Laundrettes Are Practically Non-Existent in Switzerland

>From the sublime (Athens) to the totally ridiculous (washing machines).

The day before I left for Athens, I had a load of whites in the washing machine which had beeped to tell me the cycle had finished. I dragged the load out of the machine and discovered it was still very wet. I set the machine for another spin and waited with a cup of tea and some trashy tv…. The machine beeped at me again and I went to pull the clothes out again. Wet again. I decided the spin cycle was being dodgy but this had happened before and all I’d had to do was set the machine on another cycle and it came good in the end. I loaded it up again with some darks and set the machine to go.

Forty minutes or so later, the machine beeped at me to tell me it was finished. When I went to pull the clothes out, they’d hardly even been wet. Or so I thought. I discovered that yes, the water had run through the the machine but now the drum wasn’t turning at all. Oh, fantastic- just exactly what I needed the day before I was leaving for three days and the week before the Easter weekend. A broken bloody washing machine.

Long story short- I’ve been without a washing machine for two whole weeks today. I’ve washed by hand- it was awful and I still have a horrible blister on my left thumb from wringing out my husband’s underwear. That’s something I should never have to type. I think about my poor old Grandma, washing by hand for a family of seven children. I mean, I think she had a wringer so never got a blister from wringing out my Grandad’s undies but still. I nearly had a nervous breakdown washing for five of us! I wasn’t made for the olden days, no matter how much I love the fashions and hair-dos.

I’ve also washed in a friend’s machine- the day before we left for our Easter break in the mountains- while she made me coffee and talked me down from my nervous exhaustion brought on by hand washing two bathloads of washing. My Swiss friends are lovely but I really don’t want to bother them with my tales of laundry woe. This is when I miss living closer to my Mum or in-laws.

And finally, we searched tirelessly for laundrettes in the Zürich area. There are possibly three in the entire city of Zürich (which is a half hour drive from here, anyway). Laundrettes simply do not figure in the Swiss way of life. Mostly, if an apartment doesn’t have its own washing machine here in Switzerland, there is a communal machine in the cellars of the apartment block. No need for lugging your laundry down the road with a tupperware tub of detergent, a fist full of coins and a magazine to while away the wait as your smalls are washed in an industrial-sized machine. No, here you’re more likely to find a service-wash place which, as our local Wasch Salon does, charges you a small fortune to wash, dry, iron and fold 1kg of laundry (12CHFs/kg at our local one- you can imagine how many kgs of washing a family of five has after nearly two weeks!). We called the local place anyway and asked if they could help us in our emergency. They were very kind and took 4 x 10kg machine (not quite 40kgs since some loads were not quite full loads but had to be washed separately) loads off our hands to just wash for us. We got a special deal on the price but I’m still too embarrassed by how much it was to tell you how much it cost.

The Siemens man came to see the machine on Wednesday. 600chfs to fix it or get a new one since it’s already 10 years old. Thankfully our landlord agreed to a new machine*. It should arrive within a couple of days. I’m writing today off, since it’s lunchtime and I’ve had no call from Siemens to arrange delivery. Maybe on Monday. I wait here patiently as my laundry piles up again around my ears……

*In Switzerland, most of the apartments come with all mod cons- washing machine, dryer, cooker etc. Trouble is then, that when it breaks down, you’re at the landlord’s mercy to get it all fixed.