November 15 Laundry Takes Forever….

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Clothes hanging in my laundry room

This blog entry is not going to be about an interesting place that I went or a mountain that I climbed. So feel free to skip it if it is not interesting or exciting to read. Today I am going to discuss the way people do laundry here, and why it doesn’t make sense to me.

I have a washing machine that is big enough to do an extra large load of blankets or towels or clothes. That is a good thing, but not a feature I can make much use of because I have only an average size back porch area in which to hang clothes. So I can only have a certain amount of wet, clean laundry at any one time because I need to dry it by hanging it up on my back porch. Everyone here  hangs laundry up to dry. In many places this would be an energy-savings, earth friendly way to dry clothes, but here it is not. Why? Because Taiwan has a very humid, damp climate. So hanging clothes can take more than 24 hours to dry, and sometimes still end up smelling mildewy.

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A view of my top loading (not energy efficient) washer and my very small dryer.

However, I have a new and e apartment, which means that I have something most Taiwan apartments don’t have-a dryer. A VERY SMALL dryer. I have discovered that if I put clean, wet laundry directly into the dryer, I have to run it for hours (greater than 5!) to dry the clothes. Or I can divide the wet clothes into two smaller loads, and run the dryer for three hours per load to dry the clothes. Or I can do as my landlady suggested, and hang the clothes for five or six hours, run the fan, and then put them in the dryer so they don;’t hang overnight.

So that is what I do. I get up first thing in the morning, and run a load of laundry in the washing machine. Then I spend 15-20 minutes hanging it up to dry. I have a fan in my back porch area that I can run to help circulate air and dry the hanging clothes faster, and I do use it to speed the drying process up. After about 5-6 hours I put some of the clothes in the dryer (I usually do the pants and heavier things first) and run the dryer (on the high setting) for about one hour. I then run the rest of the clothes in the dryer or another hour. After that, I fold and put away the clothes, except for everything that needs to be ironed. And many things do need to be ironed, because wrinkles don’t always come out when clothes are hanging to dry in damp weather.

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Small portable ironing board and shirt set up on my dining room table.

So this process takes about 10 hours from start to finish. And I have do it at least twice a week, because we usually have enough laundry to do 2-3 loads a week.So doing laundry here is not very time efficient. I would also argue that it is not energy efficient, either,as running a fan for six hours, and then running a dryer for two hours takes more power than just running a more powerful dryer! At home, I can get two loads of laundry done in three hours, using my energy saving washer and dryer. Here it takes two days and about 20 hours. I am trying to think of it as a “cultural experience”, or a zen practice of cleaning clothes!

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