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Doing your Laundry in Italy

Pauline Kenny

A few quick notes about laundry, because this is something Slow Travelers must deal with. For me, dealing with your clothes is the most difficult part of the trip. You don't want to bring too many because you have to carry everything you bring. You don't want to bring too few or you will be washing clothes every couple of days. I pack enough clothes so that we do our laundry once a week. And we figure on wearing our daily t-shirts for two days.

Staying in a vacation rental in Italy, there are three ways to do laundry:

We usually do a combination of these approaches.

Washing your clothes in the vacation rental

Washing Machines: Most houses that you rent come with a washing machine. If you are staying in an apartment on a farm or an estate, there is usually a shared washing machine. The washing machine will be a small, front-loading European style machine. These use less water, but the cycle for washing can be over an hour long. We have one of these at home in the US (an Swedish Asko washer and dryer), so are used to the longer cycle, but to many Americans it comes as a shock. With these front loading machines, they may look small, but you can cram a lot of clothes into them. You push the clothes in tightly - not loose like with a top loading machine.

See our notes on how to use that European model washing machine.

Laundry soap: You can buy laundry soap in the local stores, but I usually bring some with me because we are slightly allergic to fragrances and have to use unscented laundry powder. The kinds you can buy in Italy are usually scented (similar to our Tide here). Read more about this on how to use that European model washing machine.

Dryers: I have never found a dryer in a vacation rental - Italians usually hang their clothes to dry. In your vacation rental, you will find one of those collapsible wire things for hanging clothes. Set this up on your balcony and peg your clothes to it. In the rainy months, you may be dragging it back inside when the rain starts.

The bad thing about traveling with blue jeans is that they are difficult to dry in wet weather. We once could not get our jeans dried in an entire week and had to take them to a laundry where they charge by the weight. The good thing about jeans is you don't have to wash them often!

Take your clothes to a laundry

Most larger towns have a laundry (lavanderia). These are great but it can take a few days for your laundry to be done and it can be expensive. They wash, dry and fold your clothes. They will iron things too (costs more). You can have shirts done. The price varies by the place. 

  • We paid 50,000 lire ($25) at a lavanderia in Porto Santo Stefano (June 2000) for a load of laundry.
  • We paid 79,000 lire ($40) at a lavanderia in Pianella (Chianti - September 1999) for a load of laundry and some ironing. We were shocked at this price. Our laundry consisted of 2 shirts, 2 pants, underwear, socks, 5 short sleeved t-shirts, 5 long sleeved t-shirts). And it took 3 days to do!

The prices of the lavanderia inspire you to enjoy hanging out your own clothes!

We have never found a laundry where they speak English, but hand gestures seem to work. Steve wrote a language lesson for some of the vocabulary you will need for going to a lavanderia.

Slow Travel Italy - Language Lessons - Clean Talk: Vocabulary for dealing with your laundry and a laundromat.

Find a Laundromat

The larger cities will have a laundromat. These work pretty much like our American ones. In Tuscany, we have only ever found one in Siena (just off Il Campo). Ask at the tourist offices for laundromats.

There is a chain of good laundromats called OndaBlu. This web site shows you their locations: www.ondablu.com/ita/chisiamo/affiliati/

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