Ultimate Guide to Japanese Washing Machines for Foreigners

By Kai Yoshizaki | July 27th, 2023 

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    Japanese washing machines, like all technology in the land of the rising sun, might be a little different than those you’re used to. You will likely find that many daily tasks, like laundry or cleaning, while straightforward can be challenging given the language barrier. We’re not only going to break down Japanese washing machines’ unique symbols and features, but also the average Japanese person’s laundry habits and DIY troubleshooting to get you out of a jam! As a little bonus, we’ve even explored some of the most popular laundry products in Japan and what you can expect!    

    This article is a part of our extensive series on Learning about Japan through Online Japanese Lessons at Japan Switch.


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    Understanding Japanese Washing Machines

    Size and Capacity

    In comparison to the washing machine you might have in your home in your home country, Japanese washing machines tend to be quite a bit smaller and have a lower capacity on average (roughly 5kg but there are larger machines). A lot of the reason for the smaller washing machine size and capacity is due to the smaller living spaces for the average Japanese person. Generally apartment sizes tend to be smaller than western houses for instance, as well as the amount of clothes might be more limited due to the smaller living quarters. This means that more likely than not, you will be looking at doing more laundry loads while doing smaller loads per wash each time. This isn’t such a huge issue but it could be more costly when doing laundry because of the frequency.

    Japanese Washing Machine Sizes with A Rough Estimate of Clothes for Each

    Compact or Mini Washing Machines (2-4.5 kg):

    Regular or Standard Washing Machines (5-8 kg):

    Larger Washing Machines (10-12 kg or more):

    2 kg: Roughly 1 pair of jeans and 1 t-shirt or a couple of shirts.

    5 kg: Around 4 pairs of jeans and 4-5 shirts or a combination of 1 bedsheet, 2 pillowcases, 2 pairs of jeans, and 3 shirts.

    10 kg: Around 8 pairs of jeans, 8-10 shirts, multiple underwear and socks, 2-3 towels, and perhaps a bedding set.

    4.5 kg: 2 pairs of jeans, 3-4 shirts, and a few underwear and socks.

    Regular or Standard Washing Machines (5-8 kg):

    8 kg: Roughly 6 pairs of jeans, 6 shirts, multiple underwear and socks, and maybe a towel or two.

    12 kg: 10 pairs of jeans, 12 shirts, a bedding set, multiple underwear, socks, and several towels.

    The drum capacity doesn't always directly equate to the weight of dry clothes you should add. For example, an 8 kg machine doesn't mean you should always put 8 kg of clothes in; it's often recommended to load less to ensure effective washing of your clothes.

    Features and settings

    Japanese washing machines might give you a hard time when you’re first learning how to use them, but we will go through them briefly to get you started. Japanese washing machines, like many other domestic appliances in Japan, have some features that might be unfamiliar or uncommon in Western or other non-Japanese washing machines. Here are some of these distinctive features:

    Air Drying Function

    風乾燥, Fūkansō

    Japanese washers, especially washer-dryer combinations, often have an air drying feature that blows air into the drum to help dry clothes, even if it's not a full drying cycle. This can be useful during rainy seasons or for apartments without a balcony for drying.

    Tub Cleaning

    浴槽洗浄, Yokusō Senjō

    Many Japanese washing machines have a dedicated cycle designed to clean the inside of the drum or tub, which helps reduce mold and any unpleasant odors.

    Water Reuse Function

    再利用, Sai Rīyō

    Some machines allow you to save the rinse water from one cycle to use as the wash water for the next cycle, helping conserve water.


    浸け置き, Tsukeoki

    While soaking might be a feature in some non-Japanese machines, it's prevalent in Japanese models. It's a dedicated setting allowing clothes to sit in water for a specific duration before the main wash cycle starts.

    Deodorizing or Steam Function

    脱臭機能, Dasshū Kinō

    Some modern Japanese washing machines come equipped with features that release steam or other agents to refresh or deodorize clothing, even if you're not doing a full wash.

    Hot Water Wash

    お湯取り, Oyu Tori

    Some Japanese washing machines can be directly connected to the hot water supply, especially in homes with a dedicated gas-based water heating system. This allows for more efficient hot water washing.


    毛布, Mōfu

    Given the popularity of futons (traditional Japanese bedding) and their need to be regularly cleaned, many washing machines have a dedicated setting optimized for washing these bulky items.

    Night Wash Mode

    夜間, Yakan

    This is a quiet mode feature for washing at nighttime, ensuring the machine operates more silently to not disturb neighbors in close living quarters.


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    Common Brands and Models Available in Japan



    Toshiba offers a range of washing machines with various capacities and features, such as top-loading and front-loading models, as well as washer-dryer combos.


    Panasonic is another popular brand in Japan, offering a variety of washing machines with unique features like eco-friendly options, advanced washing technology, and compact designs.


    Hitachi is known for its energy-efficient and high-performance washing machines. They offer a wide range of models, from basic top-loaders to advanced front-loaders with smart features.


    Sharp manufactures washing machines that are known for their advanced technologies, such as the "Plasmacluster" technology, which helps remove odors and bacteria from clothing during the wash cycle.


    Popular Model

    (Prices in Yen)

    Popular Model

    (Prices in Yen)

    Large Model

    (Prices in Yen)

    Eco Model

    (Prices in Yen)


    Toshiba AW-700Z2(W) Fully Automatic Washing Machine, 15.4 lbs (7 kg)


    Toshiba AW-10GM3(W) Fully Automatic Washing Machine, 22.0 lbs (10 kg)



    Drum-type washer and dryer TW-127XM2L-W Washing 12.0kg / Drying 7.0kg


    Toshiba AW-7GM2-W Fully Automatic Washing Machine, 15.4 lbs (7.0 kg)



    Panasonic NA-LX113BL-W NA-LX113BL-W Na-LX113BL-W Wide 25.0 inches (63.9 cm), Washing 24.3 lbs (11 kg)


    Panasonic NA-LX127BL-W Tanned Drum Washer and Dryer, Width 25.2 inches (63.9 cm), Washing 26.5 lbs (12 kg), Drying 13.2 lbs (6 kg)


    Panasonic NA-LX129BL-W NA-LX129BL-W Tanned Drum Washer and Dryer, Width 25.2 inches (63.9 cm), Washing 26.5 lbs (12 kg), Drying 13.2 lbs (6 kg)


    Panasonic NA-VG2700L-K Front-Type Washer and Dryer, 22.0 lbs (10 kg)



    Hitachi BD-SX110FL N Drum Type Laundry Dryer, 24.3 lbs (11 kg), Drying 13.2 lbs (6 kg)


    Hitachi BW-DX120G N Vertical Laundry Dryer, Washing Machine, 26.5 lbs (12 kg), Drying 13.2 lbs (6 kg)


    Hitachi BW-DKX120G Vertical Laundry Dryer, 26.5 lbs (12 kg), Drying 13.2 lbs (6 kg)



    SF-100XAV 10kg Top Load Washer



    Sharp ES-W113-SL Washing Machine, Front-Load, Hybrid Drying, Left Opening (Hinge Left), Equipped with DD Inverter, Automatic Detergent Filling, Silver, Washing 24.3 lbs (11 kg), Drying 13.2 lbs (6 kg)


    Sharp ES-WS14-TL Drum Type Washing Machine, Heat Pump Drying, Left-Opening, DD Inverter, Washing Detergent Auto-Filling, Washing: 24.3 lbs (11 kg), Drying: 13.2 lbs (6 kg)


    Sharp ES-X11A-SR Drum Type Washer and Dryer, Hybrid Drying, Automatic Detergent, Drying Filter Automatic Cleaning, 24.3 lbs (11 kg), Drying 13.2 lbs (6 kg)


    Sharp ES-GE7G-W Fully Automatic Washing Machine, Washing Capacity: 15.4 lbs (7 kg)


    The Importance of Energy Efficiency and Water-Saving Features


    Eco-friendly options

    Most likely you’ll have to run your laundry more than you’re used to in your home country due to the smaller laundry size, however, due to the eco-friendly and energy-conservative measures that are built into many laundry machines, you’ll be able to reduce your electricity consumption and water consumption to possibly reduce your monthly bills. 

    How they affect utility bills

    Choosing an eco-friendly washing machine can have a significant impact on your utility bills. In some cases, the washing machine you use could actually give you some rebates from the energy or water company. 

    Washing machine buttons

    Decoding Japanese Washing Machine Symbols and Controls


    Common symbols and their meanings


    If you aren’t comfortable with your kanji skill or hiragana skills, navigating the buttons on the laundry machine can be a bit of a challenge. Each machine is slightly different but here are the basic buttons that you’ll likely be using.




    Automatic setting, the machine will choose the best settings for your load (just like the restaurant course!).



    Rinse cycle



    Spin cycle



    Wash cycle


    Jidō Seisō

    Automatic cleaning



    Timer or delay start

    If you feel that you would like to further advance your kanji level, check out our Top 15 Japanese Kanji Tips to get you on track for learning more kanji!

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    Adapting to Japanese Laundry Habits

    Understanding Japanese laundry customs


    Time of day for laundry

    In Japan, it is common for people to do laundry during the day, rather than late at night especially if you live in an apartment setting. Sound travels especially well, and neighbors may not appreciate listening to your laundry machine while they’re trying to get some rest at night. Sometimes when you are in a time crunch during the week and can’t tend to your laundry during the morning, you can do it in the evening when you get home, or if you have a dryer function in your washing machine, you can have it run throughout the day and deal with it when you get home from work.

    • Delayed Start is often labeled as 遅延スタート (chi'en sutāto) or 予約 (yoyaku), which means reservation in the sense of reserving a future start time.
    • Buttons related to energy efficiency might vary, but one common setting is 省エネ (shō ene), short for 省エネルギー (shō enerugī), which means energy saving.
    • For Integrated Dryers, the button may say 乾燥 (kansō) which means dry. A combo button for wash and dry might be labeled 洗濯→乾燥 (sentaku → kansō), which means wash → dry.

    Detergent types and usage

    Concentration of Japanese Detergents

    Japanese laundry detergents tend to be more concentrated than many Western brands. This means you'll often need a smaller amount to effectively clean your clothes. The instructions on the packaging should provide guidance on the appropriate amount to use based on the size of the load.


    Japanese detergents are often formulated to be effective without an overpowering scent, which aligns with the general preference for subtler fragrances in many aspects of Japanese daily life. If you're looking to add more fragrance to your laundry, several products can help:

    Scented Sprays: Known as 消臭スプレー (shōshū supurē), which translates to deodorizing spray. These sprays are often used to refresh clothes and add a pleasant scent.

    Fabric Softeners: Known as 柔軟剤 (jūnanzai). These often come with a fragrant component that adds a soft and pleasant scent to the laundry.

    Detergent Brands

    アタック (Attack)

    トップ (Top)

    ボールド (Bold)

    Fabric Softeners Brands

    レノア (Lenor)

    フレア (Flair)

    ソフラン (Soflan)

    Washing Detergent: 洗濯洗剤 (sentaku senzai)

    Fabric Softener: 柔軟剤 (jūnanzai)

    Scented: 香り (kaori) or 香り付き (kaoritsuki, meaning with fragrance)

    Non-scented: 無香料 (mukōryō, meaning unscented or fragrance-free)

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    Folding and Storage Techniques


    Japanese homes often have limited closet and storage space, so folding and storing clothes efficiently is essential. Consider adopting some Japanese folding techniques to maximize space and keep your clothes neat and organized. 

    Storage Type


    Notable Stores

    Under-bed Storage

    Flat storage bins designed to fit perfectly under beds.

    Nitori (ニトリ), MUJI (無印良品)

    Vertical Storage

    Tall, slim shelving units and hanging organizers to maximize vertical space.

    Nitori (ニトリ), MUJI (無印良品)

    Stackable Boxes

    Transparent boxes, allowing visibility of contents, especially for shoes or accessories.

    Nitori (ニトリ), MUJI (無印良品)

    Compact Furniture with Storage

    Beds with drawers underneath, or ottomans with storage space.

    Nitori (ニトリ), MUJI (無印良品)

    Wall-mounted Organizers

    Items that hang on the back of doors or walls, ideal for umbrellas, hats, or scarves.

    Nitori (ニトリ), MUJI (無印良品)

    Collapsible Items

    Storage bins or bags that can be folded down when not in use, suitable for seasonal items.

    Nitori (ニトリ), MUJI (無印良品)

    Closet Organizers

    Dividers, special hangers, or boxes that fit seamlessly into closets.

    Nitori (ニトリ), MUJI (無印良品)


    Hanging clothes on a drying rack

    Adapting to Smaller Living Spaces


    Space-saving appliances and accessories

    When selecting a washing machine for your Japanese home or apartment, consider space-saving options such as compact models or washer-dryer combos. Additionally, look for accessories like collapsible laundry hampers and compact drying racks to help make the most of your limited space. These are often available at a great price point from places like Daiso or 300yen stores. Typically laundry washing spaces are connected to the sink/bath area so it can be pretty cramped in there. Make sure to consider dimensions and take measurements of the space before deciding on what to put in there. 

    Creative drying solutions

    In many space-constrained Japanese apartments, traditional dryers are a rarity, prompting residents to adopt innovative drying methods. Common solutions include foldable indoor drying racks and adjustable balcony clotheslines. An especially noteworthy feature in modern Japanese bathrooms is the 乾燥機能 (kansō kinō) or drying function. This turns the entire bathroom into a drying area, circulating warm air to efficiently dry clothes. Beyond just laundry, this feature helps reduce bathroom moisture, combat mold, and prepare the space for the next user. Combined, these methods ensure efficient laundry drying even in compact living spaces.

    Common DIY Maintenance and Troubleshooting


    Basic maintenance tasks for Japanese washing machines

    Keeping Your Washing Machine in Shape

    1. Tend to the lint filter: Make it a habit to clean your machine's lint filter. It's not just about clothes looking better; it also stops clogs and keeps everything running smoothly. Your user manual should have a step-by-step guide.
    2. Don't forget the water inlet: Over time, debris can build up in the water inlet. Giving it a regular check and clean ensures your machine gets the water it needs without any issues.
    3. Hose health: While you're at it, take a quick peek at the hoses and connections. Any cracks or wear and tear? It's best to swap those out to prevent any water damage.


    - The case of the non-spinning washer: If your washer is not spinning or draining, the lint filter and water inlet are the usual suspects. If they're all good, it might be time to check the user manual or contact the company for help. 

    - Excessive vibrations?: If your washer's rattling from the washing cycle with excessive noise or vibrations, it could be off-balance. Make sure it's level and standing firm. And remember, a balanced laundry load makes for a quiet wash.

    When to call a professional for help

    In Japan, the term 水道業者 (suidōgyōsha) refers to professionals specializing in plumbing and associated appliance issues. Reputable suidōgyōsha can be located through various channels. Online directories, community boards, and recommendations from acquaintances are often reliable sources. The general cost associated with such services can fluctuate based on the intricacy of the problem and the specific brand in question. Generally, a preliminary service consultation may range from ¥5,000 to ¥10,000.

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    Buying Guide: Choosing the Right Japanese Washing Machine

    Assessing your needs and preferences



    Consider your household size and laundry habits when selecting a washing machine with the appropriate capacity. If you are getting a laundry machine for yourself, then you will probably be fine with a smaller machine, but if you are getting one to use for your partner or entire family, you would likely be looking for a larger family-sized machine. If you're living alone and don't accumulate a lot of laundry, a machine with a smaller capacity, typically around 4.5kg to 6kg, will be sufficient. Such machines can comfortably handle the weekly laundry needs of one person without being overly bulky or consuming excess energy. For couples or two-person households, slightly larger machines in the range of 6kg to 8kg are generally appropriate. They can efficiently manage the combined laundry, including bed linens and towels, without frequent wash cycles. If you're catering to the laundry demands of a family, especially with children, you'd want to consider even larger machines. For a family of four, machines with a capacity ranging from 9kg to 12kg are generally safe. These allow for bulk washing, accommodating children's frequent clothing changes, larger linens, and more.

    Available space

    Measure the space where you plan to install your washing machine and choose a model that will fit comfortably within the available area. One key thing to note, since space is limited, make sure that you have enough clearance for the machine door to open and close when making measurements. 

    Washing machine buttons

    Evaluating Different Models and Features


    Top-loading vs. front-loading machines

    Top-loading washing machines are typically more affordable and have shorter wash cycles, while front-loading machines are often more energy-efficient and have a larger capacity. Top-loading washing machines are used for most apartments since the door swing doesn’t take up any additional horizontal space. Top-loading washing machines only require some space for vertical space, which typically isn’t an issue in most washing spaces. On Amazon, Iris Ohyama is a relatively budget-friendly home goods brand that sells washing machines at a relatively lower price point for people who are on a tight budget. 

    All-in-one washer and dryer units

    Having limited space often requires innovative solutions, and an all-in-one washer and dryer unit might be the answer for many. These combo machines can save significant space by eliminating the need for separate appliances. Financially, this could mean a cost savings since only one machine needs to be purchased. However, potential buyers should note that while these units are convenient, they might not always deliver the drying efficiency expected from standalone dryers. To protect your garments from potential damage, it might be wise to use the dryer setting sparingly and air dry clothes after a brief spin in the dryer.

    Sample Units

    Panasonic NA-VX9800L: A high-end model with a range of features, including an auto self-cleaning system. (Approximately ¥150,000)

    Sharp ES-TG70L: Mid-range priced and has a good balance between performance and value. (Around ¥100,000)

    Where to Buy

    Major electronics stores such as Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera, and Yamada Denki. Alternatively, you can also check out larger department stores or specialized home appliance stores.

    Used Items and Discounts

    Sayonara Sales: Often hosted by foreigners leaving Japan and selling their belongings. These sales can be found on various online platforms or community boards.

    Jimoty: It's equal to a Japanese Craigslist, where individuals list items for sale or giveaway.

    Mottainai Japan: A platform dedicated to the Japanese concept of mottainai, or waste not, where people sell, give away, or swap items.

    Tips for finding the best deals and promotions

    Local Appliance Stores

    Local electronics and appliance retailers are always a good starting point. Visiting these stores gives you the advantage of seeing the machines in person and directly comparing models. Additionally, these stores often run promotions or offer discounts, especially during seasonal sales.

    Online Retailers and Marketplaces

    Platforms such as Amazon Japan and Rakuten provide a broad range of options, often at competitive prices. Moreover, many sellers on these platforms extend services such as delivery and installation for a nominal fee. Given the complexity of setting up these appliances, it might be advantageous to avail this service. Furthermore, the convenience and potential time saved often outweighs the additional cost.

    Other options

    If you're on a tight budget or looking for a temporary solution, consider purchasing a second-hand washing machine. There are also occasional services that housing companies can offer that allow you to rent laundry machines if you do not want to buy your own machine. Renting the machine would be incorporated into your rental fee, and could save you some money while also avoiding having to deal with the machine if you plan to move in the future. 


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    Japanese Laundry Products

    Washing machine cleaning products

    Powder Cleaners

    Kao: A well-known brand that offers a variety of household cleaning products, including washing machine powder cleaners.

    Ariel: Recognized for its laundry detergents, Ariel also offers washing machine cleaning powders that are popular in Japan.

    Liquid Cleaners

    Lion Magica: This brand is quite popular in Japan and offers a range of cleaning solutions, including liquid washing machine cleaners.

    Topvalu: A private brand label of AEON, one of Japan's biggest retailers. They offer a wide range of household products, including liquid cleaners for washing machines.

    Cleaning Tablets

    Dr. Beckmann: While a brand from Germany, this brand is quite famous in Japan for its washing machine cleaning tablets.

    Daiso: The famous 100-yen store also offers washing machine cleaning tablets that are effective and budget-friendly.

    How often to use washing machine cleaners

    To keep your washing machine running efficiently and prevent the buildup of mold, mildew, and odors, use a washing machine cleaner at least once a month or according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

    Cleaning Tablets

    Finish: This brand, while known primarily for dishwasher products, has made a mark in the washing machine cleaning sector too.

    Japanese Name: フィニッシュ (Finisshu)

    How to Use: Simply place a tablet into the drum of your washing machine and run a regular wash cycle with hot water. No laundry should be added during this cycle.

    Liquid Cleaners

    Lion Magica: A top choice in Japan.

    Japanese Name: ライオン マジカ (Raion Majika)

    How to Use: Pour the recommended amount of cleaner into the detergent compartment and run a wash cycle. Ensure no clothes are in the machine during the cleaning cycle.

    Powder Cleaners

    Kao: A household name for cleaning products.

    Japanese Name: 花王 (Kao)

    How to Use: Add the specified amount of powder into the detergent drawer, and run a standard cycle. Again, ensure no garments are inside.

    Popular Japanese brands and recommendations


    Some popular Japanese washing machine cleaner brands include Kao, Earth, and Pigeon. These brands can be easily found at pharmacies and in convenience stores. Typically larger pharmacies like Matsumoto Kiyoshi will offer a wider selection of laundry detergents, so it may be worth looking there for what you need. 

    Stuffed laundry machine

    Laundry Detergents, Fabric Softeners, and Other Products

    Popular Japanese detergent brands and recommendations


    Some popular Japanese detergent brands include Kao, Lion, and P&G. As with washing machine cleaners, consult product reviews and seek recommendations to find the best option for your needs.

    Japanese fabric softeners and other laundry additives

    Fabric softeners - 柔軟剤 (Jūnanzai)

    Japanese fabric softeners tend to have lighter, more subtle scents than their Western counterparts. Brands like Lenor, Kao, and Lion offer various options to suit your preferences. It’s easy to over-use fabric softeners which can make your clothes very fluffy, so it is best to follow the manufacturer’s advice which can usually be found on the bottle.

    Stain removers - 汚れ落とし (Yogoreotoshi)

    Japanese stain removers are often highly effective and come in a variety of formats, such as sprays, sticks, and powders. Look for brands like Kobayashi and Earth for effective stain-fighting solutions. Typically, these are located near the laundry and toilet areas in the pharmacy.

    Bleach alternatives - 代替漂白剤 (Daitai hyōhakuzai)

    For those seeking bleach alternatives, oxygen-based bleaches like OxiClean or Japanese brands like Kao offer effective and eco-friendly options. Be cautious when choosing bleach; there are different kinds of bleach for various purposes, such as for the kitchen, cleaning, and clothes, and some that are multipurpose. If uncertain, it's advisable to stick with internationally recognized bleach alternatives like OxiClean.

    Deodorizers - 消臭剤 (Shōshūzai)

    Japanese deodorizers are crafted to target and eradicate stubborn odors from clothing. Brands like Kobayashi and Earth provide deodorizing products in diverse formats, including sprays and laundry additives.

    Hanging rack for clothes

    Japanese Washing Machine Accessories


    Drying Racks and Clotheslines


    Types of drying racks

    Freestanding drying racks: These are standalone, foldable racks that can be placed indoors or outdoors to dry your clothes. They come in various sizes and designs to accommodate different types of laundry items.

    Wall-mounted drying racks: These space-saving racks are attached directly to a wall or can be hung over a door. They can be folded or retracted when not in use, making them ideal for small apartments or homes with limited space.

    Over-the-door drying racks: These racks are designed to hang over the top of a door, providing additional drying space without taking up floor space. They are especially useful for drying smaller items like socks and undergarments.

    Types of clotheslines

    Retractable clotheslines: These clotheslines can be extended and retracted as needed, making them ideal for small spaces. They can be installed indoors or outdoors and are great for drying large items like bed sheets and towels.

    Balcony clotheslines: These clotheslines are designed to be attached to a balcony railing, making use of the outdoor space for drying. They come in various styles, such as fixed or adjustable lengths, to accommodate different balcony sizes.

    Umbrella-style clotheslines: These clotheslines feature a central pole with multiple arms, similar to an umbrella. They provide ample drying space and can be folded down when not in use.

    Tips for selecting the right drying solution

    Consider your available space: Assess the amount of space you have available for drying your clothes, both indoors and outdoors. This will help you determine which type of drying rack or clothesline will best suit your needs.

    Assess your drying needs and laundry habits: Consider the types of clothes you typically wash and how often you do laundry. This can help you decide on the size and style of drying solution that will best accommodate your needs.

    Look for adjustable and multi-purpose options: To make the most of your available space, consider investing in adjustable or multi-purpose drying racks and clotheslines that can accommodate different types and sizes of laundry items.

    Laundry Baskets and Hampers


    Types of laundry baskets and hampers

    Collapsible hampers: These hampers are made from lightweight, flexible materials like fabric or mesh, allowing them to be easily folded and stored when not in use. They are ideal for small spaces and can be easily transported.

    Rolling laundry carts: These laundry carts feature wheels, making it easy to move them from room to room. They often come with multiple compartments for sorting and organizing laundry.

    Laundry sorters: These hampers feature multiple compartments for sorting laundry by color or type, making it easier to keep your laundry organized and ready for washing.


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    Adapting to Japanese Washing Machines: Tips for Foreigners

    Making the most of your machine's features


    Experimenting with different settings and cycles


    Test out various settings to find what works best for your laundry needs and familiarize yourself with the different wash cycles and settings on your Japanese washing machine, and experiment with them to determine which combinations produce the best results for your specific laundry needs. It will naturally take time to figure out what works best for your clothes. If you’re not a big fan of handwashing, every washing machine, Japanese or otherwise, will have a delicate or soft setting which will save you time on those more sensitive items. 

    Take advantage of unique features like soak cycles and automatic fabric softener dispensers; make the most of the features that your Japanese washing machine offers, such as pre-soak cycles for heavily soiled items or automatic fabric softener dispensers for added convenience.

    Maximizing energy efficiency and water conservation


    Don’t underestimate the value of using eco-friendly settings when possible. Many Japanese washing machines come with energy-saving settings designed to reduce water and electricity usage. Make use of these settings whenever possible to minimize your environmental impact and save on utility costs.

    Also - be mindful of load sizes and avoid overloading your machine. Overloading your washing machine can reduce its efficiency and potentially cause damage. Always stick to the manufacturer's recommendations for load sizes to ensure optimal performance and prevent unnecessary wear and tear. If you fill your machine up to the maximum limit, it is very likely that your clothes will not have any room to move around to be washed, so you should always fill your machine to about 80% of the maximum limit to ensure your clothes have enough room to be cleaned.

    Communicating with landlords and neighbors 

    Seek approval before installing a new washing machine, it is important to consult with your landlord before installing your machine because they might have some preferences or specifications/suggestions for you.  

    Discuss any necessary repairs or maintenance with your landlord; if your washing machine requires repairs or maintenance, inform your landlord and discuss the best course of action. They may be responsible for covering repair costs (if they provided the machine) or providing guidance on how to proceed.

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    Embracing cultural differences in laundry habits


    Adjusting to line-drying clothes

    1. Learn proper techniques for hanging clothes to dry. As many Japanese households line-dry their clothes, it's important to familiarize yourself with the proper techniques for hanging different types of garments to ensure they dry evenly and maintain their shape.
    2. Invest in quality drying racks and clotheslines. To make line drying more efficient and convenient, invest in durable, high-quality drying racks and clotheslines that can accommodate your laundry needs.


    Exploring new laundry products and techniques

    1. Be open to trying Japanese laundry products and incorporating them into your routine. Experiment with different Japanese laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and other products to discover new favorites and enhance your laundry experience.
    2. Consider adopting Japanese folding and storage techniques to maximize space and organization. Japanese households often utilize specific folding and storage techniques to keep their homes tidy and organized. Learn these techniques and apply them to your laundry routine to improve organization and make the most of your available storage space.

    Final Thoughts

    Navigating the world of Japanese washing machines can be challenging for foreigners, but with the right knowledge and resources, it's entirely manageable. By understanding the unique features of Japanese washing machines, decoding symbols and controls, adapting to local laundry habits, and maintaining your machine properly, you'll be well on your way to mastering this essential household appliance. Don't forget to explore the wide range of Japanese laundry products available, as they can enhance your laundry experience and help you achieve the best results. Happy washing!

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