Click here to return to Japan Years homepage

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hanging the Clothes Out

When I first arrived in Japan, I remember distinctly thinking that everywhere in the city looked a little well......slummy. Many readers know that downtown Yokosuka is not the prettiest of cities in Japan. Well, compare it to the likes of Kyoto and it's really no match for that type of competition. However, there was a real distinct reason for my snooty opinion. Everywhere, I saw clothes hanging out to dry. In America for the most part, I never saw clothes being hung out to dry. I blushed at the embarrassing idea of someone grabbing my skivvies off the line.

However, after staying here for almost 2 years now, I succumbed to hanging out my clothes as well. I mean, maybe just maybe people who have lived in Japan their whole lives are on to something. We do have a dryer. It's about a third of the size of an American sized model. It takes about 3-4 hours to dry a load (Japanese washer sized load) of laundry. The clothes come out wrinkled and the house rises in temperature about 10 degrees. In the Summertime, it pretty much makes our home uncomfortably hot and humid. Japanese dryers are extremely inefficient. After spending about 2000 yen (give or take about $20.00) on 2 metal clothing rods, clips and a little clippy hangy thing to clip up unmentionables, I had all I needed to hang up my wet clothes.

Now, anyone who has spent time in and around Tokyo and Yokohama area during the middle of Summertime can tell you it gets hot. So hot in fact that the first load of laundry that I washed (including a pair of jeans) dried in less than an hour. Not to mention there was no "shrinkage" or wrinkling. The Japanese rods for hanging clothes seem to be efficient in the sense that they don't leave a "dent" or "fold" in the clothes compared to if they were hung on a conventional line. Plus since I am the queen of laziness, I took my girlfriend's advice. When I hang my clothes out to dry, I hang all of the shirts on plastic hangers. When they're dry, I just hang them up on the rod in my closet. They also have all kinds of nifty gadgets to help clothes dry faster and with less wrinkles. I'm so bulking up on those items (along with the very cool toilet seats) before we leave.

This reminds me of a past show that Oprah had on with some ideas on staying "green", or more environmentally friendly. The show interviewed a couple who were trying little things around their home to be more economically and environmentally friendly. I almost fell down on the floor laughing when the Southern California couple mentioned that, to save money and energy, they cleaned out the lint trap of their dryer every time they finished a load of laundry. OK, two things wrong with this picture. #1 Weren't they ever taught as children to clean out the lint trap every time?? Not only to save energy but, to prevent fires?! #2 They're still drying their clothes in the dryer in Southern California. Where it hardly ever rains and temps climb to the 80's and up during the Summer.

The clothes dryer literally sucks up so much energy and money. I'm probably saving about $25 per electricity bill by hanging up my clothes to dry. Plus, the colors on my clothing are staying brighter and as I mentioned before there's no shrinkage or wrinkling. The sheets for my bed dry in about 20 minutes. (When I'm potty training, that makes all the difference) By the end of the day, I've completed 2 times the amount of laundry I could have completed had I used the dryer. I can only imagine how quickly clothes would dry out somewhere in Arizona or Southwest Texas? Many homes have covered patios where clothes don't even have to be in the sun to dry (saving some clothes from fading from the sun).

I know, I know. This sounds preachy and I've probably spent to much time here and have lost touch with reality of things back home. (Some Home Owners Associations don't even let people hang their clothes out to dry on account it makes the neighborhood look trashy, low income, or have an unsightly nature) I'm just putting the idea out there though. Give it a try. There could be savings of a few hundred dollars a year. Who cares if the back yard looks a little trashy when you've got a clear conscious and a heavier wallet?

7 Comments:

Blogger Gingers Mom said...

If we don't control our rodent problem I am going to have to resort to this. Or just buy all new clothes. You're right. Americans...maybe especially Californians?? would look down on it. But it really is a good idea.

Thu Aug 02, 11:35:00 PM GMT+9  
Blogger Mike, Nicki, and Josh said...

It is a good idea. It took me a whole year to get used the idea. I think it's totally an American thing. A lot of European countries still don't use dryers all the time either. The one thing that I REALLY miss is a dish washer. I am so tired of hand washing the dishes. The dryer I've been able to live without.

Fri Aug 03, 01:00:00 PM GMT+9  
Blogger ReyLynda said...

This is a great suggestion for the U.S. *especially* Southern Californians!

Fri Aug 03, 09:17:00 PM GMT+9  
Anonymous Laura said...

Okay, so Mom has to be the wet blanket...I just bought a new dryer that dries a large load of clothes in about 40 minutes and is supposed to be energy efficient. I just don't know if you'll be able to change me. When I was younger, the worst thing was that the jeans always were so stiff; have you solved that problem? I will say the plastic hanger thing probably does really save time!

Love,
Mom

Wed Aug 08, 02:09:00 PM GMT+9  
Blogger Mike, Nicki, and Josh said...

One word.....well, two. Fabric Softener!! Nice try mom....you won't stop me from hugging trees any time soon :)

Wed Aug 08, 08:13:00 PM GMT+9  
Anonymous Swirly said...

That was very interesting to read. I live in Sweden and here most people happily hang their laundry outside to dry. I know people who live in apartments (no balcony etc so they can't do it) who are jelaous of those who can do it. :-)

I have a dryer but it's not even plugged in... :)

Anyway, you have a very nice blog and I really enjoyed my visit! I am just about to start a course in Japanese, so it's double interesting.

Fri Aug 31, 12:21:00 AM GMT+9  
Blogger Mike, Nicki, and Josh said...

Thanks for posting, swirly. Hanging laundry is definitely the way to go if feasible. I've been completely converted.

Good luck with your Japanese course... I'm in an informal one here, but I really don't know how much good it's doing me. I need to get in town more and just practice!

-Mike

Fri Aug 31, 10:09:00 AM GMT+9  

Post a Comment

<< Home