UPPER EAST SIDE — New Yorkers have better things to do than laundry.
That’s the premise behind Cleanly, a new laundry and dry-cleaning delivery service powered through a mobile app that its creators are planning to roll out on the Upper East Side next month.
“For us the most important thing is not just to provide a laundry service, but to solve the problem of time,” said Tom Harari, one of the company’s three founders.
“Our motto is: Do what you love. We got your laundry.”
Customers create profiles that keep their credit card information on file. When they want their laundry done, they fill out a form in the app and a Cleanly employee stops by to pick it up.
A customer can schedule a pickup for as soon as two hours in the future.
Harari, 28, and two friends came up with the idea for Cleanly after experiencing their own laundry woes. Harari was born in Israel, but grew up in the United States. He moved to New York City for a career in digital marketing and struggled to find a convenient way to get his laundry done, he said.
Harari tried a few of the pickup services offered by laundromats in his Brooklyn neighborhood, but found the process to be fraught with complications.
“I had to call them to arrange a pickup. Oftentimes the owner wasn’t there, so I’d ended up talking to employees who didn’t speak much English, which made it tough to communicate,” he said.
“Plus, they were cash only. I’d find myself running downstairs to get money just to pay for the delivery.”
Harari said that Cleanly, which employs its own delivery people but contracts with local laundromats and dry cleaners to do the actual cleaning, should make life easier for small businesses and customers alike.
“We’re not trying to take business away from local places,” he said. "We’re just streamlining the process.”
After designing a rough version of the app, Harari and his partners launched a test run of Cleanly on the Upper West Side in mid-December. About 40 people participated, mostly friends and acquaintances.
Their reactions were very positive, Harari said.
“They loved it. Everyone used it more than once,” he explained. “The original app we put out worked, but it was ugly. People still loved it because it was so much better than their other options.”
The pilot program also resulted in helpful feedback that led to a few changes, Harari said. For example, Cleanly employees now carry small scales so that they can weigh laundry at the time of pick up. This way, customers have a sense of how much their laundry will cost before it’s returned.
They also added more options to the app, so customers can choose to have their laundry washed at a certain temperature, separated by color or cleaned with organic products.
Megan Brown, a former colleague of Harari's, was one of Cleanly's early testers. Although Brown's building has a laundry room and also offers a valet service, she came to prefer Cleanly over either option.
"We have laundry in my building, but the stuff that came back never seemed to get clean," she said. "Plus it's super expensive."
Brown estimated that she spent about $25 every two weeks to do her laundry through Cleanly, compared to $40 through the valet service. She also liked that she could schedule pick ups and deliveries around her demanding work schedule. Now her roommate uses Cleanly as well.
"It's made my laundry a lot less of a hassle," she said. "They even match my socks for me."
After the success of the pilot program, Harari and his partners are ready to expand. They are currently working through the approval process to sell their app through the Apple store.
Once that’s in place, they plan to launch their first full program on the Upper East Side toward the end of March. Anyone with a local zip code and an iPhone will be able to sign up for the service, which will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.
Eventually, they hope to operate in every New York City neighborhood.
The cost for Cleanly will be comparable to that of other laundry services in the immediate area and will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, Harari said. For the pilot program on the Upper West Side, for example, the cost was $1.20 per pound for wash-and-fold service, which included pickup, delivery and tip.
Harari believes Cleanly will fit in well with New Yorkers’ busy lifestyles.
“We all moved to New York City for a reason,” he said.
“Many of us work hard and we want to spend our free time going to yoga, spending time with friends, going to the park — not carrying around our laundry.”