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Last year , mayhem broke out on Twitter when the rest of the world discovered that it is common for Brits to store their washing machine in the kitchen.

Many expressed confusion and disgust at something that is normal for those living in the UK.

Twitter Post

In this article, we’ll explore why the Americans (and some other countries) think the way we do laundry is disgusting.

We’ll also explain why many Brits have no option but to store their washing machine in the kitchen.

Why do Brits keep washing machines in the kitchen?

Many Britons felt personally attacked when it was branded disgusting to have a washing machine in the kitchen.

It is so common, that to have it anywhere else in the home would be seen as unusual.

The primary reason why Britons keep their washing machine in the kitchen is simply a lack of space. There is nowhere else to store one!

uk kitchen

Yuk! Absolutely revolting 😉

The average new home in the UK is 818 square foot. That seems tiny when you consider that in the United States the average new home is 2,164 square foot. - almost 3 times a big.

With a lot more space it’s no wonder that utility rooms or “laundry rooms” are the norm in the United States.

These dedicated laundry spaces are large enough to contain the super-sized washers and dryers that are standard in most American homes.

laundry room usa

Very Spacious!

Why a washing machine in the kitchen is"Disgusting" 

To Americans, keeping a washing machine in the kitchen is equally as horrific as it is to Brits discovering that most Americans don’t own an electric kettle.

The reason why? The bacteria that exists both in your washing machine, and on kitchen surfaces.

Bacteria in washing machines

Research conducted by microbiologists has revealed that several nasty bacteria can be found in a washing machine, including e. Coli and salmonella.

E. coli is often found in faecal matter. After swabbing 100 washing machines, researchers found that 10% of them contained traces of E. coli, indicating that the washing machines were contaminated with faecal matter from washing underwear. 

bacteria in washing machine

If that isn't disgusting enough, the E. coli can survive long enough to contaminate the next wash you put on.

The primary concern is that after handling wet clothes from the washer, you won’t wash your hands before preparing food.

Or, absentmindedly popping the clothes on the kitchen counter, contaminating the surfaces and forgetting to disinfect them before cooking.

E. coli wasn’t the only bacteria to be found lurking; salmonella was too. Both E. coli and salmonella can cause horrible symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and more.

(This previous blog post discusses the bacteria in washing machines and steps you can take to fight it)

Bacteria On Kitchen Surfaces

Just as bacteria from the washing can get onto kitchen surfaces, bacteria from the kitchen can get on the washing.

When you consider that you wrap a scarf around your face, or lay your head on a pillowcase; you really want to believe that the items are clean! If you put your washing on the kitchen counter, or the floor, the items may not be as clean as you hope.

Researchers found that the kitchen is the most likely location in a home to be heavily colonised by bacteria.

Some of the particularly bad bacteria that make themselves at home in the kitchen are listeria, campylobacter and, like the washing machine, salmonella.

5 Ways to make a washing machine in the kitchen less disgusting

It’s inconvenient, and in some cases impossible, to move your washing machine once installed.We often just don't have the space!

Here are 5 practical ways you can make it less disgusting to have a washing machine in your kitchen.

1. Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands with antibacterial soap before and after handling laundry.

As usual, continue to wash your hands before preparing food. One microbiologist even advocates wearing gloves when handling laundry!

2. Use A High Temperature Wash

For more “high-risk” items such as underwear and bedding, be sure to wash at a high temperature to ensure that all nasty bacteria are killed.

temperature for bacteria

40c may be good for the environment, but it isn’t tough enough to kill bacteria.

Some of the better washing machines have special "Anti-Allergy" cycles that wash clothes at 60c.

3. Wash Your Surfaces

Always take the time to correctly disinfect the surfaces of your kitchen.

This is especially necessary for any surfaces that have come into contact with laundry.

Read the instructions on your antibacterial spray to ensure you are leaving it enough time to work before wiping away.

4. Don’t put clothes on food preparation areas

Where possible, avoid having any laundry touch a food preparation area. Use a laundry basket to transport the laundry, rather than dumping it on the floor or counter. 

5. Throw away your old sponges

Research has shown that kitchen sponges have more bacteria than toilet seats.

It's also ineffective to clean them so the best thing is to throw them out before your clean your machine.

UK washing machine advantages

uk washing machines

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. Brits may have smaller houses, but this has pushed forward innovation in the world of washing machines.

Below are some of the improvements that Brits get to enjoy.

Improved Designs

Unlike American "top-loader" machines, the UK has “front-loaders”.

Many expats from the US in the UK have commented that they prefer this front-loading system as it prevents clothes being damaged by the agitator which is a feature of American washing machines.

Another perk of this compact-design is that it makes it accessible to everyone. In the US, those living in small apartments often have to rely on a local launderette for their washing needs.

Better energy-efficiency

As space is tight, and energy-efficiency is a growing concern among consumers, there is now a large range of energy efficient washing machines.

This provides UK consumers with the option to pick a washing machine with a low running cost.

Drier Laundry

Wet laundry, when removed from the washer, is a lot less sodden in the UK compared to the US.

This is because the front-loader, combined with the standard voltage in the UK, allows the washing machine to spin faster to displace more water.

Obviously, the less water that remains in the clothes, the quicker they dry.

(And we previously blogged about the dangers of drying clothes inside)

Although this may not be important to many Americans as most have dryers as standard, for Brits who dry clothes on a rack or washing line, getting excess water out saves a lot of time and is much healthier.

Do you keep your washing machine in the kitchen?

If so, let us know if know whether you think it’s disgusting, or if you’d never even given it a second thought in the comments below.

19 thoughts on “Why Americans Find British Kitchens Disgusting!”

  1. There is a reason why washing machines in England are always installed in the kitchen. It is illegal for a plummer or engineer to install a washing machine or tumble dryer or any electrical appliance in the bathroom, under our health and safety laws in the UK,because of risk of fire or electric shocks.

    Some houses here in the UK do have separate laundry rooms where the washing machine and dryer can be installed as long as it meets the health and safety requirements.

    But most UK homes don’t have a separate laundry room,as our homes are just basic accommodation. And those few homes that do have them are mostly ones that have had extensions built by the homeowners ( their kitchen or living area extended where they have put a laundry room in themselves.)

    But you won’t find a laundry room in any Council,Housing association or rented flat or house, or even a house you buy,because that is not considered to be essential or important over here.

    Because space and plumping in the kitchen is provided for those things (Washing Machines.)

    Most kitchens in homes now do have space to have a washing machine but most kitchens in flats and small houses are small.
    So there is not enough room for a dryer,if it is a interior kitchen with only an extractor fan and no window, then you CAN’T have a tumble dryer as it needs a pip to go out the window. And most kitchens do not even have space for a dining room table. That’s why most people have to eat in the living room.

    Or a dishwasher, in the space near the sink, you can either have a washing machine or a dishwasher but not both. So of course you have a washing machine because you need that more.

    So a washer dyer is very handy to have as it washes and drys the clothes in one machines and saves you a lot of space. And the dryer in the washer dryer is vented out through the waste pipe in the kitchen sink. So you never get steam in the room.
    Unlike with Tumble Dyer where you do.
    Yes it’s true the dryer in the washer dryer does not dry thing very quickly.
    So the best way I find, is to give the clothes a good spin then hang them up to dry a bit to get the damp out.
    Then put them in the dryer and then they will dry.
    That’s what I do.
    Though I don’t dry the clothes in case they shrink, I only use the dryer for towels and bed sheets.
    And you can get 9 and 10 KG machines that will easily take a 10.5 tog double duvet and dry them.

    I have an 8KG one that I do my Summer Duvet(4.5 tog) in and it does it better than the launderette did.

    I have a large 1 bedroom flat where I have my washer dryer in and I am lucky in that I also have space for my dining room table in there.
    But I agree it would be nice if homes were built with a separate laundry room.
    But I can’t see anyone doing that.
    We don’t have air conditioning like you have, in our homes either and we should have for the summer but nobody puts that in UK homes.
    Well there are a lot of things that should be in here in our homes but there aren’t.

    Andrea Borman.

    • Don’t british houses have grounded wiring in them? I mean don’t you use hairdryers, electric toothbrushes, curling iron etc etc?

      Ugh having it in the kitchen is just gross, imagine dropping your fresh laundry on the tile that happens to have some raw mean splatter that you didn’t notice form the dinner before, or other splatter unnoticeable to the eye that you missed while cleaning.. no no no. Couldn’t you have a stacked wash/dryer combo in the bathroom?

      • That’s your concern, dropping stuff on the floor? Put a basket underneath and pull it out. That’s what everyone does and nothing touches the floor.

        The idea of having a large, power-hungry electrical appliance in the bathroom is more ridiculous to me. That’s asking for trouble – very different to your “gross!” complaints.

  2. I’m American and live a middle class existence, the home I reside in now has washer and dryer hook ups in the kitchen. My grandmother also lived that way for 32 years before the add on laundry room. I don’t find it disgusting in fact it saves me more time.

    • Hi Alaina,

      That’s good to know, thanks! I wonder what the percentage of Americans who DO have them in the kitchen is…

      • I think it’s very low (I had never heard of anyone in the U.S. having a clothes washing machine in the kitchen until I read the comment above). But I haven’t ever lived in any of the colonial states, which have much older houses than the rest of the U.S. Maybe it’s common in old U.S. homes.

  3. Only snobs find it disgusting. We’re not Neanderthals or hobos, we know how to wash clothes properly, we seperate our underwar (smalls) from the rest of the wash so as to put them through at a higher temp therefore killing off the e-coli/stap etc. It ain’t rocket science, we know we get skidders on our grundies.
    In an average British house/flat the kitchen is the most logical and safest place to put a washer. Americans can be so insular.

  4. Most middle class (or above) Americans have a high-efficiency front loader in their houses these days, along with a dryer. Top loaders still exist, but HE (synonymous with front load) is the norm. Also, unless you are in a very big city with very high rents (i.e. New York), apartments (flats) typically have a stacked washer/dryer set in a utility closet. It’s all about the availability of more square footage per home in the U.S. I absolutely love the U.K., but have become accustomed to (or spoiled by) the amount of space we have available in the U.S. for things like laundry rooms. I do have an electric kettle, though! I bought it to try to drink ‘real’ British style tea, but I still prefer coffee. My kettle comes in useful for cooking, though. I don’t have egg cups. I think very few people here eat soft-boiled eggs; I think that’s why. Do egg cups serve any purpose other than for eating soft-boiled eggs?

  5. I forgot to ask in my previous post… Do most British folks eat eggs cooked in styles other than soft boiled? I’ve had full English breakfast with the eggs “over medium” (the American term), as I recall. We also eat them over easy, over hard, sunny side up, poached, as an omelette, hard-boiled… am I forgetting anything? I suppose we don’t eat soft boiled because it’s too messy – – because we don’t use egg cups! Our version of a soft boiled egg (fully cooked egg white with the yolk cooked to an orangey-gold, gel-like consistency) is the “over medium” or “over easy” egg, and it’s served flat on a plate.

  6. When theirs free space availble in oneswetes outlets for,air exaust,&water services,to connect,a 13amp waterproof electrical socket,drainage connection,also,It makes little sense to install in kitchen?BUT MUST ADMIT,DOES MAKE INSTALLERS JOB SLIGHTLY LONGER,+EXTRA COSTS OF FITTINGS,BUT NOTHINGS IMPOSSIBLE,IM RETIRED &WANT TO STAY HEALTHY.

  7. I am an American and I am building a 855 sq. ft. cottage and you better believe that I am going to have the builder put the washing machine (top loader) into the kitchen instead of a dish washer. It is all about space and making every foot count!!

  8. Ridiculous. Americans will brush teeth and spit in the kitchen sink, wash their diva cups in the dishwasher and bathe their babies in that same kitchen sink. If you are willing to clean an actual HUMAN in the kitchen, but are upset that the clothes that humans WEAR are finding their way into the same space, there’s something wrong with your logic.

  9. Because they use ancient equipment Americans need the space otherwise their stuff wouldn’t fit in the kitchen. The other thing is the Americans have more real estate therefore bigger houses. Oh finally having my kitchen opening out onto a garge is disgusting with the grease, dirt and petrol fumes you get all over your food.

  10. Sorry, this article made me fume. I’ve had a kitchen-located washing machine for 40 years. It’s not disgusting at all. I’ve never contaminated a worktop or the washing by dropping clean items on the floor. Basket to machine to basket. I know of no-one who does it any other way. As to “dangers” of drying indoors, if you want to avoid every possible danger, wrap yourself in hypoallergenic cotton wool, never go out, and survive on organic pulses. Washing linen has never made me unwell. Brits live 2.5 years longer than Americans on average. The safest thing an American can do is move over here and wash their clothes in the kitchen like we do.

  11. I detect sarcasm WRT the garage comment, but what do you mean by “ancient equipment” in the kitchen? I’m racking my brain to figure out what you’re referring to.

    I think the overblown “disgust” some Americans mention comes from the same place as the disgust over people leaving toothbrushes on a bathroom counter where they can be contaminated by the alleged “toilet cloud”. It’s a bit of sanctimonious hysteria rather than a serious health threat.

  12. I grew up in the Midwest in the states and we always had a laundry room. I recently moved to the south and have been trying to buy a home.. I was so confused as to why the washer/dryer were in the kitchen.. it was just weird to me though.. not gross


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