Do y’all remember hanging out clothes when you were a little kid? That was one of the chores I learned to do as soon as I was tall enough to reach the clothes line. If I close my eyes, I can smell the damp freshness of the linen sheets (yes, we had real linens) and hear the sound of them snapping in a Texas breeze. As a memory, it is very sweet, but hanging clothes on the line was hard work! Carrying a laundry basket filled with damp clothes is a workout, indeed.
Once my Momma could afford an electric dryer, she never hung out clothes again. Right about now, she is rolling in her grave — after all, she spent most of her life wishing that she had a clothes dryer. Here I have a perfectly good dryer and use a clothesline instead. Yes, it’s true. In my attempts to be kind to Mother Earth and to be gentle to my wallet, I turned last summer to that archaic method of drying clothes: the clothes line or the drying racks.
If my bloomers looked as good as these, I would proudly hang them on my clothesline outside. Instead, I hide my
granny drawers freshly laundered underwear in my garage on drying racks.
Y’all should thank me for that.
You realize, of course, that every time we use our clothes dryers, we are consuming electricity (or natural gas). How much? See for yourself. Michael Bluejay, AKA “Mr. Electricity,” has a handy energy calculator tool that will give you a rough estimate of the amount of electricity that various appliances use. I used it to calculate what we used with our clothes dryer.
I figured that Mr. Tucker and I run about three loads of laundry a week for two people. That’s about 12 loads a month. We have an older dryer and it takes about an hour to fully dry a load of towels. According to that calculator, at 12 cents a kilowatt, I’m only spending $76 per year to dry clothes. Now, a savings of $6.36 for a month might not seem like much — but that will buy me a mocha and a muffin! God knows that I need my mocha!
However, that calculator didn’t take into account that sometimes I have been known to forget I have a load of clothes in the dryer and later discover that I let my husband’s work clothes get wrinkled. My husband’s work clothes are dress slacks and buttoned down shirts! Wrinkled is not good. Since ironing is a skill that I’m trying to forget that I have, I usually popped a damp towel in with the clothes and ran them a little longer.
On top of that, the calculator doesn’t factor how hard the air conditioner has to work to dissipate the heat that using the dryer generated. And, it doesn’t calculate the effect of that energy usage on the environment. At Project Laundry List, the site suggests that if every American household hung out their laundry to dry, the savings would be enough to be able to close several power plants. Think of the greenhouse gasses that would not be generated!
Other than my small attempt to shrink my environmental footprint and my desire to be frugal, here are the top three reasons that I am drying my clothes the old fashioned way:
- It doesn’t take any longer. Yes, that’s what I said. I hang my shirts and slacks on plastic coat hangers (do not use metal since it might rust) straight from the washing machine and place them on the clothes rack to dry. The rack is portable, so I can roll it outside to use solar power to dry them or let them dry inside. I was going to have to hang them up anyway.
- I like the smell of laundry that has been dried in the sun (and some folks say that the ultra-violet light kills viruses and bacteria).
- My clothes last longer. That lint that you find in the dryer trap is being beaten out of your clothes!
I’m not even going to mention that the exercise of hanging the clothes is good for me.
Perhaps you live in an area that has a Homeowner’s Association and you can’t hang the clothes on a line? No worries. I found wooden laundry racks at The Container Store costing from $10-$30 that will hold an entire load of towels. I bought them last summer, and I figure they have already paid for themselves. This winter, when my house was full of static electricity, I dried clothes right in the bedroom to help add humidity to the house. No more zaps for me!
I imagine I will still backslide and use my dryer occasionally, just because of the convenience. I know some of you will decide that drying clothes on the line is not worth the trouble. If you must use a dryer, remember these things to help be more energy efficient:
- Clean the lint trap after every use. Not only do you help your dryer run more efficiently, you reduce the risk of a fire hazard.
- Dry a full load at a time, but don’t overload the dryer. It will take longer to dry, and the clothes will get more wrinkled.
- Wash and dry clothes in an “off peak” time (early morning or late at night)
- If you are lucky enough that your dryer has a moisture sensor, use it!
- Listen for that timer on your dryer, and take out the clothes immediately so you don’t have the wrinkles.
- Or, run around nekkid. Nudists don’t have to worry about these issues, do they?
Remember what Benjamin Franklin said:
else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.”
Come and “hang out” with me. Do you hang your clothes, or will you never (never ever) give up your dryer?