Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Maintaining Tznius at a Public Laundromat

When you're dressing tznius, the public laundromat can make you a nervous wreck. But if you're at the public laundromat, you don't have a more private alternative for washing your "unmentionables." So how can you make the best of a less-than-ideal situation?

Sure, you could handwash everything "private" at home and save the outerwear for the laundromat. Personally, I haven't found handwashing to be nearly as effective as a machine wash, so this option doesn't appeal to me.

So assuming that you "have" to take everything to the laundromat, there are steps you can take to maximize your privacy.
  • Pre-sort your clothing if you plan to have multiple washes, such as colors, whites, and delicates. If you plan to shove everything in the biggest washer to save a dollar or two, this step is unnecessary.
  • Put your underwear and other "private" items at the bottom of the pile. This minimizes the surprise evacuees to the floor when you're putting your clothing into the washer. When all the private items are grouped together, you can get them into the washer faster and with less likelihood of them falling to the floor.
  • Use an opaque hamper or bag to transport the clothing.
  • If you don't have an opaque hamper, you can place other clothing or linens around the sides to shield your private items from public view.
  • Place linens (sheets, towels, blankets, etc) on the top of the hamper if the top is open to the public.
  • When transferring your clothes from the washer to the dryer, find a linen or large piece of clothing to place all the clothing inside, wrap it around the clothing, and then push it to the dryer. It's going to take more time and be more noticeable if you try to sort out your private items into a separate pile.
  • If some of your private items can't go into the dryer, remove them from the washer and place them separately back inside your opaque hamper. If your hamper isn't opaque, it is probably fine on the bottom of the hamper. It depends on what your hamper is like.
  • After they are dry, don't fold or hang your clothes at the laundromat. To be honest, just shove them back in the hamper, go straight home, and deal with your clothing there. If you're worried about wrinkles, not many will happen if you're close to home. And if they still happen, you can use a hairdryer to warm the clothes back up when they're on the hanger. (There are also clothing de-wrinklers available in stores.)
It's not a perfect solution, but it can make the laundromat trip more bearable.


  1. Also helpful: a mesh "lingerie bag" (like this, which will hold all your unmentionables together through the washer *and* dryer (or permit you to quickly take them out of the load if they don't go through the dryer). Just put everything in it and zip it up at home, and toss it in; the mesh is permeable enough that everything inside gets washed, but manages to mostly obscure the contents from the casual glance.

  2. What about washing underwear in one of those mesh bags for delicate items? They are usually not completely opaque, but they can hide clothes somewhat and you're able to throw the whole bag in the machine at one time.

  3. I find the easiest way to keep my unmentionables out of sight for others when I was using a laundromat was to put them in a wash bag for delicates (the white mesh kind) -- I'd just buy one that is quite tightly meshed and then just have several bags with em (already "packed" obviously). Just my $.2 :-) These are some great tips though!

  4. I'm very glad that I have my own washer and drier now, but I guess I might be a bit odd in that I don't see this as a huge issue. When I did my family's laundry in a laundromat, there were enough other types of laundry mixed together with my "unmentionables" that I doubt anyone would get a good look at any of them. Even when I was single, I had enough shirts and such for dark loads and socks and such for whites that it really would have been tough to get a good look at the goods. As far as bras went, I used and still use one of those white mesh things specificaly designed for washing them so they don't lose their shape...can't even tell it's in there.

    Sometimes I wonder where tzius ends and prudishness and OCD begins, but I guess I'm still finding that line and I would guess that everyone finds their own.

    Of course, it could be that either my laundromat or my unmentionables were a lot more boring than everyone else's! ;)

  5. While I certainly don't go waving my underthings around, I don't spend that much energy attempting to hide them. I put everything in a delicate's bag and that's going to have to be good enough. (And anyone who's sitting around a laundromat waiting for a peek at my 'granny panties' has a whole host of issues!)

    It's off the laundry topic but I did want to mention a trick my Rabbi taught us for kashering in boiling water and that is to put items in one of those delicate's bags first. The water still touches all surfaces properly, but you can use your tongs to get a much better grip on whatever you are dunking. You can also put several pieces of silverware in a bag and dip them all at once. (It's so much less work than chasing forks around a boiling pot of water trying to extract them without burning yourself!!))

  6. I guess I've had more than my fair share of creepers at the laundromat...

  7. A much simpler solution: Use a mesh laundry bag. These are large and roomy, and are meant to go through the wash with the clothing inside. Their original function is to protect delicate items and keep smaller articles of clothing from getting lost (socks are the most obvious example here) but in my experience the mesh is definitely opaque enough to keep the contents from being seen. All you have to do is sort your unmentionables into the bag before leaving the house, and toss the whole shebang into your laundry hamper. If you can't find one at the dollar store, you can easily order them online for very cheap.

  8. Ah, I see that several people have already mentioned the ever-useful laundry bag. Sorry to repeat unnecessarily! :D

  9. Oh that's so totally true! All laundries are a pervert-rich enviroment. (I think it's because laundromats are full of lonely, recently divorced men). Two weeks ago, a man with a pet monkey asked if I wanted to take a shower with him. I wasn't even sure if he meant him or the monkey! (I firmly declined his offer.)

  10. Yikes! I think I'm really lucky that all my laudromats were really tame...and boring! No monkeys and, happily, no creepy men either.