I’ve been dirty (how to use a lavandería)!
So you’re in México for more than a typical vacation week and realize that the laundry service your hotel provides is outrageously expensive – what do you do? Coming to your rescue is your neighborhood lavandería!
There are three types of lavanderías. 1. Dry cleaners – very few and far between in my experience, but when you find one it’s likely they don’t do normal clothes washing. 2. Do it yourself lavanderías – basically you pay to use their machines. They typically will provide soap. This is the cheapest option. 3. Full service lavanderías – you drop off your clothes and pay by how much they weigh. They’ll usually tell you to come back the next day so be proactive! Most of the time they’ll be closed on Méxican holidays – so be aware of those too. Sometimes they’ll iron – but not usually, and I think this is an extra fee at the locations that do it.
I’ve heard that in some areas the lavanderías have tip jars. I worked in the service area for 30+ years and find this crazy! Most lavanderías (in my experience) are operated by the owner, so why would you be tipping them instead of them raising their rate a few pesos? And what are you tipping FOR? No lost single socks? No pink clothes because they washed your load with someone else’s runny red t-shirt? Personally, if I saw a tip jar I’d find another lavandería. Someone on Facebook called me cheap when I said this – but think about it, would you tip a bank teller? A grocery check-out clerk (not the bagger, you *do* tip them)? A clerk in a department store? I just don’t see a service that they could be providing that would be tip based.
Here in Mazatlán, I use Lavandería Denisse. She’s just a few blocks from me, close to the Playa Sur area, and does a good job. It’s just her and her daughter, and judging by the stacks of completed laundry I see, they have a brisk business going. She uses a little too much fragrance for my taste, but I deal with it because it’s one of the few I’m not allergic to. I haven’t gotten pink clothes back yet (I did at another place, now out of business), and all socks have been accounted for – I don’t know how she does that one as I’ve lost socks doing laundry at home!
Be aware also that lavanderías in neighborhoods will be significantly cheaper than lavanderías in tourist spots. The afore-mentioned, now closed, lavandería that turned my t-shirts pink would charge me $200 pesos for a load of laundry that Lavandería Denisse charges me less than $100 pesos for.
Navigating a lavandería isn’t too difficult – you need to be able to tell time, so you know when to come back to pick up. you need to be able to understand money so you can bring the right amount to pay, and you will probably either be asked for the information on the recibo (pick-up receipt), name/address/phone, or will be asked to fill it in yourself. When picking up, it’s just like dry cleaning in the USA – give them your pick-up receipt and the money and they give you your clothes!
Don’t be dirty! Use a lavandaria!