It’s news of absolutely no significance on a global scale, and even on a Cambodian scale it’s inconsequential. But to Siem Reap residents sans washing machine it’s a big deal – the arrival of the first Western-style, laundromat-style clothes washing service.
On the surface, washing clothes in Siem Reap can seem a doddle. Just chuck the washing into a bag and send it off to a local cleaner for a small fee.
The downside is that the clothes are scrubbed by hand in cold water and dried in the sun.
While at first that may seem charmingly ethnic, it has its downsides. Hand scrubbing quickly disintegrates items such as shirts and other items, which are often scrubbed right down to their stitches. Cold water means that bedding is never really hygienically clean, and sun drying means dust gathers on the garments.
The only alternative is to send washing to five-star hotels for exorbitant fees. But with the opening of 3 Hours Laundry, a young Indonesian entrepreneur is now providing a valuable improvement on the current system.
Huang Cuen Long had a problem with the dust in his clothes, as he’s allergic to it. He was already looking for business opportunities in Siem Reap and the itching helped him to settle on opening his own laundrette here, using frontloading washing machines and tumble dryers, instead of top-loaders or the deadly scrubbing brush.
Hot water means cleaner and presumably more hygienic clothes, and drying in a machine means colours will no longer fade so fast, or clothes moulder, under the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Finally, the use of fabric softener ensures clothes will come up soft and sweet-smelling.
I did one wash there, and the mud stains that are usually left by my own top-loading machine were gone. I had a pair of actually white, white trousers again. The use of fabric softener was noticeable, and everything came back soft and fragrant, like fresh laundry used to be.
There is a special rate for the month of August, and Huang will soon be running a collection and delivery service for Siem Reap’s laundry needs. The laundry is on the road to Psar Krom – take the middle road at the junction between Sivutha Boulevard and the road to Chong Kneas, then continue for 300 metres.