There are a couple reasons for this:
- Cold Water >< - No hot or even lukewarm water washes here, its ice cold. So of course no matter how awesome your detergent is if you've got something that's absolutely filthy your best bet is to fill your bathroom sink with hot water and wash it by hand.
- No Dryers - Yes it seems completely bizarre in a place thatseems to be so technologically advanced but unless you head to a laundromat you probably won't find a dryer (and even those, I've been told, don't work very well). Some of the new fancy washing machines have built in dryers but most people don't use them. Why? To save electricty of course. We have one of those washers with a dry function, but I have never used it so I don't know if it works or not :P This means that we hang our laundry out to dry (underpants and all). This then brings out all the disadvantages of hanging laundry out to dry : Rainy day? Either don't do laundry or find a place inside to hang it all up. It probably won't dry until you're able to hang it outside, but at least hanging it will keep it from molding. Cold and or damp day? Yeah.... forget about wearing any of those clothes for the next 2 or 3 days.
- Mold - Being from Colorado where the air is dry this was something entirely new to me and I unfortunately learned the hard way, on a few occasions, that everything here gets moldy unless you're incredibly careful. I ruined Yosei's sunhat after a trip to the beach because I put it in a plastic bag when it as wet and forgot about it over night. I had no idea it would happen so fast.