Saturday, January 24, 2009

Further exploration with lower power clothes drying

A few weeks ago the clothes dryer at my house broke down which led me on an exploratory journey: Powering down on drying clothes is a serious look into what it would take to replace an aspect of modern American living with a lower power equivalent. If it is true we face a future of dwindling energy resources we as people need to learn, or perhaps relearn, ways of living with lower energy inputs. I've done a bit more exploration, have a better solution in hand, but it is not yet completely satisfactory.

Lazy Line Dry was very interesting to read. Of course, so simple, this isn't complicated at all, it just requires a clothes line.

Clothes Line is a specific kind of rope available pretty much everywhere. I found a 100 foot length available for a few dollars at the local hardware store, bought that and some nails.

Location presents a little challenge with clothes lines. Drying clothes outdoors runs the risk of them being rained on, right? But drying them indoors means taking up living space with clothes on a line. Currently I've run my clothes line in the garage between a pair of nails.

One problem with the current situation is drooping line. The line is pretty long and droops in the middle, and the clothes tend to bunch at the droop. Not good. Perhaps it's going to require a shorter line and certainly keeping the line taught minimizes the droop.

The Lazy Line Dry article offers an interesting labor saving suggestion. Simply put the clothes directly on a hanger, and hang the hanger on the line. The stereotype for clothes line use is to use clothes pins to pin clothes to the line. But if you put the clothes directly on a hanger it saves a fair bit of work, especially over the work required with a machine dryer. Running clothes through a machine dryer takes a lot of steps of unloading the washer, loading the dryer, unloading the dryer, folding clothes, hanging clothes, etc. Clipping clothes to a clothes line is fewer steps but still more steps than simply putting the clothes on a hanger in the first place.

It's suggested to use plastic hangers rather than steel wire ones. Hurm. I have a collection of wire hangers I've owned for 30+ years. They were inherited from my father and they're still in good shape and still do a great job. But the article has a good point, that steel can rust and stain clothes. But given that I've owned these hangers for over 30 years and they haven't rusted yet I wonder how valid that concern is.

One thing I found is for drying pants the hangers which have clips on them are essential. You clip the pants to the hanger, and the pants hang straight down. I've for decades hung pants folded on a wire hanger but have found that wet pants hung this way do not dry very well on the folded part. Pants hung straight have an easier time of drying out.

There is another option besides the traditional clothes line. I found plastic clips that hang on the top of a door. These are strong and can easily hold wet clothes to dry. Simply buy enough of these clips to hang on all the doors in your house, then spread the clothes (on hangers) among those clips.

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