How do you save money on laundry? I’ve tried most of the online methods but still I’m looking to pinch pennies since hospitalization last spring dictates that my medicines increase beyond the norm. Then there is the squeak and squawk of the washer and dryer which reminds me of their age. I’ll need money to buy a used set not too long in the future.
To squeeze a bit more life out of the old girls, I only wash full loads and I’ve finally taught the kids to not change clothes multiple times a day and wear clothes more than once if possible, especially the pants.
I laughed when I read Hiut Denim’s advice, “Raw denim is best given a good six months before washing. The longer you can leave it, the better your jeans will look.” Hiut Denin never helped wrestle 500 hundred calves for branding. So covered in manure and pee I swear my clothes could have stood up on their own if dry. He’s never castrated or doctored cysts that popped instead of drained. He’s never mucked corrals or had our friendly buck, Bravo, rub up against him, his pee drenched body leaving his distinct breeding season perfume on you. Nope, Hiut Denins hasn’t lived the country life. But still when possible we wear pants a few times and shirts twice in the winter. This life means right now I often have three sets of clothes in neat piles or hung in the closet – my indoor comfies, barnyard uglies, and go to town clothes ready to switch between before placing in the wash.
Going beyond mixing my own detergent and the above methods, I now hang my clothes in the house on clothes racks. It requires no electricity and raises the humidity up to 30% which aids my asthma and keeps our grandkid’s bloody noses at bay. A better job than the table top humidifier I’d wear out and have to replace each year.
But sometimes just hanging clothes in the house won’t do. The grandkids often show up dirty clothes in tow or fail to haul their laundry often enough to spread out the wash loads for drying. Last week was such a week. Racks and lines full, I looked to the outside clothes line. The forecast was to reach 42 F. / 5.55C which is extra warm for us.
The advice I read was to hang laundry as early as possible. So for two days, I hustled the kids onto the bus at 6:55 at the stop 2 miles down the road and rushed home to hang laundry outdoors before doing dishes and homeschooling with another granddaughter. Trampling under my feet was five inches of freshly fallen snow. My fingertips soon felt the chill and had me thinking a set of wool finger-less gloves would sure come in handy as the clothes quickly froze in a line beside me. It was 22 F. or -5.55 C but the hope was the weather would make 41 F. or 5 C. But, the sloping rays of the winter sun never reach the clothes line nestled against the house on the north side. I was skeptical at how well this would work.
Just as the sun slipped behind the mountain to our west. I snatched off flannel that was still pretty damp, cotton jeans that seemed to have changed little, but surprisingly dry thin cotton shirts. I put them in the dryer load after load. I wish I’d timed it because it felt like only 40 minutes had passed and they were all done. The science behind sublimation is that on cold days, the wet clothes freeze and then create water vapor that escapes the clothes. I guess a little wind is helpful too.
Thinking maybe the day had been too warm, I tried again when a whopping 28 F. / -2.2 C, in the sun was forecast. Amazingly, the clothes were far drier than before. I’ve got two loads ready to go out tomorrow. This is COOL in more ways than one.
Up until now this fall, I’ve been hanging clothes in our house which is pretty chilly in the mornings, low 60’s to high 50’s F. I flip the clothes 12 hours after I drape them and it takes another 12 to 24 more to dry in our cool bedroom. I wish I could hang in front of the wood stove but it is the main walkway. The two racks aren’t enough so the shirts I hang on hangers in a row in the laundry room where a large dowel is slung. More room will be achieved when I get the ceiling painted in the laundry room and we hang the English ceiling clothes line we imported. This will increase our drying capacity and hopefully get the clothes out of my room.
You’d think I’d be satisfied but my brain is asking, “What if I hung clothes outside and then again inside”? That is what our ancestors did. It is time consuming but I will experiment a little to see how time effective it is. You never know when the knowledge will be needed in the future.
Hanging in the freezing cold requires a bit different technique. Just attach one side of the bottom of a shirt or sweatshirt and pull open. Socks hang from the top on one side and open up. Jeans hang one leg on one line and the other on the next. I often wear cotton leggings or wool long johns under my pants and I hang them by the baggy butt top on one side and open up. Go back after hanging a load or two and tug your clothes open a little more. The clothes will have frozen just enough to open wide and hold. This gives the best air flow for drying.
To do laundry this way it takes planning. Plus time but there is something to be said about a repetitive task that frees the mind to ponder on other matters. Surprisingly, I find myself looking forward to the job. It clears the stress of hollering for kids to hurry up as I cook waffles; pancakes; or eggs and bacon; at the same time I’m putting together cold lunches to take to school. Yes, I need a reprieve before settling down to teach.
The drop in my electric bill has been noticeable. Dryers are power hogs. With the habit of hanging laundry nearly formed, I think I’ll next look into low power usage hours and see if some of my tasks can be pushed into those times when the electric costs are cheaper. Hopefully that’s possible.
Decreasing the amount of phantom electricity is another area I’m working on once more. I had it in hand before we moved but I’ve slipped once more into poor habits. The kids will be the ones tough to train. Not that there is much lost but it all adds up.
I’m curious, tell me how hanging clothes in the winter works for you where you live. We are blessed to have low humidity and that helps heaps but maybe it is high where you are. What then do you do?