Laundry Trials & Tribulations (temp housing edition, part 1)

I had heard and read MANY expat accounts of how awful laundry is in Scotland before I came here, but I just thought these people were exaggerating.  I knew the machines would be smaller.  I knew they would most likely be in the kitchen.  I knew they often used one machine that has both the washer and dryer in it.  But there was just no way (in my mind) that there wasn’t a sufficient dryer system in a country that wet.  I expected the dyers would take awhile, what I didn’t expect was that they wouldn’t dry at all. My first load of laundry I threw in a mixed load, which included 1 white tank top.  I do this pretty regularly in Chicago and since all of my clothes were old, expected the same outcome.  Unfortunately, after the 2 hour and 25 minute wash cycle…my tank was pretty dingy and grey.  I’ll deal with that later. Onto the dryer cycle.  The auto-time set is for 2hours.  I let it rip.  Things are moving and spinning.  It seems a flawed system that the laundry spins clockwise 5 spins, then comes to a complete stop, then spins counter-clockwise 5 times. And repeat.  Intermittently, the whole thing starts shaking and sounding as if it’s a rock about to take off.  I also hear quite a lot of water sloshing about for some reason and the kitchen sink (right next to the washer/dryer combo in the kitchen naturally) keeps gurgling, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  And yes, I’m sure it was set to dry.

Kitchen and laundry room all in one!

Kitchen and laundry room all in one!

I tried to check on my clothes but couldn’t get the door open.  It was totally locked until the cycle completed.  I went about my business feeling quite smug that I figured out this dryer system.  Then the bell went off, I opened the dryer door, and I swore my clothes were wetter than after the spin cycle from the wash.  What the… I google and find that the dryers are only meant to dry half the load that was washed.  Seems like a flawed design, but I take out most of the load- only leaving a pair of workout capris and a light pair of cropped jeans.  I’m starting to realize those expats complaining might not just be babies, but truth tellers.  I don’t want to risk trying to dry half the load even…surely 2 pairs of pants will dry in 2 hours.

Let the waiting begin!

Let the waiting begin!

Repeat stupid clockwise, complete stop, counterclockwise, gurgling, rocket-launching dry cycle for 2 more hours.  Open dryer door and find pants in the exact same degree of wetness as when cycle was started.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  I seriously couldn’t dry a pair of pants in 4 hours.  I’m not shooting for hot and 100% dry…I’d be happy with just damp.  But they are WET.  The fact that this house came with 3 different drying racks should have been considered more seriously.

Back to that grey tank.  I started googling bleach in Scotland.  Apparently bleach was invented here so my results were very skewed- but all I could seem to find was think and thin bleach options, neither of which was for laundry (I’m sure I’ll tackle uses of thick and thin bleach at a later date).  Luckily, a fellow American expat in Scotland let me know to use Vanish Oxy Action Crystal White in addition to detergent.  On my first load of whites it kept my new whites sparkling and even brightened up my formerly white most formerly grey tank to a passable dingy white.  There is a version for colors too but I haven’t gotten there yet. To end on a positive note, I do quite like the laundry detergent used here.  It’s in packets that you just throw in with your clothes.  And I’m not sure if it’s because they clothes aren’t put in a dryer, but my clothes actually smell fantastic.  I bought the first stuff I saw on sale (£5 for 38 loads), which happened to be Fairy Liquitabs that is “huggably soft for sensitive skin.”

9 Comments

  1. Mary- My Life in Scotland

    Those dual machines are the worst! I have separate machines and it works much better but still takes 120 min to dry a load. The first time I used the dual machine was a year ago and my whites came out looking awful! I actually had to throw some clothes away because I just couldn’t get them looking any better. I was furious.

    I’ve learned my clothes dry faster when I hang them up to dry. Even in the rain.

    Reply
  2. Alison Chino

    Found your site through Mary and this definitely made me smile. I’ve been here a year and I still don’t have a dryer. I kept thinking that I was going to figure it out and do it the way the Scottish do, but I am going to have to fold. The problem is that when I get one, I have to find a space for it!

    The good news is that the clothes dry quicker once the heat is on all the time. For me that will be soon because I am SO cold-natured. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lauren (Post author)

      I am (too optimistically) waiting until we move into our permanent house to see just how dire the situation is. There is a separate dryer but from what I hear, that might not matter anyway!

      Reply
  3. Keep this going please, great job!

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