Faces Of The Boom: Oil Means Money For Student Who Works At Laundry Service

Breeann Barman, 16, of Ray, N.D., has an after-school job washing clothes for oilfield workers. Amy Dalrymple/Forum Communications

RAY, N.D. – You grease ’em and we clean ’em is the mantra for Breeann Barman and her co-workers.

The 16-year-old has an after-school job washing oilfield clothes for CM Clean Laundry in Ray.

The same-day laundry business caters to workers who live in campers or don’t have access to washing machines. Barman said she washes a lot of regular clothes, but also cleans “greasers” that she has to wash more than once.

“With some of them you have to wear gloves because they’re so bad,” said Barman, a high school junior who has held her job for about six months.

Some customers will drop off bags of clothing for the entire crew of a drilling rig.

Although they do wash clothes for locals and do a lot of regular clothing, some of the greasy loads they handle can get nasty, said Mandy Zerr, one of the owners.

“Working with that stuff, sometimes you look like you just walked off of a rig,” Zerr said.
Zerr said CM Clean Laundry opened nearly three years ago along U.S. Highway 2 and has had steady business. The only advertising they do is to display signs outside, including one with the clever slogan “Drop your pants here” that was designed by some Tioga high school students, Zerr said.

CM Clean Laundry has two large washing machines – one is for greasers and one is for regular clothes.

They weigh the clothes after they’re dry and charge $1 per pound for regular clothes and $1.50 per pound for greasers. If the customer fills up the entire washer, they get a discount.

This is not the kind of self-serve laundry where customers run coin-operated machines and read magazines while they wait for their clothes. But that doesn’t keep some of the customers from hanging out.

Barman said she likes the job because she enjoys meeting the workers, many who are regulars.

“A lot of them are friendly and just want to talk,” Barman said. “They stay in here for quite awhile.”

The only downside to working for the wash-and-fold service is that laundry is one of her chores at home, too.

“My mom thinks it’s hilarious when I get home and she asks me to put laundry in,” Barman said.