Laundry prices on campus have been a point of contention in years past, but Northwestern’s laundry service is committed to providing students with high-quality washers and dryers at an affordable price.
Joe’s TV and Appliance of Orange City has been servicing campus laundry since fall 2016. Gina Poppema, co-owner of Joe’s TV and Appliance, emphasized the care that has been taken in determining the price of laundry for students.
Since beginning their contract with NW, Joe’s has replaced several older machines on campus with new commercial washers and dryers. With each machine costing $1500, Poppema estimated that it takes 1500 loads of laundry before the business pays for a single machine.
Poppema also stated that of the $1.50 students have to pay per load, 30 percent of those profits are given to NW to cover the cost of water and electricity. The other 70 percent pays for machine maintenance, service technician labor and new machines.
“What I’m trying to help people understand is that we are committed to taking a majority of those funds to provide students with the best equipment,” Poppema said. “We have to cover costs in a way that can be re-invested into new machines for students.”
Beyond price considerations, maintaining a campus-wide laundry service is not without its challenges. When Joe’s replaced machines in North Suites this fall, an unfortunate miscommunication with the factory resulted in a seeming increase in prices.
“When we ordered the new machines, we specified $1.50 per load,” Poppema said. “Our service technicians tested the cycles [heavy, normal, etc.], but what we didn’t realize was that the factory programmed the different fabric settings [light, medium, heavy] to charge more than $1.50 per load.”
Poppema apologized for the oversight and said Joe’s is researching how to override the factory settings. North Suites residents can expect to see this issue corrected in the near future.
A resident of the apartments, senior Kate Arnold recognizes the convenience of doing laundry on campus. Despite the cost, Arnold appreciates having easy access to a washer while still being in proximity to her favorite study spots.
“For me, the cost is worth it because it’s right there,” Arnold said. “I can just put a load in and bounce back and forth between homework and my clothes.”
Arnold usually spaces out her laundry days and does a larger load every few weeks to save money. She has also benefitted from the generosity of community members who let her do laundry in their homes.
Junior Emily Wikner has started taking her clothes to the Orange City laundromat and estimates that she saves about 50 cents each week. Although the laundromat washers cost slightly more than the ones on campus, it only costs 25 cents for every five minutes of drying.
“I heard from others in the community that it was cheaper to go to the laundromat, and upon visiting this fall, my roommate and I discovered that, for us, it was in fact, cheaper,” Wikner said. “We’ve also noticed that the barrels of the washers are much larger than the ones the college provides and the dryers give your clothes much more space to dry.”
Whether students are looking for the convenience of on-campus laundry or the cost savings of the laundromat, students have a number of choices when it comes time to “air their dirty laundry.”