MadridMan: Doing laundry & washing dishes

MadridMan: Laundry and dishes – Spanish style

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In Spain where clothes dryers and dishwashers are scarcer than in his American homeland, MadridMan resigns to the Spanish habits of laundry and dishes.

Housework in Spain, to me, is not one of my favourite pastimes. Gone are the days, at least for the time being, of dishwashers and clothes dryers for me. Here, where I live, I do all the dishes by hand and air-dry all the washed clothes.

The ecologist in me is satisfied with this saving of energy. No doubt large-kitchen-owning Americans and Brits are reading this and asking, “Why don’t you just buy a clothes dryer and dishwasher?” Good question. But where in the world would I put them? There’s absolutely no space in my small kitchen.

I wash the clothes in a clothes washer but take them up to the rooftop terrace where eight metal cables stretch the length of the roof for air/sun drying. I actually love this part about air drying clothes, using no more energy than is required to tote the loads up one flight of stairs and then bring them down again, always being aware of weather conditions.

It hasn’t happened often but sometimes rainstorms can sneak up on a person, rendering your nearly dry clothes totally soaked once again. So what do you do then? If you’re quick, you can save some drying time by taking them down and putting them back up once the weather clears. Or, as most people do, just leave them in the rain to re-dry. This last option takes longer, of course, because the clothes are now totally wet – unlike 'somewhat damp' as when they come out of the spin cycle after washing.

I like taking clothes upstairs to the rooftop terrace. From there I have a nice, wide view of the neighbourhood, can see La Iglesia de San Francisco El Grande (San Francisco Church – the big one – beautifully illuminated at night) and 'El Pirulí' (the radio and TV communications tower) but nothing else of interest except both the sunrises and sunsets.

Oftentimes, the 'best' cables are much desired, the ones with the most direct sun, and competition for such cables can be fierce. Sometimes I wake up early and hang up the clothes at 7am or I’ll hang them out the night before in order to get the best location. What I hate is when neighbours leave their clothes hanging up there for days – and sometimes weeks!! That’s frustration, particularly when they’re occupying those 'best cables'!

MadridMan: Doing laundry & washing dishesNote: I don’t know anyone in Spain who owns a clothes dryer but I think I’ve seen one or two for sale in the appliance stores. These are considered oddities by Spaniards.

Washing dishes, on the other hand, is a pain in the rear. There I am, standing for 45 minutes washing dishes in a relatively small sink, then stacking them all on a relatively small, stainless steal drying counter located immediately next to the sink. I’m sure I get no sympathy from anyone who grew up washing and drying dishes but I’m not used to it.

Note: Dishwashers are commonly sold in appliance stores in Spain and are often found in modern kitchens – newer ones that have space, that is.

As for dusting, cleaning floors and bathrooms, well, that’s another thing altogether.

Reprinted with permission from MadridMan.

MadridManMadridMan is the online persona of an American living in Madrid since 2005. He started his Spain Travel & Tourism company, Martin Media, in 2006 and enjoys living - and sharing - life as a tourist on a daily basis.  



Photo credit: peapod labs (photo 1), (photo 2).

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2 Comments To This Article

  • Justai Meai posted:

    on 22nd June 2014, 16:51:44 - Reply

    I'll have to agree with Evelyn. These, now standard, appliances are easily available in any appliance store throughout Spain - and in plentiful supply. The real problem is that of the "espanol sufrido", or...suffering Spaniard. Older generations have embraced this 'suffering' model and wear it like a badge of honor. Younger Spaniards have now started to raise the bar on their standards of living; they are starting to see clothes dryers and dishwashers as necessities and not luxuries. And English-speaking transplants are also accelerating change in very quick fashion. Apartment landlords are starting to 'see the light' as to what potential tenants want and they are making changes rapidly. I know when I was living in Spain, most places I lived in would usually have a dishwasher and dryer within a year after I moved in - the power of persuasion is incredible. Of course, dropping hints to the landlord that I was looking to leave because I needed more modern conveniences never hurt either. ;-)
  • Evelyn Wynne posted:

    on 14th May 2014, 14:18:47 - Reply

    I don't know about Madrid but here in Andalucia. dishwashers and tumble dryers are easily available and we have a wash/drying room attached to our kitchen. We have lived in Spain for 12 years in various parts of Andalucia and have never had any problem with buying any or all of these items . However we do not use our tumble dryer anymore thanks to our dryingroom as it costs a lot to run and with 21% IVA added to the electric bills it is better to hang up your clothes if possible.