Yes, this is an article about a laundromat.
Yes, you should keep reading.
Germantown Laundromat isn’t just any laundromat, after all. From the side of the road, the building stands out with a bold yellow exterior that’s particularly striking in contrast with the verdant Hudson Valley landscape that surrounds it. Upon first impression, it seems A. worth an impromptu visit, even if only to discover what it’s all about, and B. far more exciting than your standard laundry spot. Indeed, it is both of those things.
It’s also a community staple. Dating back to 1965, the Germantown Laundromat began its second life in town when Tracy Martin, the laundromat’s owner and a partner at Otto’s Market in Germantown, took charge of the space in October 2019. A few months of renovations later, she reopened it as a 24-hour laundry space in spring 2019. Shortly thereafter, she debuted the laundromat’s onsite sustainability shop in July.
“I had been dreaming of a pop-up space that makes the environmental climate crisis not feel so intimidating and depressing,” she says. “When I found out the laundromat was being sold, I knew the services provided by it were very needed in the community.”
With the help of friend and business partner Janice Christie, she redesigned the laundromat to be as eco-friendly as possible. After putting in her research, she chose high-end washers and dryers by Wascomat from Laundry Nation. The machines, which are powered by wind and solar energy from Green Mountain Energy, save resources by weighing clothing beforehand so as to determine the precise amount of water needed.
And that’s just the start of it. In the back of the shop, the laundromat keeps a basket for clothing donations. Visitors can drop off clothing or swap items as they prefer. At the end of each month, any remaining clothes go straight to the Salvation Army of Hudson for a second life in the Hudson Valley.
For clothes that are in OK condition but need a little TLC, Germantown Laundromat offers Friday mending services by artist and quilt maker Jamie Lyn Kara for anyone who wants to prolong the life of their favorite t-shirts and jeans.
In regard to the space itself, the laundromat embodies Martin’s drive to make cleaner living an easy, achievable goal. Inside the Wes Anderson-inspired edifice, the lights run on timed motion sensors and the restored furniture comes from ReStore, The Antique Warehouse, and Historic Albany Architectural Parts Warehouse. The WiFi is free, and the trash setup includes compost and recycling options. In the warmer months, the laundromat even has outdoor backyard seating with a bocce court and cornhole for locals who want to get moving while the wash cycle wraps.
Within the sustainable shop, which is currently open Thursdays through Sundays, a bulk refill station stocks necessities like cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, and soaps. It’s also a one-stop shop for items that decrease waste and consider sustainable life cycles, with everything from bamboo toothbrushes and toilet paper made from alternative materials to eco-friendly feminine hygiene products and reusable bags.
In every detail, the focus is on “how we can be making buying choices that benefit your body and the earth,” Martin, who resides in Claverack, explains. To supplement the services at Germantown Laundromat, she offers a number of workshops to teach locals about everything from creating their own cleaning supplies to making minor repairs to their clothes.
“We’re using this as an example to really create change within the community,” Martin enthuses. “People tend to feel overwhelmed by the climate crisis, and we are all so accustomed to the throwaway culture that surrounds us. We wanted to create a space that felt like hope and made those first steps toward living cleaner accessible and inclusive.”