The One Mistake Europeans Think Americans Make With Their Laundry

Would you ever ditch your dryer?

If you've lived in Europe, you may have noticed that clothes-washing customs are a little different there. Not only are the washing machines significantly smaller than the giant drums we use in America, but the dryer is much less common. Even in households that have one, it's used less frequently.

And the debate over the tumble dryer has become, well, heated. "Non-Americans: What's one thing every American needs to know?" one Reddit thread writer recently asked. The top comment? "Electric dryers are nowhere near as common as in the States," one commenter replied. The thread collected more than 7,000 responses in one month, and the comment itself has garnered opinions from Reddit users worldwide, with many explaining their own methods for drying laundry. The debates range from the perfect outdoor conditions for air-drying clothes (hint: sub-zero temperatures are not ideal), to whether clothing left outside unattended will get stolen, and if air-drying causes mildew.

Cultural Differences

While some commenters criticize the dryer for the energy it uses and how harsh it is on clothing, one commenter points out the cultural component of the dryer's popularity in America. Another Reddit user notes that some American homeowner associations have rules against hanging clotheslines outside, because some consider them unsightly. "In Germany, on the other hand, they are considered traditional and wholesome. Many people who have dryers feel slightly guilty about using them and drying their laundry the lazy and wasteful way when they could do it 'properly,'" the user writes. The comment stirred up a storm of responses, including many Americans rallying in defense of the dryer.

America's Love of Clothes Dryers

Whether you rely on your dryer every day or have one on your wishlist for your next home, there's no denying that the tumble dryer is a beloved appliance in most American households. For starters, it was invented by an American. J. Ross Moore, an inventor from North Dakota who designed the first automatic clothes dryer during the early twentieth century. His designs were released to the American public in 1938, and the rest is history: As of 2009, almost 80% of American households owned a dryer.

Just how much do Americans love their dryers? Enough to buy clothing specifically for them, according to many Reddit users. The initial Reddit thread caused one user to pose this question to Americans: "Do you dry all your clothes in a tumble dryer?" In response, several people admitted to only buying clothing that could withstand the dryer, without special care instructions.

Other Drying Options

To combine the ease of a clothes dryer with the luxury of wearing more delicate fabrics, some high-end appliance companies have started marketing clothes-drying cabinets to Americans. This machine combines the gentle method of air-drying with the efficiency of a tumble dryer. Staber, an American appliance manufacturer, sells a drying cabinet for $1,520, plus shipping.

An electric version of the classic British airing cupboard, the drying cabinet works by circulating warm air around hanging clothing, speeding up drying time, and preventing mold. With the high cost and space requirements, the cabinets are still very much a luxury appliance, but they may be the tumble dryer of the future.

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