How Do I Choose the Best Coin-Operated Washing Machine?

Jeremy Laukkonen

There are a number of different factors you can look at when choosing a coin-operated washing machine, many of which are directly related to how you plan on using it. Some important features to consider are the load size and wash duration, which can effect the profitability of the unit. You can also make some extra money from this type of machine if it has the ability to dispense detergents and fabric softeners. Many newer units also have tamper proof functionality, which can help prevent potential customers from obtaining free wash cycles. Exactly how important each feature is to you can depend on how much the unit will be used, which may hinge largely on whether you own a laundromat or are just looking to install a coin-operated washing machine in a rental unit.

Some coin-operated washing machines will automatically dispense fabric softener.
Some coin-operated washing machines will automatically dispense fabric softener.

The size of each load that a coin-operated washer can handle, along with the length of time it takes to complete, can be important if you operate a laundromat. You may want to look for large capacity machines that work quickly, because this can allow more customers to use the units. Most coin-operated units allow you to adjust the amount that each load costs, so you can charge an appropriate amount based on load size.

Some coin-operated washers can automatically dispense bleach for an extra cost.
Some coin-operated washers can automatically dispense bleach for an extra cost.

If you are installing a unit in a rental property, capacity and speed may not be as important. When you provide a coin-operated washing machine to your tenants you have a limited number of potential customers, so getting more people in and out quickly will not necessarily result in larger profits. For these situations, you may look at other features that can help your bottom line. A coin-operated washer that automatically dispenses detergent, fabric softener, and bleach for an extra cost can provide an additional revenue stream. In a laundromat setting, you may prefer to have separate vending machines to provide those products.

It's important to be familiar with how a washing machine works before putting any coins in it.
It's important to be familiar with how a washing machine works before putting any coins in it.

Another important factor to consider when buying a coin-operated washing machine is theft. Coin boxes that are not well secured can invite the attention of thieves, but you can also lose money if people are able to circumvent the payment mechanism altogether. Many older machines have known vulnerabilities that make it relatively easy to use a washing machine without putting any coins in, or by using slugs or lower valued foreign money. If theft is a concern to you, you should look for a model that is well secured.

Some washing machines may work better with powder detergent rather than liquid.
Some washing machines may work better with powder detergent rather than liquid.

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Discussion Comments


My mother and I used to do our laundry at a laundromat. It was always so packed, and she saw a need in the community for more washers and dryers.

She owns a thrift store and alterations business, and she decided to invest in a coin-operated washer and dryer to put in her store. She made up flyers and ran a small ad in the newspaper announcing the new addition, and people took advantage of it.

That washer and dryer stay busy almost all day, every day. People would much rather come to a quiet location to do their laundry than to fight for a place in line at the crowded laundromat.

When picking out a washer and dryer, my mother knew she wanted ones that would do a load quickly. People don't like to wait around.

She has made quite a chunk of change off of her washer and dryer. We never have to dig around for quarters, though we do have to roll them frequently!


A lot of property owners choose to put coin-operated washers in highly visible areas. This cuts down on theft attempts.

I work at the front desk of an apartment complex, and my boss first installed a coin-operated washer in an outdoor laundry room. He did this because we lock the main ffice at night, and he wanted people to be able to do their laundry at all hours.

However, the washer got broken into and all the coins stolen. So, he moved it into the main office. Some people are upset about only being able to do their laundry from 9 in the morning til 7 in the evening, but it was necessary.


@shell4life: That's great advice, and definitely something landlords should take into consideration when looking for coin-op washing machines.

Aside from potentially damaging the machine, the extra suds and water overflow created by using regular detergent in a high-efficiency machine can also promote the growth of mold and mildew.

I imagine that would be a huge headache to have to deal with.


@OeKc05 – I had a high-efficiency coin-operated washer installed in the property that I lease out. It sounded like a great idea, because it was supposed to use twenty gallons less water than conventional washers.

However, it only works when people use high-efficiency laundry detergent. I had a couple of tenants who didn't read the sign on the washer, and they poured in regular detergent.

Since high-efficiency washers spin much more rapidly, the regular detergent produced too many suds. This made the pump lock up, and the washer automatically sensed this and shut off.

So, my advice to all you landlords out there is to just get a conventional coin-operated washer. Though it won't save water, it will save you from more costly repairs and a lot of hassle.


The landlord installed a several coin-operated washing machines in the common area of my apartment complex. Sometimes it bothers me that I have to pay to do my laundry, because I was so used to doing it for free when I lived with my parents. However, I know that I cannot afford to buy my own unit, so I am willing to fork over the coins.

At least he installed newer, high-efficiency models. I don't have to worry about my clothes being roughed up by an ancient machine. I trust the gentle cycle to truly be gentle.

The washers do automatically dispense detergents if you choose, but I prefer to buy my own. I like certain scents, and I want to make sure there is no bleach in the detergent. I probably pay less by buying an entire bottle and making it last than I would in coins over time.

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