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Japan's clothes-drying bathrooms (bloomberg.com)
158 points by Luc 25 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 175 comments



I have one of these in my home (in Tokyo). Honestly... they kind of suck. The lint from your clothes clogs your drains and vents even faster than normal (you're supposed to use a plastic slab cover thing over your bath, which requires a lot of maintenance or it gets gross very quickly). It renders your shower unusable for hours at time, so if you live with other people it makes coordination of laundry/showers much more complex. Would not recommend. I got a regular washer/dryer combo unit recently and it markedly improved the quality of my life.


I couldn't agree more. After reading article I'm kind of confused about the praise. First of all, vast majority of population just dry their clothes outside. I'd say, while this is installed in many bathrooms - it's used rarely. Maybe during rainy season. The thing is, it's highly ineffective and there is not a lot of drying poles installed. It doesn't work well even for bathroom towels, not to mention for the full laundry.

The more useful trick, that I didn't know from home (EU) is underwear drying rack. Small rack on a hook with plenty of clips attached. Back at home, we used to put our socks and panties next to everything else on a big rack. This small drying rack makes it much more effective.


Is the drying rack you're taking about the thing that's typically used with socks? That is, something like https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/x-10421217/?


I think so, although the ones you’d get at Daiso in Japan would fashion a rectangular, foldable design.


I think he means an electrically heated drying rack. Usually attached to the wall. Sort of like a heating element but you can easily hang your clothes on it.


Something like this. They come in many sizes. Big ones for clothes, small ones for socks and underwear.

https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B01D4I3RW2/ref=sspa_mw_detail_0?...


I'm confused, how do these generate any lint and how would that clog drains or vents?

Dryer lint is produced by the abrasion of clothes as they tumble in your dryer.

Hang drying doesn't produce lint. It seems like this is just hang drying but circulating warmer drier air to speed it up.

So I must be misunderstanding something. How is this generating lint that clogs your drain? Why do you have to put a plastic cover down at all? I don't put any kind of cover on my floor when I air-dry my T shirts on a rack after washing. (I don't like them shrinking in my dryer.)


It's not as intense as regular dryer lint. Seems to be like small bits of thread that fall off during the drying process (perhaps coming off during tumble wash and sticking to it while wet?). There's a pretty strong gust of air coming from the dryer. My unit came with panels fitted for the bathtub and instructions to use when drying, it's a bath/shower combo thing.


I’ve lived in Tokyo for a period during college and the dust was crazy. I read that it’s just from all the people living there, car pollution, tyre and break dust from cars and the subway, I suspect it’s not just from the clothes.


I also live in Japan. Here people bathe in the evening, while I'm finding it hard to shake my habit of taking a morning shower (spend the whole day dirty? ick).

This means if it's raining, we'll have clothes drying in the bathroom, which I'll then need to move out to take a shower. Whether it makes sense to then put them back in to the now wet bathroom with the dryer running I'm not sure.


Japanese bathing habits might reflect their different genetics: https://medicalchannelasia.com/less-body-odour-in-south-kore... (“Several studies have shown a strong correlation between the ABCC11 gene variant and East Asian populations. Research conducted by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that 80-95% of Koreans and Japanese carry this gene variant. In contrast, only about 2% of Europeans and 3% of Africans possess the same variant. This genetic difference helps explain why people from South Korea and Japan tend to have lesser body odour.”). It’s possible that they are less likely to have bacterial activity overnight result in body odor compared to other populations.


This is also the dry earwax gene, which makes a certain intuitive sort of sense.

It dramatically reduces the amount of lipids in sebum, which is what odor-producing bacteria in the armpits feed on. It's also a recent mutation which has been highly selected for, despite being recessive. Comparable to lactase tolerance.


If you shower in the evening before bed, how dirty do you get while sleeping? The alternative is rolling around in your bed all night with all the grime of the day.


My hair doesn’t look presentable at all if I don’t clean it in morning. It gets all greasy and dark (I have blond thin hair). I never saw an Asian with that problem before, they can just wake up, wash their face, and walk out.

On the other hand, before I visited China, I never imagined getting so dirty that I needed to shower before bed, or I would be rolling in dirt. The dirt really gets on you in dusty Beijing. It wasn’t what I was used to from the states at all.


Full shower in the evening. I stick my head in the shower in the morning to get my hair wet and wash my face. Otherwise my hair looks like an anime character.


I guess it depends on whether the primary contaminant you're worried about is dirt from outside (in which case you want to wash in the evening to keep your bed clean as you describe) or sweat (in which case you want to wash in the morning to avoid smelling sweaty while interacting with people).

For me, the latter is much more a concern - I sweat overnight and so want to be clean in time to start interacting with people. If I do physical activity, or it's a hot summer day, I might even shower in the morning and evening.


I have airconditioning so I don’t sweat at night? I mean, it’s Japan, everybody has one.


Dirty is more a psychological thing than a biological thing here. If you always shower at certain time, you will feel dirty when you don't.


Do a Brad Pitt and choose both!


On a mildly related note; I've never been called Brad Pitt as much as when I was in Japan.


Is it bad to take both evening and morning showers?


I find this interesting… I grew up in a Latin family and learned to shower at night. I rationalized it as, not going to bed dirty, and you aren’t going to get dirtier just sleeping anyway.


I’m simply way too greasy of a person to shower at night. I’d rather sleep through the part where it’s built up the most, not waste the first 8 hours of being less greasy when I’m sleeping.

I suppose different genetics in different regions might play into that.


I’m in the habit of a shower in the morning and a quick rinse shower before bed. Idk why people limit themselves to grooming only at a single point in the day.


Depends where you're from. I'm from Australia and lived through a period of extreme water shortages called the Millennium Drought[0]. During it, the water catchments for most of my state were alarmingly close to dry. We started collecting water from showers and using it on the garden, the government sent out little five-minute hourglasses with suction cups for everyone to put in their shower, and several families in my local area had to have tankers of water brought in to refill their rainwater tanks.

My uncle's family kept visiting from America and taking 20 minute showers, which would have been totally fine if they were still in Vermont but used an incredibly high amount of water. He eventually installed a shower timer so his tank wouldn't run dry.

In such conditions, water costs more than mere money. Yes, you can probably afford to shower twice a day, but that would require you to bring in a tanker of water from an already drought-stricken reservoir. Water takes on a moral cost as well as a financial one. There's a famous passage from Dune: "One date palm requires forty liters of water a day. A man requires but eight liters. A palm, then, equals five men." Australia is not quite Arrakis, but in a water shortage extra showers start to feel like an Arrakeen date palm.

[0] See this huge PDF for exactly what that was and how we plan to manage it if it happens again: https://www.water.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0021/671...


For me the answer is 'it depends'.

Currently our home's AC is out which has resulted in two showers/day due to the heat. Post exercise is going to at least be a hot rinse.

The irony (pun semi-intended) is my wife has gotten fond of at times hanging clothes in the bathroom during a shower to help remove wrinkles. No, Ironing is better but it's a little less ceremony as well as increasing the overall utility of the water you used in the shower.


I've always showered at night, and I now can't fall asleep dirty. I feel all sticky and gross.

I think I wake up still basically clean, not filthier than morning showerers. I am of course a biased observer for that.


> you aren’t going to get dirtier just sleeping anyway

I don’t shower to wash off dirt; I shower to wash off my own body’s excretions. Which definitely do happen while I’m sleeping (and more so, in fact, because body temperature rises during sleep.)

I can shower, dry thoroughly, get straight into bed… and still, the next morning, I’m sticky from sweat; have BO (that deodorant won’t mask); and my hair is now stuck moussed by my own overnight scalp oils into looking like Goku.


> because body temperature rises during sleep

You have that backwards. “People maintain a fairly consistent body temperature during the day which drops at night by around 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. However, some people still feel hot at night due to their unique body composition, sleep environment, something they ate or drank, or other medical reasons.” https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-faqs/why-do-i-get-so-h....

Deeper look: “Core body temperature (CBT) reductions occur before and during the sleep period, with the extent of presleep reductions corresponding to sleep onset and quality.” https://journals.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/japplphysiol...

Critically your body intentionally lowers temperature including changes to skin capillaries and sweating, it’s not simply lowering temperature from not moving. So you can wake up sweating even if things where fine when you went to sleep.


Maybe technically true as a matter of biology in isolation, but mostly not in practice — specifically due to that "something they ate or drank" part. The basal body temperature reduction that happens at night really isn't relevant for anyone who consumes any amount of caffeine during the day (which is most people), as when caffeinated, the BBT shift downward at night isn't accompanied by a complementary upward shift in comfortable/tolerable air temperature. Rather the opposite.

Caffeine, as a cholinergic, constricts peripheral blood vessels, and reduces bloodflow; and as a diuretic, it also reduces interstitial-fluid retention in peripheral tissues. These effects combine to decrease your skin temperature (or rather, to make your skin temperature less reflective of your core temperature and more reflective of the ambient air temperature); while very slightly increasing your core temperature (and blood pressure! Which is one reason caffeine is bad for your heart!)

Most of your heat-sensing nerves are in your periphery, not in your core. So caffeine, by making your skin cooler, makes you feel cooler (even though your basal body temperature goes up!) to which your body responds by sweating less (even though caffeine, as a cholinergic, would force you to sweat in great-enough amounts. See: SLUDGE syndrome.)

Most people don't drink caffeine after a certain time in the evening; and so at night, whatever caffeine was in their bodies has a chance to flush out — which then suddenly allows bloodflow, blood pressure, and interstitial fluid to wash back out to their skin and extremities — and with that comes an increase in skin temperature, "hot" qualia, and triggered sweating from signalled overheating (i.e. the same reason you sweat from spicy food even though your BBT isn't increasing.)


I definitely heat up in the evening when laying down. I may need socks + woollen socks through the day, but it's socks off time during the evening movie. And sleeping time means full-body heating, which my partner really appreciates.

With my partner we have complementary heating systems. I get warm in the evening when they are cold, and they warm up after eating which does nothing for me. The difference is radical.

I guess partly due to this I would never spend a day without a shower in the morning. I've never been sick enough to skip a morning shower, even in a high fever (or especially then I guess, due to sweating more than usual). The dirty feeling is just too much to bear.


You feel the sensation of warmth because your body is trying to cool down. It does so by raising the temperature of your skin so more heat is dumped into the environment. This is part of the reason why drinking can lead to hypothermia. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1811578/ “Alcohol is a dominant cause of death in urban hypothermia. Drinking alcohol gives a pleasant feeling of warmth.”

Try taking your core body temperature using a thermometer rather than relying on perceived temperature.


Sounds logical. I don't mind which mechanism is behind it, but the ability to heat up any sleeping spot to a comfortable temperature for two is feature I quite like.


Yeah, body temperature falls when you sleep. In fact, that's one of the tips give to insomniacs to help them sleep - have a bath at night, preferably with cold water.


Indeed. I think this may be down to individual preferences, with all sorts of things affecting it.


Maybe make sure that there is no medical condition if you are experiencing night sweats regularily https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_sweats


Yep, also the Eastern European way. Always found it counterintuitive when watching American films.


In my family, parents showered in the morning and kids showered at night.

I tried switching after moving out but didn't find it nice for the same reason you mention, getting the bed all dirty with whatever sweat had accumulated over the day.


Night sweats be damned.


As a fellow night sweater, I got a forced air blower and special sheet that distributes the air for my bed and it’s been life changing. It took a week or so to get used to. It’s temperature and speed controlled. Check out BedJet.


By an air conditioning unit.


Thanks for the useless advice, random internet stranger! Not all night sweats are remedied so easily...

https://www.healthline.com/health/night-sweats


As if that stops your body from producing oils and sweat.


Showering in the morning is a much cheaper option than retrofitting my home to support air conditioning.


Even in the summer? Most South East Asian nations shower in the evening because of the mad heat and humidity.


Most SE Asian shower multiple times per day. Morning and evening at a minimum but maybe a mid-day shower if you’re sweaty.


Haha, I know exactly how you feel. I too often wondered about the optimal timing for clothes reinsertion... at least the dryer unit is pretty good at drying out the shower which seems to help with mold, so even if you're not using it for clothes it still serves a purpose.


I'm glad I'm in the US where I shower whenever I want. Morning, middle of the day, and at night again.

I grew up in 3rd world without running water, so I'm not ever going to feel "guilty" or whatever other BS for taking 2-3 showers a day.


> spend the whole day dirty? ick

How does that work? If you wash in the evening and go to bed you do not wake up dirty. Unless your bed is a pigsy I suppose, but then the solution is different.


Taking a morning shower is perfectly fine if that's what makes you feel comfortable and clean. Love me morning showers


do you sleep walk outside all night?


To add on to this: I think they are mostly intended as an "emergency backup" for people who usually hang dry their clothes outside to use when it's raining, etc. If you're not using it as your primary drying method maybe it's not so bad? Having more than one shower probably helps too. Unfortunately I am not blessed with such a large space, and my balcony is pitifully small :)


I thought they were mostly for drying out the actual bathroom, because Japan is an island, and it can get quite humid at least towards the southern parts (which may lead to mold issues). The warm air is also comfortable as a side effect.


Is it common to hang laundry outside in Japan even in cities? The USA has made hanging laundry a no-no across most of the country, for aesthetic reasons I guess. It's very common in Europe, though.


I've never seen a dryer in Japan except at laundromats and the dorm. If you live in an amazing high rise in Tokyo without a balcony you'll have the fancy in bathroom hot air system. If you live in a crappy place without a balcony (which actually is kinda rare), you'll still have a pole to hang your clothes out the window.

My first time staying there I was told regulations make dryers take so long that it just isn't worth the electricity cost. The one time I used the dryer in Japan, my clothes were just a warm damp after two cycles.


I have used dryers in multiple location in Japan with primarily good experience. Coin laundry clothes drying machine: exceedingly powerful, no issues except for cost and convenience. Dryers in hotels: small capacity (7-9 kg), 30 minute cycle usually complete in 45 minutes of drying. Bad experience with washer dryer combo, could be programmed to wash and then dry clothing however the installers did not attach vent hose so it would fill the apartment with hot air and lint.

I have also used shower dryers. Very pleasant. Controls are outside the shower and the shower was separate from the toilet. I didn't note any issues with lint, however, I had weekly cleaning service that was probably dealing with it.

I've also lived in Japan without a dryer at all. Hanging clothes on the balcony to dry or inside when it's raining. It seems to me that clothes last a lot longer when they're air dried.


Combo washer/dryers are pretty common, especially among families. Our Panasonic works great, electricity cost is negligible. It's a heat-pump model, so it quite efficient and doesn't need venting.


> Is it common to hang laundry outside in Japan even in cities?

Yes.

In fact, the minami-muki (south-facing) places garner a premium precisely for this purpose — much more of direct sun.


I'll never understand this "aesthetic" argument. Are those cities really so pretty to avoid using something that naturally comes to mind? Sun, warm, makes things dry, just use it.


Clothes and laundry in general are so personal. If there’s a way for it to not literally hang out in public, we should do that.


...by American standards.

Coming from another culture, nobody even remotely think this is a thing.


I’m not American.

Seeing multicoloured underpants and bedsheets fluttering in the streets is not an impressive or edifying sight for the clothing owner or for the unfortunate observer. Lack of privacy is dehumanizing.


Very common, although some especially fancy buildings have rules against it. Probably a similar rate as Europe.


I think the device is partly for drying the bathroom to reduce mold, and partly for condo owner to justify the no-no clause. Washer-dryer combo units are not more outrageous than MacBooks.


I’ve never seen an integrated device specifically for bathroom drying, but this approach is very common here in Taiwan. I have a dehumidifier and clotheslines in my bathroom. Multiple people showering is never an issue. The dehumidifier (on clothes drying mode) brings the humidity down to 35%. A shower briefly brings it back up to 65%, but the vent and dehumidifier bring it back down pretty quickly once you turn the water off and squeegee the glass. The bigger problem for me is that if I leave it running overnight it dries the entire apartment out and I wake up feeling dehydrated.


Our apartment complex is undergoing renovations right now and we're not able to use the balcony for drying clothes - so we're using ours for everything. There certainly are logistics involved and reconfiguring the shower area (wife's up early) every morning is now part of my routine.

Under normal circumstances I do appreciate the quick work they'll make of the occasional pair of jeans.


I loved being able to use this on rainy days or when I needed something to dry quickly while living in Japan. Back in Europe, only having air-drying was annoying on those occasions.

Notice that the amount of manual work required with these bathroom dryers is the same as air-drying, but less than tumble drying.

I never had a problem with lint. Like others mentioned, there is a plastic plate that you have to clean regularly, the same that captures hair.


That’s odd. We use it literally every day that it’s raining (admittedly not all that often in Japan), and have none of the issues you mention.

If you clean your drain maybe once every two weeks and it’s fine. Hair from showers and baths is a larger issue.

We all shower in the evening in random order, and clothes drying happens during the day when everyone is off to work.

Whoever showers first takes all the clothes out and dumps them somewhere until it can be folded.

Not trying to say you don’t have issues, just want to give a different perspective.


> you're supposed to use a plastic slab cover thing over your bath, which requires a lot of maintenance or it gets gross very quickly

Buy a copper replacement. They get much less grimy than the plastic ones. This goes for the kitchen sink strainer too.

Plastic is a nightmare when I try to clean them. I can't remove filth or stench from plastic no matter how hard I try.


Do you select your wardrobe to be easier to dry? The clothes I wear in Asia are very different to those I wear elsewhere, both for comfort of wearing them but also their maintenance.


It's useful on certain conditions, for example I used the bathroom drier on 2 separate emergency situations in the past 3 years.


For the year I lived in Japan I also found the capacity quite limited, and my clothes dried very slowly.


How about we continue using something more convenient like a standalone dryer and focus our energy usage reduction on the largest target -- which is manufacturing by a whopping 76% of the total electricity consumption in the United States (https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/use-of-energy/industry.p...) as well as transportation. Nothing else comes close.

Quirky Japanese technology is not the solution.


Residential energy use (excluding transportation) is a bit over 20% of total US energy use [1]. Industrial use is about 32%.

Of the transportation sector, about 25% is "cars and motorcycles" and 32% is light trucks; however, a lot of that light truck usage includes pickup trucks for private use. [2]

I can't prove it without more Googling but when you put the two of those together energy use of the direct control of consumers likely exceeds that in the industrial sector.

So while this is small beer, switching out your gas heating and hot water for electric heat pumps, insulating your house better, and switching to EVs are a big deal in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the almost forgotten but huge benefits of reducing local and especially indoor air pollution.

[1] https://css.umich.edu/publications/factsheets/energy/us-ener... [2] https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/use-of-energy/transporta...


Agreed. Even better, live in a small house (or, better yet, apartment!) close to work to minimize commuting.


> which is manufacturing by a whopping 76% of the total electricity consumption in the United States

According to that link, manufacturing represents 76% of industrial energy consumption, not total energy consumption.


Why fight an uphill battle for reduction in manufacturing when you can get rich by being the first to offer cost competitive on-site carbon free power production? Forget marketing rooftop solar to households, you should be selling micro-nuclear to steel and cement plants.


A lot of American steel mills have houses literally right next door to them, in part because many of them were built before the widespread availability of cars.

There's no way in the world you're putting a nuclear plant on site.


Why not? Nuclear is far safer than a coal or gas plant and that's using the older model reactors as a stats source. Newer small reactor designs are even safer. Anxiety and fear of nuclear power is a purely media and activist driven phenomenon not supported by any evidence. The chances of you dying as a result of radiation released from a nuclear power plant are incredibly small even if you were to live right next door to one your entire life. You're much more likely to die in a car accident and yet you'll use those every day without a second thought.


As a society, it makes more sense to figure out how to generate more clean energy (rather than to try to reduce our energy usage).

But as an individual who wants to do something, and in principle has an incentive to reduce their energy bill, reducing consumption is the main thing under their control.


Perhaps it feels that turning down the thermostat or skipping the dryer helps, but the vast majority of your energy use is baked in by the manufacturing and transport of everything you use and eat.

If you live far from the temperate zones, just keeping yourself alive costs a ton of energy.

The best thing you can do is making nuclear and solar an issue with your local politics and then voting for it.


I would say the best thing you can do is "making nuclear and solar an issue with your local politics and then voting for it" and then also trying to reduce your energy consumption


"Quirky" Japanese technology? Buddy, it's a dehumidifier. That thing you can buy at any big-box store in the US? Except they put it out of the way in the ceiling of the room that is the most humid. In Europe there are "drying cabinets" that are the same idea. Some only have fans/heaters, others have dehumidifiers.

I exclusively dry my clothes on a ~$30 folding clothes frame that will take a full washer load. If I'm in a rush, I point a fan at it.

In the winter, the humidity is welcome and the fan alone dries the clothing really quick. In the summer, I set it up outside. If there's a good breeze, my laundry is dry in no time. If I set it up indoors, the central AC takes care of the humidity.

My electric bill is tiny and my clothes last forever because they're not getting beat to shit for half an hour every week...


> ~$30 folding clothes frame

Hopefully not wooden - otherwise, I can smell this comment.


They are almost exclusively metal and in the more expensive (e.g. https://www.lidl.de/p/leifheit-standtrockner-pegasus-180-sol...) models some plastics. They are 3-4cm thick when folded together and big enough to hang an entire load from a regular sized washing machine.


> My electric bill is tiny and my clothes last forever because they're not getting beat to shit for half an hour every week

They still are though, in the spin dry part of the wash cycle? Or do you not use it?


Are dryers really more convenient? Maybe I'm just lucky to live someplace dry, but I find skipping the dryer is the less-work route. It's a whole separate phase to deal with. I only use mine now if I'm in a hurry for something to be dry, which is pretty much never.


A combo washer/dryer can wash and dry a small load of clothes (think workout clothes) in 1 hour. Maybe faster if it's vented.


Eh, it's still a second phase. If you have enough empty space in our closet for air to circulate around each item, you can just hang them straight from the washer into your closet. They're dry by the next morning.


You don't have to move the clothes though. It dries them automatically after it's done washing. Some washing machines take 45-60 minutes anyway.


We used a yokushitsu kansouki a lot when I was traveling in Japan and they were were awesome but I felt it was not as practical if you had a lot of laundry. Plus the having to shower thing made it annoying sometimes.

I do hang dry some clothes at home but at the end of the day, I accept the damage that a dryer does because it allows me to spend a lot less time to clean a lot more clothes and therefore I do laundry way less and spend less time on it.

I did like it for drying out the bathroom quicker so it wouldn’t grow mold though.


Modern heat pump tumble dryers dont use really hot air, so dont damage clothes as much, and are very efficient.


That’s what I was told when I bought a Miele tumble dryer. And while it’s convenient, I now only use it for socks and bed sheets because it shrinks my clothes a lot. I don’t know if it’s better than older dryers but it’s not great.


When you take the clothes out, are they hot or lukewarm? Mine are lukewarm, and it doesn't seem possible that heat could damage (and it never does). Other, regular type (high heat) dryers do regularly damage fragile clothes.


Lukewarm. I’m not sure what causes it but it tends to shrink them quite badly.


Is the dryer large enough so that the clothes can tumble (rather than being stuck in place)?


Good question.

If the clothes aren't moving well enough for them or air to move around, heat pockets can easily lead to shrinkage (or 'cigarette burn' holes in high-polyester shirts).

The scenario where after one long round some of your stuff is dry (or even shrunk/damaged) but others are still damp? Probably a sign of an overload or bad load (e.x. comforters + anything but MAYBE sheets tends to be a bad idea...) Or your socks were still balled from the washer and they should be unballed and rewashed b/c they are probably not that clean.

If you are overloading a dryer, I've found it best take some clothes out and -not- overload it if you can. I had a very 'consistent' clothing load and a lot of free time during covid, and more or less 'found' that with my dryer, splitting an overload into two normal loads takes about as long as

If you -can't-, try to do as many of these as you can:

1. Do -not- try to bump up the temp to overcompensate for the load size. If anything you may want to prefer a lower temperature.

2. Prefer shorter 'rounds' of 20-30 minutes, and manually 'rotate/redistribute' the clothing between each round. This way if the clothes aren't tumbling, you are at least making sure there's some rotation. Ideally you're able to get to the thing within a minute or two to check the rotation and re-start to keep this semi energy efficient... This is a bit easier if you're at a 'laundromat' or have laundry as part of a weekend cleaning routine or whatever. The good thing is, this will probably help the overall load finish faster regardless.

3. Per the comment about the socks... have some mindfulness in transferring the overload. At least in the US it likely means the washer overloaded too (I know other countries may have smaller driers vs washers etc), and I have seen plenty of washes where one of two pieces of clothing just didn't have anywhere to let the water out during the spin. Leave those in the washer till you transfer the others, then try to get the water out. Don't wring the clothing, but consider gently pressing it (for a T-shirt, 'foliding' it and a squeeze over the washer basin will do the job as long as you're gentle about it, or you can 'press' it against, or just run it on a spin or in the next load.)


It is very possible. It happens.


Mine is always full of lint, and my jeans are now ripping within a year or two, instead of 5 years when I didn’t have a dryer.


Same here. Heat pump dryers suck as they're so slow and just lie to you about your clothes being dry (after like 2.5 hours of using some mildly warm air), even on the "extra dry" setting

Like wow, you achieved half the energy by doubling the time. What a marvel of engineering.

Just throw the marketing team at the customers ! Tell customers their room is too cold, it's overloaded, underloaded, too wet, facing the wrong direction etc lol


It’s the tumbling and rubbing together of clothes that does most of the damage.

I stop putting dress shirts in the dryer entirely after paying attention to the damage it causes.

Air drying leaves clothes looking almost new after a few years of weekly washing and air drying versus a worn out look from a clothes dryer.

But air drying needs to be done inside or at least shaded areas. The sun is an impressive bleaching agent!


Hmm. Isn't the temperature adjustment a feature of any dryer? Concerns about damaging clothes could be easily rectified by choosing lower temp.


That is not my experience.


In what way?


> It consists of a heat pump embedded into a bathroom ceiling that blows out warm, dehumidified air onto clothes hung below. Heating the room to up to 35C (95F) to 40C, this room-sized clothes dryer can make short work of a load of washing (hung on a rail straddling the room) in about three hours.

This might be fine in cooler climates, but here in Texas, I'm using AC more often than not, and this would fight against the AC, which seems wasteful.

Point being, when something is done differently in different parts of the world, sometimes it's because a different solution works better in different circumstances.


If you're going through the trouble of embedding an appliance in your ceiling you could just heat insulate the "drying room" from the rest of the house, and place a door on it that wouldn't allow air to pass through.

Given that, I'd expect such a device to be more efficient in Texas, not less.


Japan is pretty hot and humid in the summer, but AC isn’t guaranteed. The shower rooms are usually pretty hermetically isolated from the rest of the house, however, including the toilet.


Wouldn't the AC's outdoor unit release some hot air that would be great for drying your laundry? Although it maybe not possible if you're forbidden to dry laundry outside.


I had a small studio apartment in Japan. My gas powered regular clothes dryer sat above my washing machine thus taking up no space. This article is stupid. And most of this pontificating about the article is a waste of time.


Washer/dryer combos are also really popular in Japan. On my trip last summer, all the hotels had just these.


    > gas powered regular clothes dryer
Woah, that is rare. What brand? I have seen gas-powered clothes dryers at laundromats, but never inside a home in Japan.


They're almost always Rinnai, specifically 乾太くん (kanta-kun).


In my experience of living and travelling in East and Southeast Asia, it seems like Rinnai frequently has a close relationship with the monopoly/dominant natual gas utlity. This makes sense to me.


Very cool, I didn't realize this was a thing. I've actually had the same idea, of having a pole over the tub to hang wet clothes on with a heat pump to blow warm air over them. Even if you don't mind how energy-wasteful tumble-dryers are, the amount of damage they do to your clothes is just astonishing. Every time you clean out your lint trap, you're collecting the shreds that have been torn off your clothes by the dryer. It just feels terrible.


Heating an entire room for 3 hours seems a lot more wasteful than heating a small tumble dryer for 1.5.


Have you seen Japanese shower rooms before? I don’t think it is the kind of room you are thinking about. Check out:

https://izanau.com/article/view/bathrooms-in-japan

It is separate from both the sink and the toilet, it’s often just a wet room with maybe a bathtub.


The objective is not to heat the room, the goal is just to keep the air warm enough and dry enough that evaporation can occur in a timely enough fashion that your clothes don't get musty.

Furthermore, with a standard tumble dryer, you're definitely not just heating a small space. Go look at the outside of your house where your dryer exhaust is and look at all the hot air that it's constantly spewing outside. All that energy is just being wasted.


Modern high efficiency heat pump dryers don't have any exhaust. In the UK dryers have never had an exhaust.


>In the UK dryers have never had an exhaust.

I wouldn't say never, my home in England had a dryer with an exhaust hose in the 1990s.

But since the 2000s, they're not usually seen.


Dryer… exhaust? A what now?


I assume that, if you aren't being sarcastic, you're European? Or at least not American?

You're currently down voted, but many Americans probably don't realize that some countries don't allow vented dryers. Vented dryers are standard here and many Americans have never seen anything else. They are indeed terribly inefficient, using the nice, conditioned, inside air once, heating it and then dumping it outside. All the air that is exhausted from the inside has to get replaced with air from the outside and has to be heated or cooled again.


European, yes. I’ve never even seen a drier with an exhaust, and it didn’t seem like a sensible option to consider.

Aren’t heat pumps far more common in America than Europe? Why is it backwards for driers?


Heat pumps are becoming more common but almost every home or apartment I have lived in used Natural gas for heating and maybe a wall mounted or central A/C unit.

Some homes in Detroit don't quite have modern HVAC ducting, instead using 'water circulated' heating. Theoretically they can 'cool' but IDK if I remember seeing that in a commercial/municipal building/school or if that was just a fever dream. That said, some buildings will use a 'shared steam' system (My college had Shared Steam for all the class buildings, IIRC lots of buildings in downtown Detroit have one.)

But those examples are in a specific part of the rust belt.

Up in the far NE (i.e. Maine, NH, etc) the remote areas use 'heating oil' and that may be harder to change; putting NG lines in would be unprofitable, and when the power goes out a heat pump is going to be, relatively, larger capacity drain than a blower on whatever's burning the heating oil. Only way to mitigate that would be an even larger generator, or an even larger bank of batteries.

Which is a long way of saying, 'it depends'. And Heat pumps are 'relatively new' commercially. People won't be driven to replace until the cost of a repair vs cost of a new heat pump unit 'makes sense' financially (i.e. it's possible just getting a heat pump in may be 'cheaper' than whatever repair is needed within a certain timeframe... but to make the determination, someone first has to bother to do the math.)


> Heat pumps are becoming more common but almost every home or apartment I have lived in used Natural gas for heating and maybe a wall mounted or central A/C unit.

A/C units are heat pumps. Are you saying yours can’t do heating as well?

We just installed an air-air heat pump at the cottage up in northern Norway. 4kW of heating (or cooling) for 800W of power, all on an off-grid solar system. :)


Yes. A very common setup in the US would be a central, forced air system with a natural gas furnace and an air-conditioner in the same circuit. Until quite recently, the air-conditioner would not be reversible.

I think these were very common in new residential construction from perhaps 1970 to 2010. These would then be seen in a lot of the housing stock people would be reporting about. There also tends to be inertia where the same type of system just gets repaired or replaced rather than switching a house to a new system design.

Earlier than 1970, you might less central forced air. That might be radiators or electric resistive heaters in individual rooms, as well as some retrofitted window air-conditioning units.

After 2010, you start to see more heat-pump options but they still were not that common.

First, lots of residential construction is housing tracts done all by one builder and they make penny-pinching "standardized" decisions rather than deferring to buyers to make decisions about their unit. It was cheaper for them to install gas furnaces.

Second, the local energy market made natural gas heating quite affordable and this diminished the monetary value of potential heat-pump efficiency. You might not make up for the extra system cost in reduced energy bills. Also, a gas furnace would likely have a longer operating life than an equally powerful heat pump.

Lastly (chicken-and-egg), the lack of a strong market meant that the available heat-pumps were niche products. There were fewer options, higher costs, and few installers who knew how to deploy them properly. There was also less clear reliability info for a consumer to decide whether it was a worthwhile choice, and FUD from early adopters who encountered those under-skilled installers.


Another concern in many cases is the lack of reliability of overall power thanks to our provider.

Last year I bought a couple 'battery backups' because the day or two without power was causing spoilage/etc.

Not saying a NatGas furnace is easy to hook up in that case, but the overall 'usage' of a battery slew or generator is going to be far better if it's a winter outage.

Cause, let me tell you, DTE -sucks- and I know people who have gone up to a week without power with medical need for it in very populated areas. (oh bonus points there was a live wire at least once.)

-------

This truly is the biggest 'missing link' to adoption in my area. We all dealt with the Northeast blackout, we have the dumb stuff DTE does where even some gas stations have generators and walk state gouging lines, so until they can easily 'hook up a power source to their car to charge in an emergency' (i.e. to go up north to the cabin or on a mini-vacation till it all blows over) without it being a PITA and dependent on the state's power infrastructure working...

but I digress;

> Lastly (chicken-and-egg), the lack of a strong market meant that the available heat-pumps were niche products. There were fewer options, higher costs, and few installers who knew how to deploy them properly. There was also less clear reliability info for a consumer to decide whether it was a worthwhile choice, and FUD from early adopters who encountered those under-skilled installers.

Between the Influencer market, The 'SEO Optimized Marketing Video', and every other marketing technique, no player has found a way to just get some competent installer teams in a network? FFS based on my recent experience with furnace repair, it would be easy for them to try and vertical it.

As I mentioned in my original post there's a lot of parts of the US where people do even worse things than natural gas, due to the general lack of reliability of service lines, or abhorrent cost to install reliably. Those places still need heat when the power's cut in a nasty storm and they are days/weeks down on the roll.

-----

I wager the reliability of the US power network and maintenance SLAs thereof are the biggest hurdle to mass adoption of heat pumps vs natgas/etc.

At the same time I'll note that NatGas -heating- is, last I was aware, still more efficient than CGCC->Heat Pump in my area. Happy for alternative info as we may need to shop soon.


As one of "[those] Americans", I take it that those dryers remove moisture with a condenser loop and a water collector, like an indoor dehumidifier would?


Yes, it’s going to either have a piped output or a collection tank. Both are common. The water ends up warm, so a collection tank is more efficient.


Thus dumping the heat inside the house.


I wonder how useful this is to be placed inside a van for that tiny "bathroom" area. We drive most of the day so the clothes can be dry in there, if the energy usage is efficient.

Of course, clothes can be hung outside for the warmth of the sun, but this seems way cooler.


If you want something really efficient for clothes drying in a van or mobile home just place a small junkyard car radiator in that tiny "bathroom", and hook the radiator up to your engine's coolant loop.

As you're driving around your engine is already trying to vent heat to the outside, so you're mostly getting the heat "for free". The losses due to extending the coolant loop etc. will be comparatively minimal.

The only tricky bit will be carefully managing thermostats to ensure that radiator won't be melting something is the bathroom, your coolant will get hot enough to boil water.

A "it ain't dumb if it works" variant on that is to literally bolt a box to the top of your hood (depending on visibility etc.), then remove your hood's insulation, and possibly drill a hole to exchange air between the two. Anything in the "hot box" should dry as you drive around.


> your coolant will get hot enough to boil water

It should not, unless you are at a high altitude or your engine is faulty. Thermostats on engines target around 90c, but it does vary.


I forgot that my car's engine is unusual in this regard, BMW's like to run hot, so normal operating temperature for the coolant is above 100°C.


I would like to have this to avoid the mold that seems to appear inevitably in indoor bathrooms.

When I lived in Japan, we used air dehumidifiers, clotheslines on the roof, or the huge tumble dryers at the coin laundry. Tokyo summer sun and wind make clothes dry real quick.


uh... mold is not inevitable at all, fren.


It’s interesting that even in Florida and Arizona with so much natural sun, how little of Laundry is dried in Sun.

Or how few Solar panels there are on roofs.

Kinda feel like Sun Belt states leave a huge opportunity on the table.

Washington has their grand coulee and 145 other hydrodams. Even has some wind farms and nuclear plant giving it the cheapest electricity.

The sun belt states ought to have the cheapest electricity.

Really it’s a mystery why electricity is >$0.10/KWh in all states.

I remember reading books how Electricity would be too cheap to meter.

I have a feel our grandchildren may go ahead and build it. Laugh at how dumb our generation was. “Had everything figured out, just couldn’t will to make it happen.”


We use a clothes drying dehumidifier when it’s too cold or humid for line drying [1]. I don’t really love it because it emits a sort of strange smell when it’s running. But it works for drying a large amount of clothing reasonably quickly in the rainy season.

Or in winter when we are running our mini-split heat pump to heat the room, we’ll often just set up a drying rack in front of the indoor unit.

[1] https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/Panasonic-F-YHVX120-W-Clothes-...


I used them for when I was traveling in Tokyo. I bought 2 cotton shirts, washed them then use those bathroom dryers. my 2 shirts shrink… maybe the hear was too high on them? idk… learnt my lesson


and it’s fairly environmentally friendly, as the energy demands of a yokushitsu kansouki are modest compared with a tumble dryer.

[citation needed]

What I really want is a dryer that uses the hot air from my AC to dry clothes.


Sounds like a good low-cost product. A duct, a box and a few rails to hang the clothes on.


The citation is that they use a heat pump. They’re 3-4x as efficient at heating compared to resistive heaters.


Tumble dryers can also use heat pumps now.


99.9% of them do not. “Tumble dryer” means resistive or gas heating unless otherwise specified.


What are you talking about? Even ten years ago heat pump dryers made up 43% of dryer sales in Europe, and it's only gone up.

https://storage.topten.eu/source/files/EEDAL15_Eric_Bush_Hea...


Well that's interesting, I didn't realize it was so different in the EU. I suppose differences in energy prices and political willpower might explain it. In the US, the idea of a heat pump dryer is still more or less a foreign concept due to the price.


Or the heat released from the back of a fridge. I always wondered why nobody made one that used that heat for some purpose.


I've seen houses where the heat from the fridge vents to a drying cupboard on the floor above.


In college my roommates and I discovered way to get free washing, but not drying. This meant we had to hang out clothes in the bathroom. The biggest problem with this was that it made the bathroom off limits to showers for two days, and the clothes were quite stiff and rough.

I'm not entirely sure how the Japanese solution works, but I'm not convinced by this article to dispense with my tumble dryer. There is certainly a need to reduce energy use and the space washer and dryers take up, but not sure this is it.


Is this more energy efficient than a normal dryer?


Seems highly unlikely. They say it takes 3 hours. Tumble dryer is a smaller space and doesnt take as long.


I used one of these while vacationing last month. The system had a 3 hour timer but you usually had to run a few cycles or be diligent about rotating your overlapping and touching clothes to eliminate wet spots. The unheated fan also seemed to run 24/7 to prevent mold so I am curious what the energy bill for the shower was.

A big factor I haven’t seen anyone mention ITT is that you’re pretty limited on space on the shower curtain rod. You can only hang up a few garments on there. Which makes sense because our washer was quite small, too, but still produced more wet laundry than the shower could dry. Back to drying - you can go and hang up clothes on hangers to use the shower rod more efficiently but that: 1) is really annoying to do all the time, and 2) still takes a lot of time because now parts of your shirt are almost 3 feet away from the heat and circulating air, instead of 3 inches.

The entire setup was very interesting but required the specific bathroom/shower layout and added a lot of friction to my day. Maybe natives have figured out the annoyances I didn’t in my 2 weeks of vacation.


It uses a heat pump, so it’s certainly much more efficient than a dryer that uses gas or resistive heating element. Like, by a lot.

That being said, energy prices in the US are a lot lower, so the incentive to lower energy usage isn’t there.


Not all of the US, of course. We have plenty of incentive to reduce our energy use in the Bay Area :)


Efficient dryers also use heat pumps (ours does).


Do all in one units just not work very well? Putting the heat pump dryer inside the washing machine sure beats using the whole bathroom in terms of efficiency, both electric and effort.

I feel as though America’s “dryer culture“ is based on General Electric and others simply wanting to sell you two appliances instead of one.


We have airing cupboards in the UK. Cupboards with shelving that keep the hot water tank, so it's built around using waste heat from that to now and then dry damp clothes. It's not a one-to-one replacement for full clothes drying, but it's a nice complement to it.


Not so much these days given the move to combi boilers though.


Unless you put the combi boiler in an airing cupboard - I have that and it works well. Not usual though - maybe it should be.


We loved them when backpacking through Japan in early spring. The whole modular bathroom culture was super convenient as every place had a predictable, clean bathroom with core amenities that always felt cozy and welcoming.


in Sweden I recall using standing wardrobe-like dryer which was amazing as it actually functioned as a wardrobe most of the time: after drying I'd just leave clothes hanging there until I needed them


They are mentioned in the end of the article, with the claim to be much more energy efficient than a tumbler. This is completely false. Drying cabinets are infamous for being the worst power hog in the home, because they often just release the humid, electrically heated air straight into the ventilation and out of the house.

Old tumblers aren’t exactly great in this regard either, you have to compare to the modern versions with a heat pump.

Otherwise they can be a nice complement to your drying options. Especially for things like sensitive or bulky outdoor gear for winter.


bathrooms tend to be damp if there is not a proper ventillation system in place, and this seems to be fighting against it. it could be an added benefit for some places, but don't think it is the most elegant solution for everyone.

to get dry, 40+ degree air, i just need to open the window during the summer in the city i'm from! but you might still value it for clothes that can't be dried against direct sunlight.


Good ventilation is a must for Japanese homes because it's going to be a mold haven without it. Modern Japanese bathrooms in particular are designed to dry quickly. The bathroom ventilation system runs around the clock and they even have floors that drain the water and prevent puddles from staying forever.


Too cold to hang washing out? Below freezing wet laundry starts to sublimate which when you hang it out.


Dehumidifier in small closed space, like bathroom, Works great. Tumble dryers are horrible for clothes.


Agreed. We run one in our bathroom 24/7. Bonus is that it dries the daily towels too.


It's not in every household. It's common to have drying poles in the bedrooms.


It isn't just Japan. I stayed at a house in London (Richmond, actually) that had this.


My first thought was of the old “Ronco Shower/Blow Dryer in a Briefcase” skit with Martin Short on SCTV (https://youtu.be/eTHvF2aAi50?si=JmPQsvjV6YtpWjQw). “Why you….”


I am surprised to hear about the high statistics of tumble dryer usage in the US compared to us europeans.

I mean, it looks to me like people tend to have more space on average in the USA, why wouldn't they want to prefer to dry their clothes outdoor and makes them last longer? Even when I owned a tumble drier, I only used it for emergencies or wet days. I also found out that on wet days a deshumidifier in a large room was still better for the longevity of my clothes than tumble drying.


Only the most delicate garments get hung dry, but otherwise the dryer is used the vast majority of the time.

As for the wear and tear, in my experience most of it came from the washing machine and not the dryer. Older washers with the agitator in the middle wore out my clothes a ton more than modern front-loaded machines, which also adjust wash time depending on load size. Dryers also have humidity sensors that adjust drying time, which is minimal as the washer spins at 1,200 rpm.

Lastly, hang drying also has its own wear if done outside: Color fading from the sun.

In the end it just isn’t worth the hassle (for me).


,


Heat pump dryers dry at a lower temperature, have auto-shutoff with sensors and no venting so are far better for your clothing and the room.

Normal dryers can do some of this, but it seems heat pump dryers are making the leap.

Blurb - https://www.bosch-home.com.sg/experience-bosch/living-with-b...

The catch is heat pump dryers cost more ﷼


The linked page doesn't say how the extracted water is disposed of. Is a plumbed in-drain required?


Some may be plumbed in, but there are also models where you have to empty the reservoir after drying.




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