Brynne Conroy Published in Business Insider & The Penny Hoarder

Brynne Conroy, author of The Feminist Financial Handbook, has just had two articles published including one published on the Business Insider website! Read both articles here.

Here’s What You Need to Know to Start an In-Home Laundry Business

When you think of a laundry service, you may think of your neighborhood laundromat, with rows upon rows of washers and dryers.

But did you know that you can start your own wash-and-fold laundry business — and that you don’t need to invest in dozens of washers and dryers to do it?

Here’s how it works: Your clients leave their laundry outside their door for a scheduled pickup. You’ll pick up the laundry and take it home to wash, dry and fold. You’ll then return the laundry to the client, leaving the clean, folded clothes packaged outside their door.

This can all be done without face-to-face contact, which makes it a safe option for making money during the pandemic.

How to Start Your Own In-Home Laundry Business

Some cities — notably New York City — have their own wash-and-fold ecosystems. However, if you live outside these cities, you can start your own laundry service via platforms like TaskRabbit, Care.com and Laundry Care. This can make it easy to find clients in your own area.

You’ll need to get some basic equipment before launching your wash-and-fold side hustle:

  • Your own washer and dryer. You’re not going to make much profit if you’re taking your client’s laundry to the coin-op place.
  • A way to transport laundry from your client’s home to yours. In many places, this will require access to a vehicle. In densely populated areas, you may be able to use a cart or a bike.
  • A dedicated space to fold and prepare laundry. This is especially important during the pandemic, as you’ll need to keep this space sanitized both for your health and the health of your clients.

In addition to the basics, you may want to invest in these items as well:

  • Laundry bags or hampers. These will be used to transport the laundry. You may find it helpful to provide these to your clients prior to your first visit.
  • Garment covers. There may be times you launder a garment that should be on a hanger rather than folded. In these instances, you’ll want to have some garment covers on hand.
  • Bag tags. Labelling each load with the client’s name will save you a lot of headaches once you have multiple clients.
  • Hanging scale. Laundry services traditionally charge clients per pound. Having a hanging scale to measure each load of laundry will help you make sure your pricing stays competitive, should you opt to charge by the pound.

If you’re using a platform like TaskRabbit or Care.com to build your business, you may choose to bill per hour rather than pound, which eliminates the need for a scale. If you join a company like Laundry Care, scales and other items are commonly provided to you for a fee.

Finally, you’ll need to develop clear policies so your clients know what to expect. This is especially important to ensure safety and social distancing during the pandemic. Some things you’ll want to make clear can include:

  • How contactless pickup and delivery work.
  • Which items you will wash and which you will not.
  • How you’re ensuring safety as you handle each client’s order.

What You Can Earn With a Home Laundry Business

Typically, you can make between $15-$20 an hour with this side hustle. On platforms like TaskRabbit and Care.com, you can charge more as you get more positive reviews and your reputation on the platform grows.

On platforms like Laundry Care, clients will see laundry services priced per pound rather than per hour. If you use a platform with that pricing model, the platform will set the fee and handle your payout, averaging out to the $15-$20/hour range.

If you want to use a price-per-pound model but don’t want to use an online platform, you can figure out how to set your rates by researching going rates for your area. A 13-gallon bag generally weighs between 10-15 pounds, and pricing can range anywhere from $1/pound to $3/pound depending on your area.

You can earn more than $20 an hour by taking on commercial clients who have more regular and high-volume needs. If you take this route, you’ll want to invest in more than one washing machine and dryer for your home, and you’ll also need to account for how much extra energy expenses will eat into your profits. However, if you can do twice the laundry in half the time for larger-volume clients, your earnings skyrocket.

Safety Precautions During the Pandemic

Laundry itself is not considered a high-risk activity. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve learned that most transmission is contracted person-to-person via the respiratory system rather than through touching surfaces.

The CDC says it’s safe to do the laundry of sick people with the laundry of healthy people as long as certain hygiene measures — such as wearing gloves and washing hands — are taken. In addition, you should treat every client as if they were asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19.

How to Safely Do Business During the Pandemic

If you want to play it extra safe, protecting yourself from COVID-19 and other potential illnesses, you can put measures in place that meet or even exceed the CDC’s recommendations.

Lyndsee Campbell, Director of Marketing at Laundry Care, shares some of the pandemic safety measures their providers are encouraged to follow:

Wear a Mask While Handling Laundry

Wearing a mask protects your clients’ laundry from any germs you may have. Also, be aware that you could spread germs from the laundry to yourself. This doesn’t happen often, but to avoid the possibility, the CDC recommends against shaking out dirty laundry before washing it. Wearing a mask while you’re handling it can serve as an extra layer of protection — just in case.

Disinfect Everything

Wipe down any surfaces where you fold or prep clothes with disinfectant wipes. You’ll also want to sanitize your washing machine and dryer, including the drums inside. Finally, make sure you’re washing any laundry bags and deep cleaning hampers between each client.

Keep Laundry Separated by Client

Laundry Care requires its providers to keep each client’s laundry separate from each other. In light of the pandemic, it also recommends that prepping or sorting laundry is done in a different area than folding after the wash. Having two separate areas cuts down on any cross-contamination.

Use the Warmest Setting Possible

Use the warmest possible setting when you’re washing the clothes to combat any remnants of the virus. However, make sure to read the care tags on each piece of laundry to ensure you don’t use water temperatures that are too high and thus may damage the item.

Should You Start a Laundry Business?

Not everyone should start their own laundry service. If you hate doing laundry and the extra cash isn’t enough for you to stomach the chore, you’ll obviously want to count yourself out.

But let’s say you’re not put off by the task. You’ll still need the right equipment to wash, dry and transport laundry. If you’ve got these bases covered, starting your own wash-and-fold service can be a good socially-distant side hustle to help make ends meet during the pandemic.

If you decide to invest in business equipment like additional washers and dryers, it could even develop into a self-sustaining business that lasts through the pandemic and beyond.

Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.


How I’m getting $50 to $60 worth of ‘free’ groceries every month thanks to the pandemic

When the pandemic first hit, I couldn’t get a time slot for curbside groceries; the store was booked out for a week, and stopped taking reservations after that. But my family still needed food, so I ventured into those toilet-paper-free aisles. 

In this environment, I decided to start consolidating my shopping trips to twice per month instead of once a week. I wanted to limit my exposure to both the virus and the visual shock of empty shelves.

When curbside slots became accessible again, I kept up my twice-a-month ritual. I was building food storage, and a lot of the food items I was buying would keep. I didn’t need to make a weekly trip.

By shopping twice per month and utilizing store rewards, I’ve been able to get $50 to $60 worth of “free” food almost every month during the pandemic.

How I get $60 in free groceries

When I hit a certain rewards points threshold, my store gives me 20% off my grocery order. It just so happens that my monthly grocery spend helps me hit that threshold almost exactly.

That means about every other trip, I’m offered 20% off on my order. When I am focusing on maintaining or replenishing food storage, I’ll load up my virtual cart as usual. Then, I’ll buy about $60 worth of extra product that I’ll need in the future anyway. I can experiment with this online in a way that I simply couldn’t when I was browsing the aisles in person. With the 20% discount, that $60 gets knocked off my bill, making all that extra food free. 

I pay the same amount, but drive away with an extra $60 in free groceries.

If I were doing more than two trips per month, my orders would be smaller, reducing the impact of the 20% discount.

How I use my store rewards to make up budget shortfalls

The pandemic has not been smooth sailing for any of us, and I am no exception. There have been months where an emergency expense threw off my budget. I’m a freelancer, and my work has been more irregular than usual, causing cash flow hiccups from time to time.

When these things happen, you have to make up the money somewhere or risk dipping into savings. Rewards points help me use my grocery budget to make up some of the difference guilt-free.

In these instances, I will load up my cart as usual. As long as I’m comfortable with my food storage situation, I won’t load those extra groceries into the cart. I’ll choose my grocery bill as the place to “make up” the extra money I’ve spent that month.

I use the 20% discount on the order as-is. That takes about $50 off my bill, allowing me to reduce my grocery spend while still receiving the same amount of food to cover my family’s needs for two weeks. 

Why this works for me

This works because of the size of my family. If I were living on my own, I wouldn’t get nearly as many free groceries — and I certainly wouldn’t be spending enough money to earn them so frequently.

But if you have a family and are able to shop different grocery store rewards programs in your area, consolidating your shopping to fewer trips at just one store can help. It can help save you time. It can save you stress. And ultimately, it can get you free groceries.


The Feminist Financial Handbook

A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Wealthy Life (Feminism Book, for Readers of Hood Feminism or The Financial Diet)

Live your wealthiest life: Sometimes the best way to stick it to the man is by doing well for yourself. There’s just one problem: it’s hard to do well for yourself when systemic oppression has placed innumerable hurdles between you and your aspirations. The Feminist Financial Handbook provides real motivation and resources for real women who may be struggling—not only those who have already accumulated wealth.