Laundry Unloaded: Students Say Coins are a Wash


In a corner of your room, there is a two-foot pile of laundry. You sigh. It is time to do laundry again. Now you will probably spend the next 10 minutes looking for quarters before you decide to give up all hope of doing laundry.

Because Mount Mary University only offers coin-operated laundry machines for its residents — six washers and six dryers — this scenario is all too common.

Caroline Hall residents were recently surveyed about their opinions regarding the laundry facilities on campus. The anonymous survey, which was emailed to residents, received 50 responses. Most expressed dissatisfaction with the current services.

Paying With Quarters

“The dryers need to be changed because they’re charging $1 for 20 minutes when last semester it was $1 for 60 minutes,” a resident said. “Also the washers need to have a longer wash period, it is 25 minutes.”

The amount of time and money per laundry load has some residents considering other options for washing and drying their clothes.

“To do a week’s worth of laundry, it typically costs about $5 here on campus, which is very expensive when the dryers don’t even dry your clothes completely,” another resident said. “Many other girls and I are considering taking our laundry to laundromats off campus because it’s cheaper and the quality of the wash/dry is much better.”

Paying With Student ID Cards Graph

Time is not the only reason some residents are doing their laundry off campus.

“The machines are highly outdated,” one resident said. “The couple of semesters in which I did use the machines left me fairly dissatisfied. I never felt like they got my clothes very clean, I have trouble a few times where the machines would not drain the water out, and the dryers usually took more time than preferred to dry all of my clothes. For reasons such as this, and the fact that I never have quarters on me to use, I prefer to do my laundry off campus.”

Paying a Laundry Services Fee Graph

Despite all of these issues, some residents still deem the cost of laundry on campus inexpensive.

“Thanks for keeping it a $1…,” a resident said.

Other colleges and universities in the Milwaukee area have moved away from coin-operated laundry and are using a card system or making it free.

Table 1. Comparisons of payment forms at local colleges

Different Colleges' Laundry Services

According to Erich Zeminetz, director of residence life, Mount Mary is currently under a contract with a third-party company that services the machines. This does not mean that Mount Mary has not been considering other options.

Marc Belanger, director of information technology, said that Mount Mary has evaluated one-card systems. Within the next six to 12 months, the university will evaluate them again.

A one-card system provides a central database for managing the users and accounts that permit student I.D. cards to be used in multiple locations.

Without a definite plan for the future, Zeminetz is working to improve the current experience of the laundry room for residents. To make it easier for residents to receive refunds or report issues, signs have been posted in the laundry room with information about the third-party company.

“I see there is always opportunity to improve what we are doing in things like laundry facilities,” Zeminetz said. “I hope in future we meet students’ needs better than we do today.”

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