Sunday, February 27, 2011

On Design-- Laundry Hangers

I know you're all secretly dancing in your bedrooms, seeing our socks and all--but this is about the hanger and the laundry poles.  I bring up this most mundane of subjects because my husband, recently talking about Arizona and using the drier at my parents' house, wanted to know why they even *had* a drier.  I said I had no idea why, since in the summer clothes dry even faster outside than in a drier (and don't shrink up to boot).  But... actually I do know why.  And it's to do with a certain rising level of suburban snobbery that has spread  across America that says "Heaven *forbid* anyone should see my laundry outside."  Never mind the energy savings, the ecological... logicality of it, the fact that practically the whole of the rest of the world does.  Ewww.  That's just so...countrified.  One of the longest comment threads generated (over 450) at a personal finance blog I read occasionally was over the blog author's intention to save money by hanging his laundry outside to dry.  I was both amused and dismayed by the number of commenters who were aghast at his entertaining the idea at all (American commenters, I should say--European commenters couldn't figure out why he was so hesitant to do it and so worried about what the neighbors would think).

I don't need to worry about it, though--there isn't an apartment anywhere in Japan (unless they are *very* tall) that doesn't have hooks descending from the ceiling of the back porch to hold long laundry pole for shirt hangers and multi-pinch hangers.  On sunny days everybody has laundry, futons, blankets, pillows out drying--and nobody thinks a thing about it.  There are, I'm sure, some slightly uptight housewives who take care to hang up the undies inside, but I'm not one of them.  It all goes outside.

*A Digression*
When Teddy was about a year old and had just learned to walk, he used to follow me out onto the porch while I pulled things out of the  laundry basket and hung them up to dry.  It took me weeks to figure out why I kept finding my underwear down below (four floors) on the ground...until I happened to look over at just the right moment and catch Teddy plucking my best pair of underwear (which I trust you can imagine for yourself) from the top of the laundry basket and sticking his little hand into one of the spaces between safety glass panels and poi!  Why--why!--didn't he ever once throw Papa's boxer shorts from our fourth floor balcony??

I love my laundry-pinchy-hanger-upper-thingies.  They have no particular name that I know of, but no matter.  They are unbelievably useful and save me a huge chunk on the electric bill every month. They are inexpensive, lightweight, fold-able, and easily stored.   And, after some initial resistance, I decided I prefer hanging it outside to listening to a noisy drier and the resulting shrunken sleeves and pant legs that fit when I bought them.  On a warm, sunny day when the Uguisu (Bush Warbler) has begun to sing, it's my favorite household task.

Mata asobou, ne!
(p.s.-- Full Disclosure:  During the Rainy Season, I do sometimes wish desperately for a drier and have used laundromat drier to get things dry that otherwise wouldn't dry out 'til August...)


  1. Where I live, you can actually be evicted for hanging things upon your balcony. It's very much seen as lower class/poor. "If you can't afford a drier, don't live here," is what that seems to say.

    There is a practicality side to it as well though. It's very wet here. Things might dry outside for the second half of June and the month of July but most of the time, the air is humid. We live on the river, not far from the Great Lake. Also, winter is from September to May in all practicality, clothes would more likely just freeze.

    That being said, my mother did use to hang clothes outdoors when it was feasible during my childhood. I inevitably found June beetles and other assorted ickies in my underthings. It still makes my skin crawl.

  2. I did forget to say, however, that those are really neat!

  3. They probably would freeze in the winter--I recall seeing frozen laundry out on lines driving by Amish farms... June bugs in underthings--Ha! That made me smile:-)) The boys would be over the moon if they found a beetle in their undies!

  4. I've always hung my washing out. Mostly, I'll admit, because of the expense of buying and running a drier. In the winter I use a fold-up frame that stands in front of a radiator.

    Does this snobbishness come from 'eww it's outside in all that dirty air' or from not wanting to look so poor as to not be able to afford a drier, do you think? My money's on the second being the first cause and the first a rationalisation.