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Laundry matters

July 30, 2013

I came to Finland for the first time back in 1997 and was taken aback when I discovered that clothes dryers were a real rarity here. How on earth was I going to get clean and dry clothes in one day, I wondered. I survived and was introduced to a world of laundry free of electricity-sucking dryers.

Fast forward to 1998 when I moved to Finland to live – and I was navigating the world of doing laundry without a dryer. (Now I have done my own laundry for years – my mother drew the line on my clothes changing antics when I was about 11.) So doing laundry in a new country meant learning about soap and fabric softener all over again. And with no dryer to ensure I had dry clothes within a matter of hours meant scheduling laundry washing carefully.

It’s summer and that means you can hang stuff outside to dry! Introducing the laundry rack: I have never seen anything like this where I come from in Canada, but they’re a staple item in the stores of this country, you just can’t be without one. They come in a variety of styles and sizes and range in price between EUR 10 and 30.


We also hang sheets and towels to dry outside in warm weather on a handy bar that spans the width of our deck. We also mounted one inside our house below the stairs so that we can easily hang things in the winter as needed. Incredibly handy, practical and space-saving – and we do not need a dryer.


The BBC featured an article awhile back about the aversion to laundry hanging outside to dry (in some parts of the world). I have heard that there are even by-laws that have outlawed the use of outdoor clothes lines in some cities. How utterly ridiculous!

If you don’t like the sight of hanging laundry – don’t look. Otherwise, I will put mine out to dry in the summer as I have done for ages. There is nothing better than crawling into clean smelling sheets that have been dried in the sun.

I’ll also save on my electricity bill too. When we moved in early 2011 our new house came with a washer and dryer. We sold them both (as we already had a new washing machine). Having grown up with a dryer in the house and now lived free of one for almost 15 years, I don’t plan buying one any time soon.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sonia permalink
    August 5, 2013 2:59 pm

    I assume the reason for no dryers lies somewhere in between those facts:

    – Finnish living space is small (in cities with expensive housing) OR
    – Finnish living space in detached houses is large enough for hanging stuff inside during 3/4 of the year with not much warmth/sun 😉 (kodinhoitohuone)
    – Finnish houses are mostly dry (well, at least the air e.g. during the cold time of year), so laundry dries quickly (in my experience)
    – According to international comparisons, Finnish houses are excessively heated/warm during the winter months (= laundry drying quickly)
    – Finns often don’t appreciate gadgets not invented by themselves (i.e. many modern housing innovations arrive late or not at all and are considered as useless (“Ihan turha!”), that is why wall mounted toilets are “new” now, and sink knobs are still out of rubber on a chain instead of the pulling system, etc.) – things introduced elsewhere 20-30 years ago.
    – Never quite seen laundry on Finnish balconies like in southern Europe “flying high” 😉 (considered not neat, thus rather kept below the sight level). I’m sure it would have consequences. Drying clothes outside is here imho the privilege of housing with own yard.

    When I compare to Germany, we are hanging stuff to dry – in the garden on the so called “laundry spider” (Wäschespinne), inside (usually only a small amount with neat, wall-mounted systems, e.g. by Leifheit or just the normal, foldable one) or in a common “laundry cellar” – often available in condominium houses. Landlords can recommend not to hang out laundry to dry in the apartment (if the laundry cellar is available), because excessive humidity can cause mold problems. Dryers are something for big families (often with small children) having the space for the dryer (detached houses, large 100+ qm apartments). Rental houses sometimes have a common dryer in the laundry cellar, but it’s rather a choice to use it or not (often coin-operated). I have never used a laundry dryer. All life long. I don’t miss any.

  2. anonymous permalink
    August 5, 2013 7:41 pm

    I have “the pulling system” on the kitchen sink and it is a piece of crap. Having a normal plug is simply better and easier all around.
    As for the wall-mounted toilets, the sewer, the hole itself, is on the floor so why would you mount the toilet on the wall?
    Some (most?) apartment complexes have their clotheslines outside, but it’s mainly only used for the bigger stuff like sheets or mats.

    • Sonia permalink
      August 6, 2013 4:08 pm

      Mine works just fine. Perhaps just a poor quality. This may happen.

      Outer shutters would be great for Finnish summers.

      In new built sites, it’s merely a choice where it is mounted. Of course it’s impossible to change from an old system. At least nowadays in Finland, all the building fairs & interior catalogues are just stunned by this “invention”, but so far I know, they need help from foreign workers to integrate the flushing systems into the walls.. .

      • Oldfashioned permalink
        August 12, 2013 6:13 pm

        “Finland, all the building fairs & interior catalogues are just stunned by this “invention”, but so far I know, they need help from foreign workers to integrate the flushing systems into the walls.. .”

        They need cheap foreign labor as modern german no_minimum_wage slave markets are still missing here.

  3. November 5, 2013 11:27 pm

    It’s so funny because I have the opposite experience here. 🙂 Back in Hungary – where I am from – we always use this laundry rack. In our apartment in Helsinki we don’t have a washing machine (we just moved here a few weeks ago) so we have to go to public laundry and use the dryer. It’s faster, I admit. But I just said to myself a few days ago, it would be nice to have a washing machine and a laundry rack at home. Somehow I miss it. 🙂

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