The UK and USA: two proud nations divided by damp, grey underwear
August 3, 2017 2:41 AM   Subscribe

In another example of UK/US differences for visitors and emigrants seeking a home in the UK, a Quartz article by Corinne Purtill: “He went through a rite of passage that every U.S. expat must endure: an encounter with the typical British combo washer-dryer,” Furseth writes. “It appears to be a stroke of genius until you realize that the dryer part doesn’t really work - and everyone who lives here knows this.” Elsewhere, “...in America it is only the ‘hippies’ who put their clothes outside to dry...” while another person fights the washer dryer combo. Many Brits simply sigh and rack, despite the health warnings; there are many options. Tangentially, washing machines in the kitchen, old Yahoo! question and MetaFilter previously: differences, a related Buzzfeed and a drying tip.
posted by Wordshore (189 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
The end result is a flat with socks and undershirts dangling over bathtubs and radiators. Of course, there are worse ways to live. But—why? When a technological fix is available, why would anyone choose to live this way?

Er, because our houses are fucking tiny? It's only after moving to a 3-bed house that I've had a kitchen that was big enough for a washer and a drier. Before that we just hung all the laundry on drying racks. It's like asking why, when helicopters exist, do people still insist on driving everywhere.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:58 AM on August 3 [35 favorites]


I usually side-eye articles like this one which over-generalise comparisons between the USA and the UK. But this is probably my number one difference rage inducer, even more so than socialist medical care. Of the last five rentals I've lived in here in the UK, four have had washers and no dryers, and one had a combo. With the no dryer situation, the options were line or rack, or (currently) I'm 5 minutes walk from a launderette and a load takes 12 minutes and a quid to dry, which is an okay option when it's not raining.

But the combo machine - what a pile of absolute shite that was. The loads it could take were TINY - a hobbit living on their own would be doing multiple per day. They would take hours - plural. And they would NEVER be dry. Ever. After not very long, I resorted to washing only, and racking my clothes which I hate because it means I end up living in a pseudo-launderette and I'd rather not.

I thought it was that specific machine; then in the autumn of 2015 I did a bit of a tour of the north of England staying at airbnbs. And kept coming across these combo machines which Did. Not. Dry. My. Clothes.

Then I go to the US regularly, stay in the houses of friends, and the laundry situation makes me feel like I'm living in a posh hotel in an exclusive area of the City of London.

A colleague (with admittedly variable standards on hygiene) says he has a similar situation and it means he does not wash his bedding between November and March due to the hassle of trying to dry it during the English winter (he lives a long way from any launderette and doesn't drive). So basically the same bedding stays on the bed for the five months of winter.

It's difficult to believe this island somehow managed to do an oppressive empire that encompassed a quarter of the globe, but failed so pathetically to sort this issue out when much of the world has done so.
posted by Wordshore at 3:11 AM on August 3 [36 favorites]


I think the point is that washers are sold as washer/dryer combos but they don't actually work very well at all. We have a washer/dryer combo. I am tempted to post a photo of the drying racks full of clothes right now in our living room.

I visited a friend with a small apartment in San Francisco. He had a closet and a washer and dryer stacked on top of each other. They both worked. This technology is possible!
posted by vacapinta at 3:13 AM on August 3 [14 favorites]


Everyone knows that washer-dryers are terrible. It’s the nature of the beast. I have no idea why anyone buys them, except for terrible landlords wanting to pretend they’ve installed adequate washing facilities.
posted by pharm at 3:16 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


A colleague (with admittedly variable standards on hygiene) says he has a similar situation and it means he does not wash his bedding between November and March due to the hassle of trying to dry it during the English winter (he lives a long way from any launderette and doesn't drive). So basically the same bedding stays on the bed for the five months of winter.

Does he know about Laundrapp, Laundryheap and other services? Yes, it involves financial outlay and it's incredibly annoying to have to outsource something which should be possible to do at home. But they are very good (I've used both services) and flexible with timings etc. I only use them for bedding because of how long it takes to dry bedding when I wash it at home.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:17 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


NB, but lots of people appear to be unaware that no washer-dryer will ever be able to dry the washing it’s just washed. The drying capacity is 1/3 -> 1/2 of the washing capacity. Anyone putting a full load in & expecting that to dry is going to be disappointed.
posted by pharm at 3:17 AM on August 3 [13 favorites]


Some of these comparisons (not all) seem to me to be invalidated because they are apparently comparing life in a small, rather poorly-equipped London flat with life in a normal-size American house.
posted by Segundus at 3:17 AM on August 3 [17 favorites]


Segundus has it re the kitchen debate. Here in NYC, a combo washer/dryer in the kitchen is a luxury amenity.
posted by thejoshu at 3:19 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


(Though I will say that I thought OUR combo washer/dryers were godawful... until I met a condenser dryer in Scotland. Yikes.)
posted by thejoshu at 3:29 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


UK apartment buildings don't have a coin-operated laundry room in a dimly-lit spider-infested basement like ones in the US?
posted by octothorpe at 3:37 AM on August 3 [57 favorites]


From the "hippies" link:
From research I have found it boils down to the voltage. America runs off of 110 volts and the UK runs off of 220 volts which makes the spin function better or worse depending on which you use. This is definitely one issue that unless you have used both machines in both countries, you may not fully understand the difference.
She needs to do more research. There is no reason a 120V washer can't spin as effectively as a 220V one. It has to be a design choice, probably based on the assumption that US houses will have a functioning dryer.

Also:
However in our current home our machine ... is on the opposite wall of our stove, in the back hallway next to our refrigerator.
Is this another Brit / US difference, or just writer fail? To me, "on the opposite wall" means on the other side of the same room, but she appears to mean that the stove and washer are on opposite sides of the same wall.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:37 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Laundry facilities in the kitchen have become more common here in the US in homes big enough to have them. Sometimes they're just there, and sometimes they're tucked into a closet-y sort of thing with folding doors. I think it's a brilliant idea and a very convenient place to have them.

A few years ago, friends of ours remodeled and put in second-floor laundry, and it struck me like the most brilliant idea ever. Where do you generate most of your laundry? The bedrooms and bathrooms, which are mostly on the second floor in two-story houses. Where do you wash them? The basement. Down two flights of stairs.

We live in Michigan, a place so humid that we have found it impossible to hang things to dry outside because they will never dry. (They'll also pick up all sorts of allergens.) Living in a place like that without a decent drying option would be very challenging.

I think if I didn't want to wash sheets for five months, I'd at least get a couple more sets of sheets. Then in the spring there could be a big trip to the laundromat for the Rite Of the Sheet-Washing.
posted by Orlop at 3:37 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Does he know about Laundrapp, Laundryheap and other services?

These could indeed be good and useful, but in his case he lives on a moor, has no Internet or wifi, kills his own food and believes that the web is the "Work of the Anti-Christ". I've told him that I've met Tim BL several times and he's definitely not the Anti-Christ, but this doesn't cut any ice with him.

He's also long-time single, which he doesn't understand. Have advised, as Orlop sensibly suggests:

at least get a couple more sets of sheets

...but he has some notion of one day getting extra bedding as a wedding present.

When visiting I don't stay there overnight.
posted by Wordshore at 3:46 AM on August 3 [40 favorites]


Yes, washer-dryers are strictly for washing, plus also for getting a single item of clothing wearably dry when you need it immediately. Attempting to use them for drying whole loads is inviting mildew smells to come and stay, as I've found out once too often.

I've always put up with having a drying rack around somewhere most of the time, and using a clothes dryer has always seemed the height of decadence.

However, outdoor dried clothes are the best and most freshest smelling clothes there are. And in the UK, you'll never go longer than a week without a period where you could have dried your clothes outside, if only you'd had clairvoyance.

I guess the answer is that I don't have a solution to the UK's crapness. But I think I'll get a tiny 30 watt dehumidifier for my wardrobe. And use the bigger one that I've got more often.
posted by ambrosen at 3:57 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


I figured I must be doing something wrong and begged AskMe for help with this once.

My combo washer-drier does dry but it makes things smell weird and takes forever. I recently moved to a flat that has space for an outside airer and it has changed my life. I am so excited about sunny/windy days now because it means I can dry my laundry in 45 mins flat and it won't smell musty or leave my rooms damp or be hanging there for days. Life. Changing.

I was also completely amazed by my mother-in-law's US dryer on a trip over last year which dried everything! quickly! and it didn't smell weird!
posted by corvine at 3:59 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Weird. We had one of those when we were in Scotland a couple of years back, and it worked fine washing and drying. I suppose we were only doing a few days' worth of clothes at a time, but still a much appreciated appliance.
posted by Mogur at 4:00 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


My favorite anecdote about British laundry habits, which I tell at every opportunity:

When I (a USAian) first moved to the UK 3-ish years ago, I rented a room in someone's house for a couple months til I could sort out a rental place of my own. My housemate/landlord was, like me, in his late 20s. He had recently bought this house, and was renting out the second bedroom to help cover the mortgage. The preceding winter, his first in the new house, he had dried his clothes on racks in his bedroom. This led (somewhat unsurprisingly) to mold problems. His solution was to purchase a tumble dryer. The new laundry routine consisted of washing his clothes, putting them in the dryer, running the dryer until the clothes were merely damp, opening it up mid-cycle, and taking the damp clothes out of the dryer to hang up on racks, radiators, etc. Like, in his head laundry wasn't properly dried unless it had been hung over something for a day. The mind boggles.

One of the first purchases I made when I was living in my own house was a dehumidifier. My British friends see it as a profligate eccentricity (just think of the electric bills!) but it is worth every penny not to feel like I'm living in the clammy bowels of the earth.
posted by dendrochronologizer at 4:08 AM on August 3 [23 favorites]


I had a washer/dryer in my last flat (which I decided on and bought for myself) and it was fine! I'm mystified by all this ire. I usually only bothered with it for towels and bedding because they're expensive to run and I own a truly ridiculous amount of clothing so rarely need clothes to be dry quickly, but it made my towels so nice and fluffy! I miss it now.
posted by theseldomseenkid at 4:09 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


My washer-dryer works a treat. There's an option for Iron Dry or Cupboard Dry and we never have any trouble with it. We have no space in the flat and our drying green only gets the sun for a few months of the year.

We just don't overly load the machine. But I too am mystified by all this guff about them not working. They totally do.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 4:11 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


In my previous flat where I had to hang things to dry the only place I had space to hang them was in the kitchen/lounge (another lovely feature of flats in London - your kitchen is usually a row of cupboards and appliances on one wall of your lounge) and because that's where we spent all our time and cooked, the room was warm enough and big enough not to ever feel damp. New flat has a second bedroom (OMG) and was definitely starting to feel clammy after I relegated the drying rack out of sight in there. I had been considering a dehumidifier until I realised I could HANG STUFF UP OUTSIDE.

(I'm already excited because there's no rain forecast for Saturday. LAUNDRY DAY!)
posted by corvine at 4:12 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Many apartments here in the US don't have room for a washer-dryer either. That's why there would be a laundry room in the basement. Like a private laundromat.

My first unit that had washer dryer hookups in the unit was a 600 sq ft 1br/1ba.

I don't think it's a space thing. I think it's cultural - tenants don't demand it because they're more used to hanging clothes to dry, so landlords don't supply it.

The flip side is that hanging clothes outside to dry is seen as lower-class in the US, so many communities outright ban it to keep up appearances.
posted by muddgirl at 4:15 AM on August 3 [8 favorites]


Another +1 for our washer/dryer totally works. It wasn't a cheap (i.e., landlord-supplied) thing, and the drying programme takes at least as long as the wash, and it absolutely won't work with a full load, but it's a godsend in the winter when we can't hang clothes out to dry - we used to have a pretty serious damp problem when we hung clothes up inside and the washer/dryer fixed that basically overnight.
posted by parm at 4:35 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


The flip side is that hanging clothes outside to dry is seen as lower-class in the US, so many communities outright ban it to keep up appearances.

I haven't seen anyone hang clothes outside to dry in at least thirty years now.
posted by octothorpe at 4:41 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]


he does not wash his bedding between November and March due to the hassle of trying to dry it during the English winter

I mean, he sounds happy with his system, but if you want something to dry quickly in the winter you aim a space heater at it, or even just a fan. (And sheets dry really fast!)
posted by trig at 4:44 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen anyone hang clothes outside to dry in at least thirty years now.

We didn't have a dryer in our house until the mid-late 90s. Which, to be fair, is 20 years ago at this point, but it's not 30.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:46 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


My rental contract specifically bars hanging stuff over the radiator/using drying racks (although, how they'd know as I would remove it before inspections) but that clause has been used as a stick to beat friends in regards to getting their deposit returned because of damp (which was probably not entirely caused by their laundry drying...)

We own a small tumbledryer that takes up annoying amount of space in our tiny bathroom but at least means we don't have to lug wet washing and sit in the launderette for ages every Saturday.
posted by halcyonday at 4:46 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen anyone hang clothes outside to dry in at least thirty years now.

Really? My neighbors do on the regular. We hang stuff out like couch cushion covers and sheets/blankets. I'm not sure I would if I lived in a more traffic-congested area, though. Exhaust.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:47 AM on August 3 [8 favorites]


“...in America it is only the ‘hippies’ who put their clothes outside to dry...”

What, even at the height of summer in the southwest?

Is this like that guy in Texas who had a roaring fireplace behind glass at the height of summer in his house, with the air conditioner going full blast? I.e., we have the technology, and we'll be damned if we don't use it!
posted by acb at 4:47 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


hanging clothes outside to dry is seen as lower-class in the US

Ah, interesting! Wonder how attitudes to this vary around the world? I am not aware of that being a class related indicator in the UK. Related AskMe.
posted by asok at 4:48 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


It's just faster and easier to put the stuff immediately into the dryer that is right next to the washer than it would be to hang it out to dry, and most people in the US don't have anywhere to hang laundry outside anyway (even if they have the space, they don't have the admittedly minimal equipment to do so).

Personally here in the summer in Washington DC I like to hang my bath towels outside to dry but am too lazy and lacking for space to deal with hanging out the rest.
posted by exogenous at 4:52 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Apparently there's a “right-to-dry” movement that's fighting HOA rules against clothes-lines in the US and Canada.
posted by octothorpe at 4:56 AM on August 3 [19 favorites]


It's been illegal to restrict outside line drying in BC for quite a while now.
posted by Mitheral at 4:59 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Our washer-dryer works okay but we only use it in emergencies, because why waste all that electricity and get crumpled clothes when you can just hang stuff up to dry like a normal person?

I don't wear white socks when I'm not playing tennis either.
posted by Mocata at 5:00 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


I haven't seen anyone hang clothes outside to dry in at least thirty years now.

I do it all summer long, and parts of spring and fall, too. You might not see my clothesline from the street. I enjoy the process, unlike the machine-drying one. If it indicates that I'm low-class, I do not care.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:01 AM on August 3 [15 favorites]


I had a washer/dryer in my last flat (which I decided on and bought for myself) and it was fine!

My washer-dryer works a treat

Another +1 for our washer/dryer totally works. It wasn't a cheap (i.e., landlord-suppli

Well, there goes my plan for a transatlantic appliance smuggling ring.
posted by rodlymight at 5:04 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


I think it's culturalpolitical - tenants don't demand it because

…tenants in England & Wales have effectively no power at all, so they'll take whatever shit they're given. That said, going outside your property to a laundry would be the humiliatingly low class thing in the UK. This was even the case when I went to a laundry in an exceedingly posh street (which pretends it's for washing duvets, not for people who live in squalid garrets, hidden behind a door at the top of 5 stories of marble staircase).

that clause has been used as a stick to beat friends in regards to getting their deposit returned because of damp (which was probably not entirely caused by their laundry drying...)

This is how it goes, right? Reports damp, gets replied to with "have you tried opening the windows after showering?", reports it 3 months later, rinse and repeat. Walls now severely damaged. Eventually someone comes round to fix a broken tile. Landlord is livid with the tenants, not the agents.
posted by ambrosen at 5:05 AM on August 3 [11 favorites]


Things that keep being made despite the fact that they just don't. fucking. work. infuriate me. Sink strainers, for instance. Is there any way to set the strainer in a sink that such that it won't either a: let chunks of food slip past it into the drain or b: settle immediately back into its "plug" position, causing the sink to fill with dirty water rather than letting it run down and out or c: both?

Washer/dryer combos appear to be another example of this. Sorry, British people. Hopefully someday someone will invent one that actually does what it claims to do.

Or you could just start getting stacking units, which put a dedicated dryer on top of a dedicated washer, which saves almost as much space and works perfectly fine.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:07 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]


I gotta say: I first encountered the sink inside a sink thing in a mountaineering lodge in the Canadian Rockies. And exactly like the article pondered: This kept our cooking scraps contained, minimized the sink cleanup and minimized water usage - which is important when hauling water means a half a km hike in the dark and then breaking ice to get to it. This is honestly an excellent part of British culture which the Canadians have maintained.

Single pane windows are a thing in the older parts of the US too, but we're in a house that we're slowly evolving from its 1880s charm to at least survivable past 50 years from now. Are these windows in the UK just old, having lasted a century or more - or do Brits replace their windows with single panes versions of modern windows? Does Andersen not ship overseas?

Lastly, on the laundry front. I could swear there was an episode of Wallace and Grommit where he is baking his socks in the oven... Thank you for the explanation why.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:13 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


In the late 80s I lived in a relatively newly-built flat with single-pane windows. We were baffled. This was in Cambridge with the winds roaring across the fens. You could watch the curtains flap in the breeze.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:17 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


I haven't had an electric drier in a quarter of a century. I must look into some of the options at that "sigh and rack" link.
posted by pracowity at 5:18 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


At least if your home didn't have a washer and dryer, or came with patently underpowered ones, you used to be able to go to the laundromat/launderette. But in the US it looks like laundromats are disappearing, and UK launderettes are following suit. A terrific irony that in the UK case at least the in-unit appliances that are contributing to their disappearance are so inadequate.
posted by informavore at 5:20 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


I am not aware of that being a class related indicator in the UK.

No, although I think the middle class wouldn't hang out clothes and then leave them for several days while they dried, got rained on, dried again, rained on again, and dried again. I have seen this happen in Thornton Heath*.

*Which probably sounds charmingly rural to American ears, but is actually one of the more benighted parts of South London.
posted by Segundus at 5:23 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Nanukthedog, for houses with old sash windows or flats with art-deco style panels it's frowned upon (and sometimes actually not allowed, if you're in a conservation area) to replace them with regular-style double-glazed ones. My last flat had been freshly renovated when I moved in and the old single-glazed sash windows had been replaced with new single-glazed sash windows. You can get double-glazed sash windows, I believe, but they're very expensive.
posted by corvine at 5:23 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


We encountered one of these so-called "washer-dryers" on our first trip to London back in 2003. We had a toddler with us, so the ability to wash (and dry) clothing was a big plus in choosing the flat we rented for the week. Needless to say, absolutely nothing dried whatsoever. There was much swearing, and not just from the toddler.
posted by briank at 5:25 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


UK apartment buildings don't have a coin-operated laundry room in a dimly-lit spider-infested basement like ones in the US?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: There aren't as many purpose built flats (apartments) in the UK as there are in the US. I happen to live in one -- and it has no facilities at all. The US has apartment complexes, which is not a thing that I've ever seen here in ten years, but they may exist.

I live in the UK now and i have an airer. Whenever I want to wash my sheets in the winter, I have to plan for it. I have to wake up early, tear the sheets off, wash them, get on a bus for an hour, dry them, and back on the bus for an hour. Such fun!
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 5:34 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


This is the most #firstworldproblems article I've read in my whole life.

And coming from two nations without bidets, no less.
posted by _Synesthesia_ at 5:35 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]


When I was working in renovation, bringing the laundry facilities up to the second floor of the house or at least the first, rather than the basement, was definitely a big thing. It struck me as making a ton of sense as well. The big issue is that there needs to be a way of stopping the washer from flooding your whole house in the event that it starts overflowing. This isn't such a big deal, though; you just install a pan under the washer with an emergency drain that goes out through the side of the house, and/or a float switch that shuts the water off when it senses water in the pan.

Saves a ton of schlepping laundry up and down stairs, let me tell you. Brilliant idea if you have the space for it.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:35 AM on August 3 [10 favorites]


The "there's no space" argument just does not hold water (ahem). I've visited the UK many times, stayed in friends homes and flats, also lived there briefly and I've lived in all manner of tiny ass apartments in the U.S. A small stacking washer and dryer does not take up the much space. The 400 square foot tidewater shack I lived in in Maryland had a dryer. Granted, it was located in the porch, but a stacking unit could have fit where the washer was. The non functioning washer/dryer just seems like a tease, especially in an already damp climate. Have both or neither and I'll go to the laundromat (done that plenty, too).

(Love second floor laundry. Our house is pretty small by U.S. standards, but I'd give up a chunk of bedroom to have a second floor laundry.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:50 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


When we stayed at an AirBNB in the Netherlands we were delighted to see it had a combo washer/dryer ... until we used it. Of course we ended up having to hang everything around the room to dry. It turns out that a rainy December at 52° N latitude is not climatologically ideal for this.
posted by enn at 5:52 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


In my previous apartment (a little under 700 square feet?) they tucked a washer/dryer stack in a closet by the refrigerator. It took up about as much room as the full oven/stove top/vent stack/microwave did in the kitchen. In terms of usage, the W/D was used twice weekly (or more) and the oven was used... maybe every five days. And that was just using the stove top to make batch of [large meal that will last five days].

If I had to choose between the oven I rarely used and that washer/dryer that actually worked, I would be cooking on hotplates and reheating in a countertop convection oven. Damn the stovetop and oven, I don't want to walk to (and first find) a laundromat.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:04 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


My neighbour is in today (four days a week he's off working, doing government stuff in EU Brexit negotiations). I popped round:

Me: You have a combo washer/dryer, I remember?
Him: Yes; they are great.
Me: They do actually dry the clothes?
Him: Of course! Between 45 minutes and an hour for a few items at a time, like a set of underwear or a couple of t-shirts maybe. But it works.
Me: Isn't that a long time?
Him: {shrug} Doesn't matter. Apart from the background noise of it on, it works and does the job. And having the tv on loud blots out the noise anyway.
Me: Can't you just go out while it's drying?
Him: Ah, no. We're on a budget and our electric bill is sky-high, so we rarely go out nowadays. Better to stay in and watch tv.
Me: ...
posted by Wordshore at 6:11 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]


Then there's the antipodean solution, dependent on sunshine and suburban backyards: Hills Hoist: The Iconic Rotary Clothesline that Shaped Suburban Australia.
posted by zamboni at 6:15 AM on August 3 [13 favorites]


I'm American and I don't own a dryer. I hang all my washing to dry. (Indoors, on a clothes horse.)

There are dozens of us! Dozens!!!
posted by phunniemee at 6:18 AM on August 3 [15 favorites]


And coming from two nations without bidets, no less.

We was our feet in the shower like normal people.
posted by biffa at 6:21 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


why waste all that electricity and get crumpled clothes when you can just hang stuff up to dry like a normal person?

Yeah this has always been my attitude to dryers (driers?). I had a combo washer/dryer in my last house and used it to dry things about four times a year. It really is a culture issue in large part; where hanging clothes outside is the default, dryers don't seem anywhere near as essential, and certainly not worth giving up valuable kitchen space for. My mother and MIL both have tumble dryers and still mostly dry clothes outside.

I do have a heated airer though which is a thing of wonder and beauty in winter, and doesn't crumple and chew up the clothes either. Between that and the rotary outside I got through two years of cloth nappies as well.
posted by Catseye at 6:22 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I'm told that in some college dormitories in the US, washers and dryers have network connections so that residents can check availability or cycle completion remotely.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:25 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


I do like the way clothes dried in the sun smell, but nothing else about that process is good at all. Too much work, doesn't work all winter, and your socks and towels always end up stiff instead of soft.

I've lived in a number of apartments in the US with stacked machines, and they worked fine and took up less space than a refrigerator.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:26 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


I'm told that in some college dormitories in the US, washers and dryers have network connections so that residents can check availability or cycle completion remotely.

The Future is Now.
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:27 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I didn't know you could get heated airers before, either. I love this thread!
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:27 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


What, even at the height of summer in the southwest?

So, here's the thing about places that are very dry: It's not just that the air is very dry. The ground is also very dry. The thing that happens in any vague breeze when the ground is very dry is that you wind up with a fine layer of grit over basically everything. Unless you have the kind of money where you wouldn't think about, say, the cost of operating a dryer, you probably have a swamp cooler, which means that inside is not nearly that hot or that dry in the summer. It's not that it's impossible, but it's not as easy as it looks and I'm pretty sure the people who do it have a certain amount of grit-tolerance.

I was able to get a laundry spinner off the internet that worked just fine during a period where I lived in a place in Ohio that had no laundry, period, and where the laundromat was an inconvenient trip--I would go to the laundromat only to do sheets and towels. But as soon as I made any kind of money, a place with an in-unit proper washer and dryer was a priority. It's just more labor than I really have time and energy for. If I didn't work, I might think nothing of it, but at the end of the day the last thing I want to be is wrestling a load of damp clothes again. I want laundry to just happen with as little of my intervention as possible.
posted by Sequence at 6:28 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


your socks and towels always end up stiff instead of soft

Yeah, this is the thing I really don't miss about air-drying.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:30 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


This is all very interesting to me. In my far-off dreams of living more lightly upon the earth, I will hang-dry my clothes instead of using the dryer. I haven't lived sans laundry facilities in years. The last place I lived had a tiny stackable washer/dryer that could only fit two pairs of jeans at a time, but at least it worked.

I hadn't thought much about the logistics of hanging laundry to dry. I live in Minnesota, what do people do in the winter? I have a vague memory of a drawing from a Laura Ingalls Wilder book in which Ma is bringing in a shirt from hanging on the line in the cold, frozen stiff as a board. I also have had "dryer failures" and needed to hang dry my towels, resulting in loosely knit stiff sandpaper. Is this my future?

I already hang-dry some of my more delicate clothes - I have a foldable rack in the basement. But they usually wind up kind of stiff. One of my friends recommended leaving a fan on, facing the rack so that the clothes could move around while they dried. Does that work? Is leaving a fan on for hours really that much more environmentally friendly than doing a load in the dryer?
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:32 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


It's true that a lot of communities and HOAs in the US ban clotheslines, but it's apparently a little known fact that in several states (mine included), those bans are illegal.

What bugs me is that nobody seems to know this. There are tons of HOAs that have bans despite the law, and people have no idea they are unenforceable. Which is absurd, because the climate here is semi arid, and we get lots and lots of sun. In the summer especially, I think sheets might actually dry faster on the line than in the dryer. I don't really like the crunchiness of line dried clothes much, but line dried sheets are so much better than machine dried.

PS I am not a hippy.
posted by ernielundquist at 6:32 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


Those kids using the Hills Hoist as a hanging merry-go-round in zamboni's link looks like the most excellent thing.

Also, college dorm laundries are how you find out who the real night owls and morning glories are; in extreme cases, they meet in the middle of the night.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:34 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


That kitchen-washing-machines fight on Twitter was brilliant, though. I had no idea that almost everyone I knew had such strong feelings about a) the rightful place of washing machines and b) Kirstie Allsopp.
posted by Catseye at 6:34 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


College dorm laundries were a decent place to do all the loads at the same time.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:35 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I'm definitely on team luxury-communism for this one - solar arrays and better technology so that everyone can have working dryers. I used to air dry all my clothes when I was in school and had way more time, and honestly it got me down having a jumbo rack of damp clothes and towels in the middle of my tiny living space two days a week, plus I had to drape the sheets up over the doorframes and even though sheets dry very fast, it still wasn't great.

When I worked in Beijing, there was no dryer but my new-build tiny apartment had a laundry alcove next to the bathroom with a small washer, a big sink and a hanging rack up above, and that worked pretty well. Admittedly, Beijing is fairly dry even when it's cold.
posted by Frowner at 6:39 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]


Whoa NO no no please do not derail onto Kirstie (Allsopp), the one person who is more divisive than ... thingie in the White House in the land of working clothes dryers. The MetaFilter community is not ready for that debate.
posted by Wordshore at 6:41 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


We have a washer and a dryer in a closet in the kitchen, and it's pretty nice, but I still wind up hang drying most of my clothes. I've set up a drying rack in the shower for it, but after Laundry Day, it's not uncommon to see dresses and shirts drying on the back of the kitchen chairs.
posted by PearlRose at 6:47 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


As an entitled American who breathes global warming gasses and lives in a giant California ranch house, I am here to express my disdain for front-loading tiny little Euro comact washer/driers. Even the ones that are two separate units. They became popular in the US ~15 years ago, I think including subsidies and rebates because of how green and efficient they are. They only use 70% of the water and 60% of the electricity! How wonderful! Of course they only wash 40% of the clothes in a load, so it's a net loss, but shhh don't talk about that. Or the way the tiny dryer drum is inevitably overpacked so all the items are hopelessly wrinkled and you can't get away with wearing a shirt just out of the dryer. Or how the washer doesn't get things very clean.

I finally got rid of the previous owner's little commie appliances and replaced them with big solid American sized ones. So great! They're front loading too, because I'm not a total savage, but they are giant and can actually wash a full set of sheets all in one go. And dry things in 20 minutes, not 40. Of course they're not actually American, they're South Korean, and they play the most charming little jingles when turned on and off. Happy little tunes.
posted by Nelson at 6:54 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]


The flip side is that hanging clothes outside to dry is seen as lower-class in the US, so many communities outright ban it to keep up appearances.

I wonder if this varies by region or city. Lots of people in my (Midwest US) city have lines on permanent poles in the backyard and use them. We hang stuff outside quite a bit in the summer and have lines downstairs for winter or when it's raining. We do use a dryer for most laundry but I've never felt weird hanging clothes. It's very common to see swim suits and towels, lifejackets, tents, sleeping bags and such on lines in backyards. It's new to me, though not surprising, that it's a thing HOAs would not allow.

The terminology differences in the 'hippies' link seems pretty regional as well.
Washing powder = Detergent - Agreed
Clothes peg = Clothes pin - We use both words but usually a pin has a spring and a peg doesn't.
Linen basket = Hamper - These words are interchangeable here. I probably hear 'laundry basket' more than either.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 6:55 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


bringing the laundry facilities up to the second floor of the house or at least the first, rather than the basement, was definitely a big thing. It struck me as making a ton of sense as well. The big issue is that there needs to be a way of stopping the washer from flooding your whole house in the event that it starts overflowing.

I've also heard that the vibrations can be more bothersome, tending to shake the whole house, though that must depend on details of the installation.

On preview: I think Nelson and I have the same cheerful sounding LG brand units.
posted by exogenous at 6:56 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Chiming in to agree with Clinging to the Wreckage. I just moved into a house in a Midwestern neighborhood that dates from the 1930s, and most houses have a clothesline or Hills Hoist thing in the back. Mine doesn't, but I'm thinking I'll install one. I don't know how much use they get, but my next-door neighbors have a bag of clothespins hanging off of their clothesline, so I'm guessing they do use it.

My concern about drying clothes on the line is that I go to work all day, and I'm worried about sudden rain storms. I think that in the '30s, there was probably a housewife home all day who could run out and take the clothes down if the weather looked threatening.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:04 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


i just wish the new-ish front-loading washers and dryers in our laundry room were on some kind of base so I don't have to keep bending over trying to load and unload them.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:06 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Every example of an upstairs laundry, in my sample size of 2 or 3, has resulted in a leak into the wall and a resultant replacement of the ceiling in the room below the laundry closet. Leaky hoses, leaky pans, etc... Caveat vestiplica, I guess.
posted by bonehead at 7:07 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I have that same LG unit with the jingle at the end. Yes, I have made up words to it.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:08 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


Anecdata - lived in a rented flat in London last year with a combo washer/dryer, and it worked absolutely fine. No problem drying clothes so I could hang them in the wardrobe, although it did take longer than it would in separate machines.

And then there's winter in New York with the air-con unit set to heat... so amazingly dry that I'm getting static off every surface, and clothes are virtually dry before I've had a chance to hang them in the shower...

disdain for front-loading tiny little Euro comact washer/driers. Even the ones that are two separate units

Different strokes... we've had a pair of Miele units that have been going for 15 years and perform flawlessly (and since the dryer has a larger drum that the washer, we don't get creasing)

The big American machines I've seen look like they come from the 50s.

I love these "gee, aren't other countries weird" threads...
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 7:12 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I had a stacking unit once and it was one of my favorite set-ups ever, even compared to my full-size separate washer & dryer unit now. The best part about it was that it didn't require any bending over! It was a top-load washer, and I just pulled everything out and stuffed it into the dryer door immediately above. When the dryer was done, the closed washer was an easy place to hold the laundry basket while fishing out the last sock. I loved that set.

I tried to build my own platform for the front-load washer that I have now, but with the drain in the basement floor, the floor was not level and the washer would rock back and forth making a ton of noise and eventually crawled its way across the floor to bang against the furnace. I was disappointed.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:12 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


We have the LG machines with the tinkly tunes as well; upstairs where yes they do cause some shaking that sets the dog off. But not having to lug laundry up and down stairs EVER makes it worthwhile. The washer is set in a plastic pan that drains outside if it were ever to leak.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:12 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Obviously, someone needs to invent the replicator. Never do laundry again, just dematerialize your dirty outfit and make a fresh one in the morning! I mean, you've never seen a closet on Star Trek for a reason.
posted by Automocar at 7:14 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Another LG singing washer/dryer owner here. If you load them properly (I actually RTFM) they don't vibrate much at all while spinning at about 500 G's to crush your towels into barely damp lumps which can then be tossed into the dryer where they morph into fluffy poofs! Also having the machines on the second floor where the laundry is enables you to neatly and single-handedly fold sheets while hanging them over the stair railing; no more dragging the bottoms on the floor while shaking them overhead!
posted by Standeck at 7:16 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


Our washing machine played Mozart at you when we first received it. The first use of the manual was finding out how to turn that perky little tune off for good.

I am here to express my disdain for front-loading tiny little Euro comact washer/driers.

Strangely enough, we can (and do!) buy the same South Korean front loading capacious washing machines here in the UK. You’d almost think it was a global market or something.
posted by pharm at 7:16 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


(The Euro manufacturers make similarly sized ones naturally. The tiny ones are for people living alone with no bedclothes I think. Or else they’re for landlords who are too cheap to buy decent appliances.)
posted by pharm at 7:18 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


If one has a subpar dryer, won't running it longer make up for deficiencies and get the clothes dry?
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:21 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I have that same LG unit with the jingle at the end. Yes, I have made up words to it.

OMG, please share!
posted by exogenous at 7:26 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I cannot bring myself to regard the washing machine in the kitchen as a logical or convenient idea, after one too many food-on-fresh-laundry mishaps. I'll admit I am clumsier than most, but I prefer my food and my washing in separate spaces.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:27 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


I may be atypical (well, I know I am) but I live in a house with a clothesline in the backyard, in the US, and it gets plenty of use. We have a dryer, but I only use it for sheets and towels, really. Everything else gets line-dried or dried on a folding rack on the back deck. I know plenty of houses in my neighborhood still have the T-shaped clothesline poles we have (most of the neighborhood was built the 20s and 30s) but only a few have clotheslines on them.

Basically, any sunny day that's above freezing and below 60% humidity is a perfectly good day to dry clothes.
posted by nonasuch at 7:30 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


ernielundquist: "In the summer especially, I think sheets might actually dry faster on the line than in the dryer."

We have pretty ideal drying condition in the summer and two 40' lines. Stuff drys here faster than our electric full size dryer. By the time the second line is full the first line is generally dry.
posted by Mitheral at 7:30 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I am pleased that so many of us enjoy LG's little tunes. I joke about it, but it's actually pretty great sound design. Sure beats an ugly electric buzzer.

Here, listen for yourself: I am so happy you turned me on. And a song of victory, on completion of a task. This second tune seems quite popular, there are many recordings. Including a piano arrangement, ukulele version, and a guitar duet.

I'm excited to read aabbbiee's libretto.
posted by Nelson at 7:34 AM on August 3 [18 favorites]


I'm told that in some college dormitories in the US, washers and dryers have network connections so that residents can check availability or cycle completion remotely.

The last apartment building I lived in in the US did this. It was handy - you could see which driers/washers were in use before heading down 12 floors and finding out there's no availability, and once you've got a load going have it send a text message when the machines finish. I'm still happier having my own washer in drier in my current place though.
posted by floam at 7:39 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I love those LG tunes. I have a Japanese rice cooker (an old roommate left it behind about 15 years ago), and it has the most delightful tunes, although they're not quite as complex as these (when it's done, it beeps a little phrase that should be sung as, "I have made some rice for you to shovel in your face!")
posted by uncleozzy at 7:43 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]



Basically, any sunny day that's above freezing and below 60% humidity is a perfectly good day to dry clothes.


That's about 10 days a year where I live :(
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:44 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't mind getting a text from the dryer when it was done. The 19th century walls and ceilings in our house are so sound-proof that you can't really hear the buzzer in the basement when you're up on the second floor. I wonder if I could hack something with a raspberry pi?
posted by octothorpe at 7:44 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


My Japanese rice cooker bangs out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when the rice is ready. Don't know why.
posted by floam at 7:45 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Oh, my lyrics are "And now I am done with the washing you asked me to do! And I am done and I am done!" which really could be way better. Sorry, I'm not a lyricist.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:47 AM on August 3 [16 favorites]


Basically, any sunny day that's above freezing and below 60% humidity is a perfectly good day to dry clothes.

Will also work at higher humidity levels (hello from Scotland). The rule I always went by was that if the pavement is dry, your clothes will dry.
posted by Catseye at 7:49 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Ugh, I loathe the washer/dryers in the UK. Sorry. I want to love them but every time I'm over there and need clean clothes, it seems to take forever and I just end up hanging the washed clothes over every surface. Though the last place we housesat at did have a laundry line so we were thrilled!

Here in Ontario, we line-dry during the summer and try to use the drying rack more in the winter. We do have a dryer but my husband loathes it with a passion.
posted by Kitteh at 7:49 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I visited a friend with a small apartment in San Francisco. He had a closet and a washer and dryer stacked on top of each other. They both worked. This technology is possible!

Ah but first you have to have the closet.
posted by srboisvert at 7:51 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]


octothorpe, there are people using motion sensors and esp8266s - they send out an update when the motion stops. Less than $10 in hardware.
posted by Kyol at 7:52 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


soren_lorensen: "Basically, any sunny day that's above freezing and below 60% humidity is a perfectly good day to dry clothes.

That's about 10 days a year where I live :(
"

That seems optimistic to me.
posted by octothorpe at 7:55 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


Basically, any sunny day that's above freezing and below 60% humidity is a perfectly good day to dry clothes.

Will also work at higher humidity levels (hello from Scotland). The rule I always went by was that if the pavement is dry, your clothes will dry.


It's also work just below freezing, especially if it's windy (hello from a Canadian East Coaster). The clothes come in a little stiff but surprisingly dry.

The Midwestern US and Canadian Prairie Provinces are basically made for line drying, even in the winter. It's so dry ('It's a dry cold) inside and out that things dry in a day (wash while breakfasting, hang to dry all day, dry by the time I'm getting ready for bed). I indoor line dry most of my clothing (which means it last so much longer) and the only issue I have is over-loading the rack. Also men's clothing. We basically need another two racks to deal with my husband's t-shirts if we do all our laundry at once.

Also, line dried sheets are so much better than dryer dried ones. All you guys who skip line drying sheets are totally missing out. I can understand the towel thing, although I like stiff towels because they're way more exfoliating (plus they soften up after like 1-2 uses).
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:02 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Basically, any sunny day that's above freezing and below 60% humidity is a perfectly good day to dry clothes.

Clothes dry well in the winter. Sublimation is like magic I tell you.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:08 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I'm American. It took maybe three European trips during which I tried to do laundry before I figured out that the problem is that (according to my standards) the machines don't really work. I thought I just wasn't pressing the right buttons. Because, in addition to not working, European washing machines have the most unintuitive operating mechanisms I have ever seen on any kind of appliance. What do all the variations of tiny pictures of water spraying mean? Which series of these mysterious buttons am I supposed to push to unlock the door? What does the digital number display mean? because it sure doesn't seem to have anything to do with how long the cycle actually lasts. In Germany I made probably twenty trips up and down the hotel hallway to the laundry room trying to figure out when our clothes would actually be clean and dry. (Answer: never).
posted by something something at 8:14 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


I...never knew this was a thing. When I bought my condo (US), it had one of the 'spacesaving' washer/dryer stackables in it that was broken (wouldn't drain) so I wound up getting a new washer/dryer stackable set instead. Which also led to having to make the actual door to the utility room wider because the slightly wider full size washer/dryer wouldn't fit.

BTW, those who are worried about washing machines on second floors--you need some Floodchek hoses: ta da.
posted by sperose at 8:15 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


I'm another who dries on a line outside during spring, summer, and fall. In winter here in Michigan I use nice IKEA racks indoors. If we get a warm day in winter I will set the racks out on our south facing deck. My line is a retractable five line one I got from Sears years ago. I don't pull it out in winter as to save it from getting brittle.

Speaking of winter drying, my mom used to dry clothes on a line in winter in Minnesota. With 4 children, 3 in diapers. She said the clothes did get dry although there were icicles hanging from them at times.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 8:15 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


My Japanese rice cooker bangs out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when the rice is ready. Don't know why.

When it's ready, or when you press start? Zojirushi cookers typically play two songs, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at start, Amaryllis when finished.

🐘 🍚 🎶
posted by zamboni at 8:17 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


My Zojirushi does this ^. It's very cute.
posted by corvine at 8:19 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I remember when visiting a friend in the Netherlands, how she insisted that the Dutch liked to put away their clothes still damp so they could get the folding just right and avoid wrinkles. I can only imagine that this is actually an insidious eugenics scheme by the Dutch to kill everyone in the country with the slightest allergy to mold. I just ran my clothes through the dryer twice.

If you do that with the dinky Euro/British devices, will that dry them? It will eat extra electricity, but do it enough times and things will be dry. It does require you to be there and walk over and restart the dry cycle every time, but I have yet to have this method fail.
posted by Hactar at 8:19 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Natural gas dryers 4ever (kind of a pain to get installed, but hotter and cheaper to run)
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:24 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]


I took a trip to Croatia, about ten years back. I traveled there and back, by way of the UK. People in Croatia hang their laundry to dry on the balconies. Every house and every apartment building has balconies. The buildings are all festooned with laundry; it's just how it is. Even in a large hotel they didn't have dryers. And I never spotted a laundromat; my Croatian friend said they are too expensive for Croatians. Yet there were high tech washers everywhere, surely they are expensive too? It rained for most of the time we were there and I was glad to return to England, and empty my suitcase of damp clothes, into the washer. And dry everything. My friend in England did have a dryer. I found it odd that he was so proud of that dryer, until I took my second visit to England and discovered how rare they are even in England.

As an American one of the things I noticed was how little cotton clothing you see, but after two weeks of getting rained on in Croatia I could see why. Those cheap looking shiny soccer t-shirts dry so much faster than my cotton ones.
posted by elizilla at 8:24 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


The potential damage from leaks is a big reason to not put laundries upstairs. I believe the building code here requires these shutoff valves for laundry hookups, but you have to remember to use them. I once lived in a house with a chute from the second floor down to the basement laundry area. It took away the effort of transporting clothes downstairs, and saved the space of a hamper upstairs. Excellent feature.

For people like me who have dryers but line-dry when they can, most machines have a "cool" or "touch-up" cycle that tumbles the load without heat and unstiffens towels and such.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:26 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


a bit late but:

I'm told that in some college dormitories in the US, washers and dryers have network connections so that residents can check availability or cycle completion remotely.


this was also the case in my student accommodations in Scotland. I think at one point I decided to check on every laundry room in the management network, because I could. One night I was even checking on the Uni of Strathclyde, I was tht bored.

Anyway this does explain my Scottish flatmate behaviour. I couldn't take the damp in our tiny rooms, so I just used the dryers anyway.
posted by cendawanita at 8:34 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I see second floor laundry rooms being built into new homes in my neighborhood. One key feature is a shower-room type floor, a sill, and a drain on the laundry room floor. It is interesting to see drain outlets on the outside of the houses. They have little spring loaded covers on them.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 8:37 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


My last flat had been freshly renovated when I moved in and the old single-glazed sash windows had been replaced with new single-glazed sash windows. You can get double-glazed sash windows, I believe, but they're very expensive.
posted by corvine at 8:23 AM on August 3 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


Not to press heavy on this corvine... but we now have triple and quadruple paned glass in the states. double pane can be filled with inert gas and treated with a host of things to prevent UV passing through... This stuff can get really over-engineered quickly. Any way you slice it though, it appears there is a market for windows in the UK!

On the downside though of good windows, once you tighten your house, they are tight, so those thousands of years of radon which have been previously blowing out your windows, now suddenly... stays in your home.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:46 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


It is interesting to see drain outlets on the outside of the houses. They have little spring loaded covers on them.

They discharge graywater out the side of the house? Totally illegal here.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:47 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Because, in addition to not working, European washing machines have the most unintuitive operating mechanisms I have ever seen on any kind of appliance.

The trick is to find the model number somewhere and Google for the instruction manual (and hope it's in English).
posted by madcaptenor at 8:47 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Our toaster just has five monotone beeps, which I believe is it announcing OW. OW. TOAST. IS. DONE.
posted by lucidium at 8:51 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


I'd be interested to hear a technical explanation of why it's hard to make a washer/drier which can dry as large a load as it can wash (or the same as a standalone drier the same drum size). When I lived in the U.K.my small flat had separate machines that both worked, and the drier was really cheap new, but that was in the 90s before combos took over.

What bugs me now is that my matched US washer and drier make it so hard to transfer clothes from one to the other, as if that isn't a standard part of the process. Somebody needs to re-engineer the whole thing.
posted by w0mbat at 8:57 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


My eyes, sinuses, and skin hate the dry climate here in Colorado, but it is pretty great not needing to deal with repairing or replacing my non-functional dryer. Everything dries ridiculously fast, even on an indoor rack. The only real problem is that I haven't gotten around to hanging any lines for larger items, so it's a hassle to wrestle large items like duvet covers onto the rack. The only category I can't manage without a tumble dryer is down comforters or coats; those require a trip to the laundromat (with a pack of clean tennis balls.)
posted by asperity at 8:57 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I worked in suburban new home construction in the eighties and early nineties and second-floor laundries seemed to be standard back then. I assume they still are but I've been out of the industry for a while. The rooms always had a tiled concrete floor with a drain in the middle so that washer overflows wouldn't flood the house. These were all pretty high-end mcmansion type places though.
posted by octothorpe at 9:11 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


The "upstairs" laundry development makes SO MUCH SENSE.

Here in Houston, it's taken root with nearly all the new-build 3- or 4-story urban townhouses. Sadly, mine's old so the laundry is on the first floor. This is bad for the obvious reason of stairs, but also because in Houston anything that makes "hot" in meaningful quantities is unpopular given our summer climate. A hot-making thing on the first floor is especially unwelcome, since the heat will rise through the rest of the living space.

I'd LOVE it if our laundry machines were on the 3rd floor with our bedroom. For one thing, it'd get laundry mess out of a "public" portion of the house.

All that said, we rarely dry actual clothing to completion for reasons of shrinkage. I find shirts tend to shrink vertically if I dry them too much, and with my long torso that's an issue, so pretty much every shirt I own gets tumbled long enough to shake out most of the wrinkles and then hung on an indoor rack. (Outdoor racks in Houston in the summer? You're hilarious.) And none of our cycling gear goes in the dryer at all.

I'm kind of certain that the set of Americans who do air drying (or especially outdoor drying) is concentrated in drier parts of the country; in the South where I've lived my life, everyone who could plausibly afford a drier had one.

That makes it especially weird to me that tumble driers haven't taken root as completely in other countries with humidity levels on par with the US Southeast.
posted by uberchet at 9:14 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


British housing stock is not built for extremes of temperature, it's fair to say.
posted by corvine at 9:35 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


When it's ready, or when you press start? Zojirushi cookers typically play two songs, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at start, Amaryllis when finished.

Oops. It's a Zojirushi. Only when I press Start, you're right. It's the other tune when it's done.
posted by floam at 9:37 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Our toaster just has five monotone beeps, which I believe is it announcing OW. OW. TOAST. IS. DONE.

Could be worse.

Anybody like any toast?
posted by zamboni at 9:37 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


So they don't have these across the Pond to save space?
posted by linux at 10:20 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Dryers would be great except for the toxicity of dryer sheets, which has turned them into a plague.
posted by jamjam at 10:24 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Dryers ARE great, because using dryer sheets is completely optional.
posted by uberchet at 10:28 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


Who uses dryer sheets anymore?

We line dry as much as possible. Lots of people in our neighbourhood do. We also use a rack in teh basement furnace room during the winter for a lot of stuff. Probably why the 50-year-old electric dryer that came with our house is still chugging along.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:28 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Dryers ARE great, because using dryer sheets is completely optional.

Not if you go to a laundromat; those dryers are completely saturated with dryer sheet.
posted by jamjam at 10:39 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Never seen a toploader in Europe, linux. Unless it's absolutely ancient
posted by ambrosen at 10:40 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Let's see if I can come up with words for the LG jingle:

I'd like to inform you
I have just finished your laundry
Please come and remove it
Or I will wrinkle it all!


We have a combo in our US house even though there's definitely room for a stacked washer/dryer. It's fine* for knits and towels, but it does such a number on my boxers and woven shirts that I wash them with no drying cycle, shake everything out to reduce the creases, put half the load back in for 20 minutes of drying (I set a separate timer because its automatic drying cycle is too long), and repeat with the other half while I hang the still-slightly-damp-but-not-yet-too-wrinkled shirts and fold the same-condition boxers to press out the wrinkles without ironing.

* mostly fine. It's not unusual for one or two knit items to come out with wet spots.

Basically they're mostly OK if you learn to work around their faults, but I still wish I had a gas tumble dryer. Also to keep the mildew odor at bay leave the door open when the machine isn't in use and periodically use a washer cleaning tablet, which seems ridiculous but really works.
posted by fedward at 10:41 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


So, here's the thing about places that are very dry: It's not just that the air is very dry. The ground is also very dry... you wind up with a fine layer of grit over basically everything.

I live in Tucson and line dry year-round. I don't really have this problem? I don't hang my clothes out when it's very windy and there are many days out of the year where I finish the hanging process and go back to the clothes I hung up first and they are already almost dry. That's way faster than our gas dryer in the house! 95 degrees and 2% humidity is amazing for line drying clothes.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:45 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


When I first moved to the UK, I hated air drying clothes, but I gradually got used to it and came to prefer it after several years. My clothes seemed to last longer, they smelled better and often dried faster. I've been looking for some kind of retractable clothesline that I can put in my backyard now so I can start line-drying my laundry again.

And speaking of appliance songs, my Samsung dryer plays this little ditty at the end of the cycle. I kind of like it. I wish I knew if it was an actual song or just something made up.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:46 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Who uses dryer sheets anymore?

I do. Or well, the beau does because he does 99.9% of the laundry in the house (including hang-drying nearly all of my clothes because the dryer turns them into worn-out, shrunken remnants of my former clothes), and if he's going to do laundry the exact way I want it without making me do it, then he can have his stupid dryer sheets.
posted by PearlRose at 11:16 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


We used to line dry, which seemed to attract stinkbugs but was otherwise ok. Our next house had messy trees that dropped pollen and leaves on your clothes. we haven't tried at this house mostly because of low fences, we're afraid our neighbors would complain. And we use dryer sheets, unscented.
posted by emjaybee at 11:20 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Alleged names of Samsung and LG dryer songs: Shubert piano quintet in A ("the Trout") and "The Lincolnshire Poacher".
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:20 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


By the way, it's best to iron the things you're going to iron while they're damp (so straight out of the washing machine), then leave them to dry on a hanger. That's what my mother in law says and does and she's indisputably right. Surely tumble driers are for people who don't have the space or time resources to do it properly, like dishwashers?
posted by Grangousier at 11:36 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


the things you're going to iron

I asked my wife a few weeks ago if she knew where the iron was. Not because I wanted to use it. Idle curiosity.

Neither of us could remember.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:43 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


aabbbiee: I had a stacking unit once and it was one of my favorite set-ups ever, even compared to my full-size separate washer & dryer unit now.

Protip: you can get manufacturer-supplied stacking kits for most full-sized washer and dryer combos, even if they weren't originally intended to stack. They usually involve screwing a rail onto the top of the washer and then applying a strip of VHB tape (which is amazing Future Stuff that everyone should have some of around the house) along the front edge. Then you just plonk the dryer up on top of the washer and voila! Stacking washer and dryer.

I assume the reason everyone doesn't do this is that they don't know it's an option.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:45 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


So, combo washer-driers... This worked out a bit longer than I expected, sorry.

A few years back, I drove back to my home town and stayed at my sister's house. She had a pretty nice place, but the bathroom was small. Like quantum small. The smallest unit of full bathroom. It was a long narrow room that started with a airliner bathroom sized sink/mirror unit that sat entirely too close to the toilet. Sitting on said toilet, you were sandwiched between the sink and this over/under laundry machine and beside that was a standup coffin sized shower stall. The uncomfortably small bathroom facilities on the ISS are palatial compared to that bathroom.

You had to be careful when using the shower, since the door would fly open if you bumped it with your knee or shoulder and you were almost guaranteed to do this when pirouetting down to pick up the shampoo bottle from the shelf that wasconveniently located around knee level. It did have one advantage however: you could reach out of the shower and pull a warm towel from the drier.

So on day one, I load a towel into the drier and hop in the shower because I am a wise man. Yes, it was as decadent as you imagine. Turn off the shower and, BAM, warm fresh towels. So that got me thinking...

Day two: One towel and a T-shirt. You think warm towels right out of the shower are good? Fluffy, fresh towels are nothing to me now that I have had the pleasure of a freshly laundered T-shirt straight from the drier.

So, on to day three, or as I like to call it: The Day of Hubris. Some friends are coming by to pick me up that night, but I figure there's enough time for shower with a fresh towel and T-shirt. Then I get smart. Why, I asked, don't I have freshly laundered everything? Towel: check, T-shirt: check, Underwear: check, Jeans: check, Socks: Check and check.

I jump out of the shower with a super soft towel and get ready for the awesome. I've already experienced the T-shirt yesterday but you know what? It's just as good the second time. With a salacious grin, I pulled my boxer-briefs. You know how some things are better in your mind? Not this, this is just as great as you might imagine. Socks, of course, are great too.

I'm just putting on my jeans when I hear the doorbell ring. Damn, my friends are here early. Oh well, I pull up my jeans and make my way to the front door. The only difficult part was that the zipper and button were stupid hot from the drier. Channeling my inner McGyver, I used the hem of my shirt to shield my hands and get things all proper before arriving at the door.

As I'm reaching for the door handle, I get the suspicion that something isn't quite right. Just a dull tingling in my gut letting me know that actual world is just a little bit different than how I imagine it to be. I'm pulling the door wide open as I suddenly discover the full nature of my error. Remember the smoking hot zipper and button? I used the hem of my shirt to prevent my hands from being burned, butt that didn't in any way cool down the brass fittings. Oh, and jeans have these little brass rivets that I never thought of until I heated them up to the surface temperature of Venus.

So now there's about 8-10 burning hot brass points strapped to sensitive areas of my body and I'm standing where with the front door wide open frantically trying to undo my jeans with one hand while tears begin to stream from my eyes. I think I managed to say something like, "hwaaa-ggg" then slammed the door before any indecent exposure occurred.

My friends were not early that day. They were about an hour late. The missionaries, however, were right on time, but I doubt very much they ever returned to my sister's place.
posted by flyingfox at 11:51 AM on August 3 [91 favorites]


I even had my washer and dryer stacked in my apartment, then when I bought my house, unstacked them and bought pedestals to put them on.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:52 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Kirth Gerson: They discharge graywater out the side of the house? Totally illegal here.

Only if the washer overflows and starts filling the pan. Better than dumping a few dozen gallons of water onto the floor of the second story of the house. It's an emergency measure which hopefully never gets used. The alternative would be to do as was mentioned above and put a shower-like drain in the floor, but that's a lot more expensive especially in a renovation where you'd have to rip open a bunch of walls in other parts of the house (probably parts that wouldn't otherwise be touched) to install the pipe, then patch everything back up and paint it. Not as big a deal in new construction, for obvious reasons.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:59 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


American-stylee heated-air-vented-directly-outdoors dryers are comically inefficient, turns out, not just in drying your clothes but interacting with all the rest of the house systems. Like, FALC would require an orbital soletta for in-house dryers, not just more terrestrial solar.

I found this out mostly during an argument about hang-drying-indoors with a round-the-globe set of friends -- the UK and NZ peeps were adamant that hang drying all their laundry indoors did not raise their heating bills, nothing like as much as running the machine dryer that some of them had. Which was a very surprising claim because the enthalpy of water is high. Where was that energy coming from?

Turned out that my interlocutors in the rest of the damp cool Anglo world have heat-recovery ventilators for their buildings, often humidity-managing heat-recovery ventilators, which is a much more energy-efficient system anywhere that heating demand is low enough that winter houses get damp instead of dry. If I ever have to change the HV air movement in my old Seattle house, we're getting one. It should probably be in the building code now.

I hang dry all summer here, despite living in the city, and think the results are delightful although the chore is a slight hassle. I have hung out in freeze-drying weather (my family is sort of hippies and sort of never gave up on Yankee thrift), and that's so awful that I can't really begrudge summer hanging-out.
posted by clew at 12:01 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I assume the reason everyone doesn't do this is that they don't know it's an option.

My washer & dryer both have controls on a panel on the back edge of the top of the unit. I wouldn't be able to access the top unit's controls without a ladder, and I wouldn't be able to access the bottom unit's controls at all.
posted by aabbbiee at 12:01 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


When I was an exchange student in Sweden in the 80s, my host family (who were very well off) had a washing machine and a...clothing oven? Aha, drying cabinet! I never knew the word in Swedish or English. Anyway, it was excellent at making socks so stiff they cracked when you opened them up to put your foot in. If that was a service you needed.

We had an enormous Hills Hoist-style line in the back yard, and that was workable on even winter days if it was dry and a little breezy. There was also just a hanging rod in the utility room, which was fine for hanger-drying things.

I do have a drying rack that I keep by the pool, but it's Los Angeles - I can hanger-dry delicates in a few hours on a rod in the laundry room or the guest room doorway, right there a few steps from the dryer and down the hall from my bedroom. I depend on tumble-drying with dryer balls to actually knock all the dog hair off everything else, though.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:17 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


We used to have a condenser washer drier in the Scotland. It was great.

I keep looking at combo condenser units in Canada, but they're roughly twice the price of a separate washer + separate drier. Yeah, that's right: I could buy 4 appliances for the price of a single LG condenser. So we still have our colossal mid-1970s Maytags that are vastly inefficient. I suspect they're too large and heavy to get out of the basement.
posted by scruss at 12:19 PM on August 3


Oh, also, I just recently found out that you can buy a washing machine to put your washing machine on, if you really like washing machines. And you can get wifi-ready double washers and dryers, I just now discovered looking up the first link.

Washception.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:20 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Shubert piano quintet in A ("the Trout") and "The Lincolnshire Poacher".

So yeah, the Samsung song is totally Die Forelle (the theme which is used for the fourth movement, and title, of the Trout Quintet). The first line of the LG song sort of matches The Linconshire Poacher but there are three other lines that don't so I'm calling that one a swing and a miss.
posted by fedward at 12:23 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


(I was a music major. I can't make it stop.)
posted by fedward at 12:24 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


While we're on the subject, the Frogger theme is a Japanese children's song called Inu No Omawarisan.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:07 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


line drying in the mediterranean during the summer was excellent, by the time you finished hanging the entire load, the first stuff you'd hung maybe 15 minutes ago was already dry. but in the winter it was damp clammy agony until we turned the guest room into a drying room with two radiators and a huge floor fan.

i've had people try to talk me into those ghastly combo machines and they should be banned from polite society.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:20 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Super late reply:

We wash our feet in the shower like normal people.

I can't tell if you were joking, but it's for you ass! The bidet is for your ass! A basin is for your feet. Those are mostly defunct.
posted by _Synesthesia_ at 1:27 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


So, discussing this post and the comments with a non-MeFite friend and colleague from Scandinavia who works and lives in London, and she lurks a lot here. And she says "Yeah, everything is makeshift in England; none of this surprises me. Racks and radiators to dry clothes."

I reply "Quite" and then she starts talking about the best domestic device by far being the hair dryer for its many drying uses and I'm "What? More than hair?" And she's "Yes of course - clothes that aren't quite dry even after ages in a crappy English combo dryer, slow-drying paint, yourself after sex, pets that have gotten wet in the rain...."

Me: "Whoa hang on roll that back what did you just say then?" and then she sends me this link and I'm heck I am nearly 49 and I know absolutely nothing about women.
posted by Wordshore at 1:30 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


why are so many people so firmly against washing their junk

it is 2017

wash your junk you fucking degenerates
posted by poffin boffin at 1:35 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


There are dryers that vent right into the room. They seem to be popular in Asia. I only know about this because some guy on a piano forum was asking if it was ok for the dryer in his studio apartment to be blowing hot humid air onto his piano.

The washer/dryer in the kitchen is not uncommon in the six-flat world of Chicago, although people seem to go through all sorts of contortions to put them somewhere else. The previous owner of my place put the washer and dryer in the back bathroom. But at the loss of the shower. Now we have a stacking unit and I've been conniving to put a small stall-type shower back in there.

What I don't understand with dryers is how people vent them through 20-30' feet of ducting or more and expect that to actually work.
posted by lagomorphius at 1:53 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Dryers would be great except for the toxicity of dryer sheets, which has turned them into a plague.

Dryer balls.
posted by lagomorphius at 1:55 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Can we use the hair dryer for that?
posted by lucidium at 1:58 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


There is this guy who runs a sort of Flesh Fair for appliances.
posted by lagomorphius at 2:05 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I have a washer/dryer (in my kitchen! And I'm American!) and yeah it only gets clothes 80-90% dry but I've always been pretty ok with that because I've convinced myself that it reduces the damage that clothes take from being in a dryer. Plus at that level of near-dry, I just dump the whole load on the bed afterwards, spread it out, and maybe hang up any super-heavy clothes and everything is totally good to put away by bedtime anyways. I have access to additional laundry facilities in my building's basement, and I've never used them, so I guess I'm happy enough with this arrangement. Am I causing damage with that arrangement? Idk, hope not.

Also how are y'all putting so much clothing in the dryer? I'm trying to be more of an adult and take care of my clothing and I swear according to the labels I need to hang dry like 75% of my wardrobe anyways. Even the freaking t-shirts, if Everlane is to believed.
posted by R a c h e l at 2:22 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


We rented furnished flats, sometimes with washer-only units in the kitchen, sometimes with crap washer-dryer units. When we bought our own place, we researched and bought a good washer-dryer unit. The result was magical.

So yeah, it's not the nature of the beast. But a landlord providing a furnished flat (which has had a historic tax benefit or something in London for years) will cut costs, and the washer-dryer is one place where that doesn't help you any.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:48 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I have a drying cabinet in my garage! It was my mom's and she modified it with shelves to use for ceramics and/or moldmaking, but I could totally revert it and put it to use.

Because I'm American, I'll probably build an outbuilding for all of my big powerful laundry machinery, maybe some kind of laundry castle or something, and I'll have to drive there from the main house in a special purpose golf cart.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:59 PM on August 3 [14 favorites]


and I'll have to drive there from the main house in a special purpose golf cart

Oh my god, a golf cart but it's a dump truck and the back is a giant hamper.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:25 PM on August 3 [12 favorites]


Having experienced the simple English teapot's ability to boil a cup of water in about the same time it takes my car to go from 0 to 60, I find the idea that their dryers don't get clothes dry baffling. Every plug in the typical modern English residence can supply as much power as the special one my electric dryer is plugged into. That dryer has a capacity of 7 cubic feet, about twice that of my washing machine; this is typical of American appliances in this class. It can fully dry a full load in about an hour and a half, and it's fairly quiet while doing so. Both the washer and dryer are of the new self-sensing class, so they can do small loads without waste, the washer using only the minimum necessary amount of water and the dryer stopping when the load is dry. I've seen the dryer stop in 20 minutes for a small load of a few towels. And when it stops, the load is dry. It doesn't stop until the humidity sensor is satisfied.

It baffles me that smaller versions of these devices wouldn't work as well or better. The technology exists, the power is there in an English apartment with those whopping 220V at 20A receptacles that boil the tea so efficiently, and venting is not really a big deal if the washer is modern style and aggressively spin-dries the load before it goes to the dryer. I would think a properly designed pair of the load size described should be able to effectively wash and thoroughly dry in about an hour.

I guess as the article suggests this says something about priorities, but I honestly can't see what.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:03 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I guess as the article suggests this says something about priorities, but I honestly can't see what.

It may make more sense from the inside, but from the outside there is a lot about household infrastructure in the UK that appears intentionally counterproductive. Things like dry clothes and hot running water (or double-paned windows) are at this point solved problems in a first-world context, so it becomes interesting that the choice is otherwise.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:02 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I'm about to weep with gratitude that I live in Australia and a backyard with a Hills Hoist is my birthright. Even when I lived in flats we had a communal backyard with a Hills hoist. Truly the lucky country.
posted by chiquitita at 8:55 PM on August 3 [6 favorites]


We live in a small flat next to a canal, in Manchester UK. It's not the driest environment, and there's no room in the kitchen for a separate tumble-dryer or even a vent for a washer-dryer. After trying to dry clothes on racks in the living room we ended up with light mold on the walls and rust on the mattress of the sofa-bed.

The answer was to get a £150 desiccant dehumidifier: they're fantastic. Lower electricity costs than a traditional dehumidifier - less powerful, but enough for laundry. They contain a fan, a slowly spinning disk of silica gel and a small heater over a bucket, so in winter it's just part of warming the house and probably costs very little extra - much less than a tumble-dryer or washer-dryer.
posted by BinaryApe at 11:12 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I see double-paned windows as another great idea that's been partially botched in execution: everyone I know here in the PNW who has installed double panes in a wooden window frame has had problems with condensation between the panes in some of the windows within ~12 years, and most of them within ~16 years.

Maybe they're better now, but they used to be sealed at the edges with pitch or a pitch-like synthetic; if they had an all glass seal like glass bricks, they'd last forever and become treasured heirlooms.
posted by jamjam at 1:00 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Here in the middle of the main island of the UK I line dry almost everything, almost all year. I have a wood burning stove that desiccates the house when it is on, so winter loads can be brought inside to be rack dried.

Ideally what you want for line drying, where ever you are in the world, is a covered drying area. Keeps rain and sunlight off the wash and lets the wind in. I don't have one, so I am at the mercy of the weather.

I do have a separate dryer and washer. Occasionally I can use the dryer for things, but there aren't many that can go in! I just did a spot check on the labels of the clothes that I am wearing at the moment.

Synthetic top - Do Not Tumble Dry
Synthetic T-shirt - Do Not Tumble Dry
Cotton trousers - Tumble Dry, Regular Cycle
Boxer shorts - Do Not Tumble Dry
Cotton and elastane socks - Do Not Tumble Dry / Tumble Dry on a Low Heat

Heat and sunlight damage clothes. Speaking from experience, I wouldn't put a t-shirt with a print into a tumble dryer, nor would I put synthetic fleece, wool, silk, linen, or anything with elastic, lycra, elastane or any other stretchy fabric. Anything that you want to iron shouldn't get too dry, so you need to take it out of the dryer early.

So, that limits how much use I can get out of the dryer somewhat! Bed sheets (not fitted) and towels, basically.
posted by asok at 5:19 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Another appliance: AC. What's with Europe's reluctance to embrace it? Homes I was in were hotboxes in the summer.
posted by floam at 6:02 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


With few exceptions, I tumble dry everything that isn't sheets and towels with the dryer set to "delicates". Stuff gets dry and nothing bad has ever happened, except when a felt-tip pen has made it through the wash in a pants pocket.
posted by lagomorphius at 6:05 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


floam: Speaking for the UK its not very hot here very often. I would say my house has needed it exactly zero times so far this summer. I would guess pretty much no home in the UK would be hot enough to make it worthwhile for more than a month in total.

Here's a new UK innovation for washing machines, just announced. It seems remarkable in its obviousness once you hear it.
posted by biffa at 6:07 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Personally I have found that care tags are too conservative. If they say Dry Clean in general I can hand wash/hang dry. If they say Hang Dry then I can safely tumble dry low, and if they say tumble dry low then I can do what I like with them within reason (but I have a gas dryer that does not get super-hot).

On the other hand I like the distressed t-shirt look.
posted by muddgirl at 6:30 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


So, that limits how much use I can get out of the dryer somewhat!

Only if you're a rule-follower, maaaan.

(Seriously, I machine wash and tumble dry literally everything. I have no time for fussy clothing.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:43 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]


I'm potty-training my 2yo this week. Eff me if we didn't have a washer and dryer on the property.

Here in California we don't have basements. Back in the day when we had a little teeny-tiny house, the original kitchen had been split off at some point to create a "laundry room", though at around 50sqft I don't know if you'd really call it a room. But it did have a solid wood door which helped shut out the noise of the machine. It did not have enough room for side-by-side washer and dryer (and I was loathe to get a stackable set because it would have covered a window, and natural light was a precious thing in that small house). The dryer thusly was housed in the detached garage, which was spider-filled and featured lighting that consisted of a bare light bulb situated smack dab in the middle of the room which was only turned on by standing under it and pulling on the chain. It was like a horror movie going out there in the dark. Add to that the joy of schlepping a full load of wet clothes out there on a cold, wet winter's night and, well, let's just say that one of the first things I put in the plans when we remodeled was a full laundry room with space enough for both machines, as well a full revamp of the lighting system in the garage.

My next door neighbor remodeled her house at the same time and damned if she didn't bring her full laundry set-up out of the detached garage and right into the kitchen, at the center of the house, behind louvered doors. There's not one place in the whole house where you can even hear yourself think when the laundry's running.

If I'd been forced to choose regarding space, I'd have cut out one of the bedrooms in order to make sure we had a separate laundry room.
posted by vignettist at 9:56 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Just wanted to thank the people who told me that my dryer is playing a little song by Schubert called Die Forelle, because not only is it a lovely (slightly sad) little song about fishing but it also lead me to this video, which is utterly charming and has made my whole week.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:08 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


triggerfinger, that makes me feel both less weird and yet deeply unambitious for lazily singing counterpoint along with my Zojirushi water boiler when it finishes heating up the water and plays Bach's Minuet in G Major.
posted by cortex at 9:49 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Very late to this thread, but I feel weirdly well qualified to chime in since I have done laundry in the UK, USA and now Australia.

In the US, having the washer and dryer on the main bedroom floor was GREAT. As part of the house remodel we installed the machines with overflow trays. Our contractor knew from the beginning that the lovely LG washer and dryer (all musical and fabulous) would be located on that floor so no issues about the weight or motion. The benefit of having the washer not only in an overflow tray but also having it on top of rubber perforated mat was eliminating the dreadful front loader crawl which seems pretty common in my UK and Australia experiences.

The flat I was in the UK had a washer and dryer in the kitchen. Addressing the question is how you pipe out the exhaust moisture through an old building is that you don't. The dryer has a water collection receptacle hidden away that you must dump EVERY SINGLE TIME to get the dryer to work. It took me loads of laundry that were freaking damp after using the dryer that I realized that there was a hidden panel and a large plastic container that need to be jiggled out, dumped and carefully reinserted for that dryer to work. The best part was using both feet propped against the washer to stop it from crawling across the floor -- front loaders were a new experience for me. The main wrinkle is that the water of London is HARD. You must "salt" or decalcify your washer very frequently, in addition to the usual front loader maintenance to avoid that moldy smell from inhabiting your wash space.

Australia, well I got the front loader on both washer and dryer. I get the crawling thing on the washer unless I pack it solid with clothes otherwise it is a careful calculus of wash cycle, spin rate and desired laundry outcome to determine the level of movement. Another thing to consider is when doing several loads, which loads can be hung outside vs. using the dryer. I have adapted to my new home by hanging laundry outdoors, if I can and if the weather permits. The water in Sydney is not so hard that I feel the need to decalcify all the time like London.

The main way I cured what I call "front loader rot", that accumulation of funky smell, detergent residue and all things weird that will cause your washed load to be dank and mold smelling was to use Smelly Washer and no more than a tablespoon of HE detergent per load if not just a teaspoon. If you are an uber clean freak then run the "hygiene" cycle with a load of bleach in addition to Smelly Washer. Now Smelly Washer is spendy and I am sure that there are cheaper ways but I put a premium on convenience. The only other thing I do is using paper towels to clean the accumulation in the drain holes of the rubber seal and maybe use a bathroom cleaner wipe around the seal. Of course, you have to let the washer dry out so having the door slightly open works.

I am now in Australia and trying to figure out all the washer/dryer/hanging laundry to air nuances of my new locale, such as, what product to use to clean my washing machine so the rot does not set in.
posted by jadepearl at 1:29 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


The dryer has a water collection receptacle hidden away that you must dump EVERY SINGLE TIME to get the dryer to work.

That’s is only true for condenser dryers jadepearl. Some places in the UK have them, some don’t.

When we moved into the place we currently live in we installed a condenser dryer that recaptures the heat from the exhaust: Works great, no holes in the walls & much cheaper to run than the other sorts. This type of dryer is significantly more expensive though, since it needs both a condenser & a heat exchanger.
posted by pharm at 2:39 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Hi Pharm, when I first moved in I thought it was like the dryers in other flats that vented out so I just never looked or knew to ask what kind of dryer it was (no manuals). I kind of got that it was a bit unusual because other folks in the building mentioned how I maybe needed to clean my vents like they did or like others mentioned here, just use the drying racks or iron the clothes.

This leads me to a question, with the washer/dryer combo does the moisture from the dryer get piped out the same way as the gray water? Does it use a collection method like a condenser dryer?
posted by jadepearl at 3:41 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


with the washer/dryer combo does the moisture from the dryer get piped out the same way as the gray water?

I can only answer for our specific LG model, but yes. Ours has a drain pump and not a reservoir. All waste water from our combo unit goes out the drain.
posted by fedward at 7:45 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Here's a new UK innovation for washing machines, just announced. It seems remarkable in its obviousness once you hear it.

I've taken apart ~6 washing machines (all top loaders) and none of them had internal weights, much less 25kg of concrete!

But replacing that with a fillable and drainable tank is a good idea -- I presume the tank has internal baffles to defeat the sloshing modes that could actually make things worse.
posted by jamjam at 10:59 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I did wonder about the potential for some sort of problem with movement, I'd like to assume they have done a bit more than just suggest sticking a tank in there...
posted by biffa at 1:32 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Does it use a collection method like a condenser dryer?

No idea! Probably depends on the dryer type - there's probably cheap washer dryers out there that vent.
posted by pharm at 2:15 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Top loaders don't have weights because they don't need them. It is front loaders that have weights.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:29 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Actually there have been a few top loaders with concrete weights; both as a ring around the top of the outer or inner tub that acted as a vibration damper (speed queen) and as blocks lower down as counterweights to the motor or transmission ( I can't remember, White-Westinghouse?).
posted by Mitheral at 1:26 PM on August 7


Yesterday, when I got to work, it was raining, as it often does in the Norwegian summer. I got in quite early, but met all the other earlybirds outside the entrance, as the fire alarm was going off in the background.

After a while it came to light what had happened: My friend and colleague, which shall remain nameless, has decided to take his motorcycle to work despite the weather. He decided to not use his "good" gear for some reason, but threw on some leathers that had seen better days. One problem was that this was not as waterproof as the better set, and the result was that his crotch area was completely soaked when he arrived at work, robbing him of both comfort and dignity.

Being the problem solving type, he thought this might be remedied with the careful application of a heat gun. So he finds one in the workshop and retreats to the toilet (as he didn't want to apply heat to his underwear while actually wearing it).

The trouble was that the fire alarm sensors in the toilets are set to a much higher sensitivity than the ones in the workshop area, leading to the fire alarm triggering, summoning both security and industrial firefighters to our building.

So he ended up outside the building, wearing his still damp trousers and holding the heat gun, explaining this to the industry park fire marshal while quite a handful of us colleagues were watching and trying to keep our faces straight.

So that's my damp underwear story.

(PS: This being Norway, he will suffer no greater consequences than some good-natured ribbing and possibly being forced to take a hot work certification course.)
posted by Harald74 at 6:39 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I know I'm very late to this party so this comment may languish unloved for a long time.

But in case any future house building or renovating Mefites are searching around for advice on this, I thought I'd share our solution, because I love it. It does depend very much on your home's layout.

Rather than the second floor laundry, we have a miniature laundry chute in the bedroom. You drop your washing into a hatch in one of the cupboards. There are storage shelves above the hatch, so you don't lose much space.

It falls through into a basket on top of the stacked washing machine and dryer in a cupboard in the kitchen below.

When the basket is full (cough cough tottering and overflowing) it's wash day!

You only need one part of the two rooms to be close - our bedroom isn't actually above the kitchen, it just shares a wall with it. The chute gives you a little leeway with planning this. All the plumbing for the machines remains in the same place as the kitchen plumbing, no additional flooding worry, never any piles of washing in the bedroom. It's great.
posted by tardigrade at 7:59 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


> I asked my wife a few weeks ago if she knew where the iron was.

On the arts and crafts table next to the Perler beads bin, of course. Does it have some other use?
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:26 PM on August 15


> This is the most #firstworldproblems article I've read in my whole life

No, people in developing countries also wash their clothing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:32 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


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