Re: Washing machine recommendations and concerns
From: Thomas Lofft (
Date: Sun, 20 May 2018 21:34:42 -0700 (PDT)
 On May 18, 2018, at 9:40 PM, Muriel Kranowski <murielk [at]> wrote:
> I'm not on the laundry-room team, but I recall reading recent minutes of one 
> of their meetings on this topic. One person advocated buying used washing 
> machines, figuring that even though they'd need to be replaced more 
> frequently, because they would cost so little to buy, they would be cheaper 
> for us in the long run. Has any community done something like that? (This 
> person is a devotee of craigslist, so is biased in that direction.)

Date: Fri, 18 May 2018 22:04:16 -0400, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> WROTE:

I don't have statistics, just anecdotal information. I don,t use our laundry 
room equipment regularly. I read all the emails that come to the members list 
about the washing machines. About 11 households don't have washers or dryers, 
the number changes. I think all but one of those is a smaller household, 1-2 

I can't count how many machines we have had in 18 years. Literally. We have two 
and my guess is that each one of them has been replaced 3 times and been fixed 
regularly. Members have done much clearing of drains and cleaning the soap 
dispensers, but it seems like there have been many messages about waiting for 
repair people too. We have had repair people sell us machines they had that 
were barely used. I don't remember that they were wonderful. That's all from 

I would not get regular domestic machines. Hauling one out and moving another 
in is labor intensive and will mean 1-2 days of no machines. People get tired 
of that very fast ? both the movers and the washers.

I think there is something to say for Eastern Village?s leasing program. 
Perhaps lease the washing machines. And have people pay for washing. Not as 
much as the laundromat but enough to pay for repairing and replacing the 

Get coin slots. We don?t have them now and I wish we did. if people saw that 
the amounts required go up according to repair and replacement costs they might 
pay more attention when they dump in a cup of determent in a front loader or a 
purse with a chain handle or a bunch of small socks with no lingerie bag. Not 
complaining or telling stories out of school, but washers are much higher 
maintenance than I ever thought they would be.

The dryers seem to work fine. We replaced them a year or two ago. I can?t 
remember any history of fixing them. One wore out and since they are sold 2 in 
a stacked unit, we replaced both.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

To add my 2 cents, perhaps the bigger question is "What make laundry machines 
wear out?"
Lots of stuff:

  1.  Poor manufacturing quality; you certainly don't get what you don't pay 
for; buy cheap, replace often may be a strategy, but as Sharon noted, shopping 
for and replacing machines is a lot of work for someone if it's not part of the 
purchase package.
  2.  Poor attention to care of use: when all else fails read the instructions; 
yeah, there's 30 pages of safety disclaimers to wade through, but overlooking 
the 2 pages of critical operating details may lead to early failure. Use the 
proper products, in proper quantities and never overload the machine. If you're 
a poor judge of weight, buy a scale. Lots cheaper than a new machine.
  3.  Not emptying pockets: little stuff, even hairpins, twist ties, barrettes, 
get in the pump and jam it ($125 service call?) and maybe $200 replacement?
  4.  Not shaking out the sheets as well: surprising the number of barrettes, 
scrunchies, hair twisties, who knows what all, maybe even those one-off socks 
you misplaced, get left in sheets and then end up in the pump. Sorry 'bout that.
  5.  Kids are dirty; they play in the dirt, their clothes get grimy, the grime 
is sand and silt that grinds its way through the pump and accelerates wear out. 
Yes, it would actually make good laundry sense to pre-wash the very dirty kids 
stuff, gardening clothes and the mechanics filthy overalls in the tub, before 
committing all that grime to wearing down the washing machine parts. Just do it 
once and be disgusted at how much garden grime may be easily flushed from your 
jeans and socks before they go in the washer.
  6.  And very small clothes, as Sharon mentioned: collect the baby's socks and 
tiny stuff into a net washables bag; Get one at WalMart or anywhere else. A lot 
cheaper than a service call. Get six, give them out for baby showers or even as 
Memorial Day gifts in memory of your last dead washing machine.
  7.  A few minutes of due diligence may save the need for another 
$$$multi-hundred replacement.

Tom Lofft
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