Posts Tagged ‘line drying’

Laundry Day #7

April 19, 2010


Pants: 1
Shirts: 10
Shorts: 1

Temperature: Cold

Cost: $1.75

What have we learned?

Today is National Hanging Out Day. To celebrate I washed a Cold Delicate load and hung it “out” to dry on the drying rack in my bathtub. Living in an apartment, I don’t actually have an “out” in which to hang my laundry. I do what I can.

“For many people, hanging out clothes is therapeutic work. It is the only time during the week that some folks can slow down to feel the wind and listen to the birds,” says Project Laundry List on its website.

For me, every aspect of the laundry process is therapeutic in some way (in case you haven’t noticed), but I appreciate PLL’s perspective on this as well as its advocacy for the use of clotheslines as a way to reduce energy consumption.

Laundry makes a statement.

To Everything There is a Season

April 7, 2010

We mark the passing of the seasons through laundry: Socks turns from black to white and back again; sleeves grow longer then shorter then longer again; fabrics shed weight and texture, then fatten up.

Bright colored T-shirts and (in a month or so) sleeveless blouses drip dry from the shower rod. There are the requisite black Ts of course, but they hang alongside melon, lime, and raspberry—the flavors of the season. Pumpkin, red, and gold would seem incongruous now.

Everything takes a little longer to dry now that the heat has been turned off, but the air around the laundry rack is cool and moist, and the scent of fabric softener creates the illusion of having my own clothesline in the sun. If I close my eyes I can picture the fabric rippling in the breeze. And in the morning, the day seems brighter when I’m greeted by a drawer full of freshly laundered clothes.

Like the food we eat, the clothes we wear—and launder—change with the seasons.

Laundry is in sync with nature.

The Day I Started Running Hot

March 25, 2010

The day I started running hot was the day I read a report that said 100 percent of dust mites could be eliminated from fabrics by washing at temperatures of 140°F or over. Ever since then, sheets and towels have been strictly Normal Wash Hot. Underwear and athletic socks too. I’ve slept better ever since.

But not without misgivings.

The people who support air-drying laundry as a way to reduce household energy consumption also advocate washing in cold water for the same reason. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends it as well. So, while I won’t argue with the fact that heating the wash water accounts for 90 percent of the energy used by a household washing machine, I will say that cold water doesn’t have the same effect on my sheets and towels. Much as I hate to admit it, I make an exception for myself in this regard.

I do what I can to compensate—wash a full load and tumble dry it on a medium setting. I hang dry everything else.

Laundry reminds us that it’s hard to go through life without getting into hot water.

You’ll Never Wash Alone

March 20, 2010

My mother,
Your mother
Hanging out the clothes.
My mother punched
Your mother in the nose.
What color was the blood?

That’s what is known as a counting-out rhyme—a way to determine who’s going to be “It” in a playground game of hide and seek. And despite the fact that it’s a little gross (which is the way kids tend to like things), it’s also sort of sweet (the first part, anyway). Can’t you just see my mother and your mother hanging out the clothes? All right, maybe not my mother and your mother because they don’t know each other, and frankly I can’t remember my mother ever hanging out the clothes; but somebody’s mothers out in the backyard pegging sheets and socks to the clothesline, gabbing, and apparently engaging in fisticuffs.

Laundry is social. At least that’s how it was traditionally, whether townswomen were gathering at their local water source to wash their clothes or meeting over the backyard fence with baskets full of wet duds. It still is social, if you happen to live in a dorm, an apartment, or another place where you don’t have your own washer and dryer. Then you’re compelled (let’s not say “forced”) to visit the communal laundry room or the neighborhood launderette where you’re likely to meet up with your neighbors and you might even make new friends.

I know a couple who have been married for more than 20 years and who first laid eyes on each other in the laundry room of their apartment building. It happens…hopefully more often than two moms punching each other in the nose.

Good or bad, laundry is a shared human experience. Everyone has a laundry story. Just ask them.

Laundry Day #4

March 18, 2010


Shirts: 12
Pants: 5
Pajamas: 1

Temperature: Warm

Cost: $1.75

What have we learned?

Laundry lets us make our own choices.

This is the least costly load of wash I’ve done since beginning this blog. That’s because I washed the clothes ($1.75) but I didn’t tumble-dry them; thus saving $1.50 and a small amount of electricity and gas. It’s possible to figure out how much electricity and gas, I suppose, but I simply don’t feel like doing the math this time. (Sue me.)

I live in an apartment building with no outdoor access so my clothesline is actually a laundry rack set up in my bathtub. I don’t have the space to line-dry everything every time, but I do what I can. All shirts, pants and pjs are hung up to dry. Besides saving me money and saving a little bit of energy, line-drying keeps my clothes from shrinking.

On the other hand, in my building’s laundry room I regularly encounter neighbors who choose to use more than one dryer for their laundry. So, even though I didn’t use my “share” of the dryers today, they used twice their share. We’ve canceled each other out.

I’ve made my choice and they’ve made theirs.

Hanging Out

March 14, 2010

Project Laundry List is pursuing an interesting crusade: attempting to convince people—Americans in particular—to line dry their clothes instead of using tumble-dryers. You’d think this wouldn’t be a difficult task, but you’d be wrong.

Americans love their creature comforts—Hummers, cathedral ceilings, electric can openers—most of which (not so coincidentally) are energy hogs. Tumble-dryers are no exception: The Department of Energy estimates that they account for 6 percent of household energy usage in the United States. That seems extreme, and avoidable, which is part of Project Laundry List’s reason for being.

Making the campaign an uphill battle is that fact that line-drying laundry is actually—and bizarrely—against the law in many communities in the United States. This is somewhat akin to prohibiting people from riding bikes and walking, and forcing them to drive SUVs instead.

To someone, somewhere, this makes sense. Not to me. I’m in favor of hanging out.