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Tvättstuga (or Laundry room) is a room in an apartment block usually in Sweden or Finland providing communal laundry facilities for the residents. Typically the room is located in the basement (Swedish: källare). In Finnish it's called pesutupa or pyykkitupa.
More than one washing machine is usually installed. They are often larger than private washing machines found in individual households, and more durable to withstand daily use. Drying facilities often include a tumble dryer or drying cabinet/drying cupboard (image) and a separate (warm-air assisted) drying room, where clothes are hung on washing lines. There may be one or more of each. A standalone centrifuge (or spinner) is often found, either if one or more washing machines don't have such a function or for residents washing garments by hand. It extracts the bulk of the water in minutes, minimizing the time subsequently needed in the dryer. Other facilities may include sinks for washing by hand, a mangle (wringer), a washboard, paper towel and trolleys (carts) for transporting laundry to the drying facilities. A tvättstuga also has a social dimension - a place where conversation can arise between neighbours without discomfort.
Residents book the use of laundry facilities in advance, including:
- Fixed periods: typically 2 or 3 per day - a.m./p.m. or morning/afternoon/evening.
- Free booking: residents book any contiguous block of time during the hours of operation.
The booking may apply to the entire laundry room or to a subset of the facilities (e.g. 1-2 machines and 1 dryer), depending on the cooperative's regulations.
In many buildings the washing facilities are unusable (powered off) on Sundays and public holidays, as well as every night. The main reason is to give residents living immediately above the laundry room a break from the noise of the machines (or their users).
Impromptu use of the facilities during hours of operation is permitted when no booking exists, or by arrangement with the owner of the booking, or when the owner of the booking has obviously failed to turn up.
Mechanisms for booking the facilities include:
- Paper. Residents mark their booking on a chart. There may be formal or informal rules about the number of bookings allowed per month.
- Locks. Slots in a board represent all bookable periods (typically with days numbered 1-31, cyclically allowing booking up to a month ahead). Each household has its own portable numbered lock which fits into any available slot, securing the booking. Only one booking per household is possible at any time.
- Electronic, e.g. using a smart card or web browser.
Unlike a commercial laundromat (laundrette), users do not pay per use. Maintenance and upgrade of the facilities is financed from the cooperative's funds, which mostly come from the general monthly fee paid by the households. Decisions on such expenditure are made by the cooperative's management. Consultation with the households (apartment owners) is only likely for larger investments. Some residents choose to install their own washing machine in their apartment instead of using the communal facilities. They will, however, continue to contribute to the financing of the communal facilities via the monthly fee.