The New Age Dhobis are a Tap Away

Up until a few years ago, the local dhobi was the go-to guy for getting your laundry done. He would come to your house and pick up your laundry. (Or at least, he sent his wife or kids if he couldn’t turn up.)

Then came washing machines. Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang has said that washing machines changed the world more than the internet did. Moms spend less time doing laundry and more time on more important things since the washing machine came!

But not everyone can own a washing machine. Plus, the dhobi in your neighborhood may not be reliable. That’s where the on-call laundry comes to the rescue. On-call laundry services let you call in (or book a pickup through an app) whenever you need laundry done. They’ll pick up your dirty clothes when you want and bring them back cleaned, fragrant and ironed.

But you’ll probably ask, are laundries better than dhobis? Let’s take a look.

The Truth About Traditional Dhobis

In most places, you’ll rarely find a dhobi who washes your clothes too. So, most of us are our own dhobis who use washing machines for washing clothes and dhobis take care of the ironing part.

You’re lucky if you have a good local dhobi. Dhobis are a time-tested tradition. They’ve been around for centuries and they have inherited the traditional ways of washing clothes.

After the dhobi picks up the clothes from your home and the homes of your neighbors, he sorts the clothes by color, fabric, etc. He then soaks the clothes overnight in water and detergent. The next morning, the clothes are flogged on a rough stone floor. They may then be tossed into a vat of boiling starch and bleach, to put some of the new back into your dull, regularly used cotton. They are hung out to dry and then ironed and piled into neat bundles.

But sometimes, the dhobi doesn’t turn up. He may be running a small one-man business that he inherited from his father. Dhobis fall sick too, sadly. It may be on a day you have an important event to attend and need laundry done ASAP!

While most local dhobis are reliable in general, sometimes, you may find a white shirt comes back with a little stain. Some people also feel that the vigorous beating dhobis put your clothes through ruins them. Most clothes come with complicated symbols on their care tags, that tells you exactly how the clothes should be washed. Your dhobi usually gets the everyday cotton and doesn’t bother about these labels.


Enter On-Call Laundry Services

Recently in India, there has been a burst of activity in the online laundry business. Many startups have come up to meet a need and now there’s growing demand for on-call laundry.

There are many reasons for this. Sending your clothes to an on-demand laundry is cheaper than doing laundry at home, though it may not be cheaper than your dhobi. Not to take away credit from good dhobi services, but the quality of care that your clothes receive at these laundries may be better than the average dhobi. On-demand laundries usually have access to modern, scientific high-tech laundry equipment that dhobis don’t have. For instance, most good laundries use front-loading washing machines, which are gentler on your clothes than top-loading ones. They also use less water and give you the satisfaction of knowing that doing your laundry isn’t too bad for the environment.

An E-laundry may have a larger labor force than your local dhobi. If you’ve opted for pick-up services, a trained pro will turn up at your door whenever you want them to. Prices that these laundries offer are quite competitive. Plus, some laundries will send your clothes back fragrant with fabric conditioner so you won’t have to use perfume!

You can rely on an e-laundry service. They have their reputation on the line and doesn’t have the luxury of slipping up. You are more likely to forgive your local dhobi for a slip-up because you’ve known the man for years!

A good laundry service is likely to use the best washing machines and dryers to give your clothes the care you want. But most importantly, calling in your laundry request is easy. You may download an app and simply select a time and other services you need.

You can sign up for weekly or monthly laundry, which turns out to be cheaper as you’ll be charged per kilogram. Or you could choose to have a few clothes washed at a time, and pay per item. Other services may include premium wash like stain removal and dry cleaning. With all laundry needs taken care of by one app account, it’s easy to see why the new age laundry startups are growing in popularity.

Plus, the on-call laundries are usually equipped to handle emergency same-day laundry, while traditional dhobis are not.

Overall, there is no reason for dhobis and e-laundries not to coexist. They each have things going for them. Moreover, the on-call laundries are empowering the dhobis by training them and employing them. On-call laundry services are certainly catching up to dhobis with the conveniences & offers . What do you think?