Mobile laundromat proves a godsend to the homeless

It took a design team of six with backgrounds in mechanics, plumbing, electrics and engineering to build Eddie Uini’s van that houses two washing machines, two dryers and a hot shower in the back.

Orange Sky driver visits key spots in Auckland to help the homeless by giving them clean clothes and a shower.

When he pulls up to the Auckland City Library on a Sunday afternoon, there can be more than 150 people lined up.

Eddie says the orange Mercedes Sprinter van has a generator and two large water tanks and can be self-sufficient for hours without needing to plug into anything.

“I’ve always seen our van as a three-pronged service. The showers, the washing, but also the conversations that we have with our friends on the street.

“I was talking to a guy who said ‘you are the first person I’ve spoken to in five weeks’. I can never really understand how the homeless in the city are surrounded by people every day and yet they can go five weeks without anyone speaking to them.”

Eddie got involved with Orange Sky after a homeless man died while sleeping on the doorstep of a church around the corner from his home in Manurewa, South Auckland.

“From then on, I noticed more and more how many people were doing it rough on the streets, so I approached Orange Sky Australia about emulating their service in Auckland.”

The service started in October last year and has since provided more than 1700 loads of washed clothes and warm showers.

Eddie is being hosted by the Warkworth Methodist Women’s Fellowship at the Methodist Church in Warkworth on Thursday, September 19, at 1.30pm, where he will be talking about his experiences.

“I’ll be sharing stories of the friends we’ve met on the street and how getting to know them has helped to shatter the false perceptions we might have of homelessness.”

The event is open to anyone who is interested in learning about it – just RSVP to Val Sheperd at 027 604 2052 or

Orange Sky is launching a van in Wellington in October and has its sights set on Hamilton and Christchurch, as well as a second unit for Auckland, in the coming months.