Lavandería feminine noun laundry (in hospital, hotel); launderette (automática), Laundromat® (United States)
Do not worry about laundry, lavanderías are everywhere. This was the advice I repeatedly got before going to Montevideo. I was concerned that a place where we were going to stay for three months do not have a washing machine. I remember puzzled expressions of Spaniards in Jerez when I asked where was the nearest laundromat. Good people of Andalucia do not believe in laundry services and install washing machines at home instead. As it turned out, lavanderías are popular among Montevideans and, indeed, could be found all over the city.
However, there are some specifics that a first time visitor has to be aware of. They seem so obvious to locals that they simply omit them when talking about laundry.
The first lesson I learned in Montevideo: there are no american-style self-service coin laundromats where you can do a laundry yourself. All lavanderías would wash, dry and fold your clothes, and some of them would even deliver it to your place. The price is very affordable: 110 pesos per load (approximately 3.95Euro or 4.27USD). This is very convenient and frees my time. I like it.
We live in Ciudad Vieja, the old town. As expected, the buildings are older there, there are plenty of small mom-and-pop businesses and the 21st century hasn’t visited that part of the city yet. The lavanderías in Ciudad Vieja are tiny establishments, sometimes just a single washing machine hidden behind a convenience store counter or a small room with a couple machines in the back.
The second lesson is about operating hours and pertains to more than just lavanderías. Even after six weeks in Montevideo, I am still puzzled about when stores, restaurants and any other customer-oriented businesses open. Seemingly, there is no rhyme or reason in their schedules. My favorite lunch place could be open on Sunday last week, but closed on Sunday and Monday this week; it could start serving customers at nine in the morning on one day, but would not be opened until noon on the next one. Signs displaying working hours are not very common, and, even if there is such sign, it does not mean that the business would adhere to it.
In case of laundry services, I quickly discovered that, even though, there were a number of lavanderías in our neighborhood it was not so easy to get my clothes washed. Our landlady gave me directions to the nearest lavandería. One day I walked there, but the place was closed. The next day, for some inexplicable reason it was open only during afternoon hours. Another place suddenly opened on a random Saturday but was closed for the rest of the week. I felt like I was participating in some badly written cloak and dagger adventure: walking around the neighborhood at random hours and taking notes when lavanderías were open. Fed up with this nonsense, I asked for a recommendation from the local dry-clean shop. They sent me even further into the bowels of the old town. Finally, it was the place I was looking for.
It is called Lavadero Montevideo, open five and a half days per week (on Saturday it works till mid-afternoon) and provides pickup and delivery without extra cost. Additionally, the guy who runs it sells laundry and cleaning supplies too.
Like many other things in Montevideo, selection, convenience and quality of laundry services depends on location. There are plenty of them in residential areas. This is something that a prospective visitor might keep in mind when looking for accommodation.
Juan Carlos Gomez 1494, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo
Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 – 17:00 (actually, they are open on Saturdays too)
Pickup and delivery