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UCLA students express dissatisfaction with inefficient laundry systems

UCLA laundry machines inside the Gayley Heights university apartment building are pictured. Students recently complained about wait times and the washing efficiency of UCLA Housing’s laundry facilities. (Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)

By Alina Susu

Feb. 5, 2024 9:28 p.m.

This post was updated Feb. 6 at 9:57 p.m.

Students living on the Hill and in university apartments reported dissatisfaction with the performance, costs and wait times of UCLA’s laundry machines and dryers.

According to an emailed statement from UCLA Housing, the university’s laundry contractor, WASH, is on site every day for maintenance and checkups. However, with over 1,400 machines on and off campus and approximately 3,000 loads of laundry per day on campus alone, issues are reported almost every day by both residents and staff, according to the statement.

As a result of heavy laundry traffic, students living on the Hill and in university apartments have found that machines are out of order or stop working mid-spin. This comes after the university replaced nearly 80% of its machines in 2022, according to the statement.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen when you put your clothes in the machine,” said Nicole Schock, a third-year economics student. “There was one time in Rieber Vista where … I would put it in one machine – it didn’t work. I would put it in another machine – it didn’t work. I spent either $5 or $10 on that one load.”

Students said broken machines exacerbate the high costs of laundry on the Hill. Aster Phan, a third-year cognitive science student, said he once went through three washing machines and four dryers before successfully completing a load of laundry.

Some machines are out of order for weeks before maintenance fixes them, said Christopher Loupeda, a second-year civil engineering student, adding that the problem is compounded by high demand.

“No matter what time I’m doing my laundry, there’s somebody else who’s like, ‘Oh, I’m going to do my laundry too,’” Loupeda said. “It’s hard to find a washer.”

Schock, who is a resident of Gayley Heights, said when she lived in Sproul Landing, she once waited as long as 15 minutes for a laundry machine, adding that residents need to be more conscious of picking up their laundry on time.

She said there were issues with the laundry machines in terms of their performance.

“My roommate, she used the dryer – we lived in Sproul Landing last year – and I think she used the machine in Sproul Cove, and all her clothes … melted because it’s polyester, so it’s plastic, and it was literally hard plastic,” Schock said. “I was scared to use the laundry machines after that.”

Cora Murray, a third-year political science student, said when her washer broke mid-spin, she had to wait for maintenance to unlock the machine and wasn’t able to remove her clothes until around three hours later. She then had to wring out her clothes for around 30 minutes before drying them.

Cycle times and the size of the laundry machines could be improved, added Loupeda, who lives in Olympic Hall. He said the washing machines’ 30-minute cycle is inadequate for a proper wash, and their small capacity means he typically has to do more than one load in one laundry run.

Rieber Vista is also currently in the process of replacing its laundry machines from Monday to Feb. 16, according to a sign posted near the elevator of the building by the UCLA Rooms Division.

Students found these problems are not limited to dorms on the Hill. Audrey Sogata, a third-year bioengineering student, said aside from the payment method – university apartments use the WASH app rather than BruinCards – laundry in her apartment, Gayley Heights, is similar to laundry on the Hill.

(Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Pictured is a laundry room in the Gayley Heights university apartment building. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff)

“Sometimes, the washers and dryers are out of order. I’ve experienced drying my clothes and them still being wet, so then I ended up paying … maybe like $4 or $5 just to wash my laundry, which I thought was ridiculous,” Sogata said. “You could get reimbursed, but there’s a whole process behind it.”

Students can get reimbursed for a dysfunctional laundry machine by filling out the Refund Request form on WASH’s website and using the machine’s six-digit identification number.

Students also expressed concerns with the rise in laundry prices for the 2023-2024 academic year. In 2020, the Undergraduate Students Association Council passed a resolution allowing students to complete a load of laundry for $1 less than years prior – with the cost changing from $2.75 to $1.75.

The price for laundry was supposed to be lowered for the next 20 years, funded by a surplus in UCLA Housing funds, according to a Daily Bruin article. However, the price reverted back to $2.75 per load this school year. When asked whether it has plans to implement lower laundry costs, UCLA Housing said in the statement that costs still remain significantly below market rates.

UCLA Housing currently has no plans to reduce the cost or implement free laundry machines, according to the statement.

However, some students living in university apartments also reported a loophole with the WASH app that allowed them to avoid paying for laundry. At the time of writing, The Bruin was able to verify that the loophole was able to successfully give students a free load of laundry.

With the rise in laundry costs and ongoing issues with broken machines, students expressed hopes for better maintenance and reliable laundry service.

“I feel better maintenance of the washers and dryers would be more efficient for students,” Sogata said.

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