My old Laundromat was a nondescript affair in a Los Feliz strip mall, notable only for its famous dive bar that opened at 6 am and had a really good trivia machine. I would dump my clothes in the dingy, always deserted Laundromat then mosey over to the bar for a beer and some entertainment while I waited. Watching plum-nosed career alcoholics temper their whiskey with cheap beers and learning (via the aforementioned trivia machine) that Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States seemed to make the time between the wash and dry cycles go faster.
Until the day I shuffled into my good ol’ laundromat, weighed down by an armful of towels and other soiled garments, and saw half of the washing machine lids were taped shut with big blue Xs. I laboriously made my way over to the back row of untaped machines, throwing a lid open with one hand while balancing my load in the other. Luckily, I happened to glance inside the washer before dumping my stuff in and was horrified to see it half full of murky grey water.
But that wasn’t the worst part. Floating atop the water in a disgusting display of mass suicide were thousands and thousands of dead ants. It was like an insect horror movie. That was it. I was out of there before my beloved v-necks became the next casualty of the unhygienic, eerily empty establishment.
Which brings us to my new, detergent-filled stomping grounds: Thrifty Wash. It’s an up-and-coming Silverlake meat market slash dance party, full of smooth jams and over fifty machines that do not appear to have washed an entire anthill. The staff is friendly (though stern when necessary), the clientele are colorful (that there IS a clientele is a novelty for me), and the reading material is plentiful. It’s a whole new world.
What You’ll See At Thrifty Wash:
- Rows and rows of clean(ish) washing machines, some normal sized and some Army-sized jumbo ones complete with gleaming, round front doors with glass in the middle that look like the Titanic’s round windows. I have just learned these are called “Portholes.”
- Entire dryers filled with skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts.
- A big blue sign that reads: “Be Considerate of Your Fellow Washers!”
- Green neon palm trees on the walls and a black and white checkered floor, giving the whole place a sort of COCKTAIL meets 1950’s diner feel.
- Abandoned reading material of every variety: Star Magazine, LA Weekly, those creepy escort service mini-newspapers, tattered crime paperbacks, and (my personal favorite) a hardback Scientology book with a 1970’s illustration on the cover of a woman in a bear suit sitting on a blank stage with a pink velvet curtain backdrop. Best part: she’s inexplicably eating a TURKEY DRUMSTICK which she holds in one of her bear paws. Even BETTER part: the title of the book is “The Creation of Human Ability.”
Who You’ll See at Thrifty Wash:
- People who look like they have been or are currently involved in a heist.
- People who drop off their laundry for Full Service with way too specific instructions: “I want the t-shirts folded into thirds and the socks in balls, not overfolds – oh and don’t wash my workout shorts in hot water because BLAH BLAH BLAH.” Wash them yourself, man!
- Slack-jawed old sailor types stuffing surprisingly dainty flowered sheets in the washers along with their “mysterious stain” corduroy pants.
- New couples, still in the “Let Me Help You Fold Your Awesome Socks” phase, mooning over each other in the clothes folding spots at the end of each aisle of machines.
- Longer term couples, now in the “Let’s read silently instead of bickering” phase, sitting on the benches against the front window.
- Loopy, possibly certifiable Women of a Certain Age wearing the tight, lacy Spandex tops Women of a Much Younger Age should be wearing. Or are they out of other clothing options, hence why they’re here?
- Carmen, the hard-working and funny hat-wearing manager, doling out change, fixing the detergent dispensers, and chastising girls like me who put way too many towels in a washing machine, causing it to spin out of alignment and fill the entire establishment with a very strong burned metal and rubber scent while I dawdled in the supermarket next door. Whoops?
What You’ll Hear At Thrifty Wash:
- Ace of Base, Shania Twain, Third Eye Blind, Extreme, and more. This is where the “hits” of the late 90s/early 2000s come to die, all courtesy of one of those “Easy Listening” stations who still have people call in and dedicate songs to people. “My name is Tina and I want to dedicate Seal’s ‘Kiss From a Rose’ to my boyfriend Miguel. I just love him so much and…” I’ll spare you the rest.
- Way too many personal cell phone conversations. I know folding ratty, college-era t-shirts and threadbare washcloths makes you feel like you’re in your living room, but you’re not.
- The annoyed, over-dramatic voice clearings of anyone dragging an oversized silver laundry cart trying to get past anyone else blocking the narrow aisles with theirs.
What You’ll Think While At Thrifty Wash:
- “My underwear is touching the inside of this machine, which was also touched by this hot guy’s boxers, but also by that creepy lady’s granny panties, and that old sketchy dude’s tighty whities …” and then you will have to stop because that train of thought goes straight to Hypochondriac Town and it ain’t pretty. I should know. I live there.
- Varying Theories On The Missing Sock Cache: “Maybe they slide into the lint filters. Maybe they shoot out the back of each machine, right into Carmen’s Employees Only area. Or is that what’s wedged under the corner of this washer to make it stop wobbling? Sock Elves. It’s definitely Sock Elves.” I feel it important to note here that I’ve stumbled across a Facebook page for a Public Figure called “I Have Your Missing Sock, Do You Have Mine?” See? It’s an EPIDEMIC, people.
- “Oh my god, I know all the words to ‘Walking in Memphis.’” You will then proceed to be simultaneously proud and horrified.
4. “I’ve gotta move to a place with a washer and dryer.”