Eighty years ago this Friday, the world's first launderette opened in Fort Worth, Texas.
Owner J F Cantrell installed four washing machines in an empty store, and charged people an hourly fee to use them.
It was another six years – 1949 – until the first establishment opened in the UK.
And although there are less than a quarter left of the 12,500 which existed in their peak in the 1960s, the head of a trade body for launderette operators says those still operating are attracting mainly the new, young urban dweller.
Bruce Herring, chairman of the National Association of the Launderette Industry (NALI), adds, however, that many people still fall back on their local establishment rather than spend a whole day putting clothes through their machine at home when they come back from holiday.
Many of today's launderettes are self-service, and many users swear by them because of the time and labour they save – although some now have wi-fi connections to let users surf the web while their washing is being attended to.
According to John Trapp, owner of Associated Liver Laundries, the biggest operator of launderettes in the UK, the future of establishments such as those he's responsible for has been assured by one big domestic trend – the advent of the duvet, and the need for a large washing machine to get them clean.