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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Frugal laundry. . . .

So, my dryer died a few weeks ago. Well, I suppose to be honest it didn't really die, it's just very, very ill. It will spin all day long if I let it, but it won't heat up at all---which is not very helpful when one's laundry is cold and wet! I have the money in my emergency fund to have the dryer fixed (or even to purchase a new one, if need be) but my first thought when it stopped working was "how much money can I save by NOT using my dryer"?

According to the site CarbonRally:

"By line-drying 1 laundry load per week, you will reduce your CO2 emissions by 18.8 lbs and your energy cost by $1.40 after one month."
I have a couple of friends who dry their laundry the 'old fashioned' way---that is, they hang them up either outside in good weather, or in the basement in bad weather. I don't have a basement, but I do have a spare bedroom that could work. I've been cruising both Craigslist and Freecycle for the Portland area, trying to see if I could get a cheap (or free) drying rack, garment rack, or clothesline, and haven't had much luck. These items have been posted, but for whatever reason, their owners don't respond to my emails expressing interest! It's strange.

I did find a rather rickety drying rack at the Goodwill (remember, I'm on The Compact this year, and am trying NOT to purchase new) which is currently residing in my living room. To be honest, it's such a poorly made product (Target's 'Home' series---stay away, stay very far away from this brand) that I could have saved my $4.99 and done without it entirely by using hangers and the bar that holds my shower curtain in the bathroom.

In any case, since I keep my heat at a relatively low setting (58 degrees most days when I'm home, although sometimes I'll bump it up to 62 or 64 if I'm feeling really chilled) it takes about a week for most items to dry. Can I live with this? I'm not sure! I wish my dryer had chosen to break down in the summer, I can tell you that right now! It would be so much more convenient to hang some wet clothing outdoors in the morning and come home to find it dry in the afternoon.

I've also struggled with the extremely CRUNCHY feel of some items when they're air-dried, such as towels. I'm trying to look on the bright side, by telling myself that the extra roughness is contributing to the exfoliation of my skin! I've done some web research on this topic (of course!) and have heard that a 1/4 cup of vinegar in the wash load will help with this, which I plan to try with my next load.

I would love to hear from you all on this topic: do you use a dryer? A hybrid dryer-air-dry system? Or are you all air-dry, all the time? Do you have any tips for me? Suggestions and encouragement are most welcome! In the meantime, here are some of the sites I came across in my internet searches looking for information about life without a dryer:
  • Hillbilly Housewife challenged her readers to go without their dryers for a week; read the comments section for their reflections on this!
  • FIMBY (which stands for 'Fun In My Backyard') wrote a post about her family of five and their life without a dryer.
  • Life, in a Nutshell has a wonderful post about building her own clothesline! I'm not sure I'm that handy, but I'd love to find some cheap or free way to set up my own outdoor clothesline for when the weather improves. . .
  • According to this article in the Minnesota Star Tribune, 'public opinion' regarding outdoor clotheslines is changing. Apparently, some people would rather not see their neighbors' unmentionables hanging outside, for all the world to see!

11 comments:

Prince of Thrift said...

my dryer quit last year so I bought a used one to replace it, after several months. Well this year, it started tearing up clothes and fell apart inside. I don't plan to repair it. It will go to the junk yard for scrap metal and I will line dry everything.

Ethelapple said...

I just put out my first load on the line this week! It is so nice to have the weather to do so. During the summer, I rarely use the dryer and choose to line dry everything. Last summer, we had our electic bill down to about $32 dollars a month for a family of 4 because I did not use the dryer all summer.
In the winter, I use the dryer....

momstheword said...

I have a drying rack that just stands up in my bathub. I use it to dry shirts and slacks. They do take awhile to dry, although our therm. is set higher than yours.

I still use my dryer for towels and socks usually. Yes, vinegar will work as a softener.

I don't mean to be rude, but have you googled your situation to see if there's help. My dyer was having trouble drying once and it was a clog in the hose. I imagine you've already checked that but just thought I'd mention it.

My library has a book on how to repair dryers so maybe yours does too.

My dryer isn't fancy but it gets the job done!

Nancy said...

I would like to be able to line dry all my clothes, but the community association has outlawed it. I got one of the dryer racks from Walmart (much better than what the Target brand sounds like), but do continue to dry one load a week when I do sheets. I haven't figured out how to deal with that challenge inside.

Jan said...

Funny you should mention this- I've stopped using my dryer recently. I did this a few years ago, drying everything on lines in my basement in the winter. I got lazy and went back to the dryer, but have gotten serious again the past several weeks. Do try the vinegar-I've read one cup in the rinse, but my rinse dispenser only holds 1/2 cup. I started trying this because my son has excema and fabric softener makes it worse. Vinegar really gets residue out of clothes and I think it does help with the crunchy fabric problem! Be careful using a room for laundry that will be damaged from wet clothes. Could you dry everything on hangers strung across the room somehow? And maybe a fan blowing on them would speed things up? I know people used to hang clothes outside all year round, so I have faith there are options. Hey, you can tumble the towels in your cold dryer a bit t soften them up too. Happy hanging!
Jan

marci357 said...

During remodeling, I had no washer and no dryer and no kitchen sink- just the buckets in the shower routine for washing clothes. I had things hung on hangers all over the house, but as I had exposed 2x4's it was easy to find someplace to hang the hangers from.

If you have a farmer friend with baling twine off the hay bales, that makes a decent clothesline from a couple nails or toggle bolts or eyelet screws.

OK, so this is cool damp Oregon also... I solved the slow drying problem by turning a box fan on them. They dried a lot quicker that way. Once dry, if your dryer still goes around, you can run them for 10 minutes with a fabric softener sheet and a damp washcloth and they will de-crinkle a little. Ironing helped get the crinklies out also.

Good luck with it - it can be done :)

Tessie said...

I think you should go ahead and get your dryer fixed, since you have the moolah for it, but line dry as much as possible. It's true you can line dry anything you wash, but sometimes a dryer comes in handy, too. I have three dryer racks I purchased at Walmart for $9.97 each. On those I hang t-shirts, underwear, cloth napkins, sweatshirts etc. (stuff I normally fold). Stuff that gets ironed and hung in the closet is air dried on a rolling clothes rack. I have a huge master closet, that is very warm in the winter, that is a great spot for this. I use my dryer for big loads of little stuff (like socks), towels (bath & kitchen), and bed linens (I don't like crunchy towels, either).
Since you don't want to buy anything new, if you get your dryer fixed, than you can take the time to find just what you need to hang dry in your home at yard sales, where I have seen dryer racks and rolling clothes racks for cheap. Have a great(Frugal) day, and feel free to visit my own frugal blog at ideasforfrugalliving.com.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest checking the lint trap thoroughly before having a repair man come. Could save you some money. Remove the lint trap and check the ducts (I use a vaccum attachment to clean them). The lint build up makes your dryer work harder and takes longer to dry your clothes, not to mention it's a major fire hazard.

Otherwise, I'm a big fan of line drying!

Busters Mom said...

I have been though many dryer repairs. Check and see if you have a fuse burnt out first. Depending on what kind of fuse you have your dryer connected up you can either flip the leaver to reset it. If it screws in like mine. Those cost a few dollars for a box of 4.

Heating elements in a dryer are not hard to replace. They are under 100.00 for the part. Do it your self. If you do not have the instruction book you can find directions on line most of the time. Call a dryer repair place and see if you can buy the parts off of them.

Also clean out your lint trap!! And before replaceing the heating element try cleaning the lint out from around it if there is any. This can cause your dryer to not heat as well.

I tried to dry clothes in the house without a dryer. I have raditors. But we keep our heat low and there is not enough raditors to dry a bunch of stuff at one time. Drying racks kind of work but it takes all day or two for clothes to dry on those. I do hang stuff out to dry in the summer time. Just to give my old dryer a break and it gets me out into the sunshine.

Finally Frugal said...

Thanks for the helpful tips, guys! I did do a very quick search on the internet to see if I might be able to fix it myself, but became sort of discouraged at all the 'techy talk'. I'm going to try again, though---it couldn't be that difficult, right? (-: And if it's just a clog in my lint trap or something I'll feel pretty foolish paying hundreds to have someone come out and fix it.

I'll update to the blog if I'm successful. . . .!

LU said...

sounds like the heating element went capooie...I'm not sure how much they cost, but i do know it's common for them to go out...i have never replaced them so i don't know how, but my brother has fixed alot of them....hope this helps!!!

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