Solving the European Appliances Riddle

My apartment in Barcelona includes some nice, modern appliances. However, all their controls and instructions are, of course, in Spanish.

For the last 28 years or so, I lived with appliances in Virginia that were pretty primitive by today’s standards, but they worked well for me. However, that left me unprepared for all of the new features found on appliances today. “Water Saving Cycle”? Never heard of it. “Spin Speed Setting”? Same. And so on. In addition, the Europeans have been ahead of the U.S. when it comes to eco-friendly features (though it appears the U.S. is catching up now).

Isn’t that the Play/Pause button? Does this thing show videos, too?

Thank God for the Internet – I was able to dig up User Guides for them, in English.

One prominent difference is load size. The washer/dryer you see above is pretty small, with a maximum 8.8 lb. load. Compare this with a U.S. average washer load size that’s about 50% more. Put two pairs of jeans, a bath towel, some socks in my washer here and it’s full.

Another difference is efficiency ratings. The EU requires appliances to have “efficiency” ratings – for example, a washer’s water, detergent, and electricity usage per load must be disclosed for comparison purposes. Some of this translates into what we would think of as very long washing/drying cycles, 3-4 hours in some cases, per load.

One interesting thing is this washer/dryer has sensors that determine the state of the load and automatically adjust things, like drying time, to get the job done. Nice!

Okay, with the instructions in hand, I was ready to give my Camino duds a good washing. Oops – needed to buy some detergent. This resulted in my spending an inordinate amount of time at the store, reading and translating the Spanish on detergent packaging. That was entertaining!

Once I got the soap powder (I was strictly a liquid detergent guy in Virginia) home, I had few amusing episodes in which the soap was not being used. I’d wash a load, which segued into drying it, but the soap wasn’t used; it was still there in the little drawer! Turned out I set the controls incorrectly and it was pretty much just drying the load (it apparently adds a bit of cold water for wrinkle-prevention while drying, and that made the clothes feel like they’d been washed – one whiff revealed the truth, though).

I’ll pause here so that you can have a good laugh at my washer/dryer naivete. What a Laundry Rube!

In the end, I discovered that Less is More when in comes to setting the washer controls: Clothes in drum, Soap in drawer, Power Switch on (yes – has a separate power switch), push Wash button, then Dry button, then Start button. And voila! 3-1/2 hours later the machine plays a tune something like Yankee Doodle Dandy and my clean, dry, clothes are ready.

Based on my Camino experience, it sure beats hand-washing and then air drying my clothes overnight.

This entry was posted in Letters from Barcelona. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Solving the European Appliances Riddle

  1. Marti Demetrion says:

    Who knew doing laundry could be so complicated – and so funny!

    One reason the Europeans are ahead of the US on eco features is that electricity is much more expensive here. That’s also the reason the wash cycle takes so long: the machine heats its own water. Hot-water tanks are relatively small. You don’t want to use up all your hot water in your washing machine and have to wait for more to heat so you can wash dishes, etc.

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