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Kanji Cheat Sheets

Kanji Cheat Sheets
Kanji Cheat Sheet: Using Your Japanese Washing Machine
By GaijinPot Blog April 7, 2020

Moving to Japan is all fun and games until you realize you’re on your last pair of clean underwear and have no clue how to work your Japanese washing machine. That’s not to mention how to decipher which products are actually laundry detergent and which are mere fabric softeners.

Standing over your washing machine, trying to guess which button to press is enough to make you just throw the clothes out and buy new ones. Let us help you get rid of that nasty pile of laundry (for this week, at least).

Buying laundry detergent

Before you can even think about loading up the washing machine, you’ll need to stock up on some essential supplies.

First, look for the kanji that says laundry detergent せんたくせんざい (sentakusenzai). If you prefer to hand wash your clothes, you’ll need laundry soap せんたくようせっけん (sentakuyousekken). Don’t forget to add in some fabric softener じゅうなんざい (juunanzai) for easy ironing, or bleach ひょうはくざい (hyouhakuzai) to remove those pesky stains.

EnglishJapaneseRomaji
Laundry detergent洗濯洗剤sentakusenzai
Laundry soap洗濯用石けんsentakuyousekken
Fabric softener柔軟剤juunanzai
Bleach漂白剤hyouhakuzai
Additive-free無添加mutenka
Fragrance-free無香料mukouryou
Deodorizer消臭shoushuu
Antibacterial抗菌koukin
Odor-resistant防臭boshuu

Buttons on a Japanese washing machine

Control panel of washing machine in the laundry room

Now that you’ve bought all the essentials, crack open that lid and shove your clothes in. There’ll be a small opening for you to place the detergent and softener. However, this varies per model. Shut the lid, press 入 (iri) to turn the machine on, then スタート (start) and, for the most part, that’s all you really need to know.

If you want to check how far along your clothes are in the washing process, look for the small light next to the following functions like rinsing すすぎ (susugi) and draining だっすい (dassui).

Depending on your washing machine model, there might be special functions like using your bath water to wash your clothes おとり (oyutori) or cleaning your clothes with the intent to dry them in your room し(heyaboshi).

EnglishJapaneseRomaji
Oniri
Startスタートsuta-to
Pause一時停止ichijiteishi
Scheduled wash予約yoyaku
Washing machine courseコースko-su
Draining脱水dassui
Rinsingすすぎsusugi
Amount of water水量suiryou
Air jetエアジェットeajetto
The washing tub洗濯槽sentakusou
Slot for fabric softener柔軟剤の自動投入口juunanzai no jidoutounyuuguchi
Reuse bath water for washing machineお湯取oyutori
Intensive washing of white or soiled clothingつけおきtsukeoki
Washing setting for drying clothes in your room部屋干しheyaboshi

In the end, as complicated and daunting as your washing machine may look, it’s not all that difficult. We hope that by using this guide, you’ll be able to overcome those scary-looking buttons and empty your laundry basket.

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