Laundry, a seemingly trivial chore, has now become a weekly puzzle.
It usually starts with a lot of questions.
- Is the sink in our Airbnb/hostel big enough to soak our clothes?
- Or… is there an actual washing machine we might be able to use?
- Do we need to buy detergent?
- Wait a minute, when did laundry detergent become my new favorite smell?
So when we booked our Airbnb in Stockholm, we were STOKED, because our host wrote on the listing, “laundry access available upon request.”
(Little did I know that simple phrase would lead to so many complications…)
I sent the Airbnb message, and then did a victory dance.
Woo hoo! No laundry struggles this week!
She wrote back, confirming our reservation, and also…
Book a time for laundry? What exactly does that mean?
Whatever. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.
However, when we arrived, our host didn’t do a ton of explaining. (And to be fair, we didn’t ask many questions either.) She showed us two keys on the keychain. One for access to the laundry room, and another smaller key (with the brief explanation, “you shouldn’t need this one – only if you want to change your appointment”).
Still not 100% sure what’s going on. But I was confident that we could figure it out.
But here’s the thing. We absolutely could not figure it out.
We tried to use the key to access the laundry room the very next day. It was an unmarked door on the first floor in her apartment building. The key slid into the lock smoothly, but would NOT turn.
Michael and I each tried, several times. In fact, we would attempt to open the laundry room every time we went in or out of the building for the next several DAYS.
It started off like this…
But quickly progressed to this…
No matter what we did, the door would not open.
I finally messaged our host.
As it turns out, it wouldn’t open because we had the wrong door. (Umm, what was that door?? Was that someone’s apartment?! OMG.) Apparently, the real laundry room was in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BUILDING.
So we went on an adventure and found it. (At least, we were pretty sure we found it…) There was a sign taped to the front of the door, written entirely in Swedish.
The only word I understood was “Tack” which means “Thanks.”
I put the key in, turned it, and WOO HOO! We made it!!!
We were standing at the top of a long flight of stairs. At the bottom, a light was turned on, and we could hear the sound of a washing machine. On the back of the door, was this thing.
Then someone at the bottom of the stairs coughed.
I quickly snapped a picture of the thing on the door, and then we ran away, since it wasn’t our scheduled time for laundry, and we didn’t want to have to explain our situation to the cougher downstairs.
Back in the safety of our apartment, we studied the picture I took at length.
(I still think it’s cute that I imagined this week’s laundry would be easy. Turns out, it was even more of a mystery than usual.)
But thanks in part to Google Translate, we figured out that this big yellow board is how the apartment building tenants book laundry their appointments.
Once we figured that out, we felt very proud of ourselves. We even changed our appointment time, just because we could.
And when we finally went downstairs to do our laundry, it was pretty straightforward. Thankfully, washing machines are all kind of the same.
(Except that neither of us can read Swedish, so we weren’t exactly sure about the settings.)
So I pretended I was at IKEA, trying to read product names. I said everything aloud, in an absolutely ridiculous Swedish accent.
Which didn’t really help.
In fact, I think I sounded more like the Swedish Chef.
But again, Google Translate came to the rescue. Once we translated the instructions, we adjusted the washer settings, pushed the start button, and… victory dance!!!
YESSS! We got the laundry to work! We are smarter than a washing machine!!
We went back to our apartment, relishing our victory, to wait for the wash cycle to finish.
When we came back to the laundry room, it was time to figure out the so-called “dryer.” (Which looked like it might transport us to Narnia if we were to climb inside.)
Unfortunately, we had not learned to read Swedish during that hour…
But we were much quicker to use Google Translate to figure things out. (And the pictures helped too.)
The metal bars in the dryer swing out on a hinge, and you hang your clothes on them. Swing the metal bars (and your clothes) back inside the metal box. Set the temperature for the level of heat desired, and then push the green button. Then your clothes dry inside a weird, yellow, metal furnace thing.
And it will make a loud humming noise.
We made it to the end! We solved the puzzle! And our prize was fresh, clean, laundry-detergent smelling clothes. Hallelujah!!!
I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry. But more than anything, I really wanted to know what was behind that other door that we repeatedly tried to break into.
(Just kidding. This happened in Sweden, you guys. Regular citizens don’t have assault grade weapons. Honestly, we would more likely to find this behind the mystery door…)
Regardless, I was just thrilled that we had clean clothes! 🙌
SelmaApril 8, 2023
Thank you so much for the explanation, you saved my life, I was in the same level of confusion today as it is my first week in Sweden, and I found your very useful post that answered all questions in my mind. At one moment I thought it is just me being stupid, turns out that I needed just some explanation