Controversial note triggers intense washing machine discourse on Japanese Twitter
A heated and multi-layered debate about none other than doing the laundry started off on Japanese Twitter when one user shared a photo of a note that was put up in their apartment building to warn neighbors not to do their laundry at night.
The handwritten note posted by the user reads: “There’s someone here who doesn’t have enough common sense not to do their laundry at night. You’re bothering everyone. Please stop. Next time, I’ll call the police and have them handle things. You’re not alone here, think about your surroundings.” Underneath are comments expressing agreement saying, “I know right, what a jerk” and similar.
The tweet has since received over 38k likes and over 4.2k retweets, with users expressing a variety of different opinions on the topic of nighttime laundry. Why has this simple note rattled the household chore fandom to such a point? It turns out people’s understanding of what “common sense” is differs a lot more than expected.
A portion of users agreed with the sentiment of the note, asserting that as long as one lives in an apartment complex, doing laundry at night is a no-go as the vibrations and noise of the washing machine can travel to other apartments and bother the other inhabitants.
Others found themselves hearing that nighttime laundry is bad for the first time in their lives, wondering what’s the big deal, and many did in fact argue that it is not a big deal and that they never mind it when their neighbors do so. Perhaps it’s a matter of how sensitive one is, or alternatively, the people who claim not to mind may be blessed with an apartment building that doesn’t allow for noise to travel to such an extent. The topic requires an unexpectedly nuanced approach.
A strong voice was heard from those who found the note to completely disregard the lives of people who work late hours or night shifts and thus are not able to do their laundry during the daytime. They present a strong argument that such people need to bear other people’s laundry and non-laundry-related noises all the time during the daytime, without having the right to complain to their neighbors or post passive-aggressive notes.
In fact, having a look at actual data reveals that nighttime laundry might be a lot more ‘common sense’ in Japan then many people seem to think. In this laundry-related survey from 2019, 34.1% out of 1,114 respondents answered that they most frequently do their laundry at night, while 7.1% responded that their preferred time period for washing machine activity is late into the night.
From an international perspective, there are some countries which have so called off-peak time tariffs for electricity, which make it cheaper to use electrical appliances during the nighttime. This makes it “common sense” to do things like laundry during the night. I (the author of this article) too come from a country with a late-night laundry tradition, which is why this discourse came as a surprise. Though at the same time, some experts warn that using appliances such as washing machines and tumble dryers at night is dangerous as it raises the risk of families getting trapped in case a fire happens to break out due to a machine fault or similar, which is definitely another factor worth considering.