Are Americans Doing Laundry All Wrong?
A trip to Manila made me wonder about the history of washing and drying in America, and whether the automated models are doing more harm than good.
CityLab – The Atlantic
In October 2015, I was in the Philippines, on a bus heading up the North Luzon Expressway out of Manila and into the mountains. I had traveled from San Francisco to visit my friend Imman, and we were escaping the relentless heat. Out the window, tropical palm trees, rice fields, and rural villages rolled by. We were talking about domestic labor when the topic of laundry came up.
He asked, “How do Americans have time to do laundry?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “We just…do it?”
A seemingly small cultural difference began to unravel into something bigger about technology and urban planning.
When I was a kid growing up in Tennessee, my mom did our family’s laundry at home, in our own washer and dryer. In college, I used the coin-operated Speed Queen machines in the dormitory basement. Doing my laundry helped me feel like an adult in an otherwise infantilizing university environment. Since then, I’ve had a washer and dryer right in my apartment. For our household of two, laundry takes just a few minutes of active time each week. But Imman’s question got me wondering how America got here, and whether I’m doing my laundry in the most efficient and environmentally conscious way.