Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One-month solar dryer anniversary

I've been air-drying my clothes, towels, sheets and cleaning rags for a month now, and I seem to still be going strong. I had my doubts that I would be able to stick with the routine since it takes slightly longer than just throwing them in the dryer. However, with practice I have cut down on the time it takes to put up and take down my laundry and found that I enjoy the excuse to get outdoors. Luckily, the clothesline is in the shade so it is enjoyable to be out there almost any time of day.

I have noticed that some clothes are slightly more wrinkly, and towels more stiff. I try to give them a quick "snap!" as I am first hanging them up, and I've learned to hang shirts up by the bottom and pants up by the waist. The wrinkles seem to ease out as they are hanging up in my closet. Also, the laundry has a faint outdoorsy scent when the clothes come off the line. But that fades and I don't notice it when I wear them.

The main benefit has just been the satisfaction that I get from using less energy, although at this time of year a close second is avoiding the additional heat from the dryer, which stresses out my geothermal HVAC system. I'm sure I'm saving some money, but it's probably $10 a month, at most. However, if my dryer ever broke it would be nice to know I didn't need to pay that $300 - 400 - 500 expense. An unexpected benefit has been the fun my two-year old son has playing with the laundry on the line. He likes to hide behind the sheets and run in and out of the clothes. It's actually kind of a fun activity to do together.

The only issue is making sure to do the laundry when there is no rain threatening. I have to do laundry on a certain schedule, because I run out of certain items rather regularly, and so I have only a short window of opportunity - if I miss it due to rain, then I'll have to use the dreaded dryer. So far that hasn't happened. And in Oklahoma City, I don't see it as being too frequent of a problem. We'll see how I hold up with my routine during fall and winter...

If anyone is interested in starting to sundry their laundry, but doesn't happen to have a former kiwi trellis boondoggle around just begging to be used as a solar dryer, you could check out this article for some clothesline options.


Chile said...

Good to hear it's become a part of your routine. A good indoor rack would help with the rain issue. When it rains, I just airdry everything inside on racks. In fact, I have to do that with jeans because I have a wimpy clothesline that can't take their wet weight.

A fan blowing on the clothes inside will dry them quickly. You can hang shirts up on plastic or coated hangers (to avoid rust) and hand them up on the shower curtain rod to dry, too.

Tara said...

I've been line drying for about a year, and I find that all my laundry gets done faster that way. I have LOTS of clothesline, so I can have multiple loads drying at once, which cuts down on backlog. Amazingly, though, I've been thwarted the last two weeks in a row due to rain, which is highly unusual in Texas in July (but I'm NOT complaining!)

Lewru said...

I've found that adding 1/4-1/2 cup of vinegar helps soften things up. Important for those towels!

I love being able to use the clothesline. I love the smell!

MN_homesteader said...

We created a clothes line between our chicken coop and some old pipes sticking out of the ground. It works well until about 2 weeks ago when corn in our 3 sisters bed got to the height that is now brushing the bottoms of the sheets. We are finding other places to dry those naturally in the mean time. Great post!

Trailshome said...

I went many years without a dryer so got quite comfortable with using a clothesline. I do object to the wrinkled shirts though. One solution to those things is to throw them into the dryer for just a few minutes to tumble and just warm up, then hang them on hangers to dry. I hung two wire shelves from the wall in the laundry room, and plastic hangers will hang there to dry year around.

I love that outdoors smell and there's nothing better than to slip into a bed freshly made with line dried sheets.

Good for you.

Nick said...

It's unfortunate that people got out of the habit of using clotheslines. They save so much energy, and it is kind of peaceful to hang the clothes.

Rainy days and winter make outdoor drying difficult, but people can air dry their clothes by using a laundry drying rack like this one I have. Being round it works really nice under a ceiling fan!