasi-doorway for it to open and clothes, plenty of hanging space, and vent holes at the bottom and top to let the wind and moisture escape and let the sun heat up your clothing and the small fan whip the hot air around. This dries clothes fast and cheap. You can even put a dryer sheet or two in there and it’ll disperse the scent in there. 

 
So let’s do some math. 
 
Your typical trip to the laundry mat costs anywhere between $3.50 – $5.50 a load. Sometimes more and sometimes less, these are the cheapest and most expensive ones I’ve ever paid for though. If you do 1 full load of laundry a week, that’s $182 a year, and if it’s more expensive it’s $286 a year. Not to mention… if you do more than 1 load these numbers double, and you must factor in the time/energy of hauling materials there. I’m not going to even bother showing the difference in laundry detergent… it’s safe to say it’s much cheaper in small washers. So let’s go with the median price and say it costs, on average, $234 a year to do laundry and you make sure it’s only one load a week somehow. Magically. 
 
The panda combo washer is $55-100 depending on who you buy from, the brand, used vs new, etc. It has a spin dryer integrated in the machine. You buy a drying rack ($20-30) + some clips ($8-16) + a small bucket ($5), + clothespins ($2-3) and do things the more old fashioned way. You’re looking at, maximum, $153 investment that is cheaper in the first year than washing your clothes at the mat and with very little effort. 
 
But let’s say you get crazy and buy a mini dryer too. Big spender. It’s the fanciest one you can find at $250 with shipping and you buy a really hot-to-trot washer for $230. That’s a whopping near $500 investment! But even at $480 for both appliances…. You’re saving money in the first 2 years, and you don’t even need to hang a single article of clothing. 
 
So, final notes: 

  • Apartments can still wash clothes just fine, you just need to think small. 
  • Washing machines are affordable, even electric ones that do all the work for you 
  • Look online for anything you’re wanting to purchase and see loads of honest reviews. People LOVE to film these things at work, and get excited about them, so you’ll get lots of perspectives. Read those reviews! 

 

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