Most basic laundromats allow customers to wash and dry their own clothing, sometimes with help from an attendant who provides change or sells detergent if necessary. In addition to the standard services, higher-end laundromats often provide cleaning for specialty garments such as wedding gowns, as well as dry-cleaning pick-up and drop-off services.
Laundromats, also called self-service laundry or coin wash, are usually unmanned, fully automated and open 24 hours. However, some laundromats employ staff members to assist customers with operating the washing and drying machines. Staff members also watch over the machines while customers are away to ensure that no one steals other customers' clothing.
Some laundromats wash, dry and fold clothing for their customers to pick up later. This service goes by names such as Fluff & Fold, Wash-n-Fold, bachelor bundles, service wash and full service wash. There are some laundromat companies that deliver clothing to customers as well.
Laundromats are also called wash-a-terias, launderettes and coin laundries. Noah Brannen opened the first laundromat in 1936 in Fort Worth, Texas. It is believed that the first coin-operated laundromat was founded in Philadelphia in 1947.
According to the United States Census Bureau, there are about 11,000 laundromats in the United States that employ 39,000 people and generate over $3.4 billion annually.