Noe Valley Voice March 2002

Coin-Op Contenders:
Choosing a Laundromat that Won't Take You to the Cleaners

By Amber Ashton

Residents of Noe Valley have it pretty good on the laundry front. With six laundromats in the space of 10 blocks, it's rare for anyone to have to wait in line for a dryer. But given this laundry largess, is the place that's closest to home always your best option? With wash prices rising and drying cycles growing shorter, this quick comparison solves the question of where to go when you need to get to the bottom of the hamper.

Spin City Launderette, Inc.

Location: Sanchez Street at 26th

Summary: New and clean with all the bells and whistles.

Gone are the days when all a good laundromat needed was hot water and hotter dryers. The gleaming Spin City, which opened in October 2000, has everything the modern washer needs to make laundry a favored chore, including music, a TV, Internet access on two PCs, clean bathroom facilities, an ATM machine, and a small café offering shots of espresso for $1.25, along with muffins, biscotti, and other treats.

The launderette's 16 Maytag washers are the newest machines around, and still look that way, although they appear smaller than your standard Speed Queen. (Beware: over-soaping is easy.) There is also access to a handful of triple-load washers, as well as one giant washer with a 50-lb. capacity. A bank of 18 dryers allows 10 precious minutes for every quarter -- a price that is fast becoming extinct in the coin-op arena.

Standard wash: $1.50

Standard dry: 25¢/10 minutes

Daily hours: 7 a.m. ­ 10 p.m. (last wash 8:30 p.m.)

Café hours: Mon. ­ Fri., 7 a.m. ­ 6 p.m.; weekends, 9 a.m. ­ 4 p.m.

Wash-and-fold service: 90¢/lb.


Location: 24th Street at Church

Summary: Tons of machines, has parking out back.

Some laundry days it's a gas to watch the latest installment of Weakest Link while composing an e-mail to a long lost love. But whatever happened to the laundromat as a peaceful refuge for reading a book or zoning out to the hum of the dryers? Laundry purists can have all the peace and quiet they crave at the neighborhood's behemoth Launderland. And since the facilities have more than 40 washers and 29 dryers, laundry procrastinators can get rid of the evidence quick by using six or seven machines at once without shame. The machines may be older, but are kept in good condition. Launderland also has an attendant, not to mention a handy, 10-space parking lot (off Church Street).

Standard wash: $1.75

Standard dry: 50¢/15 minutes

Daily hours: 7 a.m. ­ 10:30 p.m. (last wash 9 p.m.)

Wash-and-fold service: No

Pride Plus Laundromat

Location: Castro Street at Clipper

Summary: For laundry late-nighters.

A solid choice for your soiled garments, this comfortable laundromat features reasonable prices and the latest last wash of any of our contenders. The TV can be enjoyed or switched off, and there is always a newspaper or two to keep you occupied. With access to 16 standard-size washers and dryers, wait times are short. That's good, because this is a place where washers might prefer to baby-sit their loads. There's no on-site attendant, and those Diesel jeans might be inviting to passersby.

Standard wash: $1.50

Standard dry: 25¢/10 minutes

Daily hours: 7 a.m. ­ 11:30 p.m. (last wash 10:30 p.m.)

Wash-and-fold service: No

Let's Do Wash

Location: 22nd Street at Noe

Summary: A cleanish, well-lighted place for laundry.

Located in the high country on 22nd Street at Noe, this hidden gem has a light and airy atmosphere that makes up for higher prices and less-than-immaculate machines. There is plenty of reading material supplied by neighborhood patrons (old issues of San Francisco magazine, the New Yorker, and the Nation, among others), as well as a TV and very clean bathroom facilities for customers. A handful of double- and triple-load washers augment the standard Speed Queens and promise "the cleanest, whitest wash ever! Guaranteed!" This laundromat is also handicapped-accessible.

Standard wash: $1.75

Standard dry: 25¢/10 minutes

Daily hours: 7:30 a.m. ­ 10 p.m. (last wash 8:30 p.m.)

Wash-and-fold service: 80¢/lb.

Diamond Suds

Location: 24th Street at Diamond

Summary: Too small for larger laundry undertakings.

This diminutive washeteria (approximately 14-foot-square) does the job if you have only one or two loads, but for bigger endeavors head elsewhere. With only 10 standard-size washers and eight pricey dryers, if you have more than three loads to wash, expect a wait, especially on weekday evenings and Sundays. Conveniently located catty-corner to the beloved Diamond Corner Café, the laundromat is clean and bright on the surface (a freshly painted exterior adds to its allure). But checking the dryer barrels revealed a heavy buildup of dirt and sand. Pet peeve: Customers are required to clean lint filters.

Standard wash: $1.50

Standard dry: 25¢/7 minutes

Daily hours: 7 a.m. ­ 11 p.m. (last wash 9:45 p.m.)

Wash-and-fold service: No

Sea Breeze Coin-Op Laundry

Location: Castro Street at Jersey

Summary: Disheveled but dependable.

Mainly used as a wash-and-fold addendum to the better-known Sea Breeze Dry Cleaning next door, the presence of friendly owners at this hallway-sized laundromat makes up for its cluttered atmosphere and higher prices. Should one of the 13 standard Speed Queen washers eat your quarters, more often than not there is someone next door ready with an on-the-spot refund.

Standard wash: $1.75

Standard dry: 25¢/8 minutes

Daily hours: 8 a.m. ­ 10 p.m. (last wash 8:30 p.m.)

Wash-and-fold service: $1.00/lb.