Monday, May 7, 2007

It's Hanging Time

Technically, I hang laundry year round. There are always loads of bike clothes to hang dry, or bedding. Sometimes the winter weather is warm and I manage to get an entire load on the line. Still, May is when I start to hang laundry in earnest. I change the laundry routine and make an effort not to use the dryer at all.

I suppose this is an area I could do better in. I could find a way to air dry all of the laundry year round, using folding racks, wall racks, or these really cool pull down racks. The problem is, all of these solutions cost money. I calculated the cost of operating my clothes dryer, and it worked out to about $5 a month if I used the dryer exclusively, and that didn't even take into consideration that my clothes are coming from a front loading high efficiency washing machine, so the clothes are well on their way to being dry before they get put in. I hang full time for about half of the year, and part time for the rest of the year, so my annual expense is closer to $20.

We always have this tug between what is right environmentally and what works for us financially; sometimes the environment wins (buying organic groceries, organic underclothing, and spending more for Energy Star appliances), sometimes being frugal wins (not installing solar power or buying indoor clothes racks).

In truth, I'd love a big umbrella drying rack for outside. My problem is that I don't want the less expensive imported version, I want the made in the USA rack. At $199 it would take a long time to pay for itself, especially when I consider that most of the time what I am using now works well enough. I have two lengths of old cotton clothesline; one is tied around a palm tree and the basketball hoop, the other goes between the hoop and a different tree. When the boys want to play basketball I have to take down the line that goes from the palm tree to the hoop. Sometimes they are unhappy about not playing basketball while I have clothes on the line. The system does, however, work. My expense has been limited to buying new clothes pins as needed. As a bonus, I hang over concrete, and my lines don't shade any of my growing areas.

Of course, if I was making the choice now, I probably would have chosen not to buy the gas dryer, and instead would have installed a sturdy, permanent system outside as well as purchased indoor drying racks. I'm sure I would have come out ahead. In a drying emergency I could put the wet clothes in the bike trailer and head for the coin laundry.

Anyway, today I started our warm weather laundry system (I did get a head start yesterday by washing and line drying all of the bedding for the twin bed). I usually wash everyday that we are home, alternating between a cold water load and a hot water load. During the winter I wash only three times a week; the dryer works more efficiently if it doesn't have to cool down between loads.

I ordered this small hanging dryer rack; the plastic one I bought 9 years ago was involved in a mishap with young children (mine claim that it was not them, but a friend). The small rack works great for socks and small wash rags, and saves space so that I can hang the big loads that my washing machine accommodates. I'd love a metal spinning rack, but they are too expensive. I need new pins this year (I use both kinds, and find that each has its purpose); those we'll get from the dollar store.

Why don't I hang my lines from the fence? Most of it just isn't sturdy enough for the weight of a loaded clothesline, and new fencing is expensive!

1 comment:

  1. I have GOT to get myself into drying on the line, I just always hated how stiff it always left my clothes when I was a kid... I should be able to get over that though.