Why Don’t Japanese People Use Dryers?

Japan laundry day
Laundry day under the Japanese Maple tree
source: kenbo’s old apato

When walking in Japanese streets, the first thing you’ll notice besides its impressive architecture is the sight of clothes hanging on almost all balconies. While a majority of washing machines in Japan have drier settings, most locals prefer air drying their clothes.

Japanese people don’t use dryers due to cultural preferences. Most locals believe that sun-dried clothes are usually cleaner and well disinfected. With electricity costs high in Japan, locals prefer finding ways to lower costs, and minimizing the usage of driers is one of them.

Curious to learn more about using dryers versus natural light to dry clothes? Then you couldn’t be in a better place. Buckle up as we learn more about the Japanese laundry culture, and why they rarely use dryers.

Laundry in Japan, Understanding the Culture

In Japan, over 80% of households do their laundry daily, with most citing that daily washing reduces laundry buildup. And since most houses in Japanese town centers have limited spaces, most residents prefer washing their clothes daily to ensure they have enough hanging spaces.

The unpredictable Japanese weather also plays a pivotal role in influencing laundry patterns adopted by the locals. For instance, Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, is well-known for its unpredictable weather where rain can easily appear during hot sunny days without any warning.

The inconsistent weather patterns force locals to play safe whenever they do laundry, which means cleaning clothes almost daily to avoid buildup.

Cutting Electrical Costs

As mentioned in the previous section, the Japanese weather is often unpredictable. This means that leaving dirty clothes to bulk up isn’t such a good idea since sunshine isn’t guaranteed every day (including summer months). A hot afternoon can transform into a rainy evening without any prior warning.

And since Japanese locals prefer to do laundry daily, using dryers is economically unsustainable. The cost of drying clothes is higher than that of washing clothes only.

Due to this, most locals tend to ignore dryers in favor of air drying, which is cheaper and more sustainable. Using a dryer every day can hike electricity costs, consequently increasing the burden on locals.


Although most Japanese people avoid using dryers to cut on electricity costs, some just prefer doing laundry the old fashioned way. You’ll notice that washing machines are present in almost 75% of Japanese homes. However, out of all these houses, only 10% use drier settings.

For some, manually hanging clothes on balconies or strategically erected bars gives the satisfaction of a job well done. Some Japanese residents claim that sun-kissed clothes have better scents, while others argue that allowing clothes to air dry helps in removing bacteria.

Hanging Clothes is a Culture in Japan

Air drying clothes is a popular Japanese culture that will likely stick around for a while. Despite the availability of washing machines with dryer settings in the Japanese market, almost all houses are loaded with metal arms for hanging clothes.

Most houses have two metal arms strategically located in the balcony to allow for easy hanging of laundry. The average length of these poles is usually three to five meters. The poles are thick enough to support heavy loads.

In case a balcony doesn’t have these metal poles, tenants can easily access them at home centers or from little trucks that sell household tools and essentials on the go.

As proof of Japan’s culture of air-drying laundry, almost all non-perishable goods retailers sell plastic clips for hanging clothes. These clips come in various colors, shapes, and sizes. You can get plastic clips that are small enough to hold lingerie or large-sized ones that can accommodate futons.

Other products that promote the culture of air drying clothes in Japan include the multi-slot racks and special hangers. Multi-slot racks allow locals to hang several shirts or pants in a small area.

On the other hand, special hangers have clamp hooks that allow for the secure attachment of clothes to the poles.

The Benefits of Air Drying Clothes

Gentle on Clothes

The cost of using a clothes dryer and drying accessories can be quite high, especially when dealing with heavy laundry loads. But hanging clothes out in the sun is free, consequently making line-drying a popular option in Japan.

Line Drying Reduces Wrinkles

Air drying helps to reduce wrinkles since water weighs down the clothes when hanging on balconies. When water continues seeping from the clothes, they tend to stretch to their original form, leaving your clothes looking good as new.

While you might still need to iron the clothes before wearing them, you’ll almost certainly find them in good form when unhanging.

Sunlight Acts as a Disinfectant

The natural rays and varying heat intensity allows the sun to disinfect clothes when hung outside. Japanese families with small children prefer hanging their clothes outside to ensure that they drain all the water, leaving the fabric clean.

Stress-Free Method to Dry Clothes

You don’t need any extra accessories to hang your clothes outside. Using dryers will require you to either purchase the machine or use your cash to access commercial dryer services.

Moreover, you don’t need any experience when hanging clothes. All you need is to hang early enough to make the most of the sunlight and unhang the clothes when they dry up.

The Benefits of Using Dryers

Gives You Freedom

When using a dryer, you no longer have to worry about weather elements such as sun and wind intensity. All you have to do is place the wet clothes on a tumble dryer and voila, your clothes are ready for wear!

Using hanging lines to dry clothes might leave you disappointed, especially when the weather changes abruptly. But with dryers, you no longer have to worry about weather patterns or abrupt weather changes. Your dryer will get the job done even in the thickest of snow!

Saves Time and Effort

While some people might argue that air drying is easy, nothing beats placing laundry in a dryer and allowing it to dry. Air drying depends on several factors such as wind and sun intensity, making it impossible to determine the exact time to unhang the clothes.

But with a dryer on standby, it’s easy to manage time as clothes will dry based on your settings. Plus, unlike air drying, you don’t have to carry wet clothes and hang them one by one when using a dryer.

Safe and Sure

Your clothes won’t get stolen or lost when using home dryers. Theft is common in areas with shared hanging spaces, especially crowded neighborhoods. Also, it’s easy for clothes to get lost in case the wind blows them.

Using home dryers eliminates the risk of theft or loss, leaving you 100% sure of finding your clothes just as you placed them in the device. However, the risk of theft might be high when using commercial dryers. As a result, it is advisable to be on the lookout when paying for dryer services.

Promotes Neatness

The sight of carelessly hanged clothes can be an eyesore, especially in crowded neighborhoods. And although these devices can take up some considerable amount of space, the outcome is totally worth it. You no longer have to put up with the sight of wet clothes in your balcony or yard.

Electric vs. Gas Dryers

Dryers are known to consume tons of power, meaning you’ll need to be extra careful to ensure you choose a device that’s pocket friendly. Dryers are powered either through gas or electricity.

Gas-powered dryers are generally more expensive to purchase but consume less energy. In Japan, most dryers are electricity-powered, which explains why the locals prefer air drying their laundry.

Common Types of Dryers

Condenser Dryers 

These dryers work by extracting water vapor from hot air, sending it back to the clothes as opposed to expelling moist air as vented dryers do. This dryer is ideal if you don’t want humid air hanging around your laundry room.

Condenser dryers tend to cost a lot more than vented dryers. You’ll also love that these dryers don’t require a lot in regards to ventilation. Low ventilation requirements make condenser dryers fantastic options for apartment living.

Vented Dryers

Vented dryers work by heating air and passing the warm air into the drum. As the hot air cools down due to exposure to wet clothes, it is quickly vented out and replaced with hot, dry air. This is the most common type of clothes dryer and is known for its high maintenance costs.

The moist air that’s ejected from the drum more often than not leaves room muggy due to increased humidity. Critics of using dryers argue that the humid air creates a conducive environment for potentially harmful bacteria.

Heat Pump Condenser Dryers

This is a condenser dryer that recycles heat while extracting moisture. Heat pump condenser dryers are generally energy-efficient, making them ideal for people looking to lower energy costs. However, you’ll need to pay more for this dryer compared to the other types of dryers discussed.

The Main Features of Dryers

The performance of a dryer generally depends on the features present. If you’re on a limited budget, chances are you will get a dryer with limited features such as temperature settings, a start button, and a stop button.

On the other hand, expensive dryers come with a handful of features such as extended tumbling cycles, safety locks, cycle options for different fabrics, and even stainless steel drums.

Below are some of the features you can find on dryers.

Energy Ratings

Most people avoid dryers due to their high energy consumption rates. For instance, in Japan, the energy costs associated with using dryers are usually higher than those of using washing machines. This explains why most Japanese people prefer air drying their clothes or using commercial dryers if the need arises.

Therefore, if you want to purchase a dryer, be on the lookout for its energy ratings. Energy-efficient dryers will cost more, but they’re a lot cheaper in the long run.


Large dryers will naturally have increased load capacity compared to their smaller counterparts. The challenge with using large load capacity dryers is that they tend to occupy large spaces, which is impractical for people living in small houses.

To save on energy, be sure to select a load size that suits your laundry needs. The last thing you want is to use your dryer for extended periods to accommodate large loads.


This is a pivotal feature that helps you to save on costs. Purchasing a dryer with an auto-sensing feature ensures that your dryer stops the drying process immediately; it senses the load is dry.

Besides reducing energy costs, this feature helps prevent over-drying of clothes, which is crucial in maintaining fabric quality.

Electronic Display

While this feature varies from brand to brand, costlier dryers tend to have highly informative electronic displays. This feature is useful as it informs you of remaining time or when the water container or lint filter should be emptied.

Lint Filter

You’ll need to clean the lint filter regularly, so you’d better go for dryers with easily-accessible lint filters. It is advisable to clean the lint filter after every load. Consider calling a professional cleaner to help you clean the entire system in case your dryer takes longer than usual to dry clothes.

Wrapping Up

The need to cut energy costs is, without a doubt, the main reason why Japanese people prefer air drying to using dryers. In Japan, a large percentage of the population resides in small apartments where cost-cutting is the order of the day.

And since using dryers is a luxury that most locals can’t afford, the majority of households opt to hang clothes either in balconies or indoors. However, modern dryers are becoming increasingly reliant on energy-conserving technology, making them energy-efficient and affordable. If you’re interested in trying out dryers, be sure to go for one with advanced features like auto-sensing and temperature regulation. While these features tend to increase the cost of dryers,

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