If you’re looking to start a laundromat or another commercial laundry business, you’re sure to have questions before you begin. We’re here to help. From the first steps for planning to what costs to consider, explore our answers to commonly asked queries about how to open a laundromat and find information to help you move from idea to execution. 

Opening a Laundromat: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first step to opening a laundromat?

The most important first step to opening a laundromat is research—so if you’re here, you’re already on the right track. When beginning research, you’ll want to consider several key questions, including:

  • What location(s) are available?
  • Who are the primary competitors?
  • What is the target audience?
  • What is the local demographic?
  • What are the startup costs and fees?
  • How will you finance your laundromat?

Look to social media and industry message boards to find laundry industry insiders who can offer advice and guidance. Or, connect with a commercial laundry specialist who works for a local distributor and can walk you through the initial research phase—or through the entire process of starting a laundromat. 

What do you need to open a laundromat?

To start a laundromat, you’ll need money to cover startup costs, a storefront or other building (which you can lease or own), and commercial laundry equipment and associated supplies. The exact machines you need will vary depending on the size and layout of your space and your unique business goals. Finding the right commercial laundry equipment to serve your target customer base while minimizing costs and maximizing profit is a challenge for even experienced laundry owners, but our vended laundry specialists and real-life case studies can help you home in on the right equipment mix for your business. 

What is a good location for a laundry business? 

The best location for a laundry business is in an area with a high renter population in the low to middle income range. Laundromats are most successful when opened near apartment complexes, rental neighborhoods, shopping centers, strip malls, or dorms—places where residents are limited on the space or income required to own washers and dryers. In suburban areas, adequate parking is a prerequisite for a successful laundromat; in urban areas, the space should be easily accessible for those traveling by foot. 

Do you need a license to open a laundromat?

Yes, a business license is required to open a laundromat. Depending on where your laundromat will operate, more than one license may be necessary. Some municipalities require a local business license as well as one at the county or state level. 

What permits do I need to open a laundromat? 

As with any other business, you’ll need to procure a variety of permits to start a laundromat, and the exact requirements vary by location. At a minimum, you will most likely need the following:

  • Fire safety permit
  • Wastewater permit
  • Health permit
  • Sign permit

Check with your local Small Business Association or your Secretary of State for guidance on what permits are required for laundromats in your municipality. 

How much does it cost to open a laundromat?

The startup costs to open a laundromat can vary widely depending on your circumstances, and one of the biggest mistakes you can make when starting a laundry business is not understanding the investment required. Are you starting from scratch or purchasing an already outfitted laundromat? Will you need to remodel your location? Do you need to upgrade existing washer and dryers, or purchase new commercial machines? All of these factors influence final cost, but the estimated investment required to open an average-sized laundromat can start between $200,000 and $500,000—and in high-competition urban areas, the cost may be substantially more.

Estimated Costs for Opening & Owning a Laundromat

Some of the startup and ongoing costs associated with owning a laundromat may include:

  • Capital costs – Capital costs can include overhead, rent or mortgage, renovation costs, and new commercial laundry equipment or maintenance for existing equipment.
  • Labor costs – Factor in any costs associated with training for managers and employees, as well as ongoing payroll.
  • Licensing and registration costs –  Be prepared to cover all expenses associated with starting any business, from licenses to wastewater permits. 
  • Utilities – The ongoing utilities required to run a laundromat (such as WiFi, electricity, sewer, and water) will likely also include initial tapping or hook-up fees, and can represent a high percentage of monthly expenses. 
  • Marketing and advertising – A marketing plan (and budget) is a crucial component of a successful laundromat, and a successful one incorporates social media, a website, and local advertising news and media outlets.

Can a laundry business be profitable?

Yes. With the right approach, a laundry business can be extremely profitable and even serve as a reliable source of passive income. This level of success requires significant planning and investment of time and money, especially in the areas of customer service, equipment purchasing, and marketing and advertising. 

How do laundromats make money?

The primary way laundromats make money is by charging to use their equipment, either through traditional coin-operated machines or modern vended laundry equipment that offers card or mobile payment options. Many laundromats embrace creative ways to increase profits: Value-added services such as fluff-and-fold or laundry pickup and delivery can also increase revenue, while vending machines, café or lunch counters, or arcade equipment not only attract and retain customers but also increase the amount of money they spend while they wait for their cycles to complete.

How many employees does a laundromat need?

The number of employees your laundromat will need depends on your business plan, method of operation (self-service vs. full- or part-time attended), and estimated capacity. Other offerings, such as folding or delivery services or a full coffee bar, may require additional employees beyond those responsible for the standard day-to-day oversight of equipment and patrons.

Whether you’re starting a new commercial laundry business or expanding an existing venture into a new area, proper planning is an essential component of success. Start by exploring answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about opening a laundromat, then contact a Western State Design Vended Laundry Specialist to learn more.