Rogers Park resident Asher Lea arrived at Tide Laundromat for the first time Tuesday afternoon with detergent and dryer sheets in tow — only to find out she didn’t need them.
The first-of-its-kind laundromat, 7558 N. Western Ave., features automatic dosing machines, meaning all detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets are built-in and included in the price of the wash. Consumers can choose from Tide and Gain detergents, Downy and Gain fabric softeners and Bounce dryer sheets.
Procter & Gamble launched the Tide Laundromat in Rogers Park on Dec. 13. The facility is owned by Chicago laundromat operators Tony and Richard Kahan through a licensing agreement with Tide.
“We’re changing the way that people do laundry,” Tony Kahan said. “I was expecting to have real issues with consumers accepting us controlling the detergent and softener, and we have found quite the opposite. People really appreciate it — you’re not lugging around big bottles anymore.”
There are about four dozen touch-screen washing machines — small, medium, large and jumbo — and a similar number of dryers. Tide Laundromat boasts its machines can wash and dry loads in as little as 35 minutes. The price changes with the size of the load: Small loads cost $4.75, mediums are $7.50, larges are $9.75 and jumbos are $12.50. Each six-minute drying cycle costs a quarter.
Lea said she came to Tide Laundromat that afternoon because she was doing errands nearby. She usually goes to a laundromat by Morse and Ashland avenues, where she said a wash is about $1.50 cheaper than at Tide. But the included detergent, softener and dryer sheets can be convenient, she said, and the clean-looking facility is a perk.
“I’m just starting my wash right now,” Lea said. “So far, so good.”
Tide Laundromat is a bit pricier than other laundromats in the area. At Dreamland Clean & Wash on West Howard Street, the biggest load costs $7.75. Econo Coin Laundry on North Clark Street also varies its price based on size, with the heaviest loads priced at $5. But at those locations, consumers would have to bring their own detergent and dryer sheets.
The Tide machines come with standard coin slots, but users can load money on a Tide app with a credit card or by using a cash kiosk in the store. The mobile app allows users to check the availability of machines, pay for loads and receive notifications when loads are complete. The app also offers a loyalty program called Tide Rewards for repeat users.
Though the industry has taken a hit during the pandemic, Tony Kahan said the Tide Laundromat facility was adjusted in the design process to account for COVID-19 precautions. The auto-dosing machines eliminate the need for users to touch multiple surfaces and have sanitation cycles that run daily, he said. The interior of the building includes socially distanced counters for folding and spread-out seating.
A Tide representative said the company has no immediate plans for expansion but early consumer response has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
Rogers Park resident Erin Machemer took advantage of Tide Laundromat’s spacious counters Tuesday when she arrived with several loads of laundry. After her home’s washing machine broke, she decided to try out the new laundromat with her young daughter in tow.
“I came here because I knew it was going to be clean and that the machines were new so they would work well,” Machemer said. “I think it is a little bit more expensive, but for me to have some place clean where I can bring my kid while I’m [doing laundry], she can sit there and I don’t have to worry about her touching all the gross stuff. That was really important.”