What are these buttons? – A Guide to Washing Machines and Dryers in Japan

One of the most asked questions by travelers is where and how to do laundry when they have arrived at their destination. Are you one of those travelers who might need to clean your clothes during your travels in Japan? In this article, we will explain how to use washing machines and dryers during different situations.

Coin Laundry Shop

If the place that you are staying in doesn’t have a washing machine, you might have to find a coin laundry to wash your clothes. It is not hard to find one if you are staying in Tokyo. After you have spotted your neighborhood’s coin laundry, you might have a question instantly on your mind, “how do I get this thing working?”, as most coin laundries do not offer foreign language instructions and 9 out of 10 of them are self-service.

Well, we are here to help.

This is an example of a washing machine that can wash up to 4.5 kg of clothes.

First, choose the right size for your laundry

First, you need to pick a washing machine depending on the size of your washing loads. Once you have spotted the machine that matches your laundry weight, open the cap and check if it’s in use or not. If the washing machine is empty, proceed to the next step.

Then, insert coins

You then have to insert 200 yen (price varies) in coins and they take coins only. Some bigger coin laundries might have a coin exchange machine but that’s not always the case, so make sure you bring enough coin with you. After you put in the coins, you will have 30 seconds to press the button of “洗濯槽シャワーボタン (sentakusou-shower button)”, or the button that has a shower-head logo on it. Pressing it will clean the washing machine tub and make sure you will have a clean start. After 30 seconds of pre-clean, you can open the washing machine, put your clothes in, and some detergent (for this one, you need to bring your own detergent). Once you close the lid, it will be locked, and start working. You will be able to see the time left on the display.

Some do no need the detergent

This is another washing machine that can wash up to 10kg of clothes. For this one, you need to put your clothes in first. Then insert 400 yen, and it will start working. For this washer, you don’t have to add any detergent, since they will automatically add it for you. After around 35 minutes, take the clothes out and you are good to go.

After cleaning, dry it with a dryer

Now that you have your clothes washed, the next step is to dry them! This is a typical clothes dryer in a coin laundry. You can put in your washed clothes (up to 9kg) into this dryer. It runs for 100 yen every 10 minutes. The way to get it working is super easy as well, just put the clothes in, insert coins, and it will start drying automatically.

Washing Machine at Home

We have talked about how to clean your clothes at a coin laundry, but what if where you stay (Airbnb or guest house) has a washing machine? The washing machine for homes is actually more complicated due to the variety of functions. This is an example of a washing machine at home that comes with the dryer function.

Different washing machine models have of course, a different interface. So, make sure you follow the kanji we provide below. Also, some washing machine might function differently, but this will give you a general idea of how washing machine works. You can see there are many buttons on the machine, which might be a bit confusing.

Usually, you only need “入” and “スタート”

For normal usage, firstly, put the clothes into the tub. Secondly, press the button “入” to turn on the machine. Next, on the left side of the “入” button, there are three rectangle buttons. Those are “洗濯 (sentaku)”, which means wash, “洗濯・乾燥 (sentaku, kansou)”, wash & dry, and “乾燥 (kansou)”, dry. So choose a mode by using one of those three buttons, and leave all the detailed setting on the left to “おまかせ (omakase)”, which means that the machine will do everything automatically until it is finished. Then, it will detect the weight of your clothes, and tell you to add a certain amount of detergent. For the case in the picture, it is telling you to add 1.2 cups of detergent. After that, just hit the yellow button “スタート(start)” on the bottom right, and you are good to go!

Customize your wash with your style

If you want to do the detailed setting, you can press the “コース (course)” button, which lets you decide the course. In the following, I will list down the courses that my washing machine provides.

  • わたし流 (watashi-ryu): Litterally means “my style”. Full-manual course. If you choose this course, you can move on to the left and decide how many minutes you want to wash “洗い (arai)”, rinse “すすぎ (susugi)”, dewater “脱水 (dassui) ” and dry “乾燥 (kansou)”.
  • お急ぎ (oisogi): If you are in urgent, or you want the washing machine to wash faster, you can use this course.
  • 約60C除菌 (yaku 60C jokin): 60 degrees Celsius sterilization.
  • 約40C消臭 (yaku 40C shoshu): 40 degrees Celsius deodorization.
  • ナイト : Night mode, the washing machine will wash quietly.
  • 柔らかプラス (yawaraka plus): With this course, your washed clothes would be softer.
  • おうちクリーニング (uchi- cleaning): This is a special course that the washing machine would wash your clothes gently without making any damage.
  • 毛布 (mohu): Blanket/rug course
  • 槽洗浄/乾燥 (sousenjo/ kanso): This is a course that cleans the tub of the washing machine.

With this guide, I hope that you can have all your clothes cleaned without any burden in Japan!


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