How to get your laundry done on vacation in Thailand, cheaply and easily
As a tourist, or even living in Thailand, one thing you realize quickly is you will need a lot of clean laundry. Thailand is an incredibly hot country so, where you might wear a shirt or pants for a couple of days in the west, it is not usually a good idea in Thailand.
That means, if you have to constantly change clothing, you will need to do your laundry yourself or get it done for you. How do you do this in Thailand, and where should you go?
Getting Your Laundry Washed as a Tourist in Thailand – If you are a tourist in Thailand so only in the country temporarily, or have just arrived here and don’t know the ropes yet, there are several options for doing your laundry or getting it done for you.
Use the hotel or guest house laundry service – Most hotels and guest houses in Thailand will have a one-day laundry service. If you want to make sure your laundry gets done quickly, drop it off with the hotel or guest house laundry service in the morning. In most cases, you should have it delivered back to you clean and dry by the end of the day.
However, while they are convenient, hotel laundry services are usually more than double the price of local laundry services. That cost can add up if you are traveling for a while.
Use a local laundry service – Surprising to westerners, there are people who take in laundry all over Thailand. On my small street alone, there are four small laundry services where I can drop off my dirty clothes with a local woman or man and they will wash, dry and iron them for me.
With most local laundry services however, it does usually take 24-48 hours so, if you need your laundry fast, this may not be the service for you. At most local laundry services, they also charge by piece.
Each piece will be 10-20 baht (towards the high end in the tourist areas, the low end everywhere else). At only 33-66 cents per piece, it won’t break the bank – not if you don’t need 20 pieces a day doing.
Be warned though, in Thailand it is usually considered rude to expect a laundry woman or man to do your underwear and socks. These you should hand wash yourself, and then hang them in your hotel room to dry.
Use a laundry collection service – Now this is something that didn’t really exist when I first moved to Thailand almost two decades ago. How I wish it did.
That’s because, rather than carrying your laundry around the city trying to find a coin operated machine or local service, nowadays you can book a collection of your dirty laundry directly from your hotel or home.
One such laundry service is WashDrop. After you schedule a collection on their website, they will send a driver to your hotel or home to collect your laundry and then return it back to you fresh, clean, and neatly folded in as little as 6 hours, with 24 hour and 48 hour pricing options available as well.
Remember what I told you earlier about ironed clothes in Thailand being really important?
WashDrop also has an ironing service and a shoe cleaning service, and unlike maybe some of the smaller local shops, they will take care of every item sent to them including your underwear and socks.
Their prices are affordable too.
Do your laundry yourself – In some guest houses and hotels, there are laundry rooms with coin-operated machines where you can do your own laundry. Usually costing 30 baht per load ($1), this is the cheapest way to do it. Many places will not have dryers, however, so you will still have to hang your clothes out to dry.
Even if they do have a dryer, they probably don’t have an iron.
That’s why, if you are going to be traveling for a while, it might be worth spending 500 baht ($15) on a small iron from the local Tesco, Big C or other supermarket. Looking clean and tidy is important in Thailand and wrinkles in clothing are a no-no.
If your hotel doesn’t have a laundry room and you still want to do it yourself, your other option is to hand wash your clothes, which a lot of Thais and many westerners who live here do.
Hang them on your hotel balcony, making sure they are securely fastened, and they will dry within a couple of hours in Thailand’s amazing heat.
Getting Dry Cleaning Done as a Tourist in Thailand – In the last few years in Bangkok, dry cleaners have popped up everywhere. Now, in all shopping malls, you will find at least one and usually more dry cleaners who will dry clean your clothing.
Many dry cleaners in Thailand take at least 2-5 days so, unless you can find an express service dry cleaner, make sure you plan ahead. Expect to pay at least 130 baht ($4) per piece. If you don’t want your clothing ruined by an over zealous washing lady though, dry cleaning is sometimes your safest bet.
Many hotels in Bangkok also have dry cleaning services but, of course, again, hey are at least double what a local dry cleaner would be.
In smaller cities outside Bangkok you will find fewer dry cleaners. If one isn’t in your immediate vicinity, ask the reception desk at your hotel or guest house, as they should know where to find one.
Things to Know About Getting Laundry Done in Thailand
Thai laundry women and men sometimes get a bit exuberant when they clean clothing, often scrubbing shirt collars until there is hardly any color or fabric left on them. If you can find a laundry service where the staff speaks good English, ask them to be careful with the collars on shirts and blouses.
If you have clothing that may shrink, make sure the cleaner knows not to dry it in a dryer but to hang it outside. Don’t worry about them using water that is too hot in the washing process as it is usually lukewarm at best.
One of the many things that is great about getting laundry done in Thailand is that Thais are generally honest people. That’s why you are not likely to have your laundry stolen (like I have had in both the US and UK) and, you are not likely to have any clothing disappear either.
What you drop off will be returned to you, washed, dried and pressed. Just don’t get used to the luxury. It’s a lot more expensive in your country.
Finally, don’t miss reading How to Stay Clean and Sweat-Free in Thailand, as that’s just as important in Thailand as having clean laundry. Obviously.