Ah, laundry. One of life’s never-ending chores.

You could always pay someone to do it for you. But if you prefer to spend your money on something fun (like decorating your new apartment or throwing a party), you’re going to have to roll up your (dirty) sleeves and wash your own clothes.

What if you don’t have a washer and dryer in your apartment? The good news is that most apartment communities have communal laundry facilities available exclusively for residents.

The less-than-good news is that laundry etiquette can be tossed out like an old dryer sheet, especially in a communal setting. Whether you’re an apartment newbie or an experienced renter, sometimes airing your dirty laundry in a public space can leave everyone’s patience stuck in the spin cycle.

Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips on shared laundry etiquette, including basic rules of the laundry room and what you’ll need to actually get the job done.


Shared Laundry Room Etiquette 101

  • Be prepared. Save time and avoid hanging out in the laundry room by sorting before you leave your apartment. In addition, pre-treat stains in advance to keep from needing to lug an extra product with you. Don’t forget to check your pockets for loose change or anything else that shouldn’t go in the wash.
  • Be clean. A communal laundry room is a shared space, so it’s up to every resident to keep it tidy. Wipe up any spilled detergent, clean out the lint trap, and throw away used dryer sheets. Also, remember that trash receptacles in laundry rooms are for things like dryer lint and sheets, maybe an empty detergent bottle, but not your household garbage. Nobody wants to smell the remnants of last night’s dinner when they go to switch their clothes over.
  • Be courteous. There are probably a lot of people on similar schedules using a limited number of machines. If you want to remain on good terms with your apartment neighbors don’t monopolize the machines. Washing a load of laundry typically takes 30 to 40 minutes, and drying takes 45 minutes to an hour. Use a timer to ensure you remove your laundry at cycle end so that your neighbors don’t have to wait around.
  • Be considerate. If you notice that a washer or dryer has completed its cycle and the owner hasn’t returned to deal with it, try to be patient. They’ll probably be back shortly.

Which brings us to other common laundry room etiquette questions.

Is It OK To Take Someone’s Laundry Out?

This can be a touchy subject and should be handled with care. First and foremost, bring the concern to the attention of management. They may already have a policy in place for this very situation.

In the absence of that, a general rule of thumb is to give the neighbor 15 to 20 minutes to return. After the time has elapsed, deal with delinquent laundry in a courteous way. If their basket is present, gently place the laundry inside of it. Otherwise, remove the laundry and leave it on top of the dryer or a table, if available.

Communal Laundry Supply Kit

While your apartment management team provides the space, energy, and equipment to clean your clothes, it’s up to you to provide the rest. Here’s what you need to take with you to the laundry room.

  • When it comes to lugging laundry, smaller is better. Fill a smaller container from your larger bottle to cut down on the amount of weight you have to carry back and forth.
  • Fabric softener or dryer sheets. If you want to make the world a softer place and stay static-free, you’ll need to bring these items with you. Again, you may want to consider portioning liquid softener out into smaller containers, or just bring a few dryer sheets with you instead of the whole box.
  • To get those whites extra sparkly, bring your own bleach. But be careful to avoid any spills. As a courtesy, make sure the washer drains completely after using bleach so that an unsuspecting neighbor doesn’t accidentally bleach their favorite black dress.
  • Payment method. Many apartment communities use cards you can pre-load, so make sure you bring that and a payment method to reload your card if needed. If the machines still take coins, save a trip back to your apartment by bringing double the number you expect to use.
  • Laundry basket. Take a small laundry basket or hamper to leave next to your machine. This way there’s a place for your belongings if someone needs to move them after the cycle ends.

What Is Proper Laundry Room Etiquette?

With just a little courtesy and some shared laundry etiquette, the communal laundry area can be a clean and friendly place — free of spilled bleach, smelly trash cans, and frustration over abandoned laundry.

At Southern Management, our priority is creating a comfortable, convenient environment for our residents to live—and do laundry–in. Browse our more than 75 communities throughout Maryland and Northern Virginia, all of which have laundry facilities in-building, on-site, or in-unit. Contact our team to learn more today!