When you move to a foreign country, you assume it’ll be the big things that are difficult to deal with…like grappling with a new language, struggling to find your way around, and adjusting to a diet composed primarily of sausage.
But it’s not.
It’s the little things that make you crazy.
Like doing laundry.
A simple, ordinary, everyday thing…
What do you mean I can’t use my good, old USofA laundry soap? Just how long is the laundry going to take, anyway? It’s been in there two hours!
And what is that thing on the dryer…the drawer with the water in it? How come the dryer starts and stops as many times as a bread machine? Cupboard setting? What is that? And most importantly…
Why are all those metal racks standing around the laundry room in yoga poses???
Doing laundry in Europe is…needless to say…different. For starters, laundry washing is a communal event. In our apartment building, everyone puts their machines in a central location…the basement. I haven’t seen that since my dorm room in college.
If you use the soap we’re used to in the States, the suds will float the entire apartment complex down the street. The clothes are in there for at least half a day, and the dryer isn’t a dryer in the literal sense of the word. It’s a steamer. Instead of venting to the outside, a condenser collects the moisture in a drawer that must be emptied after each load.
And in place of the settings we’re used to…Dry, Super Dry, and “So-Dry-The-Clothes-Incinerate,” European dryers have settings like “Cupboard.” This means the clothes come out slightly more steamed than if you had selected “Iron.” But they’re not dry. Not even close.
Hence the drying rack.
These long metal racks with wings adorn every porch and yard across Germany. After steaming your clothes for a couple of hours, you must hang them on the rack to do the actual drying. When I first moved here, I was not happy about this. Not having the ubiquitous drying rack, I was forced to hang my damp clothes from the lamps, the TV…whatever happened to be handy.
Then one day my dryer broke (Oh, you’re supposed to clean the condenser-thingy?) and I was forced to conform to the drying rack lifestyle. Luckily, the jet engine spin cycle on the washer squeezes every last drop of water out of the clothes. So with the dryer broken, I just took the clothes out of the washer and hung them directly on the rack. I discovered a shocking thing…they dried just as fast. I’m a lazy person, so now…even though I have a bright, shiny new dryer down in the laundry room…I’ve decided that steaming is an unnecessary step.
I’ve been converted. In fact, when I move back home, I’m going to bring 20 drying racks with me and give them to all of my friends. It’s finally happened. I’ve fallen victim to…
Drying rack love.