While hosting a student from China don’t be surprised if socks and underwear fail to appear in your guest’s laundry basket. Why? Socks and underwear, in particular dirty socks and underwear, are considered unsanitary. In most Chinese homes undergarments are washed by hand in a sink to keep them from contaminating the rest of the laundry. This habit is likely due to the fact that in China washing machines are usually not hooked up to hot water and most people don’t feel that washing machines do a thorough job in cleaning or sanitizing laundry.
So, rather than finding your homestay student’s socks and underwear in the dirty clothes basket, you will likely find him or her scrubbing them in the bathroom sink. For some families this will be an acceptable arrangement. Others will insist on doing laundry the American way. If you are of the latter mindset be sure to explain to your guest clearly that you expect undergarments to be placed in the dirty clothes basket (or however your family does it).
When it comes to laundry, also keep in mind that dryers are rarely used in Chinese homes. This means that when your homestay student’s clothes were purchased there was no consideration as to whether or not they would shrink.
Hopefully this information will be useful. Happy washing!
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