The Perfect Laundromat Doesn’t Ex— Wait, It’s Beautiful, Comfortable, AND Has Free Detergent??
What does it mean to modernize laundry? For twin sisters Corinna and Theresa Williams, founders of Celsious Laundromat in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, it means, first and foremost, creating an environmentally and health-friendly way to wash. And, second, make it fashion.
When the Williams sisters moved from Europe to New York City, they had to use laundromats for the first time. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, to say the least. “The place on the corner of my first apartment was grimy. There were two, wobbly chairs for seating and ghastly lighting,” says Corinna. “What’s more, my white linens and towels accumulated a nasty, yellow-ish brown tint.”
As she searched for non-existent better laundromat options, Corinna had a revelation: Laundry is a regular part of everyone’s routine. Why not create a more enjoyable—and safer—way to do it?
The Williams sisters were determined to create a space that turned people’s idea of a typical laundromat on its head. That’s where Celsious’ design comes in. “We really wanted to create a really different kind of space—the type of environment people would actually want to spend time in.”
After finding a Brooklyn location with tons of natural light and double-high ceilings, Theresa opted for a gender-neutral yellow and off-white color palette and repurposed marble scraps from Craigslist, reflecting Celsious’ commitment to reducing waste. “Our goal was to create a really warm space, and that’s the feedback we’ve been getting from our customers. They almost look for excuses to come and wash because our space is more calming to some of them than their own apartments,” Theresa says.
In addition to a homey, functional design, Celsious has a number of amenities that makes customers’ laundry experience a little more fun. While most laundry-doers have to find something to do for an hour while their clothes wash and dry, Corinna and Theresa’s customers can grab a bite to eat or work at Celsious’ cafe (they promise the WiFi is fast). Celsious has also evolved into a community space, with weekly, outdoor yoga classes and a “Sit and Sip” meditation series.
“All of this just optimizes our customers’ lives because something that they previously had to plan their days around, all of a sudden they can get a whole lot of stuff done within one space and feel good while they’re doing it,” says Corinna.
Now, about the laundry: Environmentally-conscious living has always been a priority to both Corinna and Theresa, so it was never a question that eco-friendly laundry would become one of the most important pillars of Celsious. To keep things as green as possible, Celsious provides complimentary nontoxic, biodegradable detergent to every customer. They told us the process of shipping the detergent is waste-free, and the detergent only features three ingredients (baking soda, washing soda, and vegetable soap), which is a boon for customers who are concerned about unnecessary additives in their cleaners.
“Conventional, store-bought detergents contain a number of ingredients that can both damage the environment and cause health issues like skin sensitivities, eczema, various allergies, hormone imbalances by endocrine disruptors,and respiratory problems caused by fragrance components,” says Corinna. “Our detergent is one of the main draws of doing laundry at Celsious—we have yet to hear of any customers who have developed sensitivities or allergies to it.”
If you want to make the switch to a more eco-friendly laundry approach but can’t make it to Celsious every week, you can adopt the Celsious method at home (but, sadly, you’ll have to provide your own WiFi). Here are a few pointers for getting started:
Find a good detergent
A natural, biodegradable detergent is key to keep things eco-friendly. Corinna and Theresa recommend you look for a detergent with as few ingredients as possible, and avoid fragrance . You can buy Celsious’ detergent (along with eco-friendly fabric softener, stain remover, and more) here.
Ditch fabric softener and dryer sheets
Synthetic fragrances and chemicals on fabric softener may cause skin reactions, respiratory problems and/or hormonal imbalances. Avoid using dryer sheets—they are coated with the same chemicals used in fabric softeners and single-use. Instead, go for wool dryer balls (scented with your favorite essential oil).
Remove soap buildup from your washer
Corinna and Theresa recommend cleaning all components of your washer regularly, but especially if you’re ditching your chemical detergents. First, clean the gasket by lifting up the rubber around the washer’s door and using a toothbrush to scrub with a white vinegar-water solution. For the hoses and drains and the washer itself, you can dissolve residual suds and soap buildup with the same white vinegar mix. Just run two or three empty loads with ¾ cups of white vinegar.
Keep the temperature as low as possible
Temperature is also an important part of an eco-friendly laundry process. Since hot water and high dryer temps zap valuable energy resources—and heat in the dryer wears down your clothes—use as cold of water as possible to wash and dry on as low of a temperature as possible whenever you can.