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.

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