Laundry assistants sort, label, wash, dry, press and pack large quantities of bedding and clothes. They might also operate machinery and equipment in a laundry.
As a Laundry Assistant, you will operate the machinery used to wash, dry and press items brought in to a laundry to be cleaned. A laundry deals with fabrics that can be cleaned in water with soap or detergent. This could include bedding, towels, tablecloths, clothes, uniforms and other workwear.
You will take the dirty items, put them through the cleaning process and pack them ready to go back to the customer.
Dirty items arrive at the laundry, usually in large bags. You empty the bags and check the items against the customer's list. Customers could include hotels, hospitals, care homes, restaurants and individual households.
The washing might have to be weighed before it is put into the washing machines. Some items might have to have stains treated with chemicals; some might need to be dry cleaned. Once the machines are loaded, you will switch them to the right settings and turn them on. At the end of the wash programme, the wet washing is loaded into dryers.
Laundry Assistants must make sure that batches of laundry from different customers don't get muddled up with each other.
In some laundries, all the sorting, weighing and loading for washing and drying is done by machines, so you only have to check that the process is working smoothly.
Some laundry operations use computers to control and monitor the operations, and to identify and locate customers' goods.
Clean, dry washing is pressed, folded and packed. These processes might also be automated, but there is usually some ironing done by hand. Some might carry out minor repairs on clean items.
You usually learn how to do all or most of the tasks in the laundry, so that you can move from job to job as the workload demands.
If you who suffer from allergies, breathing problems or skin complaints, you should be aware that this work involves contact with chemicals and chemical fumes.
Laundries can get hot and steamy.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Laundry Assistant, you need:
- a good level of fitness
- stamina; you'll be on your feet a lot and there can be some heavy lifting
- the ability to operate different machines
- to be able to follow instructions
- awareness of health and safety regulations
- to be methodical and careful not to mix customers' items up
- good customer service skills
- the ability to work quickly and pay attention to detail
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £14,500 - £15,000
- With experience: £15,500 - £17,000
- Senior Laundry Assistants earn £17,500 - £18,000
Hours of work
You normally work 35-37 hours a week, Monday to Friday, with occasional overtime. Part-time posts are common.
Where could I work?
Employers include hotel, hospital, care home or prison service laundries, as well as industrial laundry operations.
Opportunities for Laundry Assistants occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, on job boards, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.
You could also approach possible employers directly to ask about vacancies.
Entry Routes and Training
You can usually go straight into this kind of job, by applying directly for vacancies.
An Intermediate Level Apprenticeship is a great place to start. You might be able to take an NVQ as part of your apprenticeship. Take a look at our information article
Basic training is on-the-job.
The Guild of Cleaners & Launderers (GCL) has a Qualification Star Scheme, which provides qualifications on aspects relating to laundering.
The GCL suite of qualifications covers all skill levels in the sector, with practical skills being tested by job skill assessment and theory being assessed by written exams.
The GCL also runs an apprenticeship scheme in laundry.
BTEC also offer a level 2 qualification in laundry and dry cleaning technology. This course has range of units to choose from, which include:
- understanding health and safety and the principles of employee rights and responsibilities within the textile care service
- quality standards within the textile care service
- resource conservation within the textile care service
- dry cleaning processes within the textile care service
- washing processes within the textile care service
- customer care in the textile care service
- finishing processes within the textile care service
- repair, alteration and maintenance of textiles within the textile care service
- stock control, receipt and storage systems within the textile care service
- inspect and pack finished goods within the textile care service
Other courses could be available in your area.
Previous experience working in retail or in a customer service position would be really useful for this career.
With training and experience, it could be possible to move into supervisory or managerial positions.
To get onto an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need at least 2 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Some entrants have relevant skills and abilities gained in areas that involve practical hand skills.
An Intermediate Level Apprenticeship in Fashion and Textiles might be available in your area.
- 48% of people in occupations such as laundry assistant work part-time.
- 11% work flexible hours.
- 6% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
Guild of Cleaners and Launderers (GCL)
Address: 3 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AR
Tel: 020 7843 9493
Textile Services Association (TSA)
Address: 3 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AR
Tel: 020 7843 9490