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Doing Laundry in Switzerland

Pauline Kenny

The short answer - it is easy! Now the long answer.

Washing Machines/Dryers in Your Vacation Rental

Most vacation rentals come with a washing machine and even a dryer. If you have rented an apartment in a chalet, there will be a laundry room. Ask to be sure when you are booking your vacation rental. If there is no dryer, there will be a drying room - a room with clothes lines (usually the room with the washer, but sometimes a separate room) where you can hang your clothes to dry - or you might be provided with a portable rack for drying clothes on your balcony when the weather is good. In recent years we have always had a dryer in our vacation rental laundry rooms.

Some apartment laundry room washing times are scheduled; your apartment will have an assigned time for doing laundry. This is usually the case if you have rented an apartment in a chalet where people live full time. In a chalet of vacation apartments, the laundry time is usually not scheduled.

European washing machines have a longer washing cycle than the standard American washing machine. Expect about 1 1/2 hours to wash the clothes. In the US I own an Asko washing machine (Swedish - uses less water) and this is how long the washing cycle takes, so I am used to this, but it takes many people by surprise.

How to Start the Washing Machine

Washing machine in Grindelwald apartment, 09/02

Ask the person who brings you to your apartment to show you how to use the washing machine. It always looks simple enough, but I usually need help figuring it out.

Here are a few things to watch for:

- You may have to turn on the electricity to the machine. This is usually a knob on the wall which switches from "0" (off) to "1" (on) or switches pointing to one machine or the other (sometimes only one machine can run at a time).

- You may have to turn on the water to the machine. This is a tap at the wall that you must open to allow water into the machine. There will be only one tap; European washing machines use only cold water (they heat the water in the machine for hot water).

If you have done this and the machine does not light up showing that it is working, try closing the washer door. We used a machine once where you had to give the door a good push to get it closed and only then did the machine come on.

Once you have the machine on (meaning a light has come on), add your soap (usually a pullout soap tray - "I" means for prewash, "II" means for regular wash - and the soap to the appropriate dish), choose your temperature (60 is good for whites, 40 for colors), and wait. It usually takes a few minutes and then it just starts. The time remaining may be displayed.

Washing machine in Grindelwald, 09/02

This is a photo of the front of the washing machine. On the lower left are buttons for the temperature. There is usually a button you can press to stop the machine.


Most mountain towns have laundromats. Ask at the tourist office.

If you find a laundry where they do your clothes for you, you might want to consider this. We have used these many times in Switzerland and they are much cheaper than in Italy. In Italy the amount you pay to have your laundry done can be shocking (we once paid nearly $100 for a small amount of laundry in Sorrento), but in Switzerland the price was reasonable and the service excellent (everything ironed and it was done the next day).

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