Which is correct—laundry mat, laundromat, laundrymat or something else entirely? A quick look into the history of the vended laundry industry reveals the answer.

If you’re at the stage of your laundry business investment where you’re writing a plan or considering possible names, you’ve probably noticed minor disagreements in spelling. Sometimes you see the word “laundrymat” which is also spelled “laundry mat” and other times the business appears as a “laundromat.” Is there a correct version? Yes, and it dates back to the dawn of America’s laundry industry.

During the Great Depression, washing machines existed as modern inventions, but average families had no money to buy one. In 1934, an entrepreneur named J.F. Cantrell saw this disparity as a business opportunity that could help people, so he opened the first public laundry service in Fort Worth, Tx., that consisted of four machines customers could rent by the hour. He named this business a “washateria,” combining “cafeteria” with “wash” to evoke the idea of a self-serve laundry. Despite the dire economy, the idea caught on, with pay-per-washing businesses popping up around the country.

As this trend emerged, the manufacturing company Westinghouse launched their washing machine. Westinghouse’s public relations man, George Edward Pendray (later known as the person who invented the concept of the time capsule) created the machine’s brand name by combining “laundry” with “automatic,” thus the word Laundromat was born. The Laundromat quickly became the top brand stocking the new neighborhood self-serve laundries. In time, the brand name generalized into the name of the business itself, with people calling the place a laundromat. To the ear, “laundromat” can sound like “laundrymat,” leading to understandable misspellings.

You may not be surprised to learn that this nomenclature caught on everywhere except Texas, and nearby regions where people still speak of “going to the washeteria.” The growing Hispanic population in Texas translated the term to “lavanderia,” which traveled throughout the Southwest. It’s common to see laundromats called lavanderias from Fort Worth to southern California. Around the country, regional names for laundromats include “wash and dry,” “coin op laundry,” “24 hour laundry,” and, occasionally, the “launderette,” although that term is typically British. Today, with card payment machines and business owners reimagining the laundromat experience, the term “vended laundry” is gaining popularity as the term of choice.

When you’re ready to talk shop if you’re considering opening your own laundromat (or washateria or lavanderia), we’re ready to help you understand the options you have for stocking your business with high efficiency commercial washers and dryers from Dexter Laundry, today’s top brand for modern vended laundry. To learn more about opening a successful laundromat, contact a Western State Design Laundry Specialist today.