Monday, May 29, 2017

The Epic Laundry Battle

One concern I had with moving a young family of 6 to Europe was laundry.  This may seem like a ridiculous worry, but as the primary laundry manager in our household, I had fears of a house full of laundry hanging to dry and having to do laundry nonstop.  First world problems, I know.

As we looked for a home, I was always looking at the laundry facilities.  To our surprise, a few houses actually had laundry rooms or closets that were somewhat like what you would find in the USA - a washer and dryer together in a separate part of the house.  Far more common was either a washer/dryer combo or just a washer in the kitchen.

The house we picked has the washer/dryer combo in the kitchen.  Now that I understand how to run it, I'm not having the same trials I did initially (no blankets stuck in the dryer).  But the drying aspect does not work as well as a standard dryer unless the load is tiny - like 2 pairs of pants.  Abby's pants. I still use the drying mechanism on occasion, particularly if I start a small load at night so that it will be dry in the morning, but it is not dependable enough to dry all our clothes.
Our washer/dryer combo in the kitchen.
We had been warned about the inefficiency of the washer/dryer combos ahead of time, so when we chose a home that did not have a stand alone dryer, Matt made it a priority to get a condenser dryer right away.  A condenser dryer does not vent outside of the house, but instead collects all the water inside a drawer as it dries, then you remove the drawer & dump the water out after each load.  The dryer had a home in our kitchen the first month or so, then found it's permanent residence in our family room after our shipment of stuff came.  This location can be an annoyance if we are trying to watch TV because it is quite loud, but it is convenient when I just fold the dried laundry while watching TV.
Our dryer in the family room.  It doubles as an end table. And with the
decorative plant you hardly know it's there.  Ha ha! 

In the USA, even with a family of 6, I was able to have 1 set laundry day where I rotated EVERYTHING through.  Sometimes it stretched to 2 days if I didn't finish it all in one day, but I still had energy focused on laundry only part of the week.  Here, the washer and dryer have such small capacities that I do have to do laundry nearly every day. Otherwise it just gets totally behind.  I think 1 UK is equivalent to about 1/3 a US load.  Additionally, each cycle takes significantly longer than a US cycle.  I now have a fairly good rotation doing the girls laundry one day, the boys laundry one day, our laundry one day, towels one day, and then starting the rotation again.  But if we have guest sheets to wash or a bloody nose in the middle of the night that needs extra towels for cleanup and duvets washed - it just throws the whole rotation off.  I frequently end up with piles like this in the family room.
I think this is 4-5 loads of laundry.  It may have been 1.5 in the US. 

Many of our neighbors either never, or hardly ever, use a dryer.  This is quite common here because of the energy it takes to use a dryer.  So lately, particularly as the weather is sunnier and hot, I've been trying to be more European and energy efficient and air dry our clothes on occasion.  It is actually quite pleasant and AJ enjoys helping with the process.  I'm still SO grateful for the dryer, especially with how rainy and chilly it can be here (I don't know how people dry clothes during the winter here without a dryer!), but it's nice to have options.  We are also learning to wash clothes only when necessary . . . well trying to learn this.  But we are improving.

So, while the laundry is not as easy as it was in the states, it is also not as bad as I imagined it might be.  I think I am winning the battle (typed as the washer and dryer whirr away downstairs on their 4th tiny load of the day).  

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