Three-hundred and Sixty-five Days Without a Clothes Dryer

One year ago, almost to the day, my clothes dryer broke. My husband looked it over, being handy, but just couldn’t fix it this time. “Just time to get a new one.” was his diagnosis. My response was "nah".

I am a wanna be ‘greeny’. It’s hard to live green when one has to drive a car everywhere. We live in rural Kansas on dirt and gravel roads, and there is no such thing as public transportation out here. The school bus won’t even come out to my lane, let alone my house, to pick up my son for school. (Apparently, the child left behind.) So even there I am driving. I can recycle till I empty a landfill, replace every light bulb and add solar lighting to the house, but the fact is I pump gallon after gallon into a four-wheel-drive in the winter time, just to get to work and school. It does not balance out.

So, we decided to do one more thing. The clothes dryer is one of those energy hogs in most households. Even energy efficient ones with that little star on the label are still gulping down the electricity. This could be one way to make my families carbon foot print just a little more friendly.

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The first thing we did was put up two clothes lines. Well, we had one outside already, but without a dryer we needed one inside. I have an A-frame house, which means tall ceilings in one room. In that room, we put up a retractable line for rainy and winter days. We then purchased a mess of clothespins.

At first, we found it a bit of a chore to always be hanging up clothes, pin after pin. We also found we had to schedule when laundry was done, and it ended up we did small loads almost everyday in the winter, as the line inside the house was the only one available to hang our laundry from. However, as the days went on and we thought about giving up and just buying a new dryer, we found that the chore became a chatting time to catch up on the day. Our son would often help, and it turned into less of a chore. It became a routine that simply was part of the daily set, like doing dishes and cooking.

A few other things that were bonuses besides a lower electric bill, which we noticed right away. Winters are dry in the mid-west. The brutal cold sucks all the moisture away and lends to dry skin and chapped lips. We used to have an occasional humidifier or kettle of water on the stove adding to the moisture in the air, but with the clothes hanging we didn’t need to do this, another benefit.

We have also noticed that our clothes are lasting longer, even my rough and tumble son’s and my even rougher husband’s. Even though I recycle clothing into other things after they become worn and unwearable, this is another benefit not only to my pocket-book but the environment. My son’s clothing I have been happy to pass on to younger children.

The downsides are small, and are harder to define. When someone comes over to the house unexpectedly I feel a little weird about the laundry hanging up and almost always have to answer the ‘What’s with the laundry?’ query. The second things are static and lint. I knew that a dryer took tons of lint out of the laundry, but wow. I haven’t found anything that we can add to the laundry, that I want to anyway, that takes care of the static. We have moved to a mostly baking soda laundry, with a minimum of soap that is dye and fragrance free. My clothes smell great, are as clean as they have ever been, but the lint and static are still there.

One year later, the period we had set for ourselves, and we are no closer to a clothes dryer than we were three-hundred-sixty-five days ago. I know it doesn’t make up for the gasoline, but it makes me feel a bit more content, and bit more rich for the money we saved this year.

Another thing you can do:

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RSSComments: 18  |  Post a Comment
  1. Interesting!

  2. Well sometimes you have to do what you have to do. This article was very interesting to me because when I was younger all I could remember was holding clothes pins in one hand and clothes in the other. Things could be worse. It is a good thing that you did save money!!

  3. I tried to go dryer-free for a time, but the kids would still use it whenever they did their own laundry. We do use a reel lawnmower, though.

  4. Cool article!

  5. Really nice article. I have never had a dryer as they are too expensive.

  6. Interesting idea; who knows, these things may return in the future. Lint is because of the washing machine, so what next? You may wash it manually.

  7. Interesting. Washing manually is good for health even though not possible due to busy schedules.

  8. Here in my country, only a few people do own dryers because it is a part of our culture that we just use clotheslines…I remember my folks tell me that for the clothes to smell “fresher” and not something like “stocked for a number of days”, we should hang our clothes in clotheslines that are exposed to the sun. This is such an interesting topic.

  9. That will be fine if your hands are not tired.

  10. It was a great sacrifice, but look at how much money you cheated the local utility company out of, especially in the winter months…..haha I think they are going to charge you the same amount during the winter months, whether you use the electricity or not. Good article.

  11. Tell your husband that it is probably the \\\”heating element\\\” Annie.

  12. I went insane without a fridge for three weeks while waiting for the new one to be delivered. I can’t imagine line drying my laundry for a year. Are you still line drying clothes?

  13. you’re rock!

  14. I loved this article! When my kids were really small we lived in a rental house with no dryer. Two babies in cloth diapers and no dryer made for laundry hanging all over the house all winter, but it was fine.

  15. Very interesting our dryer is conking out so I maybe living without a dryer as well soon

  16. Wow! Cudos to you for doing that!

  17. Wow! Cudos to you for doing that

  18. My husband finally admitted he preferred line-dried clothes and towels:

    When his mom and dad were at our house before our wedding, his environmental activist mother told me I should dry the clothes in the dryer because my husband liked them that way. I just smiled and thought, “None of your business, B.”

    She – the environmental activist – also thinks I am too frugal because I rinse and re-use ziplock bags.

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