I Got My Laundry Laundered By An App-ish; My Honest Thoughts
And yes, I did feel extra bougee but it's all in the name of science, no?
In San Francisco, you've got the world—whether in beta, alpha, or whatever—at your fingertips. In my desperate attempt to not be productive, I turned to having my daily chores be handled by other people. Again, in the name of science. So when the laundry started to pile up, I reached out to my app store and gave good ole' Rinse a try.
Rinse, for those who don't wash from time to time, is the $23 million dollar "start-up" that will wash, fold, press, bleach, steam, and essentially will bring your clothes back from the dead of your disgust. From 8 to 10 p.m., seven nights a week, Rinse will gather your dirty laundry and dry cleaning, and then, 24 to 72 hours later, deliver it in that same window. You pay by the pound and you have to supply them with a 15 lb minimum every time. Which was my first question about the service: when your dedicated neighborhood "valet" comes to pick it up, they don't measure the three bags you're given. It's assumed on general weight that it should be 'heavy' enough. Essentially, without an idea of how much this would cost, I went in blind—again, for science.
Some background on my laundry history, I use to live in an apartment for three years that had washer and dryers available on-site for total $3.50 per load. And being the lazy dude that I am, never sorted, all thrown into one heave, and doused in The Laundress' Le Labo collaboration detergent. Essentially, as long as it smells good and it's warm—it's clean to me. Now I live in a new apartment that doesn't come with units and instead, the nearest laundry mat is down a very steep SF hill. Not likeable but still workable, it's a whole day scenario.
Now back to Rinse, when you first sign up, you're made very aware that this platform is, actually, app-less. Yes, you read right. No apps. How can they do this to you? Well, no one is dead so calm down. Rinse ditched the concept of being the "Uber for X" and pivoted to being more one-on-one with you and with the neighborhood valets. Rinse uses a text-based algorithm to directly connect you with either a valet on shift or customer service directly. Meaning, no visual queue to wait in and no third party support companies to redirect all around your email. When you sign up on the website, the Rinse frontend will ask you your preferences on detergent, time, preferences on delivery location, and so much more.
On your first go, a valet will text you via your mobile phone their approximate time of arrival and will deliver you your bags for Wash & Fold, Hang Dry, and Dry Cleaning. If you lose these bags, you could face a fine so keep them safe. When you get your first bags, you'll need to fill them on the spot so that your valet can take them to Rinse's processing plant in South City to be washed, etc and so on. And if you're wondering, "what about the mom and pops?" Rinse actually employs mom and pop owners, associates, and more on a W-2 basis. These attendants are on the watch of Rinse and are not contracted on a wash-by-wash basis. The founders, James Joun and Ajay Prakash, agreed upon this, "The valets and cleaning staff are employees who are paid $18 to $21 an hour plus mileage." Joun and Prakash believe that having W-2 workers is critical to the service, "It allows the company to invest more in training, and to expect more of the valets," said Joun in a statement to INC.
Its prices are competitive with local shops: wash and fold is $1.75 a pound (with the 15-pound minimum); a dress shirt costs $2.50 to launder; dry cleaning a suit costs $16. Standard delivery is $3.99. (Prices do not vary by city yet but vary on the speed of delivery.)
Once a valet picks up your bags, they ask if the laundry is a standard delivery or rush—I chose standard because I didn't need them back right away. A standard delivery is 2-3 days (with notice) and rush is a 24-36 hour turnaround. I gave them my items on Friday night and got them back Tuesday evening. And in between, radio silence, you're kind of at the mercy of Rinse and your matcha, dirt, and sweat stained garments. All in that order.
And get this, if say, you're an early to bed-early to rise type: the Rinse valets can drop off your laundry in your home. Valets can drop the bag by your door, or garage, or in your apartment hallway, and then take a picture of the dropped bag to confirm delivery. Somebody else does your dirty work, to your specifications, for a severely under-luxury price. Who wouldn't want that? "Laundry is hated," says Dan D'Aquisto, co-founder of one of Rinse's competitors, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based 2ULaundry. "You're already outsourcing housecleaning and lawn care. Why not outsource laundry?"
And now the moment of truth:
Was the service worth it and how much did I spend on one load of basics? Well...
Yeah, for "16 pounds" of laundry, I don't feel great. But lets dive into the quality of work. For myself, I had a mix of undergarments, sweaters, denim, cotton, and one denim elastic. Surprisingly enough, everything was separated in the return baggage, double sealed, and felt new and store bought. I chose my garments to be unscented because I don't know what mixtures they use and they don't list in depth what detergents they use. For those prone to rashes or chemical irritants, I would just go scentless all together. Everything was also compressed and folded, turning the annoying part of laundry into breeze.
Though for those who care about the environment, you will not like the fact that the return double bags with plastic (as shown in the feature photo) and in turn, creates more waste. Sustainable points have been deducted from house Rinse, for sure. Though, for those who have questions about their wash, any mishaps, missing items, etc, you can easily text customer service rather than having to wait or find the "speak to a rep" button on an app. And for $32.00 dollars, the customer service should be on point.
All in all, would I use the service again? Yes—but not frequently. I would want to use this particular service for my items that need be revived when my laundering skills have failed. More specifically, underwear, socks, and coats that really take the brunt of my day-to-day... problems. I don't see the reason or extended need to make sure my cotton items are perfected as cotton is such a flexible fabric. I'm definitely more excited to work on my silks, wools, and other fabrics that (in my head) seem like much more of a hassle to get cleaned. Also, to add to the thought, Rinse also takes care of comforters, blankets, and various bedding. They will also take throw pillows and bedding-furniture that's small. So I will report back on my findings.
Overall: Yes, would use again in a pinch with little regularity. Customer service was quick to respond and was great at answering my basic bitchery questions.