Comic: Doing Laundry Every Day is Stupid

78 buy more shirts comic cartoon japan doing laundry every day intercultural relationship problems texan in tokyoMost families in Japan do laundry every single day. Most families in America do NOT do laundry every day.

See how this could be a potentially awkward cultural difference?

Ryosuke’s mom wakes up early every morning to do laundry and cook breakfast. By the time the rest of the house is awake (like 7am), laundry has been washed and is hanging outside. Also, breakfast is on the table.

In my family, laundry was done once or twice a week, by whoever had extra time (or needed something washed). I think my mom and dad took turns. Then, once there were baskets of clean laundry, we would sit down in the living room and watch a TV show together, while folding laundry. Also, we usually just made our own cereal in the morning – since both my parents worked full-time and I had absolutely no problem making my own breakfast (which usually ended up being cereal).

(Since drawing this comic, we went ahead and bought Ryosuke another couple work-shirts for the summer. Now he has 4, so I only have to do laundry every other day. Yay for progress)

Just another one of our cultural differences, I guess. What about other countries? Do any other countries do laundry every day?


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My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy: The Comic Book


My Japanese Husband (still) Thinks I’m Crazy


Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

83 Comments on Comic: Doing Laundry Every Day is Stupid

  1. FiveOclockTea // 3 July, 2015 at 7:30 pm //

    I’m from Germany and we only do laundry like once a week :) and only if we’ve collected enough clothes for it ;D
    It saves lots of water and energy to only do it once in a while and have a full washing mashine :)

  2. Laundry every day is unproductive. Sounds like busy work.

  3. fatihah // 16 June, 2015 at 2:34 pm //

    I do think its unnecessary to do the laundry everyday. Its not like were going to wear the same clothes every day. Btw greets from Malaysia:)

  4. I don’t think you can generalize about the US like that. America is not a single custom. Whereas Japanese typically (though not always) hold to similar customs, Americans as a rule do not and there is a lot of variation from State to State.

    When I was growing up in Indiana (4 kids) my mom did laundry everyday (she also worked full time). When she was growing up, her mom (6 kids) did laundry everyday. Growing up, most of my friend’s houses were always full of hanging laundry as their mom’s did laundry everyday. I can’t speak for Indiana or even my city, but at least my immediate area was exactly the opposite of yours evidently.

    As a result, I learned to do it everyday and so it wasn’t a shock when I came to Japan and found the same idea.

    Now if you ask me about the Japanese habit of grocery shopping everyday…. my wife and I have argued about that one many times.

  5. In Spain (at least in my family) we do laundry when there is enough clothes (or other textiles that need washing like bedsheets and the like), since we separate colours, etc, sometimes there’s not enough to fill the machine and it’s worth to hand-wash the clothes that you need specifically, that way we save water and energy. If we can’t fill the washing machine we don’t do laundry at all. Also, since where I live it rains a lot, we have to wait to do laundry until we have a nice wheather and then fill the washing machine as many times as we need in order to wash everything, and hang it outside to dry; we only use the dryer if we really need to since it damages the clothes.

    I also agree with you when it comes to wearing the same clothes twice. If I haven’t sweated and have worn the clothes for only a couple of hours, so long as it doesn’t have any spots or smells bad I totally wear them twice (or more).

  6. My Vietnamese husband is the opposite. He doesn’t want me to wash his clothes unless he’s worn them for two weeks because he thinks washing them damages them. He also likes to put them on top of my work clothes so when I go to change for work and find my “dirty” laundry smells better than my unworn clothes. I tried hiding my work clothes on the bottom shelf at the very back so it takes effort to put something on top of them, but I guess he isn’t lazy. Now I just try to sneak his clothes into the laundry without permission as often as possible and ignore him ranting about how his clothes will fall apart. And leave most of my work clothes hanging (forget folding them) in different places so that he doesn’t have enough clothes to make me stink at work. He does change our baby’s dirty diapers without complaint, and is a great dad though.

    Nonetheless, I don’t think he’s standard. I’m pretty sure his mother hand washes her clothes whenever she takes a shower (once a day) so she never has dirty laundry–just what’ she’s wearing and what’s drying.

  7. When I visit family in Vietnam, the laundry gets done everyday, but there are quite a few of us in the house. I don’t know if they do the same when we aren’t visiting. Probably every other day.

  8. We do laundry about once or twice a week. Whoever needs clean clothes usually puts the load in the washing machine, but I do almost all the folding. My wife claims she doesn’t know how to fold laundry (?). That’s a cultural difference between my family and hers– in my family the kids did most of our own chores, or at least we were supposed to, but in hers they didn’t. Her parents had hired domestic help, though.

  9. Same comment as the comic of the 25 august :)

  10. Sakuraspring // 6 February, 2015 at 3:17 pm //

    We wash once a week three loads…dark clothes load, towel/cotton/jeans load, and white load for two people. Yeah, Grace buy enough shirts and pants and undies for 7 days so if you’re sick or too tired, Ryosuke will have work clothes for the beginning of the workweek in case you don’t get to do laundry at the end of the workweek. It is a waste of energy to wash every day, but then too, if your washer is small sized then maybe it won’t accomodate a full weeks worth. He works long hours to be doing the wash at the end of his day. End of day time should be spent together relaxing.

  11. I live in Singapore and no, we don’t do laundry every day too. Hahaha

  12. While living in Japan with my boyfriend we had to wash at least every 5 to 6 days. Sometimes every 3rd day.
    And it’s not that I didn’t bring enough clothes with me, but the fact he didn’t have enough.

    When I am living alone I have about 1 or 2 washing days a MONTH not a day.
    I am still thinking my boyfriend is a bit crazy to wash that much, but we came to the agreement he had to do it himself.

    (At moment I am living in Germany to finish my studies and have a roommate… I only see him with the same clothes almost everyday. He is using his towles only once. I mean, you are clean after the shower, why do you have to wash it everytime, especially when you have about 30 towles? ? So he is also washing alnost everyday. I have to wait for his businesstrips/homevisits to get doing my own laundry ^^” So I guess it’s not only a japanese thing.)

  13. I live in the Philippines and I do the laundry once or twice a week. I think it is more economical as I can save electricity, water, detergent, time and most of all energy.

  14. Máša Vrána Súrendil // 18 September, 2014 at 11:44 am //

    I laughed so hard…my roommate was like this. He had only few t shirts so he wanted to use my washing machine every second day, and was surprised I clearly said it is waste of energy and water. But other people in my country (czech) also do laundry once in a week or two. But in Korea and also with my Japanese friends guests I discovered also towel using culture difference….specially in Korea, most people use small towels and each day take a new one. So my guests are very surprised when I explain here is my big warm towel and I can use it few days or week, depends on…they think we are sooo dirty. Actually I understand them, because when I was in Seoul that pollution and hot weather made me dirty and swet, that towel colour changed from white to yellow after use…also shower water was stinky. But here, if you don t wash yourself after mud fight, then all dirt is WASHED in shower and drying water never makes your towel bad. This is hard to explain, but I try :)

  15. Andi Kuroki // 28 August, 2014 at 2:23 am //

    Oh my god the washing clothes everyday, and wearing a full tshirt and shorts and underwear to be (that of course have to be washed the next morning) and showering every time there is a hint of sweat, my blonde hair can’t handle being washed everyday! And I keep hearing “my mom would always be up before everyone else.”, “my mom always had breakfast ready before we were even up.”, “my mom would wash the dishes the second she was done eating.” And I want to say “then go live with your mother in Yokohama!”

    • Hahahaha. Oh my gosh. That cracked me up.

      I keep hearing about Japanese men that have mother complexes. I don’t know if my husband is that way (I mean, he loves doing laundry, but HE likes doing laundry – and unless he’s at work, does laundry every day). He also thinks my “but i’m letting the dishes soak!” excuse is stupid…

      • Oh, dear! I’d be nipping that in the bud as soon as possible! You could start comparing everything he does to your dad? ;)

        • He already is SCARILY similar to my dad (they both wear funky printed shirts, love cooking, wear crocs, etc). My dad gave him some of his old “Ghana shirts” and every time Ryosuke’s wearing them, I’m like “nooooo… you look like DAD.”
          He LOVES those Ghana shirts…

  16. Well, my family (6 members, is it big?) do laundry everyday. In my country, laundry is a kind of work and we don’t like to pile work up. Normally, we have breakfast separately and it’s not homemade, we buy it.

  17. Me, too! I miss having a laundry pole and sun and wind do a great job drying. I was very thankful for the jumbo gas dryers at the coin laundry a few blocks away though during monsoon season!

  18. I was in Russia studying for the last two months, and my host mom only did laundry once a week as is normal in most of the US. I am now in Lithuania, and the family I am staying with only does laundry once a week as well. To the person asking about quickly drying clothes without a dryer, most people without a dryer will use a drying rack in summer, and if you open your windows so there is some airflow, the clothes will dry faster. When I was in Ireland and we needed to dry clothes, you can’t just hand them on a drying rack and hope it dries. Instead you usually hang it over a space heater if you have one. Of course you need to be careful so the clothes don’t burn. If clothes are folded over and touching while they are still wet, they will not dry quickly, they need to be spaced out to allow air flow

  19. Marz Spikey Noodlez // 23 August, 2014 at 7:26 am //

    Do you know how much water is used up after just one wash? Doing laundry every day is not cost effective. Only in a big family would ending up having to do laundry every day make sense. In Bahrain we typically do laundry twice a week, and we always have extra clothes available.

  20. Backpacking right now so it’s more like whenever we get access to a washing machine. haha Small hand washes in between tide us over when we have to. ;)

  21. We don’t use enough clothes to fill the washing machine every day! In China people usually wash clothes during the weekend or their free day.

  22. I think even as kids (we are 8 kids), the washing machine wasn’t running every day. There just isn’t enough time a day to constantly wash clothes. But we had a dryer, which made things easier.

    In China, my husband and I wash clothes once a week. We try to have enough clothes to last us a week. I’m with you on this one, I’ll rather buy a few more shirts than wash clothes every day.

    • I know. It’s just much more time (and cost, maybe?) effective to have a couple extra shirts, especially work shirts. For whatever reason, I expected China to be similar to Japan, with the washing clothes every day thing. Thanks for sharing!

      • I think many people in China tend to wash underwear everyday (and with the hand). But me and my husband are just way too lazy for that. Now with the baby we have to be time-efficient, so we just wash whenever he or we are running out of clothes.

  23. Yeah, the washing thing, exactly. My boyfriend is doing the same, but as we haven’t been living together yet, I could totally leave it to him. Like, you know, if it makes him happy…

    My bigger problem was admitting him that I do not wash my hair every day like Japanese do. (And he actually does it twice a day because in the evening he just /needs/ it, in the morning it makes styling easier. What is frustration.) When I first visited his family, I was so afraid they will think I’m a dirty European or something like that, I washed my hair every day. After I was back, it took a week for my hair to recover from the chemical-shock and look normal again.

    The new problem we’re facing now is towels… He’s coming to my country to study abroad for a year now, and after he arrives on Sunday, he’s going to stay in our flat (means me + mum) for a few days. So we (especially my poor mum) are now superstressed about this towel thing. I didn’t have this conversation with him yet, because if I was at his place, I accepted the clean towels every day, like “yeah, sure, if you want me to”. If we were at my place, I think he assumed I washed the towels every day, while he wasn’t around. xDD Just like he totally thought I’m washing my hair every day, before we came back from his family.

    What to do with the towel problem, do you have any idea? I don’t want to do laundry, let alone make my mum do laundry every day in order to present clean towels all the time. But if this is such a taboo for Japanese, I also don’t want my boyfriend to feel uncomfortable, using the same towel for more times…

    Damn Japanese, anyway, for making us feel not clean enough! xDD

    • nagarazoku // 23 August, 2014 at 11:03 pm //

      I had the same problem with my husband when we first moved in together and when I discussed it with him he gave me the “But it is unhygenic to use the same towel over and over”-argument. I convinced him with the following sentence: “So, sharing the same bath tube with your whole family is not unhygenic, because you showed prior, but using your own towel a second or third time is unhygenic although you showered AND bathed before?” He had no arguments left :P
      In the end your boyfriend has to adjust to your country and family-habits and he should be lucky if that only means a new towel every third day :P

      • Exactly :)
        I’m surprised by how many people have commented on this post about towels. My husband’s family does the “wash all the towels once a weeK” thing, and I thought that was pretty standard!

    • I know! Ugh. My husband used to complain/make fun of me for not washing my hair every day. I was just like “HEY. IT’S BAD FOR WHITE-PEOPLE HAIR TO WASH IT EVERY DAY. DON’T JUDGE ME. YOU DON’T KNOW MEEEEE.”
      Washing your hair every day can be really bad!

      I feel like using a towel a couple times before washing it is normal…? And if not, can you just use guest towels (like rotate through 4 of them?)

      • If you use SLS (‘sulfate’) free shampoo you’ll probably be just fine washing it every day. This specific ingredient is particularly irritating for skin and hair, and yet is found in about 90% of shampoos and face washes in the U.S. :( I had to switch to SLS free recently because of skin problems.

    • Oh man, I’m so glad I’m not alone in this! Hahaha
      I’m exactly the same about the hair thing. At first, I was washing my hair everyday when I was with my boyfriend, but then one day I didn’t, and I was glad to see he didn’t mind at all. BUT he does think I’m dirty from time to time for other various reasons haha!

      I was also a bit anxious when I welcomed him for the first time at my house (with my family). I was so afraid he would think it’s dirty, but he didn’t say anything and he was fine with everything. So, I think they can understand well that it’s another culture! It might be a shock to him though, so I would try to tell him about the differences between his country and yours before he arrives!

  24. In Germany we had the machine running every second day even though we were just three people in the household. Though my mom used/uses a dryer the also hangs all the clothes afterwards and later on irons everything.
    Now in my small family we run the washing machine every day, have constantly clothes hanging but we are just too lazy to use the iron :p
    I have the feeling that my change when I need working shirts again…

  25. In Germany most people don´t do laundry every day. Mostly we collect the laundry and wash 1-2 days a week several machines. But we also have a dryer and do not hang laundry on to dry.

  26. Miyagi Mermaid // 22 August, 2014 at 4:33 pm //

    My boyfriend rewears most of his clothes before handing them up when I do laundry, which surprised me since I thought most Japanese did laundry daily.

    His issue is towels. He uses one once to dry off and then it’s dirty and needs to be rewashed. I disagree, I reuse towels for a few days. Drying towels is a hassle imo.

    • Yeah! I’ve heard from a couple people whose Japanese significant others wash towels every day. My husband and I wash them once a week (or twice, depending on if they start smelling or seem “off”). I can’t imagine washing towels every day…

  27. Mrs. Hirano // 22 August, 2014 at 4:32 pm //

    Well, I do laundry everyday here (in Kyoto) because I don’t have a dryer. Back in the states I could just wait to wash everything all at once, but here I have to do it little by little (just about everyday) because if I don’t, there won’t be enough room to hang everything up! I do make sure I do a full load though. I don’t like wasting water. I’d like to think that not having a dryer is better for the environment….I think I like doing laundry because it smells good :) lol

  28. Enjoy it while you can! If you have kids while still in Japan you will very quickly understand why your MIL has the habit of doing a load as soon as she wakes. It’s the whole hanging everything to dry thing. It takes time and space to hang several people’s clothes. If you have even a couple of kids (why DO they get so dirty?!) you will begin to see that if you don’t do laundry every day, and start early while the sun is out in cooler weather, the dirty pile will soon be out of control. There is only so much space to to hang all of that stuff – and don’t even get me started on how quickly dirty, wet towels and stuff get smelly and moldy in summer if not washed right away. Ugh!! OK. Rant over. ;)

  29. I live in Bulgaria and most of the time I do laundry 3-4 times a week. It’s not problem for me to do it more often, because I work from home, but… maybe I’m a little bit lazy… and “eco-friendly” and don’t wanna waste water and energy.

  30. I live in Tokyo too, and am married to a Japanese woman. About our laundry… ummm… its so random I just don’t know. It stays on the balcony until we do another load though… its ummmm… drying… yeah… drying…. damn its hot outside.

    • Eric Janson // 22 August, 2014 at 10:47 pm //

      drying— that’ reminds me of a friend who claims that he hung up his laundry to dry (Tokyo in August) and when he got back a week later from a holiday, it was all still damp!

    • Hahahaha. It is really hot outside.
      I’ve done that a couple times, but it usually ends up raining (and then I have to wait even LONGER for them to dry…)

  31. Anuja Bhide // 22 August, 2014 at 3:09 pm //

    I live in India. And most of the Indians also do their laundry everyday, but the only difference is we have maids in India who come everyday to wash your clothes for you. They also do house cleaning, kitchen utensils cleaning and some of them even cook food. And they are quite affordable!

    • That reminds me of when I lived in Ghana! We didn’t have people who did our laundry, but we had guards and a cook. It was surprisingly affordable (and we ended up becoming good friends with them, so it was kind of like having live-in cultural guides and friends!)

  32. Um… Shouldn’t having 4 dress shirts mean you have to do the laundry every 4 days…? Why does he go through 2 dress shirts per day?? Also, what a waste of water!! I’m at the point where I can’t wait to do laundry because all my favorite clothes are in the hamper, but I still don’t quite have a full load yet. And it’s been about a week and a half. :P

    • Two of the dress shirts were expensive, the other two were cheap. Of course, the expensive ones are more comfortable (hence the “let’s do laundry every day!”)
      Oh well. Your new place came with a washing machine, right?

      • Yep, thank God. :P I wish it came with a dryer, though… It takes some things FOREVER to dry out here in the humidity… I try to hang things in the path of one of my fans, but with towels sometimes that’s not enough.

  33. That’s so surprising, everyday! I’m wish you- once or twice a week works for me. Everyday is such a chore. PS. My dorm has a washer, but no dryer. Any experience/tips for drying laundry quickly without a dryer?

  34. In Australia most children old enough to safely pour their own milk would get their own breakfast. I helped my kids with hot porridge for longer. Sometimes on weekends or holidays I cook pancakes or eggs and bacon, but generally everybody gets their own breakfast. Grocery shopping is mostly done in one big shop, but bread, milk & fresh fruit and veggies get bought in smaller quantities more often.

    • I think that’s the “American way” too (but I’m not sure. That’s how my family works, at least).
      I love having fresh, hot breakfast when I’m staying at my in-laws house, but I do feel bad that my Mother in Law has to cook every morning…

  35. As I saw in my neighborhood in Indonesia (yes, everyday is almost a summer), they do laundry everyday, so did my mom when my brother and I were children. But after when we were teenager my mom did laundry every other day, gradually decrease every other day, every three days, and now once a week is enough since my brother and I have left home. :)

  36. I know that feel Grace, you know I know… Momzilla washes clothes by hands everyday back in Asia, she was traumatized I do it only twice a week and I’m bad enough to use that bad washing machine which won’t make things as clean as her hands. looks like it’s Asian thing in general. use the ‘eco’ arguments – save water and power. good that you two resolved your shirt-crisis :)

    • Oh my gosh… washing my hand…
      I washed clothes out of the bathtub (for like 1 week) when our machine was broken… it was so horrible… never again…
      Does Momzilla LIKE washing by hand?

  37. Oh my, how I understand you completely! Same for us! Although Hitomi doesn’t wash everyday, but every other day (which is still a lot in my opinion, being a Canadian and all). It’s also the same for his family; his mom do the laundry and cooking all by herself early in the morning.

    Also, I must admit I often wear the same shirt/pants more than once. The other day, Hitomi was putting clothes in the washing machine, and he said “Where is the shirt you wore yesterday?” and I was like “Oh it’s fine! No need to wash it”, and he was waiting for me with a puzzled expression, saying “You can put it here, I’ll wash it!”. I gave up and gave him the shirt, so that I wouldn’t pass for someone who’s dirty (once more!).

    It’s true that right now it’s hot outside in Japan, so I understand shirts can become gross in a single day, but I had wore that one only during the evening for a couple of hours. Ah, cultural differences!

    Another difference between us (that actually led to a small fight) is cleaning the kitchen. Hitomi always, like, ALWAYS cleans the counter while he is cooking (which I think is a bit useless). When I cook, I clean the counter after I’m done with cooking. Hitomi doesn’t like that at all and wants to keep the kitchen clean at all times! Hahaha

    Hurray for intercultural relationships! Although I suspect those differences could also happen with people who were born in the same country ;)

    • Oh my gosh, we have the same problem! I’m used to wearing things more than once (especially if it’s a sweater I only wore for a couple hours in the evening), where Ryosuke is used to dumping them all in the washing machine. We both drive each other crazy!

  38. realgunners // 22 August, 2014 at 1:36 pm //

    My mom does laundry every day back at home. But then, where we are, sweating is normal, so each person has 2 to 3 clothes that needs washing every day. That means about 20 clothes a day, plus the underwears and whatnot.
    Now I’m living alone, once a week FTW! Yay!

  39. Ha ha ha! I know what you mean. Hitoshi’s fam is the same. Lucky for 7am! His house is 6am. So hard for me! Anyway, I did laundry often, although I can’t remember exactly how often. As someone else said, my machine was so small compared to the industrial sizes in Canada that I had to wash often. :D I also didn’t (and still don’t) have a lot of clothing and wore everything only once, so that meant more laundry. We used to be daily *here* with the giant washers after baby arrived but now we can go a few days at most. Yay! By the way, do you miss a dryer?

  40. Eric Janson // 22 August, 2014 at 1:06 pm //

    In Munich we shop for groceries most days (tiny fridges) and since the combo washer- dryer takes a small load and a lot of time per cycle, we wash clothes much more frequently than we ever did in the US – not daily but at least three or four times per week we are doing a load or two (not that you can really call it a LOAD with that lilliputian machine….)

    Does Ryosuke’s company go along with “cool biz” dress code (short sleeves, no tie, no jacket) in the summer, or does he suffer through the August oppressive heat and humidity with a jacket and tie, as the cartoon suggests?
    I love cool biz. (But we don’t assume it’s OK everywhere — we always check before visiting a customer to make sure we are not in violation of expectations…)

    • They do the “cool biz” dress code. For whatever reason, I wasn’t thinking when I drew this comic (and by the time I drew the first pannel, I was too far along to start from scratch).
      I’m glad he doesn’t have to do the suitcoat in the heat…

  41. Here in MI, USA, we do laundry every day except for Sunday. We also have 8 people in our family, however. :)

  42. I live in Australia and I do the “washing” as we call it twice a week, sometimes only once. Everybody has enough clothes to manage a week! I would consider it a waste of water, electricity and effort to do it more often. I guess the exception would be people with babies or little kids, then it might be a near daily event!

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