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Laundry Service hits Vancouver Mainstream

Are there things that shouldn't be outsourced to an app?

Laundry service WeDoLaundry made the news last week for its effort to expand laundry-on-demand in Greater Vancouver. The company advertises that users can book a pick up at a convenient time and a staff member will come by to collect loads between 12 and 50 pounds - priced accordingly.

The idea certainly isn’t new. Laundry giant Tide just launched Tide Cleaners, an on-demand laundry and dry cleaning service in several cities in the U.S., “aimed at giving people the option to spend more time on life and less time doing laundry.”

“Time has become an increasingly valuable commodity for consumers everywhere. The demand for services meant to make everyday life more efficient continues to rise, while many household tasks like laundry remain significant draws on time and energy,” said a release from the company.

The Tide Cleaners model includes drop boxes, storefront locations and even vans that drive to campuses. “Between balancing classes, studying and social lives, students face unique challenges when it comes to laundry. College students can now hand laundry over to attended service trucks parked outside residence halls, conveniently notifying students when the truck is nearby,” the Tide promo material says.

One of the rights of passage of post-secondary school or really life after high school is learning to take care of household responsibilities - cleaning the toilet, buying groceries and of course doing your own laundry. However now, in the age of outsourcing, so much of those basic life skills just require an app.

Of course for some, this kind of service makes a lot of sense. High income earners or business owners, for example, or parents who find laundry is cutting into their quality time with the kids. A popular New York mom blogger I follow often sings the praises of her laundry service - especially now that she has five kids including one-year-old twin girls (and it wasn’t even sponsored!).

The problem with outsourcing so much of basic life is that its becomes so much easier to divert the blame when something goes wrong. Late for a meeting? Uber didn’t show up. Empty fridge? Grocery delivery mixed up your order. No clean clothes? The laundry service is late. The list goes on.

A huge part of growing up is not only learning those life skills but learning how to take responsibility for them. Having kids graduate from having mom do their laundry to dumping it into a Tide truck they’ve ordered through an app doesn’t quite have the same effect.

How struggling students who are riddled with record high debt can afford this kind of thing is also beyond me.

A WeDoLaundry single load runs you $24.99. Assuming it takes you three minutes to put the load in the washing machine, two minutes to switch it into the dryer and fifteen minutes to fold, you’d have to be making $74.97 per hour to break even.

And if you think outsourcing laundry is going to increase the quality time you spend with your spouse? Several studies show that couples who do housework together have stronger relationships. And who’s to say that you can’t watch Netflix while you’re sorting those socks?