What Is a Laundromat?

laundromat Credit: Ranald Mackechnie/Stone/Getty Images

A laundromat is a business with washing machines and dryers that anyone can use to do laundry. Machines are usually operated by customers and require payment in coins. Additional terms for laundromat include "self-service laundry," "coin laundry" or "coin wash," Wikipedia states.

Some laundering facilities are staffed with attendants who provide change, sell washing powder and watch unattended machines for potential theft of clothing, according to Wikipedia. Other facilities provide a fluff-and-fold service.

The word laundromat first appeared in the 1940s and is mainly used in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. In Britain and some other countries, the word laundrette is used instead. Before laundromat became the common name for a business where people could bring laundry to wash, these places were called washaterias or washeterias. The term was originally a trademark and was a brand of washing machine produced by Westinghouse in 1940.