how to do laundry on Italy trip

A Traveler’s Guide to Doing Laundry in Italy

Most of my clients’ itineraries are one to three weeks long, and so the question of washing clothes (laundry in Italy) while traveling often comes up as we’re getting into the details, especially when there are small children or hot weather forecasts involved. People are often surprised that it’s not as simple as popping into a coin laundromat for a couple of hours. There are essentially four options for doing laundry while traveling, outlined below.

doing laundy in Italy

The best but least likely option:

accommodation with a washing machine

If you rent an entire villa, you can expect it to have a washing machine. But don’t assume a washer will be available for any other type of accommodation. If you’re renting an apartment or staying at a farmhouse, access to a washing machine is more likely – but still not a given. And when you do find accommodation with a washing machine, don’t expect it to have a clothes dryer. Most Italians hang their clothes on a line to dry – hence all those lovely laundry photos you’ll be able to snap in Italy!

The bottom line: if you absolutely need to have an on-site washing machine, know that it’s possible to find; you’ll just have to spend some time delving into the amenity details when booking your accommodations. For example in Florence, there are a number of self-catering apartments that have a washing machine and provide a folding clothing rack to hang your items to dry.

washing clothes in Italy

The most efficient but most expensive option:

laundry service

Hotels provide laundry service for a fee: you give them your dirty laundry, and they send it out to a local cleaners or laundromat and return it to you the next day, washed and ironed. The only downside to this method of washing clothes (laundry in Italy) is that it’s incredibly expensive – about 2 EUR per pair of socks, as you can see from the price list below that I pulled from one of my favorite 4-star hotels.

Italy hotel laundry price list

When I worked as a guide leading week-long biking and hiking trips, one time I ended up time-crunched with just a couple days between the end of one trip and the start of the next, and a ton of prep work to do. Since I absolutely needed to start my new trip with a suitcase of clean clothes, I used the hotel’s laundry service and it cost me over 200 EUR. Many of my clients opt for this solution, since they have limited vacation time and want to make the most of it, so the cost is worth the time they save. Plus your clothing will be delivered back to you washed and dried and ironed and neatly folded.

You could also visit the town’s lavanderia and drop your clothing off yourself (specifying that it’s for washing, not dry cleaning) and pick it up yourself the next day. Unless the lavanderia is next door to your hotel, this option is slightly more time-consuming and slightly less expensive but it still comes back washed, dried, and pressed.

how can I wash my clothes in Italy

The time-consuming, inexpensive option:

find a self-service laundromat

I planned a three-week, three-generation trip for clients who told me that they absolutely had to find somewhere to do the baby’s laundry about halfway through the trip; there was just no way they could pack enough clothing for her. I sent them the price list from their Amalfi Coast hotel and they balked. Couldn’t I find them a laundromat where they could go hang out for the day? As it turned out, the closest self-service laundromat was in Sorrento, which was over 30 miles away.

But, laundromats do exist. To find self-service laundromats for washing clothes (laundry in Italy) that will work for your itinerary, go to Google maps, use the “search nearby” function, and type in “lavanderia self-service. As you’ll see when you do this, they are few and far between – but you never know, you might get lucky. And, note, if you do find one, allow at least half a day, because Italian washing machine cycles are longer than North American ones since they have no hot-water hook-up but heat the water with a coil during the wash. The cooler the temperature you choose, the quicker the cycle.

laundry while traveling in Italy

The most realistic option for doing laundry in Italy:

your hotel sink

It says a lot that this is what Italians do when they go on vacation. They bring detergent with them and so should you, if only as a backup or to help in a pinch. It doesn’t hurt to ask the hotel for a plastic tub; often they will lend you one. Hang your clothes to dry in the bathroom, and ask your hotel whether there is an iron you can borrow (again, not a given in Italian hotel rooms though the front desk will usually have one you can borrow for a few hours). Then go spend your time and money exploring what Italy has to offer – including, I’m betting, snapping photos of laundry hanging to dry.

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