PENSIONERS and families face a taxi journey to do their washing following a decision to close two Chester launderettes.
The YMCA facilities at The Parade, Blacon, and Newtown Close, New-town, are each losing £500 a month.
Chester City Council's city area committee threw the facilities a life-line in June, offering a £2,000 grant to enable council officers to investigate a business plan.
That was backed up by £2,000 from the council's economic development department and a pledge of the same amount from One Voice For Blacon.
But officers have decided there is no way of the launderettes, which do not receive subsidies, breaking even.
They will now close in the first week of December, with the two members of staff, Veronica Bradshaw and Dawn Potter, out of jobs.
Idris Roberts, chairman of the New-town Residents' Association, who lives at the St Oswald's flats above the launderette, said: 'It's a very sad situation, this will affect me greatly.
'I don't have room for a washing machine in my one-bedroom flat.
'There's a very large elderly population around here and I don't know what people are going to do.
'I can only think of launderettes at Garden Lane, Dicksons Drive, Charles Street and Handbridge, which doesn't seem many for somewhere the size of Chester.'
Mr Roberts said because he did not have a car, he would have to either drag his washing along the pavement or splash out on taxis.
Mrs Potter added: 'This is such a shame. It's not a nice Christmas present.'
A war of words has erupted between Cllr Reggie Jones (Lab, Blacon Lodge) and the YMCA over the closures.
Cllr Jones said YMCA officials should have alerted the council to their difficulties sooner.
'That may or may not have made a difference,' he said.
'There's definitely a need for a launderette in Blacon but unfortunately demand isn't significant enough to meet running costs.
'But I don't think the launderettes have been managed as efficiently as they could have been.'
Hitting back, Dave Pearson, chief executive of YMCA Chester and Ellesmere Port, said: 'That's an unfair criticism.
'We've done everything we can to keep them going and we're broken-hearted about this.
'This is an independent local charity and there's no big brother to bail us out.
'I've been talking for two years about funding but the council has not wanted to listen.
'It only took notice when we made cuts earlier this year.
'They have been chasing a myth that all that is needed is better management and that everything should be run as a business and a closed commercial enterprise.'