My mom is my hero — for many reasons, but in relation to this post, consider this: She cloth diapered without a washer and dryer. (And without a diaper service, it should be immediately stated; my parents were in Israel, where my father was in graduate school, and they had very little to live on.) She describes the experience, without a hint of acrimony, this way:
I'd spray the diapers and soak them in a bucket with water and bleach until I'd have to wring them out and haul them to the laundromat. I'd walk, with two little kids, hauling a 50-pound diaper pail, up hills, up and down stairs. Eventually we got a washing machine, but I'd hang dry the diapers outside. The sun has a disinfecting effect and it makes things white.
While living without a washer and dryer may not be as much of a challenge for you as it was for my mother, her tips for managing without a washer and dryer were learned not only in Israel, but also in San Francisco, where she managed without a washer and dryer for decades.
1) Do laundry often, so it's not a huge ordeal. It depends how many are in the family; if you have a bunch of kids, do a little every couple of days.
2) Do errands while your loads are in the washer and dryer. Return library books, pick up groceries, go to the post office. Keep an eye on the time so other people don't have to take out your clothes.
3) Always have a stash of coins handy so you don't have to count on making change at the laundromat. And bring your own detergent; it's much cheaper than buying detergent there.
4) I like to use giant mesh bags, which my sister bought for me in Mexico, to transport my laundry. They are big enough to hold an entire load and, compared to a laundry basket, they take up hardly any storage space.
5) Separate your loads before you get to the laundromat so all you have to do when you get there is throw your loads in. See number 2 above.
What are your tips for making life without a washer and dryer as manageable as possible?