Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How to share a washer and dryer

Doing laundry can be frustrating without a washer and dryer in your apartment. As we live on the third floor and the laundry room is the basement, one of us treks down and up three flights of stairs whenever it's time to change a load of laundry. At least, it is good exercise!

We share one washer-dryer set with the six other units in our building. Inevitably, we and our neighbors have time conflicts. For example, Saturday is a popular day to do laundry. We frequently show up at the laundry room lugging a load of laundry, some quarters and a bottle of detergent only to find that one of our neighbors has commandeered the washer and dryer.

What's worse? When we run into this problem, the washer and dryer are usually not running. And, who knows how long it has been that way? Did the neighbors forget that they were doing laundry? Did the washer just shut off? Who knows? Moreover, I'm not about to knock on the door of each of our neighbors to find out. It's also not optimal to do the stairs several more times until we find an unoccupied laundry room.

I want to be a good neighbor, yet I want to do my laundry sometime today. What do I do? Here's one solution we tried the last time we did laundry, and it worked!

When we came across the occupied laundry room, we left the following note:
Dear neighbor,

We were also hoping to do laundry today, and we have a lot of laundry to do. If you wouldn't mind letting us know when you plan to finish, we would greatly appreciate it.

Please return this note to our apartment door (the third floor apartment on the right) with what time you plan to finish. That way we can plan our day around when we can do our laundry. If you have not returned it by 11:00 a.m. (note left at 9 a.m.), we'll take that as a sign that you've left your laundry for another day, and we'll take our turn.

Thank you,
The Cooksons


An hour after we left the letter, our neighbor returned the note telling us when she planned to finish. We were able to unobtrusively schedule laundry for that day, and there were no neighbor quarrels.

This strategy for sharing the washer and dryer worked because it fostered communication. A clipboard/sign-in system at the washer and dryer might have the same effect if our landlord or any of our neighbors were motivated enough to start that system. As for right now, we're happy with just leaving the note. It's simple and convenient for everyone involved. And, no one's laundry has to end up on the floor!

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