Drying your laundry on the street

Chinese people don’t use clothes dryers, or at least I have never lived in a placed that had one. When I was living in student dorms in Beijing we had shared washing machines, but no dryers or any place to hang clothes. So I had to hang everything on my bookshelves and wardrobe doors and it took ages to dry.

In Chinese apartments there are normally a couple of bars in the balcony, with holes to put clothes hangers, and you can dry your clothes there. In older apartments in Shanghai they use a different system with long bamboo poles. I have never used this system but it looks complicated and wastes a lot of space – you need a whole pole for just 3 or 4 t-shirts!

clothes hanging

The first time I went to Shanghai what surprised me the most was the way they hang their clothes.


I guess some people don’t have any of these systems at home, specially in the areas with older houses, because it is quite frequent to see someone’s laundry hanging on the street.

Blankets hanging out in Shichahai area, Beijing.

Blankets hanging out in Houhai area, Beijing.


I like seeing the laundry hanging outside. I start imagining whose laundry it is, how many people are in the family, etc. It gives some colour to otherwise grey cities! And, of course, I also like taking pictures of it.


Uuuh, underwear!! (Around Pingjiang Lu area, Suzhou).



Main avenue of Likeng, Wuyuan county, Jiangxi province.



Well this family has a baby for sure! (Shanghai, next to 1933 old slaughterhouse building).



These clothes must be full of electricity! (In Xiamen).