A laundry mat is a coin operated commercial laundry facility. The term, laundry mat, is the incorrect form of the word, laundromat but is still in common use in some parts of North America. The word laundromat originated in the 1950s from the words laundry and automat. Laundry mats, or laundromats, are coin-operated laundry businesses used regularly by those without access to home laundry cleaning machines. These commercial coin laundries are also used by those wanting to wash items such as large comforters that may not fit in a regular-sized household washing machine.
Many laundromats have different sizes and types of washing machines available. For example, in addition to commercial washers that hold one load each, a laundromat may have a triple-loader washing machine that washes three loads of dirty laundry at once. The cost of the triple loader is usually a little less than the cost of using three single load commercial washing machines. The dryers in coin laundries may just be one size, but many laundromat dryers hold two loads.
The number of washers and dryers in a laundry mat depends on the size of the facility and the approximate number of customers it is meant to serve. Many coin laundry cleaning facilities have at least six washers and six dryers, but this varies widely. Apartment buildings may have one or two washers and dryers on each floor or one coin-operated laundry room with as few as four washers and dryers to serve the entire building.
To save space, dryers in laundromats are often mounted on the wall. A laundry mat may also have wall-mounted machines that dispense small sizes of laundry soaps and/or make change from paper money. Some coin laundries have staff laundry attendants available, but many do not. A laundry mat may provide a drop off and pick up laundry service for customers to use. Having the staff do the laundry costs more than just using the machines, yet it may be worth it to some people if they can drop their dirty laundry off to the laundry mat service in the morning before work and pick up their clean laundry on the way home from work.
Even the smallest-sized laundry mat is likely to have at least one small table for folding clothes. Larger laundromats may have extra features such as ceiling mounted televisions and vending machines that dispense coffee or snacks. Unlike in a home where there is just one washer and dryer so only one load of laundry can be done at once, several loads can usually be done at the same time in different machines in a laundry mat.