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« The Winter Garden | Main | Science Enrichment - Trees 01 - What is science? What is a tree? Exploring Leaves. »

Put your clothes on the rack, and let Nature dry them for free!

I'm trying to use less energy, for a lot of reasons. To save money, to keep our carbon footprint minimal, etc. Lately I've been reading up on line drying of clothes...the average US household spends 6% of the total energy bill on running the clothes dryer. Plus, our clothing has been getting shrunk by the excessive heat of our dryer. Fits fine when I buy it, after I dry it a few times, it's tiny. Even our fleece clothing shrinks up, sweatpants turn into high waters! If I turn the heat down, then it doesn't dry all the way.

I bought one of these expandable accordion-style drying racks many years ago for drying delicates in my tiny San Francisco apartment. It has been sitting in my laundry room folded up on a shelf (it folds down flat, which is great) until a few weeks ago when I read how most Japanese apartment dwellers air-dry their clothing using these same racks, hardly anyone uses gas/electric dryers. That article reminded me that I had a rack like this, so I resolved to start using it for at least every other load of laundry. Took it down, dusted it off, and put it to work.

Turns out, it's great! I usually do a load of laundry around dinnertime, hang it up in about 5 minutes, and it's dry by morning. Our clothes don't get as much wear and tear, and our utility bill has gone down by about 10%.

The only disadvantage is that some fabrics (usually heavy cotton) come out a bit crispy, but I have figured out that I can hang them on the rack until they are almost dry, then I throw them in the dryer for the last few minutes of drying time. And even if they are crispy, usually they soften up within a few minutes of wearing.

I was also surprised to find that outdoor drying on a line (which is what I thought of when I thought of air drying your clothes) is not optimal. Dirt, dust, bird poop, tree sap, leaves, etc. can dirty your clothes. It's better to dry them inside and keep them clean. Saves a lot of hauling of wet clothes too.

Another added benefit to drying inside, especially in winter, is that it will humidify your air and make it easier to breathe. Pretty cool!

I just found this URL (http://www.tiptheplanet.com/index.php?title=Air_dry_washing) with every possible type of air drying device for clothing on it, plus resources for where to buy. Astounding. There are some really cool gadgets on there. They knock my accordion rack, but eh...considering that I already have it and use it and like it OK, I'll keep it. It's true that it's difficult to dry sheets on it. Maybe someday I'll make an investment in one of the other racks. Europe has all the killer technology, of course.

Comments

Hi Laura,

I found your site through your sig on MidPeninsula-DFB. I like your blog! It talks about a lot of the issues I constantly obsess about :)

About the drying rack, we used this while staying at an inn/hostel in New Zealand and found that with some rearranging you can get a surprising amount of stuff dried at once. Once we got home, I looked for these accordion style dryer racks on my local freecycle list but none surfaced (I really wanted one secondhand).

Anyway, thank you for writing your blog and see you on the DFB list :)

Warmly,
Patty Pozon Aguayo

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