Doing Laundry in Switzerland | All you need to know

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If you’re looking to move to Switzerland, well, use this article as a guide for cleaner clothes 😉 Read on as I take you through my personal experience (and struggles) of finding my way of doing laundry in Switzerland.

When moving to a new country for studies, work or any other reason – we all make a list of vital things to keep in mind and to find our way about the new place….but….when it comes to living there IRL, all the nitty gritty starts to hit you. One such realization that I had was – “Wait, how do I do the laundry in Switzerland?”

But first…let’s understand the laundry situation in Switzerland quickly.

Doing Laundry in Switzerland
Doing Laundry in Switzerland | All you need to know | My Swiss Story

How do people in Switzerland do laundry? 

It is a very common practice here in Switzerland to do your laundry in shared laundry rooms. A laundry room is situated inside an apartment building and is a space with lots of washing machines – which you share with all the neighbours in your block of apartments. Now, while the idea sounds nice in theory, and they are convenient and cost-effective for a few lucky ones, it might not be the case for everyone. Here’s why – 

  • You are usually allocated your laundry day (or a slot in a day) and you need to plan to do all your washing and drying on this particular day.
  • If this day or time slot is inconvenient you may/ may not be able to exchange with a neighbour. 
  • If you have children, pets or are a clean freak – this could be a problem.
  • Another problem arises when you have to base your whole schedule on the laundry days. 
  • Many apartments also have restrictions on when you can use the Laundry rooms as well. 
  • Some service/other apartments need you to put coins or keys every time you use the machines.

How can you make your Swiss shared laundry room experience smoother?

Understand the machines:

The washing machines in Switzerland come with a lot of customizations and gazillion options, so for someone who’s operating them for the first time, it can get a bit overwhelming. Even though there are clear instructions painted on the wall in both German and English, I was still totally confused, they can leave you utterly confused!

To get started, you choose from one of about multiple settings such as cotton, synthetic fabrics, delicates, wools, express, automatic, intensive wash, etc. From what I’ve heard, the delicate cycle is actually really good. Post choosing which type of wash to do, you can then choose an extra setting such as short wash, extra water, pre wash, etc. Finally, while the temperature is automatically selected based on the wash cycle you choose, you can adjust it. Instead of having options like cold, warm, and hot, you actually choose the temperature value (20, 30, 40…celsius). – complicated, IKR?

You can also change the amount of spin too. You can experiment with different settings to see what works the best for you. Another thing to note is that most of the wash cycles are very long compared to the usual machines, For example, the default cotton setting takes 3 hours and most of the other settings are an hour and a half or longer! Although, there is a display that counts down how much time is left on the wash cycle but one does have to be really patient. If you have multiple clothes, you might have to do it in 2-3 (or more) cycles.

The crux of it all it that – IT TAKES TIME to get your settings right and get those perfectly washed and dried clothes.

Stick to your slot:

If you’re using a shared laundry room, another pointer to keep in mind is to be on time with your allocated slot – for your sake and everyone else’s sake. If the day or time-slot is not convenient for you, be considerate enough to exchange with a neighbour or reschedule.

Check up on the laundry situation while selecting your apartment complex:

The apartments with the well organised schedules for laundry are preferable. It’s the best thing to avoid apartments with no schedule and limited number of washing machines as compared to the apartment complex capacity.

My initial experience with doing Laundry in Switzerland? 

When I first moved to Switzerland (which was more than 6 years ago), we first lived in a furnished apartment for a month before moving into a bigger unfurnished apartment. As expected, the laundry situation was bizarre for someone coming from India, where we had been spoilt beyond repair 😉 if I can say so. In India, let’s just all accept it, even if you have a washing machine, your house help does a better job at operating it and we still have a system of hand washing clothes…. (My fellow Indians, please back me up on this one!) So, the idea of doing laundry was alien to me!

With a 5-year-old (that’s how old Niyu was at that time…) I always had a never-ending amount of laundry; it was more than just a bi-weekly chore for me! Initially, we had a shared laundry room situation, which as indicated above is quite common across Switzerland but after trying it, I knew that we needed a private laundry room.

I mean there’s only so much you can manage with a 5-year-old and a full-time job. Going there, figuring out slots, checking the timetable, requesting neighbours to exchange slots with you…I mean, this all came as a shocker to me!

Sometimes there were situations when I had to call off lunch plans with my girlfriends, cuz I had a date with the washing machine! Meh!

Doing Laundry in Switzerland
Doing Laundry in Switzerland | All you need to know | My Swiss Story

So, what did I do?

When we moved into our next apartment, I was clear – I needed the washer and the drier inside the apartment! This gave me the freedom of doing my laundry at my convenience, even if it was going to be a daily chore. I must add that this is a great option but apartments that come with private laundry equipment/room do have higher rents. It should be one of your prerequisites when looking for an apartment to rent.

Some important things to keep in mind while doing Laundry

Now, be it getting a washing machine for yourself or opting for a shared laundry room, what’s also crucial is that you figure out how to do the laundry! Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Figuring out the various detergents, softeners and servicing agents which suit your clothes the best.
  • Would you prefer to throw in a tab, which is a good combination of both the detergent and the softener?
  • Would you like to buy the liquid detergent + the liquid softener which goes in the drawer?
  • If you separate clothes (which btw you should) – are you going to use different detergents for different colours (black, white, and coloured)?
  • Figuring out the settings on the machine is crucial, you don’t want to destroy your garments by running them for longer cycles. Washing machines over here are quite customizable in terms of options.
  • And if you are doing your winter wear in the machine, then you want to use the right Periwoll for your needs? I have even washed my daughter’s down jackets and trench coats in the machine…..but it’s all quite special.
  • Last but not the least, cleaning the dryer after each dry and empty run of the machine for maintenance!

Well, all in all, it ain’t that easy! It ain’t as easy as paying a helper and even getting some of your best pieces hand washed. Almost a whole module in a master’s program, I would say 😉

Anyway, I hope my candid takes on doing laundry in Switzerland helped you in some way or another. I’d also love to hear your experience with the same in the comments below!

Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for more resources, our editorial panel is talking about – swiss travel, ex-pat living, mental health, nutrition, wellness, transition, and activities for children this summer. Stay well and stay with us!

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