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Kanji Cheat Sheet: Using Your Japanese Washing Machine

Is that detergent or fabric softener…? How do I use this freaking Japanese washing machine?

By 1 min read

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).

Hmmm… how do I work you?

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.

English Japanese Romaji
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

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 (iri) to turn the machine on, then スタート (start) to get it going.

Read the full article on GaijinPot Study.

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