Jerusalem Laundromats - Washing Clothes and Cleaning Up in Israel

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The Serial Tourist's Guide to Living in Jerusalem

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Earlier this year, I received the following e-mail from a reader of my old Jerusalem tour guide. "OK, so Laundromats are expensive. But for me, a business traveler, they are essential. Your essay about Jerusalem is interesting but a list of laundromat locations (particularly in the Rehavia area where the hotels are) would have been more useful." Everybody loves a critic, and he might be correct spelling "laundromat" with an "o", I'll have to check. In any case, today I'm writing a little about doing laundry in Jerusalem in the coin operated places I've been calling laundrymats, with a "y." I currently know of exactly five coin-op laundromats in town, and three of them are clustered right around Bezalel in Nachalot, about a ten minute walk from the middle of Rechavia where I'm currently living. All three of these laundromats are tiny by American standards, just three washing machines and two dryers in each.
The two laundromats located on Bezalel are owned by the same outfit, Jasmine, with one right up next to Shalom Falafel right across from where Ussishkin intersects with Bezalel and the the other 100 yards lower, roughly across from the Pargod (Curtain) Theatre. Both of these laundromats are equipped with front loaders which cost 15 IS for a wash. At the current exchange rate, 15 IS is almost $3.50. I can get two weeks worth of underwear and two pairs of jeans crammed in, but that's pretty near the limit. The machines offer six pre-programmed washing settings, the one for white cotton uses water that's practically boiling. The time the wash takes is dependent on the program chosen, but I think they all come in between 30 and 35 minutes. The LED display on the washing machines start by showing the amount of money required (i.e. 15 IS) which decreases with each five shekel coin you deposit. You have to have exact change in five shekel coins prepared. Once the machine is paid and starts to operate it shows the time remaining.
Front loaders, by their nature, get wet clothes pretty dry if they aren't over packed, because the spin at such a high RPM. The dryers accept 1 shekel or 5 shekel coins, maybe 10 shekel coins as well, never tried. I usually put in six or 7 shekels and get the stuff back just slightly damp. Each shekel buys you three minutes, used to be four minutes years ago. The other laundromat in this area in just around the corner from the Pargod on Nisim Behar. It may be owned by somebody else because it has a different name than the other two, and it uses different machines. Top loader Whirlpool commercial washers and Israeli made (or labeled) commercial dryers. The prices are the same for washing, and there's a TV and a lot more room to move around than in the Bezalel laundrys. The problem, of course, is that it still only has three washing machines. As near as I can tell, Israelis figure that anybody who wastes money on washing machines is a friar, so they buy one as soon as they rent an apartment, on payments.
There's another laundromat near the Central Bus Station on the main drag, and one more on Emek Refaim in the German Colony, unless the high real estate values have forced them out. I've never seen a laundromat in a neighborhood that didn't have a high temporary resident population. When I lived in Beit Hakerem last year, the cluster of laundromats on Bezalel was a 35 minute walk, yet I lugged my laundry over every other week because I don't like full service laundrys and I never found any options on the other side of town. The laundry by the Central bus station might have been five minutes closer, but it's also limited to three washing machines, so it's too risky to walk all the way there and find out there's a line waiting for the machines. The busiest of the three laundromats on Bezalel always seems to be the one up by Shalom Falafel, the lower one on Bezalel may be the least busy since nobody seems to know where it is and it's only close to the bottom of Nachalot on the one side.

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