Hanging your clothes out to dry vs using your dryer.
Well folks, for us here in good ol' Virginie spring has sprung and what a glorious thing it is. As a child, and still as an adult, for me the advent of spring heralds the time for hanging my clothes outside and my dryer's long hiatus.
Growing up we did not have a dryer, or use one except for the direst of situations, and then we took our clothes to the laundry-mat. My mother and grandmother, would hang the clothes inside when it was raining outside or in the winter. My father hung up clothes lines in a little room that served as a home for the furnace and his little workshop. For my grandmother in Maine my grandfather had hung up clothes lines inside the barn. If for some reason there were more clothes than inside lines, these crafty women, would trot out their little drying racks or hang them from the shower rod in the bathroom.
However, when the days started to get warm, and the snow would melt we would all start to look at the outdoor clothes line with great anticipation. I can remember as child the great joy that would overtake me when I would go outside with either my Mama or my Gramie to hang clothes. Nothing was more fun than running under the clothes lines and dodging sheets. The smell of clothes that have been warmed by the sun all day and the sheer joy of being outside.
As an adult, I still take great pleasure in spring for the simple joy of knowing that I will be hanging my clothes outside. However, as I grow more conscious of my carbon footprint I realize that this simple delight is actually a very beneficial thing.
The obvious benefit to line drying your clothes is the amount of money you will save in electricity cost alone, and the reduction of your carbon foot print. The California Energy Commission estimates that the average dryer will cost you about $1500.00 to operate over the life of the dryer. The energy consumed by dryers can be from 1800-5000 watts per hour. That works out to roughly 1.8KwHr. Which means that 1.5 pounds of carbon emissions per kilowatt hours is generated from coal fire plants. Keep in mind about 90% of US homes have dryers and are on average used 400 times a year. That is a lot of carbon emissions that can be cut by more people simply hanging their clothes to dry.
Another great benefit of drying clothes out side is the UV rays from the sun actually help kill bacteria in the clothes. I know that when I hang out my towels after being dried inside all winter the mildew smell disappears with one hanging. Also the sunlight will help to bleach your clothes particularly your sheets, socks or any light color items. Why buy all the extra cleaning goodies when you can get them for free. If you don't want your clothes to fade just hang them in the shade. Also, ever wonder where the lint comes from in your dryer. It is actually your clothes being worn out quicker. By hanging your clothes to dry you will expand their life span by quite a bit.
For me, the best part of hanging the laundry outside is the smell and the feel of sun warmed clothes. The smell of clothes that have been hung outside is one that man can't reproduce through any chemical. In fact, when I make my kids beds up with fresh sheets off the line I tell them that they are guaranteed to have sweet dreams because they are sleeping on sunshine.
Unfortunately, in the US, a lot of communities frown on the use of outdoor clothes lines. But with a bit of creativity you can hang your clothes. Check in to using a fold-able drying rack. I bought one at IKEA and it is huge. It is great for hanging towels, shirts, socks, etc. Where it is collapsible you can move it outside to your deck or patio. Also, find a sunny window that you can open and hang your clothes on a retractable clothes line. Not quite the same but it will save you money, and just think you will be pulling one over on your HOA.
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