Chinese laundries could be found any where that Chinese immigrant men went in the diaspora of the late 19th and early 20th century. It became a stereotypical occupation for Chinese, which was somewhat surprising because in China, it was women, not men, who washed the family laundry, as shown in an archival photograph from from the University of Bristol from Nanking in the 1930s.
Further indication that men in China did not do the washing of clothing is an observation published in a white laundry trade journal by a white man who had spent many years in China. He noted that there were no “regular” or commercial laundries in China but yet “nine out of every ten Chinamen who come to this country open laundries” despite their lack of experience doing laundry in China.
This paradox occurred because Chinese immigrants were denied opportunities to work in many occupations for which they were qualified due to anti-Chinese sentiment. By default, they became laundrymen because whites gave little or no initial opposition to the Chinese operating hand laundries to wash and iron clothes.