I have been using laundromats since 2006. Typically, I can get by going once every two weeks. I do two or three loads when I’m there, just my clothes and linens. Machines only take quarters and I use the smaller machines (usually top load washers and wall mounted front load dryers).
In 2006 a laundry visit in southern Monterey County CA would cost between $5 (using two washers & two dryers) and $7.50 (three each). The washers were $1.50 and the dryers were 25c/8 min, and it typically takes 32 minutes to dry a load. When I moved to northern Monterey County in June 2009 the prices were $1.75 for washers and no change for the dryers.
I moved to Island County WA in June 2010. The city I live in has two laundromats and they both were at the same rates then as N Monterey County.
I recently noticed that prices have gone up. Washers now cost $2 a load and some dryers have been reset at 6 minute patterns (for a 30 or 36 cycle) or a 6,6,6,8 pattern (6 min each for three quarters then 8 min for the fourth). So, two loads may cost $7, if 30 mins of drying gets it done.
Comparing three loads, it used to cost me $7.50. Now, it may cost $10.50, a 40% increase over 5 years.
Laundromats I use have also started switching machines to more eco-friendly ones. The small washers are being replaced by water efficient top loaders, row by row. These all come with increased rates, about $2.50/load. But it is hard to compare as they also have different volumes. When I have had to use them, I still do two loads but not three. As these new machines get installed I suspect my visits will cost between $12 and $15. They also offer owners more flexibility as they are digital. I expect they can be reset for different rates and cycles. Heck, soon, they will be taking debit cards.
These costs are not that bad for me, I easily afford them. Eventually the quantitative changes will force a qualitative change. I may be tasked soon with doing a cost benefit analysis on owning/not owning a set of machines. I prefer to own things that I can move by myself so I’ll hesitate at getting machines.
I do feel bad for those families that do 7 or 8 loads a week in laundromats.