• Resolving Problems

What do you say to a neighbor who wants to use your washing machine?

Published: September 30, 2015 | By | 16 Replies Continue Reading
It’s hard to turn down a neighbor but good boundaries make good neighbors.



A neighbor who lives a couple of streets away asked to use our personal washing machine since hers is broken. Is this normal? I would use the Laundromat. Is she overstepping? Thank you.

Signed, Bob


Hi Bob,

If this neighbor is only an acquaintance, the request seems intrusive to me. Aside from the use of your equipment, it involves her coming into your home and either waiting for the laundry to finish or else returning a second time to pick it up.

I’m not sure if you have a dryer in the house but if so, that would entail more time. What if the repair takes more time than she anticipated, will your neighbor ask to use your machine again?

It’s hard to turn neighbors down but this seems to be an unnecessary request, especially if you live near a Laundromat. I would say that you’re in and out of the house so it doesn’t make sense and let her know that there’s a Laundromat nearby.

Could it be that this woman has asked to use the machine as a gesture of friendship because she wants to get to know you?

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (16)

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  1. Brenda says:

    We have a new neighbor moving in,and also have laundry facilities by the office and she still asked my husband if she could use ours! I’m saying hell no! It’s discusting! And she still has not even met me yet! I’m a clean fanatic when it come to my washer and dryer and they’re only about 3 years old! He has a huge heart and she will Not be taking advantage of that!


  2. Sam Fisher says:

    If a neighbor came up to me and asked me this, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. It would become a problem if this continued for longer than a week. I’m sure that they would of been able to get someone to come by and repair it. Also, it would have to be someone who I knew and not someone from the other side of the neighborhood.

  3. RJ says:

    Hi: I LOVE Maddie’s line of: “No, that won’t work for me.” No apologies or excuses. /end quote

    I’m going to have to remember that one!!

    And Bob, there is NOOOO WAY I would allow someone from a few streets over INTO our home to “use our washing machine” ~ if this person was a virtual stranger *OR* even someone you “barely” knew! The only one we might bend the rules for would be a GOOD friend, but then on the same token, if it was a “GOOD” friend, s/he would not be asking for such!

    Different rules if we offered to a GOOD friend though. Even then it would only be one time.

    Have you considered: this neighbor may be wanting to “case your house”?? If not for herself, then to report back to somebody! What a great way to take pics of your belongings & memorize where things are (for a later robbery) by spending a couple hours there “doing laundry”.

    And for health & sanitary sake, eeew, do you really want “personal” items thrown into YOUR washing machine & dryer? The SMELLS alone would do me in!! I am overly sensitive to perfumes & fragrances & a lot of people use those (name brand) dryer sheets which are HORRIBLE & off putting AND even dangerous to our health! Spend a few minutes researching & you’ll see. Same goes with certain detergents. The smell then STICKS to YOUR machines & does not easily come out.

    But again, use Maddie’s line & DO NOT EVEN OFFER “excuses or apologies”! You’re not the “nervy” one asking here — rather this neighbor is!
    Another thought if it was someone you KNEW and WANTED to help out (but still didn’t want the intrusion) perhaps you could offer a $5. bill & point the way to the nearest Laundromat? Think twice though, as I also loved the line that with certain pesky neighbors… give them an inch and they take 20 miles! You don’t need (nor want) to do this over & over again in “rescuing” them.

    “No, that won’t work for me!” I like that best! 🙂

  4. Natalie says:

    If a neighbor (who was also a friend) had her washing machine break down, I would not hesitate to suggest that she bring her laundry over and use my machine. Laundry can quickly pile up and it usually takes a few days before a machine can be delivered.

    If she is the type of person who would offer to help you, she may just be assuming that you think the same way. If she would typically help you out and this was a short-term request, I would help her out too.

  5. lua says:

    That’s a first I have heard about a neighbor asking such a thing. Never asked my neighbors, just went to a laundromat. To me, that is overstepping good neighbor boundaries. In my experience, give them an inch and they take 20 miles. I am not too close to my neighbors, just keep it friendly, not necessarily friends.

  6. Tiffany says:

    That’s a pretty odd request unless you really know someone well. It’s not just that they’re using your machine, they’re also hanging out in your house until the laundry is done. If it’s a “once and done” thing I might say OK if it was someone I’d had friendly interactions with. If they expect to be doing this on a regular basis, it would be a HELL NO from me. Maybe tell them the machine is on its last legs and you need to try and keep it going as long as possible, so ‘extra washes’ are not a good idea.

  7. Sandra Anne says:

    I agree with all the other comments noting that allowing any neighbor who “lives a couple of streets away” to use your laundry equipment is stretching the good neighbor policy. And it sounds like you barely know this person. It’s not like a broken washing machine is a life-threatening emergency either, so I wouldn’t feel responsible for solving that sort of problem for someone I barely know. Of course, if this were a close neighbor with whom you’ve formed a friendship, that would be different!

    I’m wondering, too, if this neighbor is trying to find a way to get to know you … and came up with this method. She would have been smarter to bake you a pie, if that’s the case 🙂

    One of my nearby neighbors, who moved in 2 years ago, is very needy. During the first few months, she “tested” our relationship by calling my husband and me for help with everything from jumpstarting her stalled car to pet sitting her cat during her frequent travels. She also asked for help with snowplowing all winter — claiming she had no money to hire someone — while she spent 3 months wintering at her condo in Orlando. Once we said “yes” to her call for help, the calls just kept on coming. Finally, we just said no.

    You would be helpful enough if you researched the laundromats in the area — especially if she is new to the community — and let her know where they are. It’s wonderful to build friendly communities and neighborhoods — and there are many great ways to do that. But you shouldn’t feel obligated to allow people into your home to use your washing machine.

    • Maddie says:

      Also, grown adults are responsible for their own money issues. If you live in snow, you find a way to pay to keep it plowed, period. I’m not paying for the basics of any neighbor’s life. Heck no. I don’t listen to the I have no money for my own adult life sob story.

  8. Maddie says:

    I also would never ask a non-family member to use their washing machine. Way too personal. Get it fixed or get a new one. Your financial issues are your own.

  9. Maddie says:

    I would say no to a casual acquaintance. For someone like a next door neighbor I would tell them they could do a couple of loads. Under no circumstances would I do it beyond 1 to 2 days. Having someone in your house is intrusive.

    I said no to a next door neighbor who wanted to borrow my Internet bc their kid needed to write a paper and waited until literally the night before at 9 pm to start and their connection went down. I will never share wifi passwords with non-family and they wanted me to let their kid come over and sit in my office for hours.

    “No, that won’t work for me.” No apologies or excuses.

  10. LauraSL says:

    I feel comfortable asking for favors from my neighbors because we are good friends and have a history of helping each other out. I’ve done things for them like wait for the cable guy, or water their plants, clear their driveway, feed their fish, and collect the mail and newspapers when they were on vacation. So, yes, I have used their washer, but just to finish the load that was in process when it broke. Anything else I took the the laundry mat or crashed at my sister’s house, because laundry involves being around for a long time and that is intrusive.

  11. Clara B says:

    There are all kinds of people. How well do you KNOW her? Some people love to get help all the time but they will hesitate or may try giving excuses when asked for help. Some might really need help badly and would be obliged to return the favor whenever they get a chance. If you do not know at least this much about her, you can help her but watch out how she behaves after getting your help. If she is the former type (as I mentioned above), keep her at bay and stay away from her at all times thereafter. If she is the latter type, maybe you can be good friends moving forward. I’m the kind that would either wait for the machine to get right or would head to the Laundromat because I can sense people and from my experience, many people are almost always the former type. If you could spot the latter type, this world will be a better place to live in.

  12. Amy F says:

    If I liked her or if I knew she was strapped for money, I’d do it even if she was an acquaintance, remembering the generosity others have given me in times of hardship. Who knows, it could be the start of a deeper friendship. I’d set boundaries though, I’d say something like, “I can do it this week, not sure about other weeks if your machine isn’t fixed yet.” I’d also let her know about freecycle and other resources if she needed it.
    I’m a big believer of extending a kindness because I’ve always had people step up to be supportive in tough times. Also, I think it comes back in knowing I’ve helped someone and good Karma never hurts.

  13. Ben says:

    A neighbor who lives a “couple” streets away???? Do you know this person? For me it all hinges on whether you know this person or not? I can’t imagine going up to a “neighbor” next door and asking this. My idea of a neighbor is someone within a few doors away. I helped a neighbor on how to properly wash his motorcycle because he noticed how clean mine was and then he invited me to attend his up and coming wedding. I simply declined saying I really don’t know you or your bride. I am happy to help in cautious ways. I had to learn from much older and wiser person that the image I grew up with based on TV families that “head down, mouth shut” was preferable than enmeshed neighbors. I have recently had a neighbor totally take advantage of my willingness to take care of his cat while he is away and then I asked for something and he acted as though I didn’t exist. People can operate in any way that makes sense to them as long as they are willing to bear the consequences. Again, personally, if my washing machine busted I would be heading to the laundromat without hesitation….

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