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.
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 stuff 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