woman hands taking out of washing machine a colorful load of laundry
Italy Travel Tips,  Italian Lifestyle

Doing laundry in Italy: all you need to know

Laundry in Italy: essential, practical guide to deal with all your laundry needs while vacationing in Italy. What to expect in rentals, laundry services in Italy, and important laundry words in Italian for travelers.

If you are traveling in Italy for any length of time, chances are you will find yourself in need of doing some laundry.

Laundry needs during an Italian vacation can be anything from dry cleaning before or after a ceremony to regular loads of wash if you are traveling carry-on only or you are traveling Italy with kids.

They can also take the form of a large load of wash before you leave or just a way to spruce up wrinkly clothes after a long journey.

I am a mom of two so, as you can imagine, I deal with doing laundry all the time!

In Italy, I have done laundry in the bathroom sink, in our vacation rental, in automatic laundrettes, in ‘lavanderie’ (wash and fold shops), in hotels and I had dry cleaning done.

When I say I always deal with the family laundry, I mean it!

In this quick guide to doing laundry in Italy, I share all I have learned about it, including:

  • What to expect from laundry facilities in Italian vacation rentals
  • Essentials Italian words to shop for laundry products / have laundry done
  • Finding dry cleaning in Italy
  • Wash and fold services in Italy
  • Best laundry detergent in Italy
  • How to operate an Italian washing machine (including a photo of my mum’s washing machine in Rome with my translation of the settings!)

I hope you find this useful!

If you want more practical advice for your travels in Italy, remember also to check out our 100+ tips for traveling to Italy, written with first-time travelers in mind!

Doing laundry in Italy: what to expect in vacation rentals

Good vacation rentals in Italy usually offer laundry options, namely: the presence of a washing machine!

However, the standard laundry setup in an Italian apartment may be a little different from what you are used to back home (I am thinking of the US especially, where we found laundry facilities to be amazing!).

Important things to know about doing laundry in Italy in a house:

  • Most vacation rentals offer washing machines

Vacation rentals, especially bigger ones, are usually equipped with washing machines.

In the vast majority of cases, they will be in the bathroom or even the kitchen and will not have a dedicated room.

Laundry rooms/utility rooms are not common in Italy and this means you will not find a dedicated washing/drying area for clothes: this is especially true in inner-city apartments, where space is at a premium.

Agriturismi and villas in the country may have different setups as they usually have more space to play with.

  • Italian washing machines are usually smaller than what you may be used to back home (a standard one takes about a 6.5 – 7 Kg load) and are, in most cases, are front-loading rather than loading from the top.

If you are used to washing machines in the US, the leading opening of Italian ones may seem tiny but we noticed it is really just a design thing and the size of the opening doesn’t impact much on how easy it is to use them.

Below are all the tips for operating a washing machine in Italy, keep reading!

  • Italian washing machines usually do not have a drying cycle.

Washer-dryers exist in Italy, but they are not popular so, unless specified, expect your washing machine to do washing only.

What you will find is the rinse and spin cycle, which will remove excess water. In some cases, this is part of the full cycle or you can run it separately (see below).

  • In Italy, most people hang dry clothes and dryers in homes are exceptions, not the rule.

This means that, unless you are traveling in the hot season and can air dry things in the sun, you may need to factor in extra time for items to be ready.

Need to know! While laundry drying in the sun is a quintessentially Italian sight, not all places allow hanging laundry at the front of the house. If you have a private balcony or a terrace, this is not a problem; the same applies if you see laundry lines outside a window. But if you don’t, make sure you as some inner city apartments have rules against it!

If you are traveling in Italy in the winter, air drying is probably not a viable option and, in that case, radiators are a good alternative.

However, air drying clothes on the radiator is only really suitable for small washes or stain removal jobs, not for a full load.

Drying large amounts of clothes on the radiator can cause humidity and a bad smell in the house and also a higher consumption of energy, which can put you in trouble with your host. So if possible, it is best done sparingly.

The common way to fry clothes in the case of a lack of outdoor space is by using a drying rack.

Your host will be able to show you where they keep it: make sure you ask.

Good to know: since we tend not to have laundry rooms in Italian homes, we also lack dedicated spaces to dry clothes. So don’t be surprised if drying a large load of laundry means you have a drying rack in your bedrooms or living room: that’s just what we need to do when we don’t have outside space and it doesn’t mean your host has given you a substandard property. If you are traveling with kids or in a large group, it is a good idea to check laundry facilities in your place to ensure you don’t drown in laundry, dirty and drying, all the time!

Drying of colourful clothes. Laundry drying racks

Helpful Italian words to do laundry in the house

Useful words to do laundry in the house are (see pronunciation tips at the bottom of this page):

Doing the laundry = fare il bucato

Washing machine = Lavatrice

Washer dryer = Lavasciuga

Dryer = Asciugatrice

Laundry detergent = Detersivo

Fabric softener = Ammorbidente

Hypo-allergenic = Ipoallergenico

Bleach – Candeggina / Varichina / Varicchina

Washing cycle/ washing program = Ciclo / Programma

Rinse cycle = Risciacquo

Spinner = Centrifuga

Temperature = temperatura

Washing machine inner basket = Cestello

Self service laundry service in Italy : Italian laundrettes and laundromats

Self-service laundry services in Italy are called Lavanderie a gettone.

They are not very common, and you may not notice them as you stroll in historical city centers; however, they exist, and they are usually a budget-friendly and fast way to deal with your laundry needs.

Row of washing machines in laundromat
Stock photo Row of washing machines in a public laundromat. Purchased with license from Depositphotos.

The advantages of a laundrette vs a washing in your rental are:

Laundrettes usually have larger washing machines, usually in the 13 – 16Kg load range, occasionally even 18Kg. This is twice as much as a domestic machine can take and means you can usually get family laundry done in fewer goes.

Laundrettes have dryers! So if you are in a hurry and cannot wait for the sun to do dry clothes or do laundry in the cold season, you can significantly cut on drying time.

To find the nearest laundrette to you, you can search the web for ‘lavanderie a gettone Vicino a me‘ (self service laundrettes near me) or ‘lavanderie a gettone a Roma/Milano/Firenze’.

Otherwise, you can start from a site such as this one, with a list of available options and a handy map. Please note that these are only some opinions connected to a specific franchise, not all that is available and not a service I have direct experience of: I am only adding it here as a reference!

The cost of using a self service laundromat in Italy varies on the amount of clothing you have to wash.

Prices we have recently seen are as follow (please always double-check the price list of the specific laundromat you are using)

Self-service washing machine 8Kg4.50 Euro
Self-service washing machine 10kg5.50 Euro
Self-service washing machine 14Kg6.50 Euro
Self-service washing machine 16Kg7.50 Euro
Dryer 20Kg1 Euro/10 minutes

Wash and fold service in Italy

Wash and fold service in Italy is offered by ‘lavanderie’ or ‘tintorie’ which are also the places doing dry cleaning.

Tintorie were very common in Italy when I was a child but they are one of those services that have moved towards automation fast, so they are not quite as ubiquitous as they used to be.

Tintorie are significantly more expensive than automatic laundrettes and people usually turn to them for particular jobs such as removing difficult stains, dry cleaning or if they have shirts they need washed and ironed.

Useful Italian words to find wash, fold and ironing services are:

Lavanderia /Tintoria = laundry shop, laundry service
Lavaggio a secco = dry cleaning
Stireria = Ironing shop / ironing service
Lavare e stirare = wash and iron (wash and fold)
Piega / Piegare = fold / to fold

Laundry in Italian hotels

The easiest way to deal with all your laundry needs is to avail yourself of the hotel laundry service.

Laundry is not a standard offering of small hotels but 4-star and bigger establishments often have it.

If the service is offered, it is usually called ‘Servizio di lavanderia’: in most cases, it operates only in certain hours and can be pricey: always ask in advance, so you don’t get caught out.

How to buy laundry detergent in Italy

Buying laundry detergent is one of those things we do pretty much automatically at home but can quickly leave you stumped in a foreign country.

I had this very experience recently in Greece: I was doing my grocery shop and wanted to get laundry detergent, but I had no idea what type of deterrent I was looking at!

Unfamiliar brands and a different language (and alphabet, in that case) meant I had no idea which one was for washing machines and which one for hand washing.

I also couldn’t figure out bio and non bio detergent, which is something I usually need to know for the kids.

To save you from the same experience while in Italy, these are some essential laundry words to buy detergent in Italy!

Laundry detergent = detersivo per panni / detersivo per il bucato
For washing machines = per lavatrice
For hand washing = bucato a mano
Bio laundry detergent (without enzymes) = detersivo senza enzimi

Where to buy laundry detergent in Italy

You buy Laundry detergent in Italy (detersivo) in Italian supermarkets and bigger grocery stores.

Like abroad, Italian laundry detergents come in the form of a liquid, powder or pods.

List of laundry detergent brands in Italy

The most common laundry detergent brands in Italy are:

  • ACE
  • Bio Presto
  • Chante Claire
  • Dash
  • Dixon
  • Perlana
  • Omino Bianco
  • Spuma di Sciampagna
  • Woolite – for delicates
  • Napisan – non-bio stain removes, sold as add on detergent for baby clothes

  • Common eco-friendly laundry detergents you can find in Italy include:
  • Allegro Natura
  • Biophura
  • Ecosi
  • e’Eco
  • Esselunga Ecolabel
  • Green Emotion
  • Pam / Panorama
  • W5 (Lidl brand)
  • Winni

How to operate an Italian washing machine

Operating a washing machine is probably very similar to how you use yours back home.

However, some tips may be useful!

  • Most Italian washing machines are front loading.

The door is called ‘Oblo’ and it is usually see through.

  • To use detergent, you can use the dispenser, which is a little drawer on the front of the machine or a pod.

If you use a dispenser, you may notice the designated drawer is divided in two parts, one for the ‘pre-wash’ and one for the actual wash.

You want to put the washing powder in the main compartment or, if you also want to pre-wash, make sure to use a cycle with this setting.

Close up of the control panel of a washing machine in Italy with my translations into English of the different settings
This is my mom’s washing machine in Rome, with my translation of the main settings

The main dial is the one with all the possible cycles and they vary widely between washing machines makes. Some will have names of the type of material they can wash (cotton, delicates etc), others will have temperatures and some will have both.

The temperature is expressed in Celsius:

30C/88F– cold. This cycle is suitable for delicates, clothes that may run color or anything with a ‘cold wash only’ label.

Many detergent advertise themselves as ‘efficient and effective even at 30 Degrees’ so if you are planning on using a cold cycle, they can be a good purchase.

40C/104F – lukewarm. This is the most commonly used cycle for lightly soiled clothes and standard household washing cycles.

60C/140F – Hot cycle, suitable for more soiled clothing, linens, towels, and underwear.

90C/194F – very hot and very energy consuming. This is a cycle you only use for white bed linen or other such items. 100 degrees is water’s boiling point so this cycle is as close as you get to sterilizing your items in a domestic machine.

Doing Laundry in Italy mini dictionary

Word in EnglishItalian translationPronunciation
Doing laundryFare il bucato Fa-reh eel boo-cah-toh
Washing machineLavatriceLa-va-tree-che
Fabric softenerAmmorbidenteAhm-mor-bee-dent-eh
Hand washLavare a ManoLa-vah-reh ah maa-noh
LaundretteLavandreria a gettone Lah-van-deh-ree-ah ah jett-oh-neh
Laundry shopLavanderia / TintoriaLah-van-deh-ree-ah / tin-toh-rhee-ah
Landry service / wash and foldServizio di lavanderiaServi-tzio dee Lah-van-deh-ree-ah
Dry cleaningLavaggio a seccoLavajjo ah sekko
Clothehorse / drying rackStendipanniStendee pah-nnee

If you want even more help or you have any questions, please in my FREE Facebook group about traveling to Italy with kids: I will be happy to have you there and the tips from me and the other members are FREE!

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Marta Correale is an Italian mama of two. Born and raised in Rome, Marta has a passion for travel and especially enjoys showing off Italy to her kids, who are growing up to love it as much as she does! A classics graduate, teacher of Italian as a second language and family travel blogger, Marta launched Mama Loves Italy as a way to inspire, support and help curious visitors to make the most of a trip to Italy and learn about Italian culture on the way.