If you’ve ever spent more than a week abroad, you’ve likely been faced with one unique form of culture shock: laundry is NOT done the same way as it is in the States and Canada. Sure, the detergent pods (please, don’t eat those, by the way!) and stain sprays may be the same, but there is one major difference between how we do our laundry and how the rest of the world does theirs—the tumble dry.
Yep, dryers are just not used all that often in other parts of the world, but today we are going to discuss why Europe, in particular, has such a disdain for the final step in our laundry routine.
Why dryers never caught on in Europe
Although the sales of residential dryers have been on the rise in recent years throughout much of Western Europe, the continent’s sales of the appliances are nowhere near ours. For example, over 80% of homes in the U.S. and Canada are equipped with a dryer, whereas only 20% of the homes in Italy have one.
This stark disparity can be attributed to many factors, including cost (high energy users are often penalized by utility companies overseas) and availability—but the one resounding difference is attitude.
While there’s no question that dryers are more convenient than the drip dry alternative, old-world culture dictates that the energy-sucking appliances are simply too wasteful to be used on the regular.
In an opinion piece published by Quartz, Corinne Purtill, an American who lived as an expat in the U.K. for five years, gives her take on the lifestyle difference.
“It highlights a fundamental cultural [disparity] between the U.S. and U.K. that I’d characterize, broadly, as a British inclination to accept things as they are, versus an American inclination to alter and change them,” Purtill writes.
While we are quick to agree that Europeans’ unwillingness to embrace the appliance has much to do with a more acute awareness of environmental issues, as well as an “old habits die hard” mindset, there is also another piece to the puzzle that shouldn’t be ignored; skipping the dryer is just much better for our beloved threads!
The pros and cons of the American tumble dry
First things first: dryers are MUCH more convenient than the line drying alternative—especially in the wintertime when freezing or wet weather conditions force sopping wet clothes inside. A pro if we’ve ever heard one!
That said, forgoing the dryer can extend the life of your clothing, specifically the color and shape of the garments. This gentler laundering method can help you keep your apparel for longer and WILL put more money back in your pocket.
You see, you can easily spend upwards of $100 per year on the energy costs from your dryer alone, not to mention the pricey maintenance that comes with the clunky and all-too-fickle machine. This means that skipping the dryer altogether can give you more cash to invest back into your wardrobe. Definitely something to think about!
Although we don’t know if we’re ready to say goodbye to our trusty dryer, the information does make us wonder if we should cut down on the practice. Clothesline, here we come?
We can’t wait to hear your take on this dryer conundrum. Do you use a dryer regularly? Did you grow up in a part of the world that doesn’t use dryers? If so, which way of doing laundry is better?