October 5, 2007

Second-year tries to clean up with laundry biz

George Tarmy wants to air your dirty laundry, literally.

Or, to be more specific, the second-year founder of Campus Laundry wants to pick up your bags of dirty laundry, bring them to a professional laundry service, and have them back to you the next day, folded and clean.

“I don’t like doing laundry,” Tarmy said. “Most other elite colleges have laundry services as well as basic washers and dryers. I thought there should be one here.”

Campus Laundry employs four laundry assistants stationed in the Broadview, Max Palevsky, Pierce, and the Shoreland dorms to collect laundry bags once a week from students for the price of 80 cents per pound.

Tarmy estimates that a full load of laundry weighs about 10 pounds, depending on the number of clothes.

“Because of the large amounts of laundry, we’re able to offer incredibly cheap prices,” he said. “And you don’t need to leave the dorm.”

All residence halls on campus are equipped with washing and drying facilities. Over the summer, prices were raised to $1 per machine, with students providing their own detergent and supplies.

It’s easy to see the appeal of a laundry service—in college, actually doing laundry involves scrounging for quarters, waiting for a free washer, and dealing with frequently broken machines and dryers that leave clothes damp. And there is also the ever-present possibility that an impatient hall mate will remove dry clothing from an idle dryer and promptly toss it on the floor.

Reactions among dorm residents seem mixed, however, as students weighed the cost of taking time to do laundry against the cost of paying someone to do it.

“That sounds like a really good service because it helps people get their laundry done and challenges the typical UChicago stereotype of being dirty and wearing dirty clothes,” second-year Evette Addai said.

On further reflection, though, she said it was more likely that she would do her laundry herself. “In Pierce, it’s very convenient—you just take the elevator down, throw it in, and go back upstairs to do work while you wait,” she said.

Second-year Josh Nalven, who said he recently spent $6 on washing and drying, was also skeptical, saying “I just don’t like people touching my stuff.”

Addai and others did express interest in a dry-cleaning service, which Tarmy is considering.

He said that business has not been stellar, but that he expects people to sign up as the year goes on. Each dorm needs 20 people registered for the service to be feasible, and Tarmy said he is still waiting for a few more people to join.

He is thinking about someday working in business, but definitively not with laundry, he said.

“This is more of a fun thing.”

People interested in Campus Laundry can visit the service’s website at