Friday, February 24, 2012

Line Dry

For more info on our cloth diapers, see HERE.

So, our dryer broke a few weeks ago.  We bought our washer and dryer (used) as a mismatched set from a really nice burly old guy on Craigslist when we moved in last June.  The guy we bought them from brought them here and set them up for us, which was really nice.  We're total cheapskates and we never tip people if we can help it, but we tipped him.  We were just so grateful that we didn't have to haul the washer and dryer down to the basement by ourselves and we had (still have) no idea how to hook them up.  So we were kind of eternally grateful.  I still think back on that and feel warm and fuzzy remembering how kind he was to us.

Anyway, our dryer died.  I don't think it was the guy's fault.  It's just an older used dryer and, ya know, it's gotta die sometime.  Bry called a repair guy (on Craigslist) and the guy said it sounded like a problem with the motor.  At first I thought maybe he was trying to scam us into a nice expensive repair job, but instead he suggested we just buy another used dryer; he said it would be cheaper.

But we haven't bought another dryer yet.  I think if we had kept the phone number for the nice guy we bought the first one from, we'd call him and buy another one.  He kind of seemed to be in the used washer and dryer business.  I think he fixed them up and sold them as kind of a side job.  But, unfortunately, we didn't keep his contact information.  And so we've been lazy about replacing our broken dryer.

Partly it's the cost--we just don't feel like paying for one with our grad student "income."  (I'm using that word as joke, by the way.)  But more than that it's the hassle of having to get rid of the old one, buy a new one, and get the new one downstairs & hooked up.  Not to mention sifting through used dryers on Craigslist so we can find one to buy.  I did so much sifting on Craigslist when we first moved in that I got pretty sick of it and haven't been excited about doing it since.  Lazy and dumb, I know, but true.

In the mean time, we obviously still need to keep having clean clothes.  At first Bryan (the usual household laundry-doer) took to hanging things all over the stuff we have stored in our utility room in the basement (where the washer and dryer are).  But since there aren't very many optimal clothes-hanging places and since a lot of the stuff in there is kind of dusty, I picked up a clothesline ($1) and a couple of packs of clothespins ($1 per pack) at--you guessed it--the dollar store.  Bry hammered some nails into the support beams that run across the ceiling and hung the clothesline.  And that's how we've been drying our clothes ever since.

Honestly, I have mixed feelings about it.

Deep down there is this earthy, home-grown, granola-loving, Oregonian girl inside me that says, "This feels right."  Years ago I remember seeing a comic where a washing machine and dryer are talking and the washer says to the dryer something along the lines of, "Good thing they have you since air can do the same thing."  I haven't forgotten it because, well, it's true.  Air can do the same thing.  Not as nicely or as quickly, but for a much cheaper price.

By not buying a new dryer yet, we're not only saving the money we'd be spending on the dryer, but we're also saving that money in electricity.  It's win-win, in that sense.  $3 for a clothesline and a couple of packs of clothespins or $150 and up for another used dryer plus the cost of running it?  When you put it like that, it's a no-brainer.

On the other hand, here's what I miss about drying our clothes in a dryer: speed, softness, and a lack of abundant wrinkles.

Speed: Throwing the wet clothes in a dryer and having them ready to wear in about a half hour is great.  And it makes it so you can do multiple loads of laundry in a day.  Or in a few hours.  With a clothes line, we have to wait in between each load of wash to make sure there's enough space on the line to dry our clothes.

Softness: We've never bothered with fabric softener or dryer sheets.  It's just an extra cost for something that doesn't make a big difference to us.  But just drying clothes in a dryer gives them a softness that you don't get with a line dry.  When we first put our clothes on, there's a stiffness to them.  It goes away after you start to move a little, but, ya know, it's one of the noticeable differences between line drying and using a dryer.

Wrinkles: It's true, our clothes are always wrinkled now that we're hanging them up to dry.  But this actually doesn't bother me so much.  Partly because we were never there to open the dryer door the moment it finished a load, so our clothes were usually wrinkled anyway.  And, like the stiffness thing, with t-shirts and most of the things we wear on a daily basis, the wrinkles tend to go away after you put the clothes on and start to move a little.  And, of course, for things like dress shirts, Bry has to iron them before he wears them anyway.

So, actually, I don't care very  much about the softness or the wrinkles.  Which means that, really, the only reason for wanting a dryer is the time it saves.  Less time having clothes dried, less time spent hanging them up and taking them down.

Admittedly, those don't seem like good enough reasons for me.  Paying that much for something that's a little bit faster?  That doesn't seem like us.  That's not Living With Less.  Oh, I'm not against ever owning another dryer.  I'm sure someday we'll have own and happily use another one.  But I don't know that that day will be coming very soon.  Because, if you want to know the truth, there is something deeper than growing up among tree huggers that makes line drying sing to my heart.

It's what our grandmothers did.

Hanging things up to dry and then taking them down later has this inexplicable way of making me feel like a good housewife.  More than loading the clothes in the dryer or the dishes in the dishwasher.  It's real, old-fashioned work on behalf of my family.  And there is something in me that enjoys it.  So I've been making a conscious effort to do the laundry lately, instead of waiting for Bryan to do it.

When we lived on the third floor of our old apartment complex and every load of laundry had to be hauled down to the little laundry mat, it made sense to me for Bryan to be in charge of that chore.  I was pregnant and then had a new baby and it was just plain easier for Bryan to do it.  And then when we moved things just didn't change.  But I'm trying to change.

I'm certainly no quintessential housewife that has dinner on the table when Bryan walks in the door (which is a good thing, anyway, since he comes home in the early afternoon most days) wearing heels and pearls and never letting my husband touch a broom or change a dirty diaper.  Bryan and I are a team and I love that.  But I am trying to be better about reclaiming my housewife role when it comes to doing laundry.  Especially since Bryan could really use the time studying.

There's just something about physically hanging clothes up to dry.  

Do you know that feeling?

My friends think I'm crazy.  But I think there's something to it.


Liz said...

Do you have the option to hang clothes outside? On a sunny/breezy day, they'll dry faster than indoors. And nothing beats the smell of bedding that has dried outside on the washing line!

Callie said...

I've been trying to get things set up to line dry my cloth diapers but the inserts never dry! It could be just me, but it seems like it would only work if I hung them outside when the weather was warmer. I do like the idea of saving a little money though. ;)

Kathy Haynie said...

I know exactly what you mean. I used wooden drying racks (and an outside line when it wasn't raining) for years. That stiffness in the dried clothes always felt "old fashioned" to me, and I kind of liked it. Once the family got bigger, then I went back to college and started working full time, it just wasn't practical. But now that's it's just two of us again, you've got me thinking. My basement was always too damp to use for clothes drying, so I have been a big fan of drying racks. Like this:

Jennifer said...

I know the feeling and I secretly love it.

Lisa Lou said...

I've read that by adding some vinegazr to the rince cycle helps with softness and doesn't leave a smell... i haven't tried it yret

Lisa Lou said...

(typing with one hand whilr feeding a baby...)

Janelle said...

Add the savings of clothes that don't wear out as fast due to drying in the dryer (lint = broken clothing fibers) and there is even more reason to line dry. And, if you can hang it in the sun, there is also the sun sanitizing benefit.

I also like the rhythm of hanging them and my favorite part - smelling them when I take them down from hanging in the sun. Of course, we live in the desert, so daytime isn't my favorite time to do that, but if I can get laundry up early, it's heavenly.

Spark*Amy said...

Vinegar is awesome in the fabric softener dispenser. I haven't used dry sheets or softener in years. There is no smell once dried. Plus it keeps the washer fresher as well. Have you looked at in your area. Someone might have a dryer to give away.

Emily said...

I really love this post. It's true. There really is something about line drying clothes. I like what you said: This just feels right. It does. It feels right. It feels home-y. It feels like nature. It feels like we're serving our families in a special way. I love it. We hang dry our clothes every week when we go to the beach and I love it. :) I'm not sure how I would survive if I line dried all the time but I feel like I know what you mean. :)

alee said...

I just got an email from my freecycle today looking to give away 3 used if you ever do decide you want that convenience again I would second the suggestion to try there. :)

Polly @ Pieces by Polly said...

Uh...we used to line dry our clothes and cloth diapers and it was kinda fun, I agree...when we had one child. The thought of doing all our laundry that way now with three kids and #4 on the longer seems so romantic and fun.

Mirela said...

Hi there, it's my first time here on your blog. I found it on Pinterest and honestly, I've been reading it the whole evening. Great ideas and great sense of humor. Win-win :) I'm looking forward to more posts in the "Live with less" section!

I agreed with almost 99% of what you write, but I had to comment on this one. It just made me smile. ok... laugh a little [don't hold a grudge, please].

Sooo... I just have a little question: Are you aware that in some countries you can't even find a dryer to buy if you wanted to? [ok, we're talking Romania here, but still, it's European Union, not third world country. And yes, IF I really wanted a dryer, I COULD pay an arm and a leg and get one, shipped from (China via) the States].

BUT, I am 36 years old and I have never owned one, nor did any of the people I know have ever owned one [and you must agree, that by 36 you get to know quite a lot of people].

In fact, I have never seen a clothes dryer in my life, except in photos on the internet. Actually, for a long time I never quite understood why Americans needed two washing machines in their laundry rooms. It took me a while to figure out "the extra one" had a completely different function.

Bottom line 99,99% of the Romanians (I don't know the percentage in other European countries, but it's pretty high too)hang their clothes to dry. And it works just fine, even when they have 14 children. [I honestly know a family who has just that many].

So, YES, you are right, stop second guessing yourself. It feels right, because it is right. I'm only so lucky we don't have them here, cos' there's no dilemma for me. :)

Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...

I love Mirela's comment...

We live in the Philippines; married 31 years.

When I was raised in central Missouri, though, Mother used a clothesline while raising four kids. But we did use the dryer in the wintertime.

I could get along well without my dryer, as I only "knock out the wrinkles" in our clothes for 10 minutes in the dryer, then they're hung up. I'm still going to iron them, too. I do dry towels and sheets until they're dry...

And I had never seen lint = broken fibers before these comments. Eye-opening.

White vinegar is cheap by the gallon, too. A great water softener for not only your wash, but for rinsing your hair, too. I put 1/4 cup in a gallon jug and fill it with water. Just set it in the tub. Hair shines, too!

How we each choose to care for our home and family is our personal choice, not a status symbol. THAT we care for these is called stewardship.

Maydijo said...

I was born and raised in the US and moved to Australia when I was 19. Very few people here use their dryers. Even if they have them (and we do) people will go to ridiculous lengths not to use them. I'm one of those people. I can't stand using our dryer; I'm not quite sure why we still have it, except that my parents hate hanging things out on the line when they visit. Most of the time it's quicker than the dryer; in the winter, when it's slower, you can still find a way to get it all done by picking your day or using hanging racks. It's also much better on your clothes. (Ever notice how your red shirts look pink after a few times in the dryer?) The hard-clothes problem is easily solved, just use half the recommended amount of laundry powder. It'll save you money and the clothes get just as clean.