The Risk of Having a Laundry Business

Louise Balle

According to the Coin Laundry Association, a coin operated laundromat can bring in anywhere between $15,000 to $200, 000 a year. There are over 35,000 of these owner-operator businesses in the United States. When you run a laundry business, there are many benefits, such as a consistent cash income without the need for direct contact with customers. There are also significant risks, which are detailed here.

Problems With High Utility Bills

One of the highest costs associated with running a laundromat is utilities. That includes electric, gas and water bills. At many laundromats, lights stay on for 24 hours. The washers and dryers use gas (for hot water), electricity and water. The owner also has to provide heat or air conditioning for patrons. Utility costs can be as much as 30 percent of the gross income, although energy-efficient machines can trim this to 15 percent to 25 percent.

If the laundromat owner gets overwhelmed with high utility bills and cannot pay, he is at the mercy of the electric and water company. If utilities are shut off and he cannot bring the accounts current in time, the laundry business is doomed.

Unexpected Events

The laundromat owner is also vulnerable to problems with public utility companies that are out of his control. There is always the risk of water-main breaks and unforeseen power outages that could put the business out of commission for hours or even days.

Machine Issues

Another high cost is the machine maintenance. Since laundromat owners do not always monitor every washing machine or dryer at all times, there is the risk of misuse of the machines by patrons. For example, if a customer ignores warnings not to put a large comforter in a small machine, the equipment could break down. The repair cost must be paid by the owner out of pocket.


A laundromat owner may have to deal with disputes between customers. One common problem arises when a patron leaves his clothes in a washer or dryer for too long, and another patron removes the clothes on his behalf. There may also be arguments over stolen clothing or property that the laundry business owner may have to resolve.

Handling Cash

Because a laundromat is a cash-driven business, the owner has to handle and transport a lot of cash (mostly quarters) to and from the bank. Unlike a retail store, there are no credit card sales that can be deposited directly to a bank account. So the owner is at risk of having a large amount of cash stolen from the business unless he implements tight security and money-handling procedures.