GLENDALE, Ariz. — If you happen to like keys, then the laundry business is the business for you!

All kidding aside, if you own a Laundromat, you will have lots of keys to safeguard and manage. And if you have a big mat, or more than one location, keeping track of your keys can get out of hand.

I answered a host of questions in Part 1 but there’s plenty more:


I’m a believer in choose a coin box that has an “Anti-Drill” front plate, and a key that can only be duplicated by the factory. The disk in the front plate will spin with a drill bit, making it harder to get inside to drill out the lock.

Choose a lock with a key that has a unique shape and raceways that are hard to duplicate outside the factory.

To duplicate, you’ll need to supply the factory with the key number code, so always write the code numbers down and keep somewhere secure.


For the keys you don’t normally use that are safely stored off premises, you can use an electric engraving pen (or masking tape) to identify what each key is used for. Believe me, this comes in very handy when you need to go to your supply of keys, because you will forget which key goes with which lock.

If you feel uncomfortable using direct labels, you can engrave your own number codes on the keys. Make a chart listing what code number each key is used for.

Engravers come as electric or battery-operated and are inexpensive to purchase from any hardware or tool source. I had both versions and found that the plug-in version engraved more deeply than the battery-powered tool.

Engravers are also good for marking other property, such as laundry carts.

Again, keep your originals safely secured off premises so you can make reliable copies; I kept my service key copies in my drop safes.


For those who have problems with your public restrooms, if you have a card store, consider having a lock that only opens with a customer’s card.

For coin stores, you can either just keep a key attached to a stick by rope behind the counter, or you install a buzzer system for attendants to screen patrons first before buzzing them in. Lastly, you can use a code lock, but you will have to change the code periodically to prevent overuse and abuse.


Best Locks — I think the best locks are those identified as being pick-resistant and bump-key-resistant. They have complicated shapes and raceways, plus a key code system that can only be duplicated by the manufacturer.

I’m not a fan of circular or tubular locks. They can be easily picked using a pen, as illustrated by videos you can find online.

There are all sorts of keys in between with various security levels that may be acceptable, depending on your needs/cost ratio.

Coin Box Security — When buying a Laundromat, always order new coin boxes! The seller, or anyone else from his/her camp, may still have a set of keys. No need to take the chance. Also, put drops of nail polish on both sides of some coins and drop one in each coin box. If someone has access to your coin boxes, you will be missing the colored coin.

Releasing a Stuck Lock — If you can’t remove a key, and it’s not turning in the lock, spray the lock with a “dry lube” containing teflon (not an oil spray, because oils will eventually dry up and become sticky), or use graphite powder. Then, using a small hammer, gently tap on the back of the key as you turn it.

Sometimes, there is a lint and gunk buildup inside the keyhole that is pushed toward the back every time a key is inserted. Eventually, there is enough gunk to prevent the key from being pushed back far enough to line up with the tumblers.

Tapping while turning usually gets your key past that, and will also help to jump the tumblers into place. After you successfully remove the key, use a small wire pick to reach into the back of the keyhole to pull the gunk out. If one lock does this, the others surely will soon, so use your pick to clear them all.

If the reason you’re having problems is that a coin box is too full, jamming up the locking plates, the tapping can loosen them up just enough to free up the lock.

Freeing a Broken Key — Try pulling the key out using picks and tweezers first. Otherwise, the lock will have to be drilled out.

You might be able to reconnect the two pieces using epoxy but both key halves must be completely clean of dirt and free of oil for the epoxy to stick. Don’t use too much glue or it could ooze into the lock itself.

Keys wear down with repeated use. Check your keys for signs of wear and metal fatigue so you can change them before they break.

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.