FW-71 -- Heya Boshi Trouble: In-Room Laundry Drying Tips

* * * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, September 15, 2005 Issue No. 71

- What's New (Heya Boshi Trouble: In-Room Laundry Drying Tips)
- Frugal Friends: (Maebashi International Kindergarten)
- Frugal Tips (Washer-Dryer Combos: To Buy or not To Buy?)
- Credits

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+++ WHAT'S NEW (Heya Boshi Trouble: In-Room Laundry Drying Tips)

Dear Frugal Readers,

One glance at this week's title will let you know that, yes, it's another
"housekeeping" issue. The most recent inquiry I received from the Frugal
Japan website came from an intrepid young urban professional who lives in a
small Tokyo apartment. Having no clothes dryer, and being
away from the house most of the day, she is unable to hang her clothes
out to dry. Drying them inside (called "heya boshi") results in a musty
smell in the clothes, and can actually lead to mold (both on the clothes
and in the room). What are some tips to eliminate the smell?

Well, this is actually a common problem in Japanese households, especially
during the rainy season. So there are a number of unique solutions
available, some of them frugal. The solutions are divided into two major
categories: knock-out the smell from the start, or dry the clothes better.

In the "eliminate the odor from the start" variety, there are a few basic
rules before you get started:

1) Do NOT store your dirty clothes in the washing machine itself. And
by all means, don't collect your clothes in there with the lid closed!
The dampness, sweat, dead skin cells, and dirt all collect inside the
machine's already airtight drum to both stink up the clothes AND grow
mold on the inner drum. The inner drum mold is very difficult to clean,
and will also dry, flake off, and soil your clothes once they are clean.
You can't see the mold on your drum, but it's there.

2) Do NOT leave your wet clothes inside the washer during summer, ever.
In addition to the factors above, your clothes will develop a pungent
odor that will take many additional washings (and bleach) to remove, if it
ever does. Hang your clothes out (even inside) ASAP. If this means doing
laundry at night, then so be it.

3) Do NOT wash or attempt to wash too many clothes at once. The fewer
items you have, the better they are washed, and the easier they dry.

4) Always leave your washing machine lid OPEN - this lets air circulate
in the drum and dries the drum out after each washing.

By following these rules, you can help eliminate a fair amount of washer-
related smell. Another good idea is using a special detergent or additive
designed to reduce smells for clothes dried inside. One is called "Heya
Boshi Toppu" detergent (pictured here: http://www.lion.co.jp/new/md013.htm).
Manufactured by Lion, this should be available in many stores. A number
of other products also exist with lemon or citrus scents. White vinegar
(125 ml per full load) with lemon juice is also a possible frugal option.

The second strategy is to improve your drying method. Simply
hanging the clothing on hangers on your curtain rod (I did this for a year!)
is not very effective, especially if you can't be at home to open the window.
If you have space, a folding "drying rack" is recommended (click here:
http://www.juntendo.co.jp/diy/diy_senntaku.htm for some pictures). These
are called "mono boshi sutanndo" and are usually sold in hardware stores
or (better yet) in the back of Japanese mail-order catalogs (tsuuhan
cataroggu). These, used in combination with either your A/C unit's
"dry" function, a dehumidifier (jyoushitsuki) [electronic and basic versions
exist], or even your bathroom/bathtub fan (leave the door OPEN to circulate
air), will probably improve circulation and dry your clothing faster. Yes,
it uses electricity, but is still cheaper than a new wardrobe or a dryer.
Drying fewer items, and spacing them out, makes them dry faster.

Finally, there is the commercial-clothes-dryer method. Most Japanese urban
neighborhoods have a laundromat (coin randori) that rents dryers by the hour.
The problem with these is: 1) you are stuck at the laundromat for a while
until your clothes dry, or 2) you run the risk of your underwear getting
stolen if you are a female. It's happened more than once to many of us.
If you are a male, then probably this is the more frugal option. For women,
I recommend a combination washer/dryer (sentaku kansooki). Check the
Frugal Tip below for more info.

Hopefully, some of this practical but vital advice can help everyone
get through the lingering heat of summer a little more comfortably
(and freshly).

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura

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+++ FRUGAL FRIENDS (Maebashi International Kindergarten)

Welcome to a new section on Frugal Watch: Frugal Friends! In this
corner, we introduce foreign-owned or foreigner-friendly businesses and
services around Japan. If you know of a Frugal Friend-worthy business,
or would like to introduce your own business to our 1,000+ readers,
email Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)!

**** Maebashi International Kindergarten ***********
Looking for a unique place to enroll your children in a safe, caring
international environment? Frugal Japan reader Janine Boyd introduced
us to Maebashi International Kindergarten, in Maebashi City,
Gunma Prefecture. Located 1.5 hours north of Tokyo, the kindergarten
serves both local children, and visitors who can enroll for a day while
Mom and Dad visit the local ski slopes.

The kindergarten is staffed and run by Qualified Early Childhood Education
specialists from Australia and licensed Japanese yochien teachers, and
runs classes from 9am - 2 pm with additional extended hours available for an
extra fee. Established in April 2002, the school boasts a dual-language
Japanese/English immersion method education, and houses two rooms and two
playgrounds: the 3-6 years old room (Kindy) and the 2-3 years old room (Prep),
which have separate playgrounds.

Interested? Contact Janine Boyd, Manager
Maebashi International Kindergarten
9-10 Kita Shirota, Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture 371-0055
Tel/fax: 027-230-9330
Email janinebbboyd[at]hotmail.com
Website: http://community.webshots.com/user/koalaenglish

PS: Janine adds that "the fees are super frugal!"

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+++ FRUGAL TIPS (Washer-Dryer Combos: To Buy or not To Buy?)
"For single, busy gals living in small apartments, I recommend buying a
combination washer/dryer (sentaku kansooki) if you plan on being in Japan
for three years or longer. Warning: these suckers are expensive! The cheapest
version is about 80,000 yen - the better, front-loading variety can cost
twice this amount. If you do buy one, please splurge and buy the front-
loading (not top-loading) variety. It will wash and dry your clothing
much more quickly and efficiently.

I have a top-loading one bought in 2001, and while I love it, it takes
5 hours and 20 minutes to run a single load (wash and dry). The lint also
gets trapped in the ducts, and I have to do major surgery on the machine
at least once a month to clean it out. The newer drum varieties are much
better in terms of drying performance, it seems.

The nice thing about these machines is they do everything but fold the
clothing for you - no transfer between washer and dryer. Highly recommended,
but remember that their resale value is low and the useful life of most
large Japanese household appliances is 6-8 years. If it's worth 10,000 yen or
more annually for you to have nice, dry clothes, then go for it! Here is a sample
of Sanyo's latest model: http://www.sanyo-laundry.com/
(Front-loading drum type)."

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Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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