Jan 24, 2018
If you have just arrived to Japan, you might be surprised to see futons hanging out over the balcony. I know I was. Thankfully my first trip to Japan I stayed with a host family and they explained to me on my first day that I needed to air my futon whenever there is a sunny day.
One of the reasons Japanese people air their futon is because of the dust problem in Japan. Which in turn leads to a problem with dust mites and their evil cousin "dani". Dani are bed bugs essentially. If you live in a modern building with proper insulation and double or triple glazed windows you are less likely to encounter a dani problem. However, a large percentage of Japanese accommodation does not have the luxury of proper defense from the outside world. In order to prevent a dani infestation regular airing and thrashing of the futon is essential.
However, if like me, you'd prefer to actually wash your futon annually (or every couple of years) for an extra good measure of prevention, there are two main options available. You can send your futon off for a proper cleaning or you wash it yourself.
For the former; there are special futon cleaning services you can avail of. You can arrange for a company to come and pick up your futon and drop it back to you when they have finished professionally cleaning it. You can also drop your futon to a dry cleaners and pick it up on the date they advise you to. Both of these options tend to work out too costly for regular use. Typically it costs 12,000 yen. Over the years I have priced them at various locations and the cheapest I have found is 8000 yen per futon. The average futon only costs 10,000 yen to buy, even a luxury futon rarely costs more than 20,000 yen. It seems a waste to spend that much money on cleaning when you could buy a new futon for the same price. So that is how I ended up cleaning my own futons.
Obviously a futon will not fit in a household washing machine, so when I say I clean it myself, I mean I bring it to a coin laundry and wash and dry it there. A lot of futons say they shouldn't be washed, but I have never had a problem to date with regular sized futon. However, I have lost a child's daytime nap futon to a washing machine! Specifically you should look for a coin laundry that has futon washing machines and dryers. I have rolled up futons and tied with string and just put them in a regular industrial sized washing machine in the past, but that is a lot of effort.
The futon washing machines are easy, quick and CHEAP! It costs me 900 yen to wash a futon and if I use the dryer there too, it costs about 500 yen to get it dry enough to bring home in the car to put out on the balcony until it dries completely. For that reason I would suggest only washing your futons on a sunny day. Happy cleaning!
Level 8 LocalGuide with Google. Blogging about life in Japan as an Irish WAHM to 4 kids on insaitama.com.