On-site vs in unit laundry: What’s better?

If you recently started living on your own, then you might’ve realized that great freedom comes with great responsibility. Unless you live close to someone who does it for you, you probably learned that doing laundry can be a real nightmare but someone has to do it, right? 

No one likes to wear stinky clothes so keeping laundry in mind while looking for an apartment is certainly important, tenants tend to have two options: on-site or in-unit laundry, but, what does that mean?

What is on-site laundry?

Buildings often offer a designated space to do laundry which is called on-site laundry. This facility offers plenty of machines to wash and dry your clothes for a small price that goes from $1 to $4. While it is shared with the rest of the apartment complex, these places are a bit less crowded than laundromats. 

On-site laundry room rules.

Being a communal space, there are a few requirements to keep in mind:

  • Don’t leave your clothes in the machines for too long. This will not only damage your clothes but also your relationship with your neighbors. 
  • Report any broken machines. Letting the property manager know one of the appliances is not working will avoid being accused of breaking it and increase the functionality of the room.
  • Don’t overload the machines. This simple action can not only damage the washer/dryer but also make it less effective.
  • Clean after yourself. Trust me, your neighbors won’t appreciate wet floors and spilled soap. 
  • No dying clothes. When you dye a piece of clothing, it leaves residues that can discolor someone else’s items.
  • Be careful with bleach. Bleach also leaves residues that will damage other people’s clothes. 
  • Follow the displayed rules. This way you will make sure you’re taking care of the communal space.

Pros and cons of on-site laundry


  • Saves space. Having a washer/dryer takes more space than you can imagine, by having an on-site laundry room, you can use that room for something else instead.
  • No maintenance responsibility. While you do have to take care of the machines, you’re not responsible for regular checkups or fixing them when they break down.
  • Forming a sense of community. It can sound quite delusional, but running into your neighbors all the time can strengthen bonds and even start friendships.
  • Rent is cheaper. Apartments with an on-site laundry room tend to cost less than those with in-unit laundry.


  • You can’t wash/dry your clothes whenever you want. Before doing laundry you have to check if the machines are available and some buildings even require tenants to sign up to use the laundry room.
  • It costs more. While you can save money on rent, paying to do laundry is an extra cost that can significantly increase depending on how often you wash your clothes.
  • Transporting laundry. Having to carry a basket full of clothes through the entire building is not for everyone.
  • You have to put up with your neighbors behavior. Depending on whether or not luck is by your side, you can have disrespectful neighbors who don’t follow the laundry room rules which makes the experience quite tedious.

What is in-unit laundry? 

Some landlords offer a washer/dryer combo or set in their apartment, calling it in-unit laundry. This allows you to do laundry without leaving the comfort of your place. 

On site vs in unit laundry: what's better?

Washer/dryer combo and separate sets. 

While it might sound like the same, having a washer and a dryer set is nothing like having a washer/dryer combo. The main difference relies on the fact that the first includes two different machines with their own function while the second option offers a single machine that can do both tasks. 

Washer/Dryer combos offer an eco-friendly solution to doing laundry since a single appliance will do all the work, however, it is not necessary that you wash and dry all of your clothes, you can simply use it as a washer or dryer. On the other hand, they’re not perfect and you have to wait until the full cycle is done before adding another load, in addition to that, you can only dry half of the load you wash.

 Separate washer and dryer sets can dry the same amount of clothes you wash and allows you to use both machines at the same time, but they tend to be bigger which can take up more space than you imagine. In addition to that, dryers need a vent to the outside so finding a place for them can be trickier.

If your apartment has a hookup for in-unit laundry and you have to pick between these two options, I recommend choosing the washer/dryer combo. These machines might take a little bit longer to complete the full cycle but they take less space which is key, especially in big city apartments which we all know are tiny.

Pros and cons of in-unit laundry.


  • Comfort. Being able to do your laundry while wearing pajamas has no price, there’s nothing like the comfort of your place.
  • No extra money. While rent gets more expensive when having in-unit laundry, you can still save a lot of money not paying for each wash/dry, especially if you tend to do laundry quite often.
  • Security. You don’t have to worry about your clothes getting stolen if you’re the one washing them.
  • You can save time. When having your own set of machines, you won’t have to go through the motions of organizing the different loads, getting them ready and getting them to the laundry room which is life-changing.


  • Maintenance. When the machines are in your unit, you become responsible for its maintenance and repair which is a bit extra work.
  • Space. There’s some room you will have to give up in order to have that comfort of having your own machines.
  • Potential damage. Things can often go wrong and having laundry in the unit can cause flooding, fire hazards and water damage. 
  • Higher utility bills. This type of laundry can increase your water and electricity bills. 

Alternatives when you have none

Sometimes, the apartments available don’t have any of the options mentioned above, but don’t worry, there’s still a way to do your laundry.

  • Laundromats. These places are often similar to on-site laundry rooms, offer the same range of prices and the same rules to follow.
  • Hire a laundry service. Services like this include not only washing and drying service but also folding service which saves an extra step. Laundry services typically cost between $0.9 to $3 per pound of clothes. 

In my opinion, on-site laundry rooms will work for those who do less loads of laundry and don’t mind walking down the hallways of the building to get to the room. If you have little kids or just like to keep your clothes extra clean, then in-unit laundry is the right move, especially if it’s a washer and dryer set. 

For those without easy laundry access, hiring a laundry service is the best option since it has the same cost as a laundromat but saves you the time of doing it yourself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *