Written by Ezinne Edet
I know what you’re thinking…why the fuss about laundry? Well, doing laundry in Sweden is a big deal. If you live in an apartment (which most people do) that does not come with a washer and dryer, you are left with two options: buy a washer and dryer or get acquainted with the laundry room.
Coming from a country where there is enough sunshine nearly all year round, doing laundry is not something you make a big plan for. All you need to do is pack up the dirty clothes, wash, rinse, dry (outside on a line), and after some hours, your clothes are crisp and clean. So, moving to Sweden with that mindset about how laundry works, I was not in the least prepared for the culture shock that was about to hit me.
A day after my family and I moved into our apartment in Sweden, I dashed into the laundry room with our dirty clothes and threw them into the washer. I set the timer and rushed upstairs to get myself busy with other chores.
Forty minutes later, I dashed back into the laundry room to get the clothes out of the machine but noticed that something was off. The machines were dead silent, the controls were unresponsive, and strangely, nothing was working. What could have happened?
I later learnt it was past laundry time, so the machines had to be shut down. The bad news is, my clothes were stuck in the washer until the next morning, and the first slot had already been pre-booked by one of my neighbours. Talk about learning how to do laundry the hard way!
How Laundry Works in Sweden
If you do not have a washer and dryer installed in your apartment, you could either buy one and install yourself or, every week, spend at least one day in the laundry room.
The Laundry Room
Most apartments in Sweden have a communal laundry room—tvättstuga—with washers, tumble dryers, drying rooms/cabinets, and instructions on how to use them. This room is usually located at the basement or ground floor of the building and using the laundry room is totally free.
Never ignore the instructions on the wall of the laundry room. Although they are usually written in Swedish, this is one place Google Translate will come in very handy. Different rules apply to different rooms, so it is important you understand the instructions to get a hang of how the machines and the laundry room work.
The Booking System
The laundry room operates on a booking system. There are two types of laundry booking system in Sweden: the manual and digital booking system. With the manual system, you use a laundry lock to book a slot on a board inside the laundry room, while you use an electronic tag to make a booking with the digital system.
The laundry booking system, whether manual or digital, allows you to book a preferred day and time (usually 2 to 6 hours) for your laundry. In Sweden, laundry time is serious business.
After you have booked a slot, you must do your laundry (washing and drying) at your booked time. As a rule of thumb, if you are about thirty minutes to an hour behind schedule, a neighbour can “steal” your slot without prior notice.
Therefore, you may need to sort and pack dirty laundry beforehand, as well as the detergent and softener. Also, make sure to pack up and leave the laundry room as soon as your time is up. You don’t want to be caught encroaching into your neighbour’s laundry time.
Before leaving the laundry room, make sure it is in good shape. Clean the dryer lint trap, sweep the floor, mop up wet surfaces, take out the trash (if necessary). Just make sure the room is tidy enough for the next person to use.
Rinse and Repeat
Once you are done, don’t forget to book your next laundry time, then repeat the process all over again.
So much information just to understand how laundry works. I know, right? But, trust me, it gets easier with time.
It is amazing how something as little as doing laundry can cause a huge culture shock for newcomers. Apart from figuring out how to do laundry, you can read about other basic everyday info that newbies to Sweden need to have at their fingertips.
Did you have any problems doing laundry when you moved to Sweden? Is the method of doing laundry in your home country different from that of Sweden? Leave a comment to let us know.
About the Author
Hej! I am a Nigerian studying a Master of Science in Management at the University of Gothenburg. I have travelled around different countries in Africa, but this is my first time living and studying in another continent. I see living in a new country as an opportunity to learn a new culture, language, and create new networks and experiences. I will be posting about my experiences in Sweden, as a newbie, and sharing information to help you settle in fast. Enjoy!