Friday, August 29, 2008

Drying Clothes

I have to apologise for taking so long to post this week. Phew, this topic involved much more research than I expected, but I hope you find it as useful as I did researching this. Laundry seems to be never ending, so I think it's a worthwhile task to get right. I remember when I was off to University my mum showed me how to peg laundry to avoid peg marks. At the time I thought it was pointless, but now I am so grateful. Hanging laundry always seems so romantic, and reminds me of childhood dream with big clean white sheets and the sun shining through them (I watch way too many movies). The reality of course isn't quite as nice, but fresh clean laundry is such a comfort, and shows we care. So here are all the tips, bits and bobs involving drying laundry...

Outdoor Laundry Drying
Drying clothes outdoor is my favourite thing! Especially on a nice warm day with a bit of a breeze. However, sunlight can bleach certain colours. So drying washing in direct sunlight is great for whites, not so great for delicate colours. In an ideal world, it's worth having a clothesline outdoors where part of it is in a shady spot. It's more important to have a good breeze than direct sunlight.
For any clothesline, it's worth remembering to choose plastic coated wire or polyethylene rope over natural rope since rope will eventually get mildew and stain your clothes. And remember to wipe down your clotheslines every so often, especially before hanging out a white load of washing.

There are two main types of outdoor drying set-ups:

1 - Rotary Clothes dryer (also known as Umbrella Clothesline)

These clotheslines are particularly popular for people with small or narrow gardens. They range from cheap ones you can pick up at your supermarket to the more expensive ranges such as the Brabantia ranges. They give you lots of hanging space, especially the lower smaller lines that are useful for small garments such as underwear and socks. However, spreading out large items such as sheets and tablecloths can be a bit of a problem, leaving those items creased as a result. These clotheslines also make it too easy to hang too many items too close together resulting in your laundry taking extra long to dry - so although they provide plenty of space to hang items from, it's not always the best to use all that give space. Most rotary dryers can be stored away when not is use.

2- Long/Parallel Clotheslines

The big advantage of a long clothesline outdoors is having the space to hang sheets, quilt covers and tablecloths flat. Larger properties often have a dedicated outdoor laundry space with at least 5 long lines parallel between two T-posts . But most properties in the UK do not have that advantage, and instead a retractable clothesline can be used to span across the garden, and can be put out of sight when not in use. A wall mounted laundry rack that folds out, and stores away is also a good choice if you have the wall space.

Clothes Pegs
Hanging clothes outdoors also requires clothes pegs to stop items ending up in your flower beds, or worse, you neighbours garden. Clothes pegs can leave visible 'dents' in fabric, which is why it's important to know how to hang and peg laundry correctly for outdoor drying.

There are all sorts of pegs on the market - wooden pegs are studier than plastic pegs, but they do start to discolour after being left out in the rain and can eventually stain clothes. Most clothes pegs will need replacing every so often, although there are some innovative designs out there such as these:

Here's how to hang laundry to avoid creases:
(I'll try and take pictures of how I hang my laundry to post soon)
Shirts - Hang upside down and inside out pegging at the side seams (this counts for t-shirts and formal shirts). Formal shirts can also be hung on plastic coated hangers with the top button done up and collar turned.

Trousers - Some people hang them from the waist, others hang them upside down from the cuffs. Hanging them from the cuffs with the inside leg seams together will create less creases because of the weight of the waist.
Jeans - jeans can be hung from the waist at the back edges allowing the front edge to droop away from the back, but hang them inside out with the pockets exposed to speed up drying and to avoid fading in the sun.

Socks - hang socks however you like. I hang mine from the cuff, pegging only one edge. Using one of these portable peg hangers will help when you need to rush and take the laundry down when it starts raining.

Underwear - Because there's not much bulk to them, you can use double up on peg usage by hanging underwear side by side using a single peg to hold the edge of two pairs of underwear.

Sheets & tablecloths - Dry them as flat as possible or you'll be left with a fold line. Peg at two corners and then use one peg in the middle (only on the seam) to stop the item sagging and creasing. It helps to hang these on a taught line.

Pillowcases - hang them with the top up and taut along the line, but pinned not quite to the edges of the case. This allows the front to droop open so as to separate the layers and catch the breeze. This method also works for things like T-shirts

Delicate tops or shirts - Hang indoors or in shade on a plastic clothes hanger
Tea towels - Hang with the short side at the top and use 3 pegs to avoid sagging

Towels - If you have the space hang them lengthwise and use 5 pegs so that they keep their shape - they dry quicker that way. Do not fold the towel halfway over the line, this is sure to make it a funny shape, and prolong drying time.

Indoor laundry drying

Air drying indoor
This is the bit I really struggle with - mainly because we have the typical x-frame clothes horse which is bulky, takes up space and makes the laundry take ages to dry. We also don't have double glazing, so in winter our windows steam up with condensation. This really was a topic I needed to research for myself too.

If you are lucky enough to have a workable attic or basement space, or even a laundry room, a foldaway wall mounted laundry rack is ideal. If condensation is a problem, a dehumidifier could help, but can be pricey. I'm thinking of getting one of these small dehumidifiers for the room where I dry laundry (in the spare room), this dry-egg dehumidifier can be refreshed in the microwave and only costs £12.
If , like in our house, space is an issue, a retractable line over a bath could help, but doesn't provide much space. However this is really useful for items that need to drip dry.
The best solutions still seems to be an indoor clothes racks that can fold away after use. As I've mentioned, we have the x-frame clothes rack, and they don't actually allow for that much hanging space, and because clothes overlap the take longer to dry and even end up with mildew - yuk!

Drying racks with parallel lines or wings (both shown below) are the better solution because clothes hang side by side. There is also this nifty peg free drying rack that I spotted here, but it doesn't seem to be available for purchase yet... boo, I want one!

If you have the ceiling height, a great space saving way to dry laundry is a ceiling drying rack with a pulley system such as the one shown below. They offer a stylish permanent place for laundry without sacrificing floor space. They can be hung in large kitchens (with high ceilings) or I've even seen them above a staircase. But in homes with a low ceiling, it can make the room feel cluttered.

Tumble Dryer
Yup, these are a luxury, and with energy prices going up, tumble dryers aren't a help regarding the bills nor the environment. But they are a big help, particularly if you have school uniforms and towels that need drying quickly. If you have a tumble dryer I highly recommend that you invest in some Dryer-balls, they cut down on the time it takes for items to dry as well as elliminating the need for fabric softener (I'll be honest here and say that I truly don't like softener anyway because I don't like the smell of synthetic fragrances). If you'd still like nice smelling laundry without the softener, try putting a few drops of you favourite essential oil on a small absorbent cloth and put it into the dryer with the rest of your laundry load.

These Dryer balls are from Lakeland here in the UK, but you should be able to find similar from online eco-stores.

Another tip I've read about is that having an old towel near the dryer that you can throw in with heavy and very wet items can cut down on the drying time. I've not tried this myself - so I can't say for sure if this works.

The most important thing with using a tumble dryer though, is to take items out as soon as they are dry since overdrying clothes can be damaging to the fabrics and will cause static. Creasing can also be greatly reduced if you take the laundry out as soon as they are dry. Putting up a rail by the dryer is a great solution so that you can hang items on hangers as soon as they come out of the dryer. Try and have the top of the dryer empty and clean so that most other items can be folded up as soon as you the come out.

If you're thinking of getting at tumble dryer or replacing yours, it's important to know the differences between the models to get one that suits your needs. Here's a list of what you can expect from dryers:

Condenser tumble dryers work by condensing the steam into water and funnelling it down to a water reservoir, which can be removed and emptied.
Vented tumble dryers work by expelling the hot, damp air from the drum through a hose that can be fixed to a vent in an outside wall or simply hung out of a window during use.
Basic Tumble dryer- These are entry-level dryers, which spin the drum around in one direction only. This means clothes can become tangled and more creased than with a reverse action dryer.
Reverse action dryer - Produce dry clothes with fewer creases, as the drum spins around in both directions to help untangle clothes.
Sensor dryer - this type of dryer will cut down your drying time and running costs by because the dryer detects the dryness of your clothes and stops when they are as dry as you want them.
Multi-programmable tumble dryers - have features like crease guard and woollens, if you dry a lot of woolly clothes, this type of machine will give you more flexibility and reduced creasing.
Information taken from ITLhomesearch</FONT>

Well, that's it for this week, I hope you've found this post useful. As I mentioned, if the weather is nice enough, I will try and post some photos about hanging laundry correctly.
Once again, if you have any laundry drying techniques you would like to share with us, please leave a comment - it's always nice hearing from readers!
Have a lovely weekend!


Debbies-English-Treasures said...

I have missed your useful posts...
Now I know why!
You have covered so much in this one... It must have taken a lot of your time.
What a great job you done, and All For US!
You are a star!
By, the way... I like to buy bars of soap and put them with my full laundry basket, so when I finally get around to iron it... the lovely smell of the soap stays on the clothes!
I also like to put them in every draw, just so makes the clothes smell nice and fresh!

Did you mention sweeties!
We can`t wait!!!
So kind of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hope you have a lovely weekend!
Debbie Alan and My 3 "Rugrats"

Hoops... By the way... Do you know what is the best way of avoiding socks to get lost when sorting out the laundry!
That`s something that I haven`t figured it out yet!
Probably the soluction its very simple, as usual...

Lesley said...

I can't beleive I settled down to enjoy reading a post about laundry how times have changed LOL very informative and helpful as usual thank you :-)

Ivy said...

I sooo long for the time to air-dry my clothes in the country.
Unfortunenately I have no time and must use a tumble dryer. Oh, and I don't live in the country.

Although I like that the clothes turn out soft and fluffed as the air dry clothes on a line sometimes are a bit crispy?

Have a great weekend. Hehe

Lorilee said...

I love line-dried laundry. I have always had clothes lines(in 3 different houses--last 2 in town) I use wooden spring type clothespins. I don't leave mine out on the line. I have a bag that hangs over the line to hold them as I hang clothes! I have also seen clothespin aprons for holding them.
Thank you for the informative post!

The Vintage Kitten said...

Excellent tips. I hang jeans from the waist at the back, but never thought to turn them inside out for the pockets to dry faster and of course avoid the sun bleaching them (Ewww 1980's jeans). Great post!

Judy said...

What a great post. I enjoyed it very much. I need to find some of those dryer balls. I haven't seen any but I wasn't really looking so may be the reason!! Wish me luck.

Blooming said...

I am a big fan of that Brabantia umbrella line. Just waiting to find one in Japan one day.
Great post!

Debbies-English-Treasures said...



A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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