A “laundromat” is no more a “laundry” than a “cafeteria” is a “cafe.”

Many people seem to confuse “laundromats” with “laundries” even though there is  a world of difference between them.  Many early Chinese immigrants operated “laundries” from the last quarter of the 19th century well into the middle of the 20th century.  At first, these were hand laundries but eventually many of them adopted steam powered presses and washing machines in place of scrub boards and heavy charcoal heated hand irons. In either case, the Chinese laundryman washed and ironed the clothing items for the customers.

hand laundry -1

arthur leipzig Ideal Laundry, Brooklyn?1946

Ideal Hand Laundry, Arthur Leipzig, 1946

Today, these  full service “laundries”  have been largely replaced by “laundromats” and home washing and drying equipment. Laundromats are designed for customer self-service  and use coin-operated individual machines. They provide no ironing equipment or services.

DSCN0938 laundromat

 Nonetheless, the tendency to use the term, “laundromat,”  as an equivalent of laundry persists. I wonder if ‘cafeteria’ will come to substitute for ‘cafe’ someday!

1 Comment

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One response to “A “laundromat” is no more a “laundry” than a “cafeteria” is a “cafe.”

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