VCs Are Putting More Than Just Coins Into Laundry Service

It’s been a routine chore for centuries, but laundry continues to plague entrepreneurs who are still working to create a more optimal solution to the recurring problem of dirty clothes.

Venture investors are fully on board, backing another ten laundry service startups in the past year as a clear winner has yet to emerge from the pile.

From recently-funded Alfred, a New York-based startup that provides a personal “butler” for $25 per week, to FlyCleaners, Brooklyn’s latest on-demand dry-cleaning establishment, it seems there are more ways to outsource personal hygiene now than ever before.

In the past two years, startups focused on laundry and dry cleaning service have raised over $28 million in 17 venture rounds. While it’s not a shocking amount of cash, it seems rather steep for such a standard task.

Yet it’s task that has proven difficult to get right. We’ve seen the demise of laundry startups like Y Combinator graduate Prim in San Francisco, Village Laundry Service in India and CleanTie in Japan — all venture-backed companies.

Los Angeles-based Washio has secured the most cash to tackle the laundry dilemma, raking in $10.5 million earlier this year to bring its grand total to nearly $17 million.

Japan-based Lenet and 24tidy out of China aren’t too far behind, both raising recent rounds topping $1 million to bring on-demand laundry service to their respective regions. London has its fair share of laundry service startups, too, but that’s not stopping Rocket Internet-backed ZipJet from launching in the U.K. capital city this month.

The growing number of laundry-focused companies, nearly enough to warrant a distinct category for “laundry and dry-cleaning” startups, can mean one of two things — this is either a more serious problem than we thought, or Silicon Valley has officially run out of ideas. Take your pick.

Photo via Flickr user Daniela Vladimirova.

  • Originally published November 25, 2014, updated April 26, 2023