For the record, I don’t have any problem with people hiding things in their drawers. That’s not my business. Participants in this laundry study agreed unanimously that once clothes are washed, they should, in fact, be hung up or put away in drawers.
Why do a laundry study? I lived in France when I was in college and became fascinated by the ways that people from different cultures do laundry.
Here are a few of my hangups and some of my husband’s as well. I took this picture from the balcony of our apartment in Shenzhen, China.
In this study, drying clothes or putting clothes on hangers was simply referred to as “hangups.”
The French procrastinate. They don’t like dealing with their hangups at all. I became close friends with quite a few people and got invited to their apartments. Many of them had very few clothes and they’d wear the same outfit all week. I learned that the French invented eau de toilette water just to avoid their hangups.
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Instead of doing laundry, they’d rather meet up with friends to talk over a glass of wine and a plate of crackers topped with smelly cheese. At first I didn’t like the smell of some of the cheeses or even some of my friends. But it didn’t take me long to adapt to the culture and pay less attention to my own hangups.
One French participant noted that he used his bidet to wash his underwear and derriere at the same time. AhaJokes
Americans also avoid their hangups, but in a different way. They put their clothes in the dryer and expect the appliance to minimize their hangups. Numerous participants reported that their things do indeed tend to shrink in the dryer.
But in reality, dryers are a big waste of money and space. Clothes dry all by themselves if you give them a few hours. They don’t need to be baked. We’d all be better off if people dealt with their hangups on their own instead of relying on an electric appliance for a quick fix.
Many Americans firmly believe that people shouldn’t hang their laundry out to dry. In fact many homeowner’s associations and apartment complexes in the US restrict people from hanging their laundry out to dry. They forbid people from putting up clotheslines in their own backyard or hanging clothes on their porches.
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Uppity hotels and resorts in the US restrict their customers from hanging their beach towels or bathing suits on their balconies. As an American, I think we should stop doing this. It’s really confusing to foreigners who think America is the land of the free.
One Italian who participated in the study stated that he didn’t understand why so many Americans went all the way to Italy just to take pictures of laundry hanging across streets in his hometown, Venice. He felt that Americans should be free to display hangups in their own streets.
Dry your laundry like you’re in Venice.
Most participants agreed that it’s perfectly normal to have hangups. And we’d all be better off if everyone hung their things out to dry. Most of the male participants agreed with this. Several commented that they like to know if a woman wears granny panties or thongs, adding that they have a tendency to be curious about things like this. But many female participants stated that they prefer to hide these sorts of things in their drawers. Whatever you wear, be sure to choose natural fabrics over synthetics.
My husband loves me regardless of my hangups. I know this because over the years he has supported me during times when I’ve had fewer hangups and at times when I’ve expanded my collection.
It’s important for married couples to be tolerant of one another. Since the time we got married, I’ve dealt with every one of my husband’s hangups, except for the occasional ones I pass on to the dry cleaner.
But even this I take seriously. I don’t give his hangups to just any dry cleaner. I look for ones that don’t use PERC.
Clothesline: a radical solar-powered laundry drying apparatus
Men usually have bigger hangups than women. Because their shoulders are typically wider, they’re naturally suited for larger hangups. This was another important finding of the study. My own husband, for example, didn’t know how to use a washer or dryer when we got married. Some of the younger women who participated in the study said they would have a problem with this because they expect their husband to deal with his own hangups.
But like many men of the Baby Boomer generation, my husband believes that women should be responsible for all the hangups in the family. I never really had a problem with it though because it makes me a stronger person. Any woman who has carried around a big basket of wet laundry knows it’s a heavy load to carry.
Turns out this is a global phenomenon. I’ve traveled all over the world and observed that women are usually the ones who take responsibility not only for their husband’s hangups, but also for the hangups of their children. That’s why middle age women are generally afflicted with a higher percentage of hangups.
According to the Green Cleaners Council, most drycleaners don’t care about their hangups. They pass them out without asking customers to bring them back. Responsible drycleaners understand that perfectly good hangups should not be wasted or placed in the trash.
When I lived in China, I was impressed with how many hangups Chinese people have. I saw many new types of hangups I’d never seen before. Most of them have a certain type of hangup permanently installed on their balconies or porches. And some have attachments to purposely display their hangups from their windows. They have no problem sharing even their most personal hangups with their neighbors. In fact, most Chinese people don’t even own electric dryers. They hang all their laundry out to dry.
I like to take pictures of people and their hangups. You can learn a lot about folks this way. Sometimes you can tell what type of work they do, the age of their children, and even how much money they make.
I’ve always believed that children should learn at a young age to put away their toys, say thank you, and deal with their own hangups. And moms should also be concerned about the toxins in dryer sheets. According to the Environmental Health Association of Ontario, dryer sheets “have been associated with numerous illnesses and chronic conditions.”
More Americans are starting to understand the hangup issue we have in our country. They’re banding together in organizations like Project Laundry List to educate people and to promote things like clotheslines, drying racks, and more hangups for Americans.
A member of the International Naturist Federation participated in the survey and commented that most people in Western countries have way too many hangups that they don’t need. He asked to remain anonymous even though he assured me he didn’t have anything he wanted to cover up.
The naturist assured me he didn’t have anything he wanted to cover up.
You can do your part by supporting Project Laundry List and your local green cleaner. But, according to the findings of this laundry study, the most important thing you can do is start dealing with your own hangups. As soon as they come out of the washer, hang them up to dry.
As with any change, you may find it a bit uncomfortable until you get into the new habit. But you’ll quickly begin to reap the benefits. Not only will you increase your physical activity, your clothes will last longer, and you’ll save money.
Shortly after the laundry study was complete, one of the participants contacted me with good news. Her husband decided he would try to do his own wash.
“What setting do I use on the washing machine?” my husband yelled out from the laundry room one morning.
“It depends,” I told him. “What does it say on your shirt?”
“Go Gators,” he replied.