A Guide To Do Laundry in Japan
When we travel, easily and conveniently doing laundry is, without a doubt, an appreciated service. Even before landing in Japan, we think about traveling as light as possible. In order to probably purchase some souvenirs, we do not take as many clothes. The "laundry issue" is, therefore, thought about even before taking off.
Japan is a country where we sweat a lot during summer. With the temperature differences between the cold indoors and the heat and humidity outdoors, we usually change clothes every day, even sometimes multiple times within the same day. It is therefore wise to get information before departure on the possibilities of doing laundry in Japan, whether inside your accommodations or in the neighborhood.
Common apartments and houses, as well as whole accommodations for rent, usually have a washing machine called 洗濯機 sentakki. It is often placed in the bathroom 🛁. Its aspects and use are slightly different from the western models, and it is useful to know some practical information before using it.
How to use a Japanese washing machine
Almost all laundry machines in Japan work with cold water and possess a horizontal drum, which is less aggressive for the clothes and is loaded from the top. Liquid or powdered Japanese detergent brands are a fit for this kind of cold cleaning and are effective at removing smells and slightly dirty clothes. We can find the detergents in convenience stores, konbini, or grocery stores, such as Matsumoto Kiyoshi.
We add the detergent called 洗剤 senzai directly to the drum with the clothes, as well as adding the fabric softener called 柔軟剤 junanzai into the dedicated reservoir. Note that some machines are already enriched with a softener. Regarding programs, the choice is quite limited. Choosing the "standard" cycle is advised, as it is usually already preset and requires only about 30 minutes. There is a "delicate fabrics" program for fragile clothes or a "fast program" that should not exceed 20 minutes.
Finally, doing laundry in Japan is quite simple:
- Fill the drum with dirty clothes and cleaning detergent;
- Turn on the machine with the 入 "ON" button; and
- Start the default program by pushing the スタート "START" button.
When starting, a weight system displays the quantity of necessary detergent, the water volume that will be used in liters, and the time required in minutes. Then, the machine automatically begins its program.
High-end machines in Japan offer hot water cleaning combined with drying. Much more expensive than the classical models, they remain rare in daily accommodations but can be found inside luxury hotels 🏨 and serviced-apartments. When there are not drying machines, we can hang clothes out on the balcony. If it is a rainy ☔️ day, clean clothes can be hung above the bathtub, where a ventilation system favors very effective drying.
Dry cleaning services and laundromats
Japanese people frequently use dry cleaner services, called by the English name クリーニング "cleaning". Generally, these service are for very dirty clothes requiring a specific type of cleaning and fragile clothes, such as suits and men’s dress shirts. We can easily find these dry-cleaning stores in cities and most residential areas. With long store hours and affordable fees, dry cleaners happen to be practical for busy people.
The last solution to clean clothes are laundromats, which are called コインランドリー "coin laundry" and are numerous in big cities. Clean and well-maintained, these stores are used by those who do not have their own washing machines or to clean big pieces, such as duvets or bed and sofa sheets.
Washing machine control panel