Ever wondered how much it takes to get a laundromat up and running? Laundromats offer a simple business model with a steady stream of income because people always need clean clothes. It’s one of the reasons why laundromats are a potentially recession-proof business.

    But before you jump in, it’s important to understand the costs involved. This guide will break down the key expenses you’ll need to consider, like the startup costs, ongoing costs, and laundromat financing, helping you make informed decisions.

    How Much Does It Cost to Open a Laundromat?

    The cost of opening a laundromat can vary, but an average-sized laundromat will cost between $200,000 and $500,000.

    Commercial-grade washers and dryers alone can cost between $800 and $3,000 each and can last 10 to 15 years. A typical laundromat might have 40 to 100 machines, bringing the total equipment cost to $32,000 to $260,000.

    Beyond equipment, ongoing maintenance and repairs can add up quickly, with each, with each service call costing between $120 and $500. Keep in mind that additional expenses will factor in, such as renovations (including plumbing, electrical work, and interior design) which can range from $10,000 to over $50,000.

    Finally, you also need to allocate a budget for your space. Depending on the location and real estate market, expect to pay $1,500 to $4,000 per square meter.

    Types of Laundromats

    When deciding on the best service model for your laundromat, it’s important to understand the different types available. Each model offers unique advantages that cater to various customer needs and preferences. Consider the level of convenience, cost, and flexibility each model offers to make an informed decision that aligns with your business goals.

    Here’s a closer look at the three main types of laundromats:

    • Self-Service Laundromats

      The most common type is self-service laundromats, where customers wash and dry their own clothes. These facilities are equipped with coin-operated or card-operated machines, allowing users to choose the settings and duration of their laundry.

      Self-service laundromats are popular because they are affordable and convenient. Customers can do their own laundry at their own pace and schedule.


      • Lower operational costs and minimal staffing requirements.

      • Allows customers to control their laundry process and schedule.


      • May not appeal to customers seeking convenience or those with busy schedules.

      • Income can be inconsistent, depending on customer usage.

    • Full-Service Laundromats

      Full-service laundromats offer a more hands-on approach by providing washing, drying, and folding services for customers. Staff members handle the entire laundry process, freeing up time for customers to focus on other tasks.

      This model is ideal for busy individuals or those who prefer the convenience of dropping off and picking up their clean laundry. Full-service laundromats often charge a premium for their added convenience and personalized service.


      • Attractive to busy customers who prefer to outsource their laundry tasks.

      • Can charge premium prices for added services.


      • Increased operational costs due to staffing and supplies.

      • Relies heavily on a consistent customer base willing to pay for premium services.

    • Combination Laundromats

      Combination laundromats blend the self-service and full-service models, offering both options under one roof. Customers can choose to do their own laundry or opt for the full-service treatment.

      This model provides flexibility and caters to a broader range of customer preferences, making it a versatile option for laundromat owners. Combination laundromats can attract a wider customer base by offering the convenience of full-service, along with the cost-effective benefits of self-service.


      • Offers both self-service and full-service options, catering to a wider customer base.

      • Ability to attract diverse customers with varied preferences.


      • Managing both service types can be more challenging and resource-intensive.

      • Requires significant upfront capital to establish both service models.

    Breakdown of Startup Costs for Your Laundromat

    Starting a laundromat involves several expenses that can add up quickly. Understanding these costs will help you create a realistic budget and ensure a smooth start for your business. Here’s a breakdown of the main startup costs:

    • New vs. Existing Laundromat

      While we've explored the startup costs of opening a new laundromat, there's another option: purchasing an existing business. Here's a quick comparison of the laundromat startup cost considerations for each approach:

      New laundromats offer a fresh start with the ability to customize everything from equipment to layout. However, you'll shoulder the full upfront costs of build-out, equipment, and establishing a customer base.

      Buying an established laundromat can potentially offer a quicker path to profitability as it already has a customer base and operational systems in place. However, the purchase price can be higher as you're essentially paying for the existing business, equipment, and potential goodwill. Additionally, you might inherit outdated equipment or need to make renovations to modernize the space. Carefully review the laundromat's financial records and condition before making a purchase decision.

    • Location

      The location you choose can significantly impact your budget. Here are a few factors to consider:

      Rent vs. Purchase

      Renting offers more flexibility and potentially lower upfront costs. The only downside is that you won’t build equity in the property. Buying the building gives you long-term ownership and the potential for appreciation in value, but doing so requires a larger initial investment.

      Area Demographics

      Ideally, your laundromat should be in a populated area with limited in-unit laundry facilities. Look for neighborhoods with plenty of apartments, student housing, or busy families who would rely on laundromat services.


      The size and space should comfortably accommodate the number of washers and dryers you plan to have, along with customer seating, carts, and potentially additional amenities.


      Good visibility from the street and easy access to parking are crucial for attracting customers. Make sure there are convenient entry and exit points, especially for customers carrying laundry baskets.

    • Equipment

      The machines are the heart of your laundromat, and washers and dryers are where a significant portion of your budget will go. Generally, expect commercial washers and dryers to range from $800 to $3,000 each, but the exact prices vary depending on several factors:

      • Capacity, which refers to how much laundry the machine can handle, is a major influence. Larger capacity machines cost more but allow customers to wash bulky items like comforters.

      • Efficiency in terms of energy and water usage also affects costs, and high-efficiency models are typically more expensive.

      • Features like multiple wash cycles, coin or card operation, and even steam cleaning capabilities add to the price tag.

      Aside from washers and dryers, you might also want to purchase a few extras to make your laundromat more customer-friendly, like change machines. Change machines are essential for those using coins, and can cost a few thousand dollars.

      Laundry carts help customers move their clothes around and typically cost less than $100 each. Seating provides a comfortable waiting area for customers, and basic chairs can be relatively inexpensive. You might also want to invest in vending machines that can dispense snacks, drinks, and even laundry supplies.

    • Renovation and Build-Out

      Renovation costs can vary greatly depending on the work required. Be prepared for potential expenses related to plumbing, flooring, and electrical upgrades.

      Depending on the space’s current state, you might need to upgrade the plumbing to handle the high water usage of laundry materials. Durable, water-resistant flooring is a must, and the electrical system may require adjustments to accommodate your washers and dryers.

      Obtaining the necessary permits and passing inspections are crucial steps before opening your doors. These ensure your laundromat meets safety regulations for plumbing, electrical work, and overall building code. Factor in the associated fees for permits and inspections when budgeting for renovations.

    • Legal and Licensing Fees

      Before you can welcome your first customer, you need to clear some legal hurdles. Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits allows you to operate your laundromat legally and assures your customers that your business meets safety regulations.

      These licenses can vary depending on your location but typically include a general business license and possibly fire safety or health department permits. In addition to the standard business licenses, you might also need permits for signage or specific types of laundry equipment, like boilers for high-heat drying.

      Depending on the complexity of your setting up your business structure, consulting with a lawyer might be necessary. Their expertise can help you navigate legal considerations like choosing a business entity (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.) and ensure you comply with all regulations.

      While legal consultations add to the overall cost, they can save you headaches and potential fines down the road.

    • Financing Options

      Launching a laundromat can require a significant investment. Thankfully, there are financing options available to help you bridge the gap between your budget and your dream. Here's a glimpse at some common small business loans:

      Small Business Term Loan

      Small business term loans are traditional business loans with a fixed interest rate and repayment term (typically 3-10 years). It can be used to cover a wide range of startup costs, from equipment and renovations to initial inventory.

      Business Line of Credit

      A business line of credit offers more flexibility compared to a term loan. It functions like a credit card with a pre-approved spending limit. You only pay interest on the amount you actually use, making it suitable for covering unexpected expenses or seasonal fluctuations in customer traffic.

      Equipment Financing

      Equipment financing focuses specifically on financing the purchase of laundry machines and other equipment. It often comes with favorable terms tailored to the lifespan of laundry equipment.

      Asset-Based Loan

      An asset-based loan leverages your existing assets, such as real estate or even existing equipment if buying an established laundromat, as collateral to secure financing. It can be a good option if you have strong collateral but limited cash flow for a down payment.

      SBA Loans

      The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a variety of SBA loan programs specifically designed for small business owners, including laundromats. These loans can provide attractive terms and repayment options, making them a good option for financing your laundromat venture.

      Remember, each option has its own pros and cons, eligibility requirements, and interest rates. It's wise to consult with a lender to explore your options and choose the financing solution that best suits your specific situation.

    • Other Startup Costs

      While the equipment and location are major investments, there are additional laundromat costs to consider before opening your laundromat:

      Initial Inventory

      You’ll need to stock up on laundry supplies like detergent, fabric softener, and stain removers to offer customers convenience and potentially generate extra revenue. Consider offering a variety of options at different price points to cater to different customer needs, like eco-friendly detergents or specialty stain removers.


      Proper insurance is essential for protecting your business. This could include general liability insurance to cover accidents on the premises and business interruption insurance in case of unexpected closures, such as burst pipes or major appliance breakdowns. If you're hiring employees, you'll need to get a workers compensation insurance and unemployment insurance.

      Depending on your location and the specific features of your laundromat, you might also want to consider additional coverage for theft, vandalism, or even boiler and machinery breakdowns.

      Marketing and Advertising

      Many people sleep on marketing and advertising when they’re first starting out, but it’s crucial to spread the word about your business.

      Consider a mix of online and offline marketing strategies. Develop a website or social media presence to showcase your laundromat’s amenities and highlight its convenient location. Flyers, local newspaper ads, or even targeted online advertising can also be effective in reaching your target audience.

      Remember the power of a well-placed sign to attract customers driving or walking by. A grand opening promotion with special discounts, customer loyalty programs, or free laundry services can be a great way to generate buzz and get customers through the door.

      Security Measures

      Deter theft and vandalism with a comprehensive security system. This might include security cameras strategically placed throughout your store, both inside and outside. Good lighting in the parking lot and around the building can help deter crime and ensure customer safety.

      Depending on your location and the overall security situation, you might also consider an alarm system or even hiring security personnel during peak hours. While these security measures add to the cost, they can give you peace of mind, protect your investment, and create a safe and welcoming environment for your customers.

    Ongoing Operational Costs for Your Laundromat Business

    Once your laundromat is up and running, there will be ongoing expenses to factor into your budget. Here’s a breakdown of some of them:

    • Rent or Mortgage

      This will likely be your biggest ongoing expense. As mentioned earlier, the location you choose significantly impacts this cost. A prime location with high foot traffic might come with higher monthly leasing costs, but it can also translate into more customers and potentially higher revenue.

      On the other hand, a more affordable location might require additional marketing efforts to attract customers. The impact of location on rent or mortgage payments is an ongoing consideration throughout the life of your business.

    • Utility Costs

      Keeping your laundromat running smoothly requires a steady supply of utilities. This translates to water, electricity, and potentially gas costs depending on your dryer type.

      Commercial laundry machines use a significant amount of water, and this cost will fluctuate depending on water rates in your area and the volume of laundry processed. Opting for high-efficiency washers can help minimize water usage and keep these costs down.

      Powering dryers and other commercial laundry equipment contribute to your electricity bill. Similar to water, energy-efficient machines can help reduce electricity consumption and associated costs.

      Some laundromats utilize gas-powered dryers or hot water heaters. If this applies to your setup, factor in the cost of gas as well.

    • Maintenance and Repair

      Even the most durable commercial laundry machines require regular maintenance and occasional repairs. Budgeting for these costs is crucial to ensure the smooth operation of your business. Regular maintenance helps:

      • Extend the lifespan of your equipment by proactively addressing minor issues. This can prevent major breakdowns, which require expensive repairs or even equipment replacements.

      • Maintain efficiency. Properly maintained machines operate at peak efficiency, which translates to lower utility costs (water and electricity) in the long run.

      • Minimize downtime. Unexpected equipment breakdowns can significantly disrupt your business and lead to lost revenue. Regular maintenance helps identify and address potential problems before they cause major downtime.

      While the exact cost of maintenance and repairs can vary depending on the specific issue and equipment involved, expect to spend somewhere between $120 and $500 per service call. By budgeting for these ongoing costs, you can avoid unpleasant surprises and ensure your laundromat continues to operate smoothly.

    • Supplies

      Don't forget to factor in the ongoing cost of restocking laundry supplies like detergent, fabric softener, stain removers, and dryer sheets. These may seem like minor expenses, but they can add up over time. Here are some tips for managing supply costs:

      • Negotiate bulk purchases with suppliers. If you anticipate high demand, consider buying detergent and other supplies in bulk to potentially get a better price per unit.

      • Offer a variety of options. Different customer preferences and budgets can be accommodated by offering a range of detergent options, from basic to eco-friendly.

      • Track usage and optimize stock. Monitor how quickly supplies are used and adjust your ordering accordingly to avoid overstocking or running out unexpectedly.

    • Staffing (Optional)

      The need for staff can vary depending on the size and operational model of your laundromat.

      Self-service laundromats typically require minimal staffing, with one or two employees on hand during peak hours to handle customer inquiries, assist with machine operation (especially for complex machines), and maintain cleanliness.

      If you offer wash-and-fold services or pick-up and delivery, you'll need additional staff to handle these tasks. This could include laundry processors who handle washing, drying, and folding clothes, as well as drivers for pick-up and delivery services.


    Opening a laundromat can be a steady business venture, but as we've seen, there are upfront costs to consider. The overall investment can range anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000, with location, equipment choices, and renovation needs being major cost factors. While the laundry business offers advantages like minimal inventory needs and cash-based transactions, a well-defined plan is crucial for success in the laundromat industry.

    Remember: The success of your laundromat hinges on careful planning, financial responsibility, and a commitment to providing excellent customer service. With a well-thought-out strategy and hard work, you can turn your dream into a reality.

    About the Author

    Ezra Neiel Cabrera has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurial Marketing. Over the last 3 years, she has been writing business-centric articles to help small business owners grow and expand. Ezra mainly writes for SMB Compass, but you can find some of her work in All Business, Small Biz Daily, LaunchHouse, Marketing2Business, and Clutch, among others. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in bed eating cookies and binge-watching Netflix.