34 Comments

  1. Weekends are for laundry - Grounded Traveler
    February 26, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    […] be harder. Try sorting garbage into 4 different bins. Laundry seem annoying at home? Try doing it without a dryer. Or like I did, without a washer for 3 […]

  2. Using German Numbers – A Travelers’ Guide » Grounded Traveler - Expat Adventures in Germany
    February 13, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

    […] in so many small things that we don’t even think about at first glance. Like sleeping or laundry or […]

  3. Judy Q
    March 5, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

    Hi, I must say as a New Yorker married to a Freiburger (we live in NY), this article makes me laugh out loud! We visit and stay in Freiburg every year with his family and without a doubt I feel like my clothes “disappear” for days everytime a wash is done by his lovely mom who insists on it. As kind as that is, I always feel angst not knowing when my clothes will be dry or even where she dries them. She definitely has a method to her madness but it is so cumbersome. But I’ve learned it is the German way and part of the charm. I’m so thrilled to have found your blog.So funny to hear your views on everything German! We are thinking of moving to Freiburg to live which would be a DRASTIC change for me so I really appreciate your observations and tips! It will probably help me through my homesickness. thanks! Judy

    • Andrew
      March 8, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

      Welcome to the blog. Taking refuge from the madness in a cumbersome method could almost be a national slogan it seems. I am happy you found and like this area. Sometimes I just write to let off the stress from living here. It is a great place, but with its unique challenges.

  4. Giulia
    February 6, 2011 @ 3:10 am

    There are no dryers in Italy :p
    I hate the laundry process and most of all ironing!
    In Egypt there are places where you can bring clothes and they iron them for you… Love it!
    Oh, here we go, I miss Egypt :p

    • Andrew
      February 9, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

      Ironing is not my favorite thing. So I have developed a style and attitude that doesn’t require it. Basically I wear t-shirts and jeans and don’t care about wrinkles.
      Do they not have places like that in Italy?

      • Giulia
        February 11, 2011 @ 4:51 am

        Usually I don’t iron too, but there are things such as shirts and dresses that do need it :/
        Yes there are places like that in Italy but it’s different: first of all it’s very expensive! Other than that, you bring stuff to be washed (the ironing is included in the service) and it can take up to several days.
        These places in Egypt are just on the street, super cheap and very quick :) another thing I noticed is that they are always run by men, and in Italy they’re normally women. (it makes no difference to me anyway, as long as they iron my clothes, haha)

  5. Jeremy B
    February 3, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

    When traveling in Europe, I always washed clothes in the sink and hung them up in the bathroom or on a line to dry. It’s cheap and saved time. However, I couldn’t do this every day.

    I do my part here at home. I go as long as possible without washing, sometimes as long as 3 weeks (that’s a stretch). I only use cold water and use about 1/4 of the amount of suggested soap for my laundry. However, I love the dryer. I use it as my ironing board and will run it for a couple of minutes to get wrinkles out. And with a wife and 2 kids (who have their laundry done at least 2X a week), there is no way I could go without a dryer. I understand the environmental aspect and I do my part but the bigger your family, the bigger nuisance it would be to not have a dryer.

    • Andrew
      February 5, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

      The whole sink washing thing seems pretty hardcore to me. I have done it once or twice in my life, and I just don’t feel like things get clean at all.
      Yeah I can imagine with a family the amount of clothing just gets large enough that a dryer is needed just to keep the whole cycles short. But wow, twice a week is a big deal. That seems almost excessive.

  6. Shane
    February 3, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

    Having just done the sniff test it won’t be long until I find out how they do the laundry in Egypt.

    • Andrew
      February 5, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

      Eek, well be careful looking for laundry in Egypt lately.

  7. Megan
    February 3, 2011 @ 7:29 am

    Oh man, I was going to write about this at some point, too! It’s hard to find a dryer here in Thailand, also, so everybody hangs their clothes up wherever they can find space. Balconies. Alleys. Whatever. I do love the dryer, though–I despise having to hang everything up and then take it back down. Feels like I’m Sisyphus…

    • Andrew
      February 5, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

      The drying racks here don’t have clips or anything, you just drape the stuff over the wires. It can be a bit difficult to get small things like socks to stay, but shirts are easy.

  8. Laura
    February 2, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

    I no longer whine when I have to hang dry clothes because I learned to be thankful just for a washer! (I hand-washed my entire 8 month trip). But, if someone’s going to do it for you, not such a bad idea. Btw, I totally thought you had a floral bedspread until I noticed the Creative Commons reference ;)

    • Andrew
      February 2, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

      Wow.. handwashing would be brutal. Nope, I don’t think I own a floral Anything.

  9. Theresa
    February 2, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

    This totally took me back to my year studying abroad in Freiburg. Doing laundry was such an ordeal until, as you say, you accept it as part of the culture and then adapt. The way Germans do laundry is entirely reflective of their collective persona. And the more I think about it, so is the way Americans do laundry. I love it!

    Also, I had to laugh out loud at the line about showering with the windows open during the window. That, in addition to the fact, that they would turn off the water when they weren’t using it to get wet or rinse (i.e. they turned it off when they were sudsing up or shampooing their way) was just something I could not get used to. German winters are cold!

    • Andrew
      February 2, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

      Awesome. When were you in Freiburg? It really does seem like the most basic acts display the culture in such an open manner.

      I admit, I will open the window in the bathroom as I leave during the summer. The winters are too cold, as you say. It seems to again be this obsession against mold. The best part of a shower is just standing in the hot water, why would you turn it off? I have a wonderful heater that heats it as it goes instead of putting it in a tank, so I guess I could have hot water for hours.

  10. Jen
    February 1, 2011 @ 10:07 am

    I admit this is one of those cultural things where my American-ness shines through. I love the dryer. I don’t care what Germany thinks. I definitely want to preserve energy and the environment, but the dryer is my one exception. I won’t have crunchy towels in our house! ;-) I do dry the towels thoroughly in the dryer, but I compromise for my clothes – I dry them at the lowest setting and then put them on the rack still damp. I find the German dryers want to shrink my clothes too much. We’re lucky in that our building is new and we have one big washroom in the basement for everyone’s hookups, plus there is some space for the racks. But it’s funny because everyone is jockeying for rack space down there and one day I was so proud when a tenant moved out and I got his slot! :-D Though I admit there is something really nice in the summer about drying one’s clothes on the balcony and they come out smelling like earth and sunshine.

    Funny observations about the moisture and mold! So true! The Mann is absolutely fanatic about it. But go figure, this winter we have some mold in some of the corners.

    • Andrew
      February 2, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

      Ha.. That is a cool story. Somehow the idea of jockeying for drying rack space seems so totally German to me. I use the dryers at the laundromat now. I expect we will get a washer at some point, so I’ll have to find a dryer(and space) or a rack. A bit envious that you have a big washroom. I asked the old woman in my house if we had one that I didn’t know about, and she went into this discussion about if it was all common who would pay for it and how would you control it so noone would use it too much.
      The mold thing is weird to me, but I remember hearing about it being a problem in Britain too. Must be a different architecture as well as different climate here. In the US, we use almost all forced air heating which would keep things drier than the radiators here. I would think.

  11. Jenn
    February 1, 2011 @ 7:26 am

    I guess I won’t be planning any extended stays in Germany, then, or if I do, I’ll send my laundry out. I can’t do line-dried clothes. I just can’t. My skin really doesn’t any garment that wasn’t put in the dryer, especially jeans or socks. Scratched Skin City. No thanks.

    • Andrew
      February 2, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

      Line dried is not so bad. I think it has something to do with the idea that the cloths come out of the washer with less water, but I don’t think the clothes are that much more scratchy. Shake them out a bit after they come off the line before you fold them and they are decent. Do you use dryer sheets? I have no clue how that would work on a line?

  12. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World
    February 1, 2011 @ 5:54 am

    I agree. Dryers are evil. I think it’s silly that some apartment complexes or even housing areas forbid them. C’mon, everybody knows what underwear looks like. My parents sun dry their clothes in Jakarta, and I’ve actually gotten to enjoy the process. It’s very therapeutic :)

    • Andrew
      February 2, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

      Yes, but sometimes you really don’t need to know that the old couple across the way wear thongs. Both of them.

      I think the point is that in a lot of the US not having a dryer (and thus needing a line) is somehow a sign of poverty. While in most of Europe it is a sign of either good sense or living in a nice climate or both.

  13. Ali
    February 1, 2011 @ 5:39 am

    But I hate ironing and the dryer is a good substitute for that. Hmm… I like planning, but having to plan that much to do laundry seems a bit extreme.

    • Andrew
      February 2, 2011 @ 9:07 am

      Like I said, I just take them down to the laundromat and pick them up in a few hours clean and dry. It takes planning to get them before they close and I can’t do it on a Sunday, but better than sitting in a laundromat for 2 hours myself. I expect we will get a washer at some point though, it is nice to be able to wash stuff randomly during the week.

  14. Sara
    February 1, 2011 @ 5:06 am

    I studied in Germany for a while and I remember the laundry issues. I had one host mom who was a stay at home mom and I think that’s all she did all day was co-ordinate the laundry. It was kind of cute. Then, she ironed everything.

    Laundry in Chile is a little different. Not many people have dryers and washers don’t often get your clothes clean. I sometimes feel like I have to put a load through twice or it comes out wet but still dirty.

    • Andrew
      February 2, 2011 @ 9:06 am

      Ahh.. thanks for that memory. I forgot that my first host mom in Hamburg years ago did the same thing. She ironed my t-shirts.

      Hmm, wonder what is different about the washers in Chile. Is the water different or the cycles just not long enough?

  15. Laura
    February 1, 2011 @ 5:02 am

    Here in Mexico City we have a washer but no dryer – it’s rare to have a dryer here as well. It’s common to see laundry hanging out of windows and off balconies. Each apartment in my building has access to their own fenced in cage (with a lock) located on the roof of the building where we can go to hang our laundry. Before moving here I never expected I’d be hanging laundry on the roof of my apartment building, but it’s actually not so bad. I even kind of enjoy it. ;-)

    • Andrew
      February 2, 2011 @ 9:04 am

      A fenced in cage? That is awesome. Is that typical? One of my stereotypes about Mexico City in my head is that there is a fair amount of pollution. Is that even true where you are? Does that affect the clothes at all? I don’t think I would like to have my nice clean clothes on the roof if there is stuff floating down from the sky.
      As I mentioned to Sabrina, I saw in my pictures that outside drying is typical in Italy. This may be less a US-Germany thing than a US-Everyone Else thing.

  16. Lisa @chickybus
    February 1, 2011 @ 1:33 am

    I remember what it was like to do laundry in Barcelona. A pain in the neck! The washing machine was really complicated…so many settings that didn’t make sense. But in the end, the clothes somehow came out ok. My biggest challenge was when I hung the clothes out and sometimes lost socks, which fell onto the roof of someone else’s apartment.

    I do think that drying the clothes outdoors, when the weather allows, is a good idea for many reasons. But you definitely need to plan ahead to allow sufficient time. And it sounds like being there in Germany is great training for that sort of planning. Enjoy the new washing machine once you get it! :)

    • Andrew
      February 2, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

      Ha.. I thought losing socks in the dryer was bad, but over the roof would be worse. You need that insurance then.

      Yup, Germany=Planning. New washer may be a while, it is down on the list of renovations to the place. Thanks for the comment.

  17. Sabrina
    February 1, 2011 @ 1:02 am

    Haha! As usual, your post makes me chuckle and reflect on my own odd (apparently very German) habits. One of the first thing I bought when I moved to the US? A sort-of-drying rack (not like the ones we have in Germany though – muhc more cumbersome and not as space-utilizing). I dry most of my stuff 10 minutes and hang it to dry – keeps it from shrinking and saves the ironing part. It was so ingrained in me that it never occured to me to question it. Imagine my joy when we moved into a house last year that has a clothes line in the backyard…. I now hang up my stuff outside (weather permitting and not the small stuff) and my American visitors think it’s the funniest thing. Aaaaah, the odd things Germans do.

    • Andrew
      February 2, 2011 @ 9:01 am

      We all have our cultural things that we do. I like that the drying not only fits perfectly into the German environmental attitude, but also into the act of planning. Mundane as it is, the cultural attitudes shine through. Where did you find a drying rack in the US? Do your neighbors have any problem with you drying your clothes outside?
      I was looking through pictures in my piles for the post (which I couldn’t find, so I went Creative Commons) and noticed that it is very typical for Italians to hang out clothing too. Does your boyfriend think it weird to hang out clothes?

      • Sabrina
        February 14, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

        I bought at Target or Walmart I think. It’s a weird contraption though, believe me. Our neighbors? We don’t really talk a whole lot, but I don’t think they see much of the laundry outside since we have a fenced in backyard. And my boyfriend? I think he thinks it’s a hassle to have the drying rack in the house – also because I am so slow in taking things down :)