Why Germans Hang Their Socks to Dry

Berlin Scholars is a Yahoo Group for North Americans visiting or living in Berlin, Germany. I joined May 2007. Through it I found a gorgeous four-room apartment that cost less than one room in a Brooklyn ghetto. Berlin Scholars posts will often concern sublets, restaurants, bicycle shops, yoga studios, package shipping, etc. And because list members are supposed to be in Berlin for “serious research and artistic activity” – not just cheap rents and all-night MDMA parties (some clubs have half-mile entrance lines at 7 a.m.) – occasional posts deal with lectures, libraries, museums.

Below I’ve pasted a Berlin Scholars exchange from earlier this week. It explains why you’ll rarely, perhaps never, see an electric clothes dryer in German cities.

Can someone please enlighten me as to why apartments have washing machines but still no dryers? I thought by 2010, Europeans would have decided to give in and get a dryer, especially since they are now so readily available. How do you dry your clothes when you have a few kids and many loads? Am I ignorant for asking this question? Or maybe too American?

Thanks! Courtney


Most Germans consider electric dryers umweltverachtend, since they accomplish a task that can also be achieved through the combination of time + air.  Of course, much of German society was originally based on the assumption that all women are stay-at-home moms with plenty of time to hang up each little sock on a line or laundry rack (which is also why it was not until well into the 1990s that it became legally possible for supermarkets to remain open past 6:30 p.m.); things are changing, but a passionate commitment to the environment even at the expense of human convenience remains.  Germans (even families) wash their clothes one load at a time and then set the laundry to dry on racks somewhere in the apartment.


Umweltverachtend = Environmentally contemptible. TC mark

You should become a fan of Thought Catalog on Facebook here.


More From Thought Catalog

  • Beatrice

    Oh how interesting. An article about another American in a foreign country seeking out other Americans.

    • Dark Do

      Thought this article was about Germany and one of their interesting customs.

      • Anonymous

        Except there's nothing particularly German or interesting about hanging laundry to dry. It's more common in more of the world than are dryers.

      • Dark Do

        But the germans have a cool punch line.

    • Jon Cotner

      The point of Berlin Scholars is to allow for cultural exchange, not to eliminate it.

      • Huntergalaar

        Cultural exchange amongst Americans! 'Hey, where are you from?' 'The mid West' 'Oh cool, I'm from Texas'

  • http://htmlgiant.com/author/reynard reynard

    thanks for the berlin scholars tip, jon, planning a berlin move this summer

  • DanH

    I'm British. We do the same – plenty of people have driers, but we mainly hang things up to dry.

    Just one of those environmentally friendly things to do which people have actually been doing for years. Like walking.

  • Krimagali

    what about stuff that SHRINKS or gets a weird, unhappy, torn shape after tumble dry??

  • BiteMe

    Yo it's ONLY Americans who use dryers for every single thing. Don't be so lazy. Hanging stuff to dry is better for the environment and it makes your clothes smell way nicer and last way longer. Driers may be convenient at times but lack of them does not mean the society is unenlightened or anti-feminism. It's just a different choice. Fuck, this exchange is exactly why people don't like Americans.

  • fresh socks

    It takes less than 5 minutes to hang out some wet cloths and less than a day for them to air dry. I find it impossible to believe that anyone can think electrical drying is better. It is Environmentally contemptible. Go back to American and hang out with others who think like you rather than trying to seek them out here by making negative comments about the natives.

  • http://janeyager.com/2013/07/15/umweltverachtend-why-i-am-so-bothered-by-an-article-about-germans-line-drying-laundry/ umweltverachtend: Why I am so bothered by an article about Germans line-drying laundry | Jane in Berlin

    […] except the U.S. For this reason, I would like to crown the 2010 Thought Catalog article “Why Germans Hang Their Socks to Dry” the all-time most annoying American thought about Berlin ever […]

blog comments powered by Disqus