Orange Sky Laundry answers a traveller’s prayer.

Orange Sky Laundry answers a traveller’s prayer.


Orange Sky Laundry has many uses for those charcoal grey clothes – from washing in a portable washing machine to line drying en plein air.

In undertaking field research on homeless matters earlier this year for the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, I saw several small vans in Civic and Reid in Canberra open for business to launder clothes ‘on the go’.  The small business known as Orange Sky Laundry offers the homeless and itinerant travellers the opportunity to launder when they normally do not have the facilities to do their washing.

In travelling light, there’s always the problem of lugging around well-worn clothes which others might find off-putting. It’s a perennial problem for travellers. Travelling light with few clothes and other possessions for train or plane travel is one thing but living in your clothes for seven days at a time is another matter. Those socks could stand up on their own after a while …

Did you know that every night in Australia one in 200 people is homeless and sleeps in the clothes they’ve worn all week? Homeless people do not go to bed in their pyjamas and bed socks. A nightshirt and woollen cap is not their normal sleeping attire. A dressing gown is just a tactile memory from childhood or time spent with their grandparents, or aunts and uncles.

Orange Sky Laundry

Orange Sky LaundryImagine tonight you are homeless, if you had as little as $12 to your name, would you spend that $12 on washing and drying your clothes? What if that same money was your food money?

Those two questions are provided by Orange Sky Laundry (OSL), a business which helps to provide the homeless with clean clothes while at the same time offering positive and non-judgemental conversation. Most people living on the street have several sets of clothes but which are usually very dirty given their limited access to washing facilities.”

The Orange Sky Laundry service offers free mobile laundry facilities for people living on the streets. The laundry vans are known as ‘Tubbsy’ and they visit locations where ‘friends’ meet – perhaps at a Friday church lunch or Saturday barbeque in the park. A van has a washing machine and a dryer in it and several plastic baskets to store the clothes before and after the laundry is undertaken.

Why was the business established:

Orange Sky Laundry

Sydney’s Martin Place sleepout 2017

OSL’s website statement is inspiring: “Orange Sky Laundry is the world’s first free mobile laundry service for the homeless. A crazy idea in 2014 to put two washing machines and two dryers in a van and wash and dry clothes for free. Starting in the streets of Brisbane, Orange Sky has now grown to 11 services across Australia in Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Sunshine Coast, Perth, Adelaide, SE Melbourne, Woollongong and Hobart. Orange Sky Laundry now does over 6.9 tonnes of laundry every week. However most importantly, (OSL provides) over 1,300 hours of positive and genuine conversations every week.”

Orange Sky LaundryOSL accept donations via the link

If you decide to donate to Orange Sky Laundry’s efforts, the marketing leaflet says: “$6 will wash and dry the clothes of a ‘friend in need’ with an awesome chat on the side”

Orange Sky Laundry

Asleep with bags in the Canberra Centre

If you know a lot of homeless people and want to fund a Big Wash, $120 will pay for everyone’s clothes to be washed on the same day. For $600, Orange Sky Laundry will undertake to wash clothes belonging to the needy for an entire week.

OSL’s website map shows that it operates in more than 10 city and major regional locations around Australia. It says though “Orange Sky has now grown to 12 mobile laundry vans which service 96 locations with over 800 dedicated volunteers Australia-wide. In addition to this we have begun operating mobile shower vans where we have two built and a third not far away.”

You could also donate through PayPal, Everyday Hero and Direct Deposit. If you wish to set-up an ongoing donation, your bank’s online banking system will accommodate this need.

As OSL says: “Your incredibly generous donation will help give someone back the basic human right of clean clothes and conversation.

“If you require a tax deductible receipt for Direct Deposit donations please email

Orange Sky LaundryThe Poppy Shower Van

The newest addition to our mobile fleet in Sydney is named after a special lady called ‘Poppy’. At just eight years of age, Poppy and her team of helpers collect unwanted airline or cosmetic bags and unused hygiene products to create ‘Little Care Packs’ for people sleeping rough in Sydney. Watch the launch video to find out more about Poppy and her amazing team of helpers.

‘Poppy’ will work alongside our laundry van, ‘Tubbsy’ to help some of the 105,000 Australians who find themselves homeless. This takes our services to 11 laundry vans and three shower vans servicing parks, drop in centres and other locations across the country and providing our friends with clean clothes, hot showers and awesome conversations.

To read more and subscribe to the Orange Sky newsletter:

Orange Sky Laundry

Somebody to love…

Job opportunity:

Regular Giving and Grants Officer

Orange Sky has a new role open for an outstanding storyteller who can lead the researching and authoring of grant proposals. It seeks someone who will create innovative regular giving strategies to foster meaningful connections with Orange Sky’s supporters.

Its promotional material says: “Orange Sky Laundry is a catalyst for conversation. In the one hour time it takes to wash and dry someone’s clothes there is absolutely nothing to do but sit down on one of our 6 orange chairs and have a positive and genuine conversation between our everyday volunteers and everyday friends on the street.”

If you’re interested in volunteering in a general way (GV), you can assist in washing your ‘friends’ clothes while having a genuine and positive conversation with them.

If you’d like to progress to being a team leader (TL), you can drive the van to where the friends in need are located; have a positive, genuine conversation while washing and drying clothes and then drive the van back to base. OSL volunteers says they “…do this in (with the) hope to help our friends on the street make gradual steps back into society.”

To watch volunteers in action, click on this link:

To volunteer as a GV or TL, please fill out an online application at:

Text by Fiona Rothchilds 2017 with some text provided by Orange Sky Laundry.
Photo images copyright: Fiona Rothchilds 2017.
Uploaded 31 July 2017.

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