Almost all of Hong Kong’s seven million residents live in apartments, which are among the smallest in the world.
These teeny-tiny dwellings are lucky to come with a balcony, let alone space for a dryer or a backyard with a clothesline. So how do locals dry laundry?
Here are some of the most popular ways Hongkongers dry clothes – and how to apply these techniques to small living spaces in Australia.
1. Window-mounted drying racks
Window-mounted drying racks – metal poles attached to brackets installed either side of window frames – are arguably the most common solution for drying laundry in tiny Hong Kong apartments, says local Wattie Chan who blogs about space-saving solutions at Spaced Out.
“In my apartment, the spare room faces west where the sun is quite powerful so we put the window-mounted drying racks there,” he says.
“You’ll often see clothes hanging in bedrooms in Hong Kong, and these racks are a great solution for small apartments all over the world.”
2. Ceiling airer
When it comes to tiny spaces, Hongkongers always think vertical – and drying laundry is no exception.
Wattie says ceiling airers, which dry clothes on a rack attached to the ceiling via a pulley system, are ideal when floor space is lacking: “You simply pull it down, hang your laundry and pull it back up,” he says.
It’s a solution that also works for small Aussie abodes, says Marissa Towndrow from Renovating Mums, who shares a two-bedroom apartment with her family of four.
“Warm air rises so ceiling airers are very efficient and do not impede upon limited floor space,” says Marissa.
“Consider installing one in a bathroom, hallway or nook of your home.”
3. Tension rod
If, like most Hongkongers, you’re renting or prefer not to drill holes in your walls and ceiling, Wattie recommends tension rods, which are available cheaply in most hardware stores.
An aluminium rail stretches to fit between walls and rubber ends protect against damage.
“They’re ideal in bathrooms or on balconies,” says Chan, who lives in a 47sqm apartment with his wife and two children.
“They are pretty sturdy. I had my doubts that it was going to fall but it works quite well.”
4. Hanging drying rack
In many older Hong Kong apartments, tiny metal clotheslines are affixed on the outside of kitchen windows 30 floors up.
If you prefer to dry your laundry sans a spell of vertigo, Wattie and Marissa recommend hanging drying racks facing inwards on balconies or over the top of internal doors.
The best part is that these racks can be stored away when your laundry is dry.
“These are great if you require compact drying facilities,” says Marissa.
“Hanging drying racks over a door is a perfect option for small loads of washing.”
5. Clothes airer
Even if they’ve installed ingenious solutions to the problem of drying laundry, most Hongkongers also rely on portable clothes airer.
“The key is that they’re on wheels so you can wheel the airer to the space where you get the most sun and easily move it out of the way if it’s blocking something,” Wattie says.
It’s important to also check strata rules before putting a clothes airer on your balcony, because unlike in Hong Kong where laundry flaps freely from virtually every apartment building, Aussie rules can be more strict.
“Our strata is strict about the visibility of laundry from the street so we’ve installed screening behind our balcony railing so no-one can see our clothes horse,” Marissa says.