When I was a kid (I’ve officially reached the age when I can start sentences this way) we didn’t have a laundry dryer. In our backyard, as in many of our neighbor’s back yards, were two aluminum poles with wire strung between them and a bucket of clothes pins. You didn’t need anything fancy to dry your damp fabrics; they did it all on their own when you gave them the right setting.
Flash forward to today and you’ll discover an appliance in almost every room of the home. We have battery-powered toothbrushes, robotic vacuum cleaners, beds that incline, chairs that massage, and, perhaps most commonly, large appliances like the clothes dryer. But many of us aren’t quite sure what we’ve gained with all these devices…higher electric bills? Sure, they’re convenient, but they come at a cost, literally and figuratively.
“Dryers are the second highest energy consumer in home appliances, but we’ve forgotten that they’re really just a luxury.”
Eliminating your drying machine is easier than you may think. For centuries, fabric has dried, as it naturally will, with nothing but some sunshine and a little fresh air. Dryers are the second highest energy consumer in home appliances, but we’ve forgotten that they’re really just a luxury. The change doesn’t need to be drastic. Even eliminating one or two dryer loads from your typical routine can make a real difference.
Step 1 – The Right Tools
When you consider the cost of a dryer ($500 – $1,000) PLUS the monthly cost added to your electric bill, owning a drying machine is quite an expense. In light of this, purchasing a few new tools to transition away from the regular use of a dryer is a drop in the bucket.
This is not your mother’s clothesline.
The Household Essentials Retractable 5-Line Clothesline features a primary base unit with five, 34 foot wire coils. Pull the guide and extend the wires to connect with the included receiver bracket (can be installed on an opposite wall, fence, or standard clothesline post.) Once you’re finished, unlatch the guide and the wires retract back into the base for safe and dry storage.
This unique tool allows you to place a full-sized clothesline anywhere! It vanishes as soon as you need it to. Even high-traffic areas, indoor rooms, or highly visible spaces can become an instant laundry room.
Especially handy for very wet items, a bathtub drying rack is both compact and surprisingly accommodating. The Leifheit Pegasus provides up to 40 feet of drying space. The “winged” design allows the highest rows to hang garments up to three feet in length while the middle rack is a great option for any garment that needs to be laid flat.
Not just for bathtubs, the Pegasus is so light and mobile you can really place it anywhere. Outside, in a laundry room, atop a table…it’s a truly flexible piece of equipment. You can even use it for other needs like drying arts & crafts or hanging freshly ironed clothes. And perhaps best of all, each part folds into itself for compact storage.
It may be obvious, but you’ll need clothespins to attach and hang your items. Today’s clothespins come in a variety of styles like those shown here. You may consider purchasing more than one kind to meet different needs.
Each style has different strengths and features as described below (clockwork from top left.)
- Slotted is a great option for delicate fabrics as it doesn’t pinch
- Plastic pins are better for very damp items and the multi-colored selection can keep you organized
- Standard styles made from bamboo are both durable and eco-friendly
- Styles featuring soft-grip cushioning are perfect to hold heavy items like denim
All the products mentioned here can be found online and are relatively inexpensive. Over time, you’re electric savings would offset any initial cost, plus some.
Step Two – A Little Patience
As with any new venture, you may need to work out a few kinks. You’re sure to find that some fabrics require a little more sunshine to keep from wrinkling, some need to be draped not hung, or some items may still need at least a little time in a dryer to meet your standards of softness.
While the ultimate goal is to eliminate your dryer, every step in-between counts. Think of the money you’ll save by just limiting your dryer use. It’s sure to take time to perfect and even a few changes can save dollars in the end.
We’d love to hear your experiences! Share your wins (and fails) and all the lessons along the way with our community.