Thursday, November 15, 2007

Why didn't I think of this in the summer?

Another reason the dad in our family shouldn't work from home: if he does, I'll ask him to hang a clothesline. My husband and I are both enthusiasts so when I say, "Do you think that rope in the car could be used for an indoor clothesline?" Eric immediately finds something that will work even better and installs it for me. We don't really have the neighborhood for a clothesline outdoors and we don't have much space indoors. I bought a collapsible drying rack when we first moved here but it never really took. It was just too easy to lift the stuff out of the washer and throw it in the dryer.

Now that I've got our laundry routine down I'm turning our recent frugal fanaticism on the dryer. We don't know how much it costs to run our dryer. One friend of mine who lives in the same neighborhood and has similar amounts and types of laundry as me (i.e. she also washes diapers) recently bought a dryer and her electric bill went up fifty percent in one month. Yikes.

I gave the drying rack a shot again last week. I hung our diapers on them. Twenty-four hours later they were still wet and we were out of diapers so I had to throw them all in the dryer. Even if they had dried, I don't want to put stiff, sandpapery diapers on my sweet little children, so I think I'll stick to machine drying the diapers. Ditto towels. Call me a wimp but we're not even heating the place, yet. I really want a soft towel when I get out of the shower.

I really, really want to use the dryer less. My motivations are similar to our bun freezing experiment: I want to save money and maybe do a good turn for the planet while I'm at it. So, today we hung a line diagonally across the small back room where the washing machine is located. It's long enough that if I use hangers I can fit a lot on it and we think it will hold a fair amount of weight.

I've been successfully navigating two laundry days each week for awhile, now, and our wardrobe is designed with this schedule in mind. The kids and I have exactly enough clothes to get between laundry days (Eric seems to get a lot of hand-me-downs). This drying method will take a lot longer--maybe a day or two--so I'm going to have to alter my laundry schedule to accommodate it, but I think I'll give it a go for a month. We'll see how our electric bill likes it and how our wardrobes deal with it. Even if I only hang the clothes that are normally hung on hangers, that's probably four less loads of laundry going through the dryer each week.


Robyn said...

Good idea! In the summer we used to have a clothesline in our bedroom in addition to our drying rack in the kitchen...because of humidity. Things took longer in the summer.

I found that my diapers would dry quicker and softer depending on how much water was left in the diaper when coming out of the washer. With our old machine, enough water came out that the diapers were "dry" enough to line dry well. With our new machine, I have tried it and it did not work at all. Very stiff, yucky diapers.

I like the clothes idea. The one difference I have noticed is that I don't need to iron our clothes anywhere near as often using a dryer compared to when we hung them.

Go Q Go!!

Tracie said...

I used to live in Italy, and now Germany. Electricity is so expensive over here that I've had to completely re-think how I use my dryer. Here's my "rules" developed over a few years (especially in Italy). I hope they help!

- sheets always go from the washer to the dryer. They're too big for any of my drying racks/clotheslines, so it's a practicality issue. I do generally line-dry and then iron pillowcases, only because I like to.

- underwear, socks and pajamas are always line dried. No one notices wrinkles in your underwear, LOL! Surprisingly, since we started line-drying our socks we have found that they last much longer and the colors stay "truer" longer, too.

- Items that I know I will end up ironing anyway are line-dried. This includes some shirts and sweaters, my French-made dish towels, hubby's handerkerchiefs, etc.

- All other items (permanent press clothing, blue jeans, towels, etc.) are line-dried to the point of barely damp, and then thrown in the dryer for 10 or 15 minutes. This eliminates wrinkles, gives that "dryer soft" feel, and removes any lingering traces of dampness.

If I had a baby in diapers, I'd either follow the routine for sheets (in the dryer immediately) or the one for blue jeans (dryer for the last 10 minutes or so). It would probably depend on how many diapers I had.

Line-drying saves a *lot* of money, but there are drawbacks. You WILL iron more, especially if you don't want to walk around looking like you slept in your clothes. Don't let anyone kid you on this aspect of line-drying.

Susan said...

Confession: I haven't ironed an article of clothing since my son was born three years ago. This is mostly because his birth coincided with us moving to an apartment with a dryer.

But I actually love to iron. I love laundry chores. I'll need to figure out an ironing routine . . . and get a new iron. Hmm . . . where's that Christmas list my mom asked for?

Mrs T said...

In England we didn't have a dryer -- in the winter, we draped laundry over all our radiators (so it was stiff as a board AND folded in two, an unbeatable combination!).

In the summer we do dry quite a bit on the line, but I have to confess that after four years of no dryer, I tend to go overboard with mine.

Mrs. T said...

Rats, I think I just left that last comment under my teenage daughter's blog name . . . I am NOT a pirate queen, and neither is she, really! (don't know what possessed her)