A Morning with Frieda and Gerda

My expat sources here in Berlin tell me that everyone has a washing machine in their apartment, which explains why there are so few laundromats for such a large population. But our apartment happens to be one of the ones without a washing machine, so for our weekly wash we’ve got to load everything up in our suitcases and head over to Waschhaus 38, about 10 minutes walk from our place.

This week was my first week in the laundry rotation, and so first thing this morning Oliver and I packed up the clothes, sheets and towels and headed out.

Waschhaus 38 is extremely bright and clean; I remember laundromats as dingy places full of the smell of smoke (from the ever-present smokers) and dryer sheets. This one, though, is completely neutral in smell, without a hint of dinginess; there are even brightly-coloured couches and chairs upstairs to relax on. When we arrived at 9:00 a.m. the place was deserted:

Washers and Dryers

I haven’t done laundry in a laundromat for a long time – not since the days of the Laundromat Café on University Avenue in Charlottetown – but it strikes me that it’s awfully expensive to do laundry here at €4 for a wash. That said, if you use the super-high-speed 1400 rpm washing cycle clothes emerge almost completely purged of water, which cuts down on dry time.

At Waschhaus 38 all the washers and dryers have names. Among those we used today were my favourites, Frieda and Gerda (Gerda’s “G” has been chipped away at so she looks like she’s Cerda now, but she’s not):

Frieda and Gerda

To pay, rather than putting money in the washers themselves you go to the far end of the room and use a touch screen to select your washer or dryer; you’re then prompted to enter the right amount of money and then told to go back and press “start” on the unit itself. It’s all very sensible and efficient, and the machine takes both coins and bills and you can use it in five languages.

Laudry Control Screen

The wash cycles were between 30 and 45 minutes depending on the “program” selected (my selection of program was random and based on my mostly-wrong conception of proper laundering techniques). The dryers were €1 for 10 minutes of time, except for Anton, who costs €1,50 because he’s bigger; I ended up sending most of the dryers through 3 cycles, except for the load I’d washed with a high-RPM spin cycle, which only took 1 cycle (live and learn).

We were in and out and home in about 2 hours, and although laundry isn’t something you’d wish on anyone, it was a pretty painless way of doing it. I might even volunteer to go back next week (don’t tell Catherine).


Matthew's picture
Matthew on July 25, 2011 - 20:39

I used to do my laundry here!

Sandy's picture
Sandy on July 26, 2011 - 01:52

I fear that the laundromat at our new apartment building in Toronto will look nothing like this.

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