Drying Laundry in Tokyo / How to Keep Fresh in the Rainy and Humid Seasons

It may come to you as a surprise that your new apartment in Tokyo does not come furnished. Unless you rent a furnished apartment, Japanese rentals come empty, some even requiring you to buy lighting fixtures and air conditioning units. It also might come as a surprise to you that clothes dryers are also uncommon in Japan.

On a hot, bright, and sunny day, look around at surrounding apartment complexes, and you will see balcony after balcony filled with clothes and futons hanging out to dry. Clothes dryers, dishwashers, and even ovens, are not an everyday life necessity here in Tokyo.

So it’s time to get old school and learn about the old fashioned way of drying your clothes!

Just be thankful that laundry machines are very common, and you don’t need a big ol’ bucket, washboard, and sponge to wash everything by hand.  🙂

How to Hang Dry Laundry in Tokyo

(Laundry Day photo by Ayrcan)


Hang drying clothes seems “as simple as” clipping clothes onto a hanger, but hang drying clothes incorrectly, can leave your clothes smelly!  As such, we at Team Apts.jp would like to share a few tips and tricks to get those clothes properly dry!

Hanging Laundry on The Balcony

Many apartments with balconies will have a place for a laundry bar, or you can use a clothes drying rack on the balcony.

Pros: This is one of the fastest way to get your clothes dry, and the sun acts as a natural bacteria killer; wind as an eco dryer. Tokyo’s damp and humid weather makes the perfect breeding place for mold and mites in your home. Hanging your clothes, duvets and futons on a hot sunny day can help keep these unwanted friends away. Use the natural power of the sun to kill bacteria and dry those clothes!

Cons: Weather can be unpredictable, especially in Tokyo. So if you are planning to be out for the whole day, make sure you check your weather app, to confirm that there is no chance of rain or overcast skies. In a city where skyscrapers create powerful wind tunnels, sometimes winds can pick up, and there go your clothes- like a kite without a string!  If you live on the first floor, it might be uncomfortable hanging your personal items on your balcony for everyone to see.


Shower Room Drying Function

Pros: Most modern shower rooms will have a drying function that turns your entire shower into a clothes dryer!  Great for those days where the weather seems unpredictable or for items you don’t want to be displayed for the world to see.

Cons: It can take much longer to dry, especially towels and bulkier items. You will need to space out your clothes so that the air can move through them and dry each piece.  Due to tighter space, you may have to keep your wash loads quite minimal.


Under Your AC Unit

Using a clothes drying rack under your air conditioner is a great way to dry clothes in your living room or bedroom.

Pros: Hang your clothes right under your AC unit and blast that air on them!  Privacy, and even more privacy.  🙂

Cons: Again, you will need to space out your clothes. It is a good alternative for days where you will be out of the house for a few hours, but if you are home all day, your clothes will take over your living room or bedroom space.


What To Do During Tokyo’s Wet & Humid Season

Thankfully Japan has four seasons!  One of the most awesome aspects of Japan, for nature lovers.  Most of the year, hang drying laundry isn’t too much of an issue, but there are certain times of the year that make it challenging to hang out your laundry.

Rainy Season and Japan’s hot and ridiculously humid summers, bring on a whole new layer to dry hanging laundry.

Have you ever done your laundry, dried it, and found this horrible, almost wet dog smell?

That’s because your clothes didn’t dry properly- being in the middle of the humid season does not help with this.

These seasons don’t afford you to make the mistake of forgetting you ran a wash cycle and still being able to hang it up 30 minutes later. That ‘not properly dried laundry smell’ is not fun for you or the people around you!


★ Take these steps to make sure you smell fresh and don’t have people steering clear of you!!

Step 1: Remove Clothes from Laundry Machine As Soon As the Cycle Finishes

We are talking immediately, as in IMMEDIATELY.  Even left in the machine for 10 minutes after the cycle has finished can cause the smell. It is always best to set an alarm on your phone, so you don’t forget about the laundry and waste detergent/water by having to rerun the cycle.

Step 2: Space Hang Your Clothes

When you clip your clothes onto the drying hanger, give enough space for air to move through them. The humidity in Japan can make the air feel heavier- a sure indication that clothes drying will take longer.

A great trick is to hang your clothes in a rainbow shape, clipping longer items on the ends of the rack and shorter items as you move inwards.

For towels, hang one side longer than the other so more air can move through it.

4 hours to dry in the arch shape (left)– 4.5 hours to dry in the v shape! Use the arch shape!

Step 3: Use indoor drying options

On those rainy or overcast days, your clothes have a better chance of drying in the shower room or under the AC, or you can add a fan for extra wind power!!


It is crucial to give enough space for each clothing item. You will probably need to wash clothes in small batches, unless you have a vast amount of space for hang drying clothes.

★ Indoor hang drying pro-tip: Research found that if you scrunch up some newspaper and put it under your clothes, it helps absorb the moisture in the air to dry those clothes faster.

Step 4: Can’t be bothered- then head to your closest coin laundry!

Are you missing the feeling of soft sheets and towels? The coin laundries have dryers and can help you do a massive load of laundry at one time.

If you have a coin laundry place close to your home- and you want to save some money- you can wash your clothes at home and take the undry clothes to the laundromat and use the western style clothes dryers.


Some Necessary Items to Help You With Your Laundry Life

These simple and great products will help make that laundry task much more manageable. These products are to help give you an idea of what is out there. You can search on sites such as BicCamera, Amazon, Rakuten, Mercari, or other electronic stores to find the design you like (large electronics stores in Tokyo is also where one can find household goods).

Laundry Rack

To help with the rainy season, get a foldable indoor rack, something like this:


Laundry Hanger

Every household in Japan owns one of these- awesome for hanging several items indoors (or outside):


Air Drying Machine

There are many models and many different price ranges, but these types of units are dehumidifiers and can be used for clothes drying. Place it right under your hanging clothes to help dry them and absorb the air’s moisture to help fight against mold!


Mold Fighting Laundry Detergent

This detergent is designed specifically for indoor drying and rainy/humid season! It helps kill mold inside your washing machine, help reduce odor when indoor air drying, and continues to protect against mold as you wear your clothes (cause let’s face it, we all sweat during the summer season):


Electric Clothes Dryer

If smooth and soft clothes are what you want, then you might be able to get yourself a dryer. You can place the dryer on a stand above your laundry machine to help with space. You will not need to worry about planning your washing & drying around potential inclement weather, as you can wash and dry on your schedule! Beware: These are NOT gas dryers.  They use a lot of electricity to run.



Some of the above items are easier to get brand new, while others you can get at local second-hand shops. To find some of those shops, check out our Second Hand-Shop article!

Japan Second Hand Shopping- Affordable Furniture and Appliances

…especially if you need to fill that empty apartment!  🙂


Just because we can’t control the weather, doesn’t mean that caring for your clothes needs to take the back seat. Follow the above simple tips/steps, to help that laundry time become more manageable and smoother for you to enjoy!

Team Apts.jp wishes you fresh clothes and a cool summer!  Aaand if you need to move in Tokyo- upgrade apartment/house or location, or if  just moving from overseas- be sure to contact us as soon as you can, so we can help as much as possible!!  🙂


Other Tokyo Life articles you might find interesting:


Gyms in Tokyo / Where to get your sweat on!

Best Online Grocery Delivery Services in Tokyo

English Speaking Clinics and Hospitals in Tokyo

Japan – What To Do In The Time Of Coronavirus

Wearing masks in Japan- Should you be wearing one??

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