When I first met Corinna & Theresa at an event in Brooklyn, they were the chicest ladies in the room. What stood out to me the most about them was the perfection of their sharp & well ironed white button down shirts and it didn’t take long for me to find out that they are the owners of a state of the arts laundromat. Their impeccable shirts were starting to make sense.
Theresa & Corinna grew up in Germany. Hearing them speak about the different way in which Europeans care for their garments as opposed to the way clothes are handled here in the US resonated with my own Czech roots. They longed to bring this attitude with them to New York, and that’s how Celsious was born.
Celsious is a laundromat unlike any other. When you first walk in, you are greeted by a smiling face (more often than not it will be one of the two lovely owners themselves). The entire establishment is impeccable – design, organization, atmosphere, cleanliness…you name it, they’ve got it. It is clear at first glance that years and years of hard work have gone into every detail.
I love doing my laundry at Celsious. Not only is their clean & green detergent complimentary with every wash, but the amount of time you spend waiting for your clothes to wash & dry is dramatically reduced thanks to their amazing equipment. And if 12 minutes does seem like eternity, why not pop into their upstairs coffee shop for a cup of delicious matcha?
So much emphasis is placed on laundry as a chore or a necessity like taxes, etc. – What was your inspiration for creating a positive feeling around laundry day & starting your own laundromat?
Corinna: One of our main missions was to turn the much dreaded task of doing laundry into the pleasurable experience we, as neat freaks, know it can be. For many of our customers, doing laundry at Celsious has become one of their favorite tasks that they look forward to all week long!
Doing laundry at Celsious has become one of their favorite tasks that they look forward to all week long!
We create a relaxing atmosphere – with lots of plants and natural light, ample seating in the café area for people to be able to get a few emails out over a cup of organic espresso or meet up with friends for brunch on the weekend and get a few loads of laundry done at the same time.
Eliminating all the stressors that you might find in other laundromats, like dirty or non-functioning equipment, harsh lighting, blaring TVs and adding in a bunch of perks like free three-ingredient detergent, attentive staff to help with all fabric care questions, a payment system that accepts credit cards and Apple Pay directly on each machine really transforms the experience for our customers.
Plus: We host fun events – from panel discussions and pop-up shops to concerts and free yoga classes!
How is Celsious different from other laundromats out there?
Theresa: Apart from being able to offer all of the above, we place a strong focus on reducing the footprint of our business through sustainable practices.
The equipment we feature at Celsious is the most professional currently on the market.
It is used in high-end hotels and hospitals for its incredible efficiency and energy savings.
Which leads us to detergent: One of the common misconceptions is that only detergent cleans clothes. It doesn’t! A big part of the washing action is actually the friction created between garments and the drum of the machine. Working with the best machines and being able to educate our customers on how to optimally fill our machines, our customers will not require massive amounts of detergent.
That said, our house detergent is complementary with every wash. It’s by Meliora and consists of only three ingredient: baking soda, washing soda and organic vegetable soap. We buy the detergent powder in bulk recyclable drums and fill it into reusable jars that get handed out to customers.
Our zero waste mission – which also includes eliminating single use napkins, plastics and using recycled shipping and office materials – is at the heart of what we do.
Our zero waste mission is at the heart of what we do.
Can you tell me about conventional laundry liquid vs laundry detergent you use/ DIY detergent? Dryer sheets vs dryer balls with essential oils?
Corinna: The typical American home contains 3-10 gallons of toxic materials—everything from glass and bathroom cleaners to garden pesticides and fertilizers. And detergents. First you’ll notice that most conventional detergents don’t have any ingredients listed on them. There’s no federal regulation that requires them to!!! So here’s what might be in them:
- Endocrine disruptors: Researchers have found that detergents can disrupt endocrine function and interfere with hormone balance. Many chemicals in common household cleaning products act as xenoestrogens, or synthetic estrogens, which increase the amount of estrogen-like activity in the human body.  This can negatively affect fertility in males and increase breast cancer risk in females.
- Phosphate: a common chemical added to laundry detergent, has significantly damaged the environment over the past 40 years. The use of phosphates in detergents has been increasingly scrutinized, mostly due to their poisonous effects on fish and the environment. Due to the constant addition of phosphates by humans and the exceeding of the natural concentrations, the phosphor cycle is strongly disrupted.
- Chlorine: May irritate skin, eyes and airways. What’s more, the craziest thing is that many of the chemicals that are used in brand name detergents aren’t really geared toward keeping our clothes clean. In fact, most detergents are simply aesthetic enhancers, only improving the smell and appearance of clothing.
So, they’re not going to actually help you really get rid of that wine stain. Our detergent features three ingredients only, see above: baking soda controls odors, washing soda lifts tough stains and vegetable/Castile soap provides a natural lather that is antibacterial yet doesn’t cause irritation and is completely biodegradable.
Theresa: We suggest using dryer balls vs. sheets for three reasons:
- Dryer sheets are wasteful. You use them once and then discard them. Since they are not biodegradable, they end up in the landfill.
- For the above reason, they are also expensive. I never use dryer sheets, so I just started paying attention to their pricing now. On a recent shopping trip, I discovered a pack of 80 that was $8.99. Our wool dryer balls by Woolzies are $15 (for 3) and they last virtually a lifetime.
- Most dryer sheets contain toxic ingredients. They are coated with a film of wax, that, under the guise of “fragrance” oftentimes contains carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting substances that detergent manufacturers do not have to declare. If you’re in dryer sheets for the scent, try dabbing our wool dry balls by Woolzies with some essential oils (at Celsious, the essential oil treatment is complimentary!). Plus, the dryer balls will also prevent static cling, soften your laundry and even speed up your dry by bouncing around in the dryer and allowing for optimal air flow.
Talk about garment longevity: culture of throw-away clothes vs paying and caring for garments that last
- First step, before it even comes to wearing, buy less! We’re big believers in Marie Kondo’s philosophy of owning only things that “spark joy”. It is actually really simple: Think about every single item you are looking to acquire and whether it will make you happy – for a sustained period of time. If not, maybe pass on it and save up for something you know will make you feel joy for a very long time.
- Secondly, if you’re about to purchase an item, but are not sure how to care for it, consider not getting it. Reducing the number of new things you own is the utmost sustainable fashion practice.
Corinna: That said, once you have acquired the items, a good rule of thumb to increase wearability and prolong the lifecycle of your garments is: Go low on the heat! I try to wash almost anything that is not sheets or towels on cold, which preserves synthetic fibers, especially elastic ones. Same goes for the dryer. If you have the ability to hang and/or flat dry (which is key for delicate items such as wool and cashmere), it’s a good way to add some wears to your garment’s life.
Go low on the heat!
If I can’t come and use your laundromat, what are some laundry habits that can improve the way I treat my clothes & my body/skin?
Theresa: Make sure to follow care instructions on your garments. That said, many items, such as wool and cashmere sweaters can be washed with gentle cycles developed specifically for more delicate garments – even though their labels might say “Dry Clean Only”. For stained items, we cannot stress the importance of pre-treatment enough. As powerful as our equipment is, some stains are stronger. If you treat them with our Soap Stick by Meliora or soak them overnight in a Non-Chlorine Bleach Complex by Sonett chances of getting your piece of clothing completely spotless without having to resort to using chemicals that may put your hormonal, reproductive, respiratory health at risk whilst polluting our waterways, are significantly higher.
Try to steer clear of conventional detergents, which again can contain an unknown (there is no federal legislation requiring detergent manufacturers to list ingredients on packaging) number of toxins!
What are some resources if I want to learn more about laundry & sustainability?
Theresa: The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for vetting products and the potential negative effect of certain ingredients. For stain treatment, we like to turn to the Smithsonian, it has a really great database.
What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
Theresa: I really love repetitive and seemingly dull tasks, so I quite enjoy treating tough stains. And bookkeeping.
Corinna: I love waking up super early, before everyone else.
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say & why?
Don’t take NO for an answer!
What are 1-3 books that have greatly influenced your life?
Theresa & Corinna: Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
You can find Theresa & Corinna at their laundromat Celsious 115 N 7th St