As Butte grew from a mining camp to a huge industrial metropolitan city, amenities expanded to accommodate the needs and wants of a population with money to spend. Laundries popped up all over town.
Most were operated by Chinese, but with improved technologies, a growing population, and prejudice against the Asian community, both household laundries and large commercial operations thrived in Butte under white management.
In 1884 Butte had nine Chinese laundries. The first non-Chinese commercial laundry appears to have been the Butte Steam Laundry, in 1885 on West Granite across from the skating rink pavilion at Alaska Street.
They competed with 21 Chinese laundries then, more than double the number from the previous year. Throughout the 1890s, the Chinese operated 18 to 31 laundries, with a low of 14 in 1896, the year white businessmen attempted a boycott of Chinese laundries.
Chinese businessmen successfully sued the boycott instigators, though they never saw a dime of settlement money, and some Chinese operations were curtailed for that year.