What’s something that’s absolutely essential but often slips our minds when we’re getting ready to travel? You guessed it, laundry. Like most things in this country, doing laundry in India is slightly different than what you might be used to. There are a few different ways to get those dirty clothes clean – you can get it done for you (my personal favorite) or choose the DIY option. Here, I’ll explain what options you’d have, my reasons for preferring external services, and some handy tips & tricks for on-the-go laundry and how to get it dry in no time.
Laundry Services in India
These are the local ‘laundromats’ of India. They are widely available in urban areas and are often the cheapest option for getting your clothes cleaned. Just search ‘laundry shops near me’ on Google Maps and sift through the available options to find the best one for you. Most laundry shops deliver the laundry to your home if it’s nearby too.
Laundry services in India are often priced in two different ways:
- Pay per item (75 INR, $0.90)
- Pay per kilo (50 INR, $0.60)
Unlike most hotel laundry services, these shops mainly charge per kg. The costs vary and depend on where you are. Most laundry shops charge around 50 INR ($0.60) per kilo. If you’d want your clothes ironed, you can do it through the street stalls (the photo on the complete right) that often come out to be cheaper than the brick-and-mortar shops.
The street ironing services usually cost around 5 INR ($0.06) per item, and the laundry shop charges in the ballpark of 75 INR ($0.90) per kilo.
Having used laundry services a lot in India, I can confirm that I’ve personally never lost an item, and I’ve never had any delicate fabrics ruined from poor washing. So, if you’re in India, you should be fine to give your delicates and nicer items – this is not the same as doing laundry in Thailand.
Quick note: there is no difference between hotel laundry services & laundry shops. Hotels are most of the time more expensive, and often very overpriced, especially bigger hotels in the bigger urban cities. In terms of quality, there isn’t any difference.
Hotel Laundry Services
Your accommodation probably holds the cure to all your ‘laundry in India’ worries. It’s the easiest, most reliable way of getting your laundry done; just check with your hotel reception, and they’ll get it done and deliver it within the same or the next day, depending on where you’re staying, and whether the laundry gets done on-site or off-site.
Hotel laundry services usually charge per item and prices vary – I noticed that it’s often more expensive in bigger more luxurious hotels, as well as in the more remote places like the mountains, which is probably because of lack of resources or competition.
Here’s a rough idea of what Hotel Laundry Services cost in India:
- At smaller homestays and guesthouses, you’d pay around 30-65INR per item ($0.36 – $0.78)
- In the bigger hotels and remote areas you might end up paying around 200 – 400INR per item ($2.40 – $4.81)
Doing Laundry By Hand
In India, there’s a fantastic solution to hand washing clothes that’s both easy to use and budget-friendly: the ‘Rin’ laundry soap bar. I would definitely recommend you to get and keep one of these with you at all times. It’s cheap – for 25 INR ($0.30) – and incredibly handy, plus doesn’t take any space at all as it’s really just a small bar of soap. Washing powder can spill and ruin the rest of your packing bag – chances of that happening with a piece of soap are slim to none.
Here’s how to use it:
- Soak your clothes in warm water – if possible – for about half an hour, apply soap on the entire surface area, and start scrubbing away.
- After a good rubdown, rinse, and voila, your garments are clean and fresh again.
- You can also use a bucket (almost every bathroom includes a bucket in India) to do it, but personally, I just use the shower head and rub the soap bar onto the wet clothes and then rinse them.
- Then you need to dry it, which can be more challenging to do on the go than you might think, I’ll share some tips below I use to keep mine damp free
Once you’ve gently pressed out the excess water using a towel, lay your damp clothes flat on a clean, dry towel. If your room happens to have a fan, it’s your new best friend – turning it on can help speed up the drying process.
As your clothes start to dry, you’ve got a couple of options. Start hanging them up around on things like chairs, tables and anything that you can. Or, get another towel, turn them over, and let the fan do its job.
Now, if you’re short on time and have access to a hairdryer, it’s a good solution to speed up the process further. Just remember, to be cautious while using it to avoid any potential fabric shrinkage or damage. I personally don’t wear a lot of thick clothes, as one it can be too hot for the Indian summer, and two it can be impossible to wash and dry by yourself. Avoid taking thick fabrics, and when you do, get it done by a laundry service if you’re short on time.
Indian Laundry Maids
If you’re a digital nomad or expat living in India and have a serviced apartment (or your own house), there’s a good chance that you’d have a maid or personal housekeeper to manage certain parts of your daily life, like cooking and cleaning. You can ask them to do the laundry for you, too, though for an additional cost, of course. It might not come to that in most cases, as most rented accommodations like apartments or houses will have their own washing machines.
If they don’t and you plan to spend longer periods of time there, renting or buying a washing machine might be a good option, too.
The local laundromat services are usually placed near big societies and residential areas.
Are There Dry Cleaning Services in India?
There are dry cleaning services in India, but they aren’t as frequent as other laundry service providers.
They are mostly accessible in major cities and affluent areas, catering to a niche market. However, with the growth in urbanization and the rising middle class, dry cleaning services have been increasing.
Here’s what you should look for if you want to get dry cleaning in India:
- Local Dry Cleaning Shops: These are prevalent in most neighborhoods. You simply take your clothes to the shop, where they assess the garments and provide a cost estimate based on the type and quantity of items. These shops often use a mix of traditional and modern cleaning methods.
- Retail Chains and Franchises: In larger cities, branded chains offer a more standardized service. They may offer additional services like laundry, ironing, and special care for different types of fabrics. Prices here might be slightly higher due to the branded experience and additional services offered.
- Online Platforms and Mobile Apps: Gaining popularity, these services provide the convenience of booking a dry cleaning service from your home. They typically offer pick-up and delivery options, with payment made either online or at the time of delivery. Prices can vary, and they often run promotional discounts.
The cost of dry cleaning in India varies widely depending on the type of garment, the cleaning method used, and the service provider’s location. Generally, basic dry cleaning can start from as low as INR 50-100 per garment ($0.8-$1.5) and can go higher for specialized items like suits, designer wear, or heavy traditional attire. In metropolitan areas and through premium services, the costs can be significantly higher.
Washing in Your Accommodation
When I stayed in my rented apartment in Pune, I was provided with a washing machine. Most Indian houses have some sort of a balcony that allows you to dry your clothes. If not, you can always invest in getting a laundry rack or drying lines to dry your clothes more easily.
Some don’t have washing machines though. For instance,I didn’t have a washing machine in the serviced apartment I was staying at in the same city, so I had to do the laundry by hand.
A Word on Travel Fabrics
When you’re heading off to your next travel destination, you rarely think about the kind of fabrics you’d be carrying with you, but you should. Taking light-weight quick-drying clothes can be a real game changer and make your life much easier while traveling for extended periods and doing laundry on the go. Always check the types of fabrics on the labels of the clothes you’re taking along to make sure it doesn’t turn into a hassle you never signed up for.
Some lightweight, quick drying fabrics are:
- Nylon – It’s wrinkle-free and dries very quickly. It’s also very breathable which is great when it’s hot.
- Polyester – It’s wrinkle free, too, and dries very quickly as well. It’s not very breathable and might be a bit uncomfortable for daily wear.
- Cotton – It feels nice and comfortable to wear and is definitely more breathable than the other options. However, cotton can be heavy to carry, doesn’t dry quick, and can start smelling foul if it’s not regularly cleaned.
Taking along the right fabrics will not only help during laundry runs on-the-go but will also reduce the weight in your backpack, which makes traveling around easier and more comfortable in all circumstances. Make sure to take this factor into account before packing your bags.
Packing quick-drying fabrics like Nylon, Polyester, or Merino Wool is essential to keep things easy and comfortable for you.
Are There Laundromats in India?
The concept of laundromats is close to non-existent in India. People here like to be serviced (they really do – there’s a guy in the elevator pressing the buttons for you in fancy malls) hence, you wouldn’t really see self-serviced laundry facilities around, although you might find some in the bigger cities. It’s always a good idea to check with your hotel about it whenever you find yourself in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, or one of the other larger cities in the country. Apart from the rare laundromats, there are a lot of cheap laundry services that will do it all for you, which are also available in the smaller towns and more remote parts of the country.
Jytte is a 22-year-old female adventurer from The Netherlands. She loves to fully immerse herself in the local ways of living, going ‘off the beaten path’ to truly experience the countries she visits and their unique way of life. Her wanderlust has taken her to Asia, with a particular focus on India. Here you’ll find her writing about all things India and Asia with a focus on digital nomadding there.