Doing Laundry the German Way

Doing Laundry the German Way

Doing Laundry the German Way

My mother-in-law would probably write a much better tutorial on how to really do laundry the German way, but I just wanted to talk about the one major difference between German laundering and American laundering.

We don’t own a dryer. This is not a revolutionary statement for people who live in Germany. From what I can tell, most people don’t either. But when I tell friends and family in the US, they are completely shocked. How do you dry your clothes?

With a drying rack, duh.

Source: bykst
Source: bykst

There are some definite downsides to this. No more warm, fluffy towels straight from the dryer. Clothes can take up to two days to get fully dry, even in the summer, because, as an American, I refuse to hang my underwear out for everyone to see. I didn’t even use a picture of my actual drying rack here, even though it’s sitting right in the hallway and I could easily snap my own pictures of it. I used to go so far as to hide it in the guest room when family would stop by to pick things up.

I can knock out several loads of laundry in one day. I’m restricted by the space available still on the drying rack. This means that when I am backed up on laundry, which is more often than not, it can take me a long time to get everything clean. I have to stick to a strict schedule of laundry every other day, no matter what, until it’s all gone. This is next to impossible for me. In contrast, my mother owns a dryer that I could probably fit in if I tried and can get several loads dry in a couple of hours.

But there are some benefits. If I kept up with my laundry and actually removed the dry stuffย before space was needed on the rack, I could fold the rack up and it would take up much less space than a dryer. It’s also more energy efficient, money saving, and good for the environment, so there’s that too. And I think it helps our clothes to last longer, because they aren’t beat up in the dryer.

Clothes can get a little stiff if I leave them hanging for too long, but shaking them out and folding them usually fixes that. I do miss the smell of fresh, warm laundry, though – and fluffy towels in general. But the German abhorrence of soft towels could be an article in itself. I’m also really bad about ironing, which isn’t much of a problem if you have a dryer. I used to throw wrinkly clothes in the dryer with a damp towel for ten to twenty minutes – a move that would probably appall energy-conscious Germans – and then I was ready to go!

I like to think that I’ve adjusted pretty well, though. But I’ve found myself pinning pictures of huge, well-organized laundry rooms on Pinterest, so I guess I’m not fully ready for the no-dryer life.


Photo used in header: ErikaWittlieb

Seychelles Mama

11 thoughts on “Doing Laundry the German Way

  1. No dryers here in Brazil either. Fortunately, the weather here means clothes dry in a day unless it’s raining. I’ve actually been converted. The amount of energy we save is huge. The dryer is one of the biggest energy sucks in an American home. Not having one is sooooo much better for the environment and the budget.
    I got over my guilt about using disposable diapers by saying “We don’t own a dryer or have central air conditioning.” I figured it more than made up for it.

    1. For about a month or two, our clothes will dry within a day, but unfortunately the rest of the year it’s too wet or cold! It does save a lot of money and energy though, and we have a high efficiency washer, too.

  2. Being used to such a way of drying things, it would’ve been hard for me to get used to the American way, I guess ๐Ÿ™‚
    As for the above comment – I also don’t understand why you would use clothespins inside. It’s not like there’s a wind to take them down ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Love this!! Must have been really tough getting used to this, I know how attached to their dryers Americans can be!! It definitely is cheaper being without and I totally agree about it helping clothes last longer!!! But oh the convenience!!!!!!
    I feel like this about a dishwasher, I don’t have one here (or a dryer) but I’d really love one, washing dishes is the worst!!
    Thanks for linking up to #myexpatfamily

    1. Not going to lie, the last time I lived in a place with no dishwasher, I started buying paper plates. ๐Ÿ˜€ If I had to choose between a dishwasher and a dryer, I would choose the dishwasher every time.

  4. Our household would literally crumble under a pile of dirty laundry if we didn’t have a drier! I naively though “hot country, as if I need a drier” but its the humidity and dust. I spent my first painful months in Abu Dhabi diligently putting things on the rack outside, trying to leave them long enough they didn’t dry to a crisp, but not too long they gathered this goopy dusty brown smear on them and ended up back in the perpetual wash cycle. – when you’re on your 10th load of the week, trust me the no-drier rack novelty seriously wears off!!

  5. When we were in the UK we had a dryer for the nappies and towels but air dried everything else. We have air dried everything in every other country – even in KAzakhstan the house was so warm in the winter the clothes dried in less than 24 hours.

  6. In Korea and Kyrgyzstan it’s the same too – almost no one has a dryer. I’m used to it now but I do miss the warm fluffy clothes straight out of the dryer, and the waiting. Funny how something that we had in every house growing up is deemed unnecessary other places!

    1. It’s like that with the air conditioner too. My mom has always been super conservative with the air conditioning, but here, we don’t have one at all! And the weather is pretty similar.

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