Laundry is one of those tasks that you can do at any time of the day. Most people do laundry during the weekends but if you are too busy to do weekend laundry you may be among those who like to wash their dirty clothes at night after coming home from work.
While doing laundry at any time of the day generally does not come with any issues, it can become a reason for strained relationships depending on where and how you live. This is not unreasonable, since loud noise can disrupt sleep.
Studies have shown that sleep disturbance can lead to short and long-term effects that include increased stress levels and high blood pressure.
This means that it pays to be considerate about doing something that could be too loud for the neighbors, especially if you are doing it late at night. To figure out if it is rude in your specific case to do your laundry at night you have to take into account the whole situation.
Doing laundry at night is rude if you affect others people’s well-deserved sleep or nighttime peace in a bad way. If the laundry area is closed off and not audible to neighbors it is okay to do your laundry any time of the day.
Doing Laundry at Night: Yay or Nay?
If you live in an apartment building there are unwritten social rules you follow if you want to stay on good terms with the neighbors. These could be anything from not playing music too loud, not vacuuming late at night, or not banging doors as you come or go out of the apartment especially if neighbors’ doors are also close by.
Live in an apartment with thin walls? You probably have a laundry list of reminders of Do’s and Don’ts that you follow to avoid offending your neighbors.
Evening laundry runs are not uncommon in many places and different dwelling arrangements, from college dorms to apartments for so many reasons. If you do your laundry at night it could be because you don’t have time during the day or you can’t do it on the weekends. Some people like to keep up with the laundry during the week to avoid running out of clean clothes as the week goes on.
Others may want to take advantage of stronger water pressure and cheaper power tariffs in the evenings so they do the laundry during these times. It is important to know why you are doing this because you might have a truly legitimate reason for doing so. It is easier to let others understand why you have to resort to late-night washings if you yourself know that you don’t have any other option.
That said, if you just want to steer clear of any potential drama in case you do some nighttime washing, it’s always a good idea to know if your living arrangements allow you to wash quietly without disturbing the neighbors.
The following factors can help you decide if it is rude to do your laundry at night or not:
Your living situation
If you live in a detached house and your home is set a good distance from the next house, you can probably do the laundry at any time of the day without disturbing the neighbors. This is because the noise won’t be too loud to reach next-door neighbors and rouse them from a night of good sleep.
If you live in a home with a basement laundry room or any room in the house where the sounds of the washing machine are effectively contained in that area, then you can wash your colored and your whites anytime without any worries.
However, if you are living in a condo or apartment and you have a washing machine in your unit, you might be better off doing laundry during the day. Do this unless there’s a designated laundry room in the basement where everyone can do laundry without disturbing the rest of the tenants.
Avoid doing laundry late at night if you know you have paper-thin walls. How do you know if you have paper-thin walls? If you can hear muffled conversations from next door, then you have paper-thin walls. This means that your washing machine sounds can probably travel next door with ease.
Presence or absence of neighbors
Even if you live in a detached bungalow but the next house is close by, you will likely have neighbors living right next door who can get disturbed by the noise. It might be easier for them to hear and be disturbed by laundry noise, especially in the quiet moments of the evening.
However, if you live at home and the neighbors are a block away, doing laundry in the evening probably won’t disturb anyone except the people in your own house.
If you live in an apartment building and you have neighbors above, below or next to your flat, it’s always a good rule of thumb to avoid late-night laundry without checking in with them first. This is because it is fairly common for people to complain about neighbors doing the laundry at late hours of the night, no matter how thick or thin your walls are.
The same is true if you are doing the laundry out on the patio, where the sound can almost certainly be heard from your neighbors’ windows.
Many people would consider it rude if you keep this practice up, especially if you don’t know how severely it might affect your neighbors.
Type of laundry area
If your laundry area is closed off and the sound is not audible to neighbors next door, you can probably do laundry without making too much noise. For example, powered-on washing machines located in the basement will probably sound off as low, barely audible hums to people walking outside.
However, if it’s on a balcony or any corner of your apartment where the sound it makes can be audible outside, you run the risk of irritating the neighbors especially if you do laundry late at night. This is because evenings are often quiet which makes any noise sound louder and easier to hear.
If you live in an apartment complex or a condo, you might have housing rules that prevent loud activities at certain times of the day. You might think that because you’re doing your business inside your apartment you aren’t doing anything wrong but if it’s against the rules, your neighbors have enough reasons to report you to management and you can face fines.
Read up on the rules or ask the management if it’s OK to do laundry at night to be sure.
Presence or absence of roommates
If you have roommates, they may think that doing the laundry is rude especially if one has a bedroom next to the laundry room. Washing machines can get pretty loud, especially for someone sleeping right next door.
Aside from neighbors, you also need to consider your roommates’ thoughts about late-night laundry runs if you don’t want to come off as rude.
If you previously thought that you can do laundry late at night but a neighbor told you several times it was causing a disturbance, then you are better off doing your laundry during the day or the weekends. Not only is this a respectful thing to do, but it is also a way to avoid greater conflict and possible sanctions from your building management.
Ask your neighbors
If you’re not sure how your neighbors feel about late-night washing machine noise, best go and ask.
Most people will be OK especially if you live in a building where noise doesn’t travel very well. Others may be sensitive about detergent smells wafting on the street when they are on nighttime walks. Not only is this an effective way to be sure about neighbor sentiments about late-night laundry rituals, but this is also a good way to get to know your neighbors.
Late-night laundry runs are not uncommon. In fact, they’re a recommended practice in places where electricity tariffs go down after 6 PM as a way for people to save on power bills. However, they can be frowned upon in certain circumstances.
The best thing you can do is assess your surroundings, determine if your late-night activity is within earshot of the neighbors, or switch to doing laundry during the day or earlier in the evening.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.