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Laundry in Korea

Types of laundry in Korea
Today we will discover the topic of washing clothes in Korea and how it differs from other countries. Firstly, in Korea, as in the United States and Japan, people most often use a budget-friendly public self-service laundry, which is available in every residential area. Another affordable laundry type for students is dormitory. For those who live outside of the campus, washing at own apartment or sharehouse could be the option, but you should be aware of high utility bills in Korean houses. On the more convenient, yet pricy methods there are laundry delivery services.

Self-service Laundry

Self-service launderettes are called are also called coinwash laundry, coinlaundary or laundromat. The first two names come from the cheap cost of such service. Usually, self-service laundretts are used by students, workers, tourists because it is a cheap and fast way that does not require much additional effort and such launderettes can be reached in every neighborhood. As a student renting apartment and paying additional utility bills for about $70-120 could be burdensome. Moreover, not every housing has its own washing machine and dryer together since Korean apartments are very small. Due to high level of humidity in Korea all year round, drying clothes and bed necessities in the room is a difficult option, so many people dry belongings in launderettes. By simply searching ‘빨래방’ in apps such as Kakao map, Naver map you can find self-service launderettes in your area that work 24/7. However, be aware that most of them accept only cash bills or coins.

Dormitory

For students on a budget living in korean dormitory is equal to living in all-inclusive facility. Campus area is definitely the cheapest place for students to eat, wash, get involved in sports and cultural activities. Since in this article we are focusing on laundry, we are going to discover how to use washing machine and dryer in dormitories. There are two options that you can pay for washing and drying. The first common option is just putting 1000 won ($1) bill into input window in machine. Some machines have bill and coin option but having paper bill is the best idea. Another option that Korean dormitories have is buying laundry card and charging it with a cash up to 30000 ($30). The rules of using washing machine and dryer are always displayed in Korean, English, Chinese languages so that everyone easily understands them. The most commonly used modes are ‘strong’, ‘middle’, ‘delicate’ that run about for 1 hour long. For those students who run out of detergents and softner, there is a machine with 500-1000 won ($0.5-1) single-wash detergents. Placing drying racks might be prohibited in certain dormitories so most of the time drying machine is the only option.

House

For those who live in Korean apartment or rent a room in sharehouse washing at home is convenient option. Yet there are several important things to know about. First of all, there are two main types of washing machines that are common in Korean houses. One of the type is standard ‘세탁기’ (sea-takki), in which the laundry is placed with top-loading method washing machine. Top-loading machines have bigger weight capacity, so they allow you to add more kg of clothes and also to add detergents right in middle of washing. The next common type is the ‘드럼세탁기’ (drum sea-takki), which is a front-load washing machines. Such machines cannot be stopped or opened when the program starts so taking out all necessary things from your pockets is a must before loading the machine. Next vital question is drying clothes in apartments. Most of the households are narrow and do not have separate drying machines. So one way is buying drying rack and placing it either on the balcony during sunny weather or in the room further from shower room to avoid humidity. In stores such as Daiso small drying racks cost 5000 won ($5).

Delivery and pick-up services

Korea was always beyond ahead in terms of speed and delivery. It is one of the most noticeable characteristics in Korean culture that everything has to be ppalli-ppalli(quick).

There are many delivery apps with ranging prices and time of delivery. You can find such apps through searching 세탁 서비스 (laundry service) in Naver.

The most known apps are Clean Basket, LaundryGo, Wash Swat etc. Mostly local people use such service for large items such as blanket and coats. Each piece of item costs about 10-15000 won ($10-15) though delivery apps.

Besides large items that are hard to wash at home, there are monthly subscription services for usual clothing laundry that ranges between 30-50000 won per months.

Depending on the company delivery is done either the same day or next day which is very convenient while living in a fast-paced city.

How much does it cost?


The most popular question from a foreigner would be how much does it cost and how to pay for a laundry in Korea? If you are staying on campus washing machine and dryer would cost 1000 won ($1) each. Local launderettes vary by the region (Seoul being the most expensive) but the average washing is 4000-5000 won ($4-5) and the same price is for a drying machine. Compared to a delivery laundry service, it is twice cheaper. Pick up services start from 5000 per piece (t-shirt, dress etc.) and get pricier for coats, jackets and bedding clothes which costs around 10000-15000 won ($10-15) each. Depending on the volume of clothes and their fabric such service can charge more. In addition to one time service, delivery can be purchased monthly for certain amount of laundry pick-ups. For instance, monthly service for just washing would cost 38000 won ($38) and washing plus drying would be 55000 won ($55) on average.

Korean detergents

Lastly, I would like to introduce foreigners korean detergents and importance of softners in Korea. We have already discussed that the climate in Korea is very humid, so clothes are badly affected by it. In order to keep scent of your clothes nice and fresh use a fabric softner. One of the best brands for softners are Pigeon and Downy. However, more common and affordable ones that are sold in every store are Korean products such as Beat (비트), Tech (테크).

The word detergent in korean is 세탁세제 and usually costs 3000-5000 won for cheap brands and up to 10000 won for foreign brands. You can buy them in Daiso, Homeplus or in local minishops E-mart, GS25, CU etc.
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