How to do laundry in Sweden

I lived in the north of Sweden for about a year in 2018/2019 while studying for my Masters in engineering. Moving to another country naturally required some adjustments to the lifestyle I was used to, but none were as big (or as bad) as doing laundry. It was the biggest source of frustration of my entire Swedish experience and you’re about to find out why.

I’ve taken the readily available washing machine for granted my entire life, as every flat I’d lived in until Sweden came with one, even when I lived in the UK. However, most flats in Sweden, particularly student apartments, don’t come with a washing machine. Instead, there are communal laundry rooms meant for a varying number of flats or buildings and, in true Swedish spirit, you need to book your laundry time in advance through a computerised system, which also didn’t work sometimes.

Where I lived, we had our washing machines in the basement of a next door building (several Swedish apartment buildings share the same entrance key) and we could book 4-5 hour laundry terms (3 per day between 7am and 9pm). There were two available laundry rooms, each equipped with two industrial-sized washing machine with limited programmes to choose from, a tumble dryer, a rack dryer and an ironing table with some other stuff.

Since there were many of us using the washing machines, my preferred terms were not always available and to complicate matters further, four of us lived in our flat at some point and all of us shared one laundry access key, i.e. only one of us could book a laundry term at once. So, getting a weekend laundry term was almost impossible and, since each term was 4 or 5 hours long, doing laundry turned into a whole day affair, as I had to wait for each cycle to finish, throw it into the dryer and wait for that as well.

At some point during winter when I had to stumble through the snow with all of my laundry bags, my frustration meter went off the charts and I made a snarky Swedish laundry “how to” guide to feel better:

I wish I could say it is greatly exaggerated, but doing laundry at our house really was a whole adventure, so I promised myself to always check if the flat comes with a washing machine in the future.

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