Untours Cafe

Part One of

Solar Clothes Dryer: Background and Materials

Preface

Save environment and save monies by drying clothes on an outside clothesline. . . .

If you have no clothesline, you live in an apartment or your homeowners association won’t allow clotheslines, there are ways to dry without one.

You need at least one drying rack and some type of clothes rod. You can buy drying racks at most discount stores or hardware stores. You might place a clothes rod in your laundry room above the dryer, use a sturdy shower curtain rod in the bathroom or get metal clothes racks that hook over the back of a door. You don’t need much. You can hang two loads of laundry on one drying rack and 2 feet of clothes rod.

Solar Heat

Many Untour Members, weather permitting, hang out their wash to dry. More might want to start, especially with the rise in use and price of electricity and/or gas. Also, the dryer may be destroying the rubber elastic in your socks and underwear. It seems like an easy task to accomplish. For example, you string a cord between two strong poles or walls or trees. If the line is low enough for you to reach up and place your clothing articles on it, then it appears that you’re ready to go. If you want to make sure the articles do not end up on the ground, you will secure each one with the use of clothespins. Or, you might simply drape your clothing items over a railing or rack.

Serious User of Solar Clothes Dryer

Ever since I was capable, my mother had me hanging out the wash. This task begun many, many years ago. Much has been learned with repeated attempts. If you are interested in starting to use the sun’s energy to dry your clothes, the following might be of interest to you. If you’re an experienced user of the clothesline, you might learn something new. Or, you might be able to offer a hint of your own.

Samples of Clotheslines:

Umbrella Clothesline

Retractable 5-line Dryer

Retractable with Steel Post

Rack – Inside or Outside

Eleanor’s Favorite Mode of Drying Clothes

I shall discuss my personal preferences which you may decide to mimic. Feel free, however, to “do your own thing.” Situations are not always similar. To help you decide, I’ll try to provide some samples of various types of materials available.

Materials for Pulley Clotheslines:

Pulley Screw -- used to hold clothesline pulley to a strong support (stainless steel desired)

or Pulley Bolt (e.g., through metal pole)

(a) Line Spreader

(a) Pictured is a plastic clothesline spreader. This item is used when the clothesline separates a great distance due to the weight of the wet clothes hung on the bottom line. The life of this type of spreader is a short one. It's advantageous to have a metal one. Thanks to one of my brother-in-laws (he made mine), I have stainless steel ones. Metal ones are available in hardware stores. This Aluminum one was found via a Google Search Engine.

(b) Line Tightener

(b) Metal Line Tightener should be obtained, especially if you plan to hang bulky items on your clothesline. A sag will result from the weight of the wet or bulky items. The tightener will help to make the sagging line taunt.

Metal (Aluminum preferable) Clothesline Pulleys

The Aluminum pulleys may cost a bit more, but they’re well worth the price.

Clothesline Ropes

There are numerous types of clothesline ropes available: cotton, plastic (vinyl coated), solid braided polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and wire cable; just to mention a few. Each person has a favorite for one reason or another. The choice is yours to make.

Solid Braid Polyester

According to the advertisement, “this clothesline rope is 100% multifilament solid braid polyester made in the USA. It will not rot like cotton or cotton blends. It has excellent UV and abrasion resistance. It will not break down in sunlight like polypropylene. Polyester is naturally low stretch unlike nylon that stretches and needs tightening more often.”

Polypro Blue Rope

This polypro rope was described as 100% multifilament diamond braid polypropylene, made in USA. The braided effect provides a look of a very smooth surface. This rope features a multifilament polypropylene core for added strength and makes the rope round and easy to work with. It does not rot like cotton, cotton blends or other natural fiber ropes. It looks and feels like nylon and it floats. Ties easily and is soft on the hands. It’s lightweight and flexible.

Cotton Clothesline Rope – Eleanor & Bill use this type

This is an all purpose reinforced synthetic core cotton rope. It is economical, strong, and has low stretch. It may be used for a clothesline, sash cord, tie down or utility cord. It works well over pulleys and knots easily. We use this type of rope because of its multiple uses. Excess rope comes in handy tying down large pieces of lumber from Home Depot or Lowe’s or wherever. It does have to be replaced between one and three years. Wear and tear helps determine when it needs replacement.

Two stout supports

We’re using one 14-foot cedar pole at one end, and the side of the house, as the other supported end. The cedar pole was purchased from a local fencing company. We have two clothesline set-ups. Even though the clothesline is 40-feet long, it doesn’t seem to be enough. Sometimes, I like to place quick drying clothes on one line, and items that will take longer on the second line. Also, I prefer to stretch out the clothes on the line in order to lessen the formation of wrinkles.

Neighbors use other types of supports. One neighbor has a metal pole at one end, and the side of the house as another. A different neighbor has a metal rack that suggests a television aerial. Remember those? Today, they refer to it as an “Umbrella Clothesline.” A third neighbor has a line running from the porch to a tree. Hal’s neighbor ran clotheslines between their two houses. I believe the neighbor had selected a wire cable type of clothesline.

Clothespins

Approximately twenty or twenty-five years ago, I was able to purchase round wire reinforced wooden slotted clothespins. My mother and I loved them. They securely held the clothes onto the line. They were flexible enough that thick garments did not break the clothespin. The reinforced wire also provides strength to the clothespins. They lasted a long time. In fact, I just found one in my bucket holding my clothespins. I would prefer to buy more of them, but I haven't been able to find a place where they are sold other than on Ebay. Has anyone seen this type for sale? Look closely and you will note the reinforced wire just above the slotted section.

Round Slotted Wooden Clothespins (without reinforced wiring)

This type of wooden clothespin may be purchased today. Although some may not be well made. This type would not be one of my recommendations. Its stiffness makes it difficult to place over the clothing item and clothesline. You will find yourself frustrated, and you will force it to grasp both clothing + line. An end result may be a broken clothespin, and you taking another clothespin.

Wooden Spring Clothespins

These are easily attainable at a low cost. When the two wooden sections separate from the spring, it doesn’t take much effort to re-insert within the spring. I tend to use these because they are available for a low cost. Beware! I find myself using several of these clothespins to hold a bulky or heavy item onto the clothesline.

Side Note: We use these spring clothespins not only to hang clothes. There are many other ways to use them. For instance, to close bags by pinching in the opened end; to clip onto important pieces of mail or documents, so they accidentally aren't discarded or to call attention to them; to keep motel drapes closed by clipping the panels together; to hold clothes on hangers to dry within the motel or inside your home; to help organize computer cables before tying together; and the list is almost endless. An entire Blog might be devoted to "Ways Spring Clipped Clothespins May Be Used." I'll leave that up to someone else to do.

Plastic Colored Spring Clothespins

If color is your “thing,” plastic spring clothespins might be for you.

Clothespin Bag for Sale

They do sell clothespin bags in which to store your clothespins. Buy this one @$3.99. I store several hundred of mine in a cheap plastic bucket.

Or, if you’re ambitious and want to use your talents, you might make your own. This PATTERN may be obtained online. For your convenience, I've included Jane Lake's information for you.

NEXT. . . . . .

Part Two of Solar Clothes Dryer: Suggestions and Hints

(Save environment and save monies by drying clothes on an outside clothesline)

Views: 356

Comment by Powen Shiah on August 1, 2007 at 8:49am
What a very thorough summary of the "solar clothes dryer"!
Comment by Joan and Bruce on August 5, 2007 at 1:30pm
Great blog El! Enjoyed your thorough description. I have no space for an outside line, but you should see how I lay out some of my clothes to dry--native American style--on the patio table, chairs, etc. I love to wash in Sachseln and use the "carousel". This year I hung out the wash (what a view) and got home just before a monsoon. The fragrance of sunshine dryed clothes reminds me of my mom, who always used a clothesline.

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