Economics of washing

The Village residence hall houses 220 people for 8 months out of the year. There are eight washing machines for clothing that charge 75¢ per wash. Let us assume each student does one load of wash per week. That works out to $82.50 per machine per month, or $660 per machine for the academic year. Assume that Brandeis gets a cut of that (since they always do). Let’s say 20%. So Conway, the company that provides the machines, makes $528 per machine per year.

Conway has the cost of the machine, let’s estimate that a high-grade vending washing machine costs $3500, just to choose a figure. There is the maintenance cost involved in emptying the machine of quarters every week and performing maintenance. Using these figures, it would take Conway almost 7 years to pay off the machine, not including labor costs and upkeep. I doubt the machines last 7 years, so I guess these numbers are off — people must be doing more loads of wash per week.

We’ve gotten this far, so let’s just assume that our numbers are valid, even though they probably aren’t. The washing machine in my basement serves 16 (I think) people, most of the year. For simplicity we’ll say that everyone does one load of wash a week for all 12 months of the year. The cost per load here is $1.75, so this works out to $1344 for the machine for the year. Wow! To be fair, let’s assume the landlord takes 20%, just like Brandeis. That knocks the revenue down to $1075.

Conway is making $528/year providing a machine to Brandeis, but they are making $1075/year — double — providing the machine in my apartment. Wow. What a rip-off.

3 replies on “Economics of washing”

  1. maybe they are subsidizing the poor college students on the backs of the working class apartment dwellers in the city

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