Ask Rentable: Dirty Laundry

At Rentable, we’re committed to helping you find the perfect apartment. But we also care about what happens once you’ve moved in. We started Dear Rentable to help you navigate the renter life, from rental agreements to roommates. Each week, we’ll answer a new user-submitted question.

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This week’s question comes from a renter in Milwaukee.

Dear Rentable,

I live in a house with shared laundry in the basement. It’s coin-op, and the machines are old, but it sure beats walking down the street to the laundromat during the winter.

My problem is with my second-story neighbor. It seems like every time I go down to the basement to do laundry, she’s already using the machines. She usually does four to five loads at a time, and she’s really bad about switching her clothes from the washer to the dryer on time. They often sit there for hours, waiting to be taken out. Also, she steals my detergent and dryer sheets.

I have no idea how my neighbor has so many things to wash, or why she can’t just move her wet clothes to the dryer when she’s finished washing them.

Short of doing my laundry at really weird times, what can I do?

At Wit’s End,

Because Leaving Everything Acrid Can’t Happen



Don’t wait until 4AM to get your fabric softener out. Instead, the next time you find yourself waiting in line behind four laundry baskets, knock on your neighbor’s door. Explain that you need to do some laundry, too, then do what you’d do in the gym, if someone were hogging all the weights: Ask to cut in.

Chances are, if she’s planned on doing four loads, she’s expecting to spend a few hours on laundry. Surely an extra 45 minutes won’t hurt — and even if her washing is urgent, she’ll at least know now that someone else is sharing the machines.

It sounds like your building is small. If it’s just you and your neighbor, you can also propose a laundry schedule: She gets Monday/Wednesday/Friday, you get Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, and Sunday? Sunday’s a free-for-all.

If you don’t have time to coordinate schedules, or your neighbor doesn’t answer her door, abide by the 20 minute rule: If you need to use the washer and there are wet clothes in it, your neighbor has 20 minutes to move them. After that, it’s fair to remove them and stack them neatly on top of the washer.

Just know that once you’ve used the 20-minute rule, you’re subject to it. So if you don’t want your neighbor rifling through your unmentionables, BLEACH, make sure you set your alarm.

Oh, and keep your detergent and dryer sheets in your apartment. Rookie mistake.