• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 7:52am
CommentInsight & Opinion

Practice among some Chinese students of mailing dirty laundry home prompts debate

Some students mail their laundry to their parents for washing, prompting a debate over the pros and cons of the unusual practice

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 March, 2014, 3:33am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 March, 2014, 3:33am

University students are using express couriers to mail dirty laundry home so their parents can return it clean, according to the State Post Bureau.

Is this a sign of smart, efficient living in crowded dorms, or yet another example of youths from one-child families being pampered into a state of infant-adults?

"A big share of our express [post] services at the universities comes from the laundry of students," said Liu Liangyi, deputy director of the bureau's department that oversees market supervision.

Liu, speaking on the sidelines of the parliamentary sessions in Beijing, said some students waited until their laundry piled up before sending it home.

"Such new business reflects [how] people want to pay for convenience as they [become] better off," Liu said.

The news seemed relatively innocuous at the time, but Liu's remarks attracted wide attention in the media and online.

A woman in Changsha told the Changsha Evening News her son, who was studying in Chongqing, had been mailing laundry home every two months since he started university three years ago.

Far from being a wide trend, however, only a few university students were engaged in the practice, the newspaper said

A post office worker said there were plenty of laundromats around the campus, and given that courier costs exceeded laundromats' prices, most students did their own washing.

The Chongqing Times interviewed 100 students from 10 colleges in the city, but none admitted to mailing home laundry.

Some parents told the newspaper they were willing to help wash clothes if their children sent them.

The Times noted that laundromats cost 3 yuan (HK$3.80) to 5 yuan per load, while inter-city express delivery services cost dozens of yuan for every 10kg.

The Chongqing Business Daily criticised students' inability to take care of their own laundry, suggesting many were overly pampered.

Most university students today were born in the 1990s into single-child families.

They may have received too much attention from their parents and grandparents, earning the post-1980s title as the "spoiled generation".

"Many factors might have contributed to the students' inability to care for themselves," Chongqing Business Daily said.

"The most important one is a lack of family education. Parents have spoiled their children and asked them to focus only on studying, while taking over many responsibilities that should be shouldered by the children themselves."

There have been several reports in local newspapers about parents over-indulging their offspring.

The Qingdao Daily reported on a mother who flew thousands of kilometres from the northeastern city of Harbin to bring cold medicine to her daughter, who was studying in Shandong province.

"Parents should send the laundry back as it is and leave the children to handle it themselves. [Making] children independent is the most responsible action parents should do," said the Chongqing Business Daily.

The Guangzhou Daily argued there was a valid reason for mailing laundry.

"Even if there are many students who mail clothes back home, they might be doing so only when the seasons change," it said. "They send the clothes that are [inappropriate] for the season back home to save [space in] their dormitories."

"This doesn't [mean] that students are lazy or spoiled. On the contrary, it reflects the fact that young students are quite smart in arranging their daily lives," the newspaper said.

It concluded the dirty-laundry trend was not as big as Liu described. "Liu might exaggerate the facts to highlight the convenience that express service brings to the public."



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This article is now closed to comments

To mer....
Never been on a cruise liner luxury or not. Must say peasant behavior on the go. Wonder if wet laundries are conveniently hung all over the rails?
For years I lived in apartment building in US. I experienced not a single fight or squabble. Besides proper design and management, I think culture may have a lot effect on how a community laundry room could work well. I doubt it is a source of fights and squabbles.
I will go for a community laundry room in Hong Kong with wash and dry facility than a useless clubhouse which cheated out my usable area from my flat and I must pay for it too. The culture of vanity over practicality for me is useless.
The criticisms of the students for being lazy or overprotected by parents are overblown. Sending laundry home by mail is no different than taking laundry home personally at the weekends some US students would do. It is about economic in both time and money.
But Chinese students face greater problem in solving their laundry problem at schools. The schools aren’t well designed to accommodate efficient way to complete the cycle in washing and drying. The drying part is grossly deficient (so as the washing). No proper place to hang wet laundry. Most must do it in their dorm room.
Gas or electric dryer for drying is not use in China. It is a cultural preference thinking that drying laundry in the sun is good besides it is free. I agree from ecological point of view. However, in schools the many wet laundry and lack of proper place to dry them that sufficient number of dryers should be employed.
At the meantime, those students are pretty clever and practical in mailing laundry home.
On the same note but with sever consequence of a culture that depends on sun in drying wet laundry as Hong Kong, a Chinese culture society would do. Architects design buildings either by hiding the laundry drying or provide none in order to keep out the unsightly view looking from outside. A utility well that opens on one side often is used to mitigate the unsightly visual impact. It is this open well idea that has caused Hong Kong dearly once – life and economic when the SARS outbreaks years ago took place in Amoy Garden spreading quickly upwards by the help of chimney effect of the well.
A community laundry room should be part of facility for every residential building with both washer and dryer. May be still it will take some persuasion to use the facility.
A community laundry room will be vandalized within two months! Even in luxury cruise liners, fights or squabbles only take place over the use of public laundromats.


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