Laundromats, a preferred laundry solution for Nairobi’s middle-class

The number of ‘Nairobians’ using ‘Mama fua’ services as we call them is slowly diminishing due to the rise of a new laundry solution in the country. This is a model where you take your week’s laundry to a nearby laundromat and in a couple of hours they are done and sparkling clean at an affordable cost.

A laundromat is a simple concept where you provide reliable, efficient, commercial washers and dryers in a retail space and request payment for the usage of the machines.

This is very different from what we know as dry cleaners as the latter uses solvent to wash while laundromats use ordinary soap or sometimes high end commercial detergents.

Currently, there are less than 10 laundromats in Nairobi with a few in other parts of the country. The country has also seen increased global investor appetite to support Kenyans set up this noble  business concept.

In 2018, Alliance Laundry systems set foot in the country and have supported a few businesses while most recently, Mr. Jeff a Spainian on demand laundry service announced plans to inject Kshs. 3million in establishment of laundry hubs in December 2019.

It is no secret by that Kenyans like technologically based solutions that are fast, reliable, convenient and affordable and would go to any lengths to go for that service.

While some of the already existing laundromats are coin-operated, some aren’t perhaps due to the high operational cost required to set up coupled with the fact that Kenyans aren’t accustomed to the laundromat concept and confuse it with a drycleaner.

Ideally and in most developed markets, laundromats are set up with commercial machines but due to the high cost of buying the machines, some start-ups are using domestic washing machines and dryers with the hope of buying commercial ones with time.

In most laundromats a duvet will cost between Kshs 600 -1000 bob while a load of clothes – (measured in kilos, 7kg to 10kg) costing between Kshs 450 – 700 bob. The most interesting thing and perhaps most liked by customers about this laundry solution is the ability to turn around laundry in a very short time. Usually between 1- 2 hours weather notwithstanding. This is so because of the high end commercial driers that quickly dry laundry in minutes after a rigorous spin in the washing machine during the wash cycle.

Gone are the days when you want to put your big 6x 6 duvet in a basin and step on it with the hope that it will get clean after 10 or so minutes. Take it to a laundromat and they will sort your problems one load a time.

Elisha Kamau is a Communications Consultant and Founder of Babafua Laundromat.

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