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.
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.
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!