The One With The East German Laundry Detergent
Season 1, episode 5
5th overall episode of Friends
Rachel and Ross do their laundry together.
Episode Information

October 20, 1994

Written by

Jeff Greenstein & Jeff Strauss

Directed by

Pamela Fryman

Episode Guide

The One With George Stephanopoulos


The One With The Butt


"The One With The East German Laundry Detergent" is the fifth episode of the first season of Friends, which aired on October 20, 1994.


The episode opens with the friends at Central Perk discussing advantages each gender has. Rachel points out that guys can urinate standing up, while Joey notes that women can see breasts whenever they want. Phoebe then wonders how guys can be mean and not even care. There is a brief silence while the guys try to top that. Ross then points out that women can have multiple orgasms, and this is the decisive point for the men.

The gang plans their Saturday nights. Chandler wants to break up with Janice, but he is reluctant to because he feels awkward and guilty. Phoebe offers to break up with her boyfriend, Tony, at the same time to make it easier on the both of them.

Rachel is annoyed because her father is ignoring the fact that she is independent now, as he has offered her a convertible if she comes home. She plans to do laundry that evening, and Ross, eager to spend time with her, pretends that the laundromat in his building is rat-infested so that he can join her.

An ex-girlfriend of Joey's, Angela, comes into the coffee house. Joey, seeing her dressed sexily, decides to go over and talk to her. However, she tells him that she is now dating a guy named Bob. In an effort to get back together with her, Joey suggests that they go on a double-date, she and Bob, and him and his "girlfriend"—Monica. Joey tells Monica that Bob is Angela's brother, and that she will be the one on a date with him. At the restaurant, she discovers that Joey has never met Bob, and starts to panic about it being a completely blind date. However, when Angela and Bob arrive, she finds him attractive, so she forgives Joey.

Meanwhile, at the coffee house, Chandler waits for Janice and Tony to arrive and is increasingly anxious. Phoebe, however, is calm and composed as ever and remarks on how it is nice that they are doing something together. When he sees Janice, his anxiety turns to guilt, and things go from bad to worse when Janice tells him that her day has been "supremely awful". While Janice rambles on, Chandler watches in dread as Phoebe breaks up with Tony on good terms, saying goodbye to him with a hug.

At the laundromat, Rachel feels optimistic, until a nasty woman moves the laundry basket reserving Rachel's washing machine and begins to load her own washing into it. Rachel is bewildered and upset. Ross stands up to the woman and helps Rachel get the machine back. He then teaches Rachel how to do laundry, furthering her new independence. Rachel's confidence continues to rise, and she tells Ross that if she can do her own laundry, there is nothing that she can't do. However, Rachel's mood plummets when they discover that a red sock got caught up in her white laundry and has turned everything pink. She feels like a failure. Later, the horrible woman steals Ross and Rachel's cart, but Rachel finally stands up to her on her own. Feeling victorious, she kisses Ross. In shock, he bangs his head on the door of a washing machine and falls over.

Meanwhile, Monica is left confused when Bob and Angela tell her that they grew up in different places. Joey quickly changes the subject to prevent them from finding out his plan, then tries to subtly put Bob off Angela by mentioning the strange noise she makes when she eats. He then tries to get Bob interested in Monica by claiming that she is too much for him in bed. In the restroom, Monica's confusion increases when Angela tells her how good Bob is in bed. Angela then begins cozying up to Bob, making Monica uncomfortable. She realizes that they are not brother and sister and decides to leave, until Joey tells her the truth and convinces her to help him break Angela and Bob up.

Back at the coffee house, Chandler attempts to dump Janice. When he eventually manages to blurt it out, Janice is on the verge of crying. An over-energized Chandler, having consumed eleven espressos, accidentally flails his hand and hits Janice in the eye. Phoebe tries to calm him down, but she realizes that he can't break up with Janice, so she goes over and does it for him. Janice leaves Central Perk, but not before smiling and waving at Chandler.

Phoebe, Ross, and Rachel meet in the coffee house. Monica and Joey enter, triumphant because they successfully broke up Bob and Angela. Rachel asks where Chandler is, and Phoebe responds that he needed time to grieve, only to see Chandler running down the street, joyously yelling, "I'm free!" Phoebe notes that he must be done grieving.

Cast and Crew

Main Cast

Jennifer Aniston - Rachel Green
Courteney Cox - Monica Geller
Lisa Kudrow - Phoebe Buffay
Matt LeBlanc - Joey Tribbiani
Matthew Perry - Chandler Bing
David Schwimmer - Ross Geller

Supporting Cast

Camille Saviola - The Horrible Woman
Kim Gillingham - Angela
Jack Armstrong - Bob
Maggie Wheeler - Janice


Directed By:
Pamela Fryman

Written By:
Jeff Greenstein & Jeff Strauss


  • This is the first on-screen kiss of Ross and Rachel in the series.
  • This is the first appearance of Janice in the show.
  • Ross's detergent Überweiss is German for "above white".
  • The executive producer credits are moved to the end of the opening sequence, with the creator credits preceding them.
  • When Chandler tries to break up with Janice in Central Perk, Maggie Wheeler talks about shopping at 0:35-0:40, she speaks in Janice's original voice, but then speaks in the voice Janice has for the rest of the series.


  • A sign in the laundromat reads "lost cloths" not "lost clothes", though a surprising number of laundromats have the same spelling error.
    • Although it's possible that they actually do mean cloths and it is not a spelling error, assuming that people wash more than just their clothes.
  • Rachel tells Ross that she can't even send back soup, but she sends back a drink in "The One With The Flashback" (S3E6), which chronologically was a year earlier. However, Rachel's personality changed drastically since then - she used to be very outgoing and extremely snobby and girly, but when she came to New York, she became more down-to-earth and shy.
  • In this episode, Monica says she sees Ugly Naked Guy laying kitchen tiles. However, it is impossible for Monica to see into his kitchen. As we see in Season 5 when Ross gets that apartment, the kitchen is in the upper right of the screen with a door, and in "The One Where Everybody Finds Out " (S5E14), when Phoebe finds out about Chandler and Monica, a straight on shot of the window in that apartment shows it is impossible to see the kitchen.
  • When Rachel yells to the horrible woman and says "You're gonna have to take me with it", Ross is mouthing the line with her.
  • Monica, confesses to Angela (Joey's ex-girlfriend who he's trying to get back with) in the ladies room, "Wow. My brother never even told me when he lost his virginity." However, in the previous episode, "The One With George Stephanopoulos" Ross clearly says that he told "Everyone" about his first time of being intimate with Carol, which we later find out was his "first time ever" with a woman. Monica, especially remembers this fact and the date (October the 20th). This means that he did tell her about when he lost his virginity.


Horrible Woman: Hey, hey, hey, there aren't any clothes in it!
Rachel: Hey, hey, hey, hey, quit making up rules!
Rachel: It was horrible! He called me "young lady."
Chandler: I hate when my father calls me that.

Episode Navigation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Preceded by
"The One With George Stephanopoulos"
"The One With The East German Laundry Detergent" Followed by
"The One With The Butt"

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