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Part Two of Solar Clothes Dryer: Suggestions and Hints

Part Two of Solar Clothes Dryer: Suggestions and Hints

Additional advantages of clothesline drying:

1) By not using your electric or gas-powered dryer for a month, you can save $45 or more, and you keep 15 pounds of coal in the ground.

2) It will get you outside to “taste” the wonders that surround you, such as the blue skies, chirping birds, smell of fresh air, and warmth of the sun.

3) You will be able to mentally formulate or review plans for the day or the week in your “quietness.”

4) The “solitude” will provide an opportunity to possibly solve a problem.

5) Your children or even your four-legged pets may join you. They will have a chance to play or lazy-about and enjoy the time outside. This is done, of course, under your “somewhat watchful eye.”

6) Creative thinking might blossom during this clothes hanging time.

You might even think of a topic for Untours Café Blog or Forum.

7) You will be able to look at your surroundings, and be glad that you’re alive.

Just in case you’re wondering about those “birdees” dropping “presents”onto your wash, know that it doesn’t happen often. I don’t know if it’s due to our feeding the birds all year long. Perhaps, they appreciate us, and show their gratitude by not “pooping” on our clothes. It does seem, however, when a new crop of “fledglings” appear on the scene, that’s when we may find a stain on one item. I immediately rinse in cold water, and if necessary wash/rinse by hand. The parent bird must chirp something to the fledgling because it usually doesn’t happen again, that year anyway.

First Suggestion: If at all possible, establish your laundry/utility room close to the outside exit. This will facilitate air drying your clothes on the clothesline.

Over twenty-five years, it was necessary for me to ascend/descend one to three flights of stairs. We washed/rinsed clothes in the basement soapstone double sinks. Remember those? Once the clothes were sorted and placed into the laundry basket, I had to carry them to the first, second and third floor levels in order to hang onto one of three 70-80 foot long clotheslines. Actually, the basket was moved by setting the basket on the 2nd or 3rd step from where I stood. This action was repeated until the appropriate floor level was reached. Sometimes, one of my brothers was available. He would carry up/bring down the laundry basket for me. Our first washing machine was purchased in 1959 or ’60. Until that time, we used the old-fashioned scrubbing board and the soapstone sink in the basement or the enameled-coated double sink in the upstairs kitchen.

When we purchased our first house (almost 30 years ago), one of the priorities was the placement of the utility room. It had to be on the first level close to an exit door. I was not about to continue my life style by ascending/descending basement stairs where the majority of washing machines and dryers were set. Today, many homes have a “Mud Room” on the first level which houses the laundry/utility room. Or, the utility room may be close to an upstairs bedroom. Bet those homeowners do not “air dry” their clothes outside.

Second Suggestion: Listen to the weather forecast, but make your final decision when you step outside and inspect the skies about you. Believe it or not, you’ll become a good forecaster as you learn to read the signs. When I know for sure that the weather will be perfect to wash and air dry the clothes outside (at least 55°F./13°C. and no rain), I start the first load the previous evening. Before the machine begins its last rinse cycle, the washing machine is powered-off. The clothes soak overnight, and are ready to be spun free of water first thing in the morning. In this way, I’m off to an early start.

Using Your Washing Machine

There’s a tendency among the majority users of washing machines to “not read the manual.” This may apply to the detergent directions, powder or liquid, also. Try to read it or at least skim through the information. The result will be a longer washing machine life, and cleaner clothes.

Third Suggestion: If you’re like us, you will be setting your washer’s

water settings to Warm/Cold or Cold/Cold for much of your washing.

Read the label on your detergent container. You may learn that it

will be necessary to activate your detergent with hot water.

Our washing machine has a centered hollow tube.

The “softener cup” caps the tube. Before the wash cycle has

been started, according to our manual, the detergent needs

to be placed into the tube. Upon reading the liquid detergent

bottle, I learned that hot water should be blended

with the liquid detergent. To accomplish this, I measure out the

appropriate amount of liquid into a measuring cup.

(It was provided, but one might buy a inexpensive plastic

one at a discount store.) Since the cup is nowhere filled,

there’s plenty of room to add hot water. Part of the

contents is poured into the center tube. More hot water is

added to the measuring cup that still holds some of the detergent.

Hot water is continuously added to the cup until the liquid

poured into the tube runs clear. Then, I know that all of the

detergent has been placed into the washer. Plus, the measuring

cup is ready to receive white vinegar when the wash is in

its last rinsing cycle.

First Hint: Add up to a cup of Baking Soda to the first wash to

- boost your laundry detergent for cleaner clothes

- freshen your clothes by absorbing odors

Second Hint: Do not be afraid to rinse your clothes in COLD water.

The detergent has done the job of disinfecting and cleaning your

clothes. All that you’re doing is rinsing out water from the clothes.

Besides, you’re conserving energy.

Third Hint: In my garage there are a large number of containers

of vinegar (gallon-size). I try to buy vinegar when it’s on sale. Why

do I have vinegar? I first learned about the use of vinegar from

newspaper columnist, Heloise. Add about a cup of white vinegar

to the rinse water. The vinegar dissolves all the “gook” and soap

film residues and helps to get your wash cleaner. One cup of

vinegar is mild enough not to harm fabrics. Even since I’ve

been adding that cup of vinegar to the rinse water, the clothes

appear to be brighter, and the underwear whiter. Of course,

the solar energy contributes to whitening the underwear, too.

Don’t worry, there’s no vinegar scent on your items after they’re dry.

Add two cups of vinegar while rinsing your blankets. You will find

the blankets softer and fluffier, as well as smelling fresher.

Fourth Hint: Heloise, I believe, had suggested another ingredient to

add to your rinse water when washing curtains. Yes, there

are a few of us left that continue to hang curtains on the

windows. Although, more and more of our windows are

“dressed” now with long decorative Swiss valances or

swags purchased at a small shop in Brienz. Anyway,

I’ve regressed here a bit. Add a cup of Epson Salts

during the last rinse. If the curtains are bulky, do

not be afraid to add two cups. You will find that

the curtains will be crispier and wrinkle-less.

When I had Priscilla Patio Curtains and Valances on our two

front picture windows, one bay window and two French doors,

it had taken me 2-hours 20-minutes to iron one ruffled panel.

Altogether there were eight of those panels to iron. Once I had

begun to add two cups of Epson Salts to each final rinse, stretched

each panel on the clothesline to dry, VERY LITTLE or

NO ironing needed to be done.

Fourth Suggestion: Rinse your washing machine’s tub

periodically to get rid of residue left by detergents

(and minerals in hard water areas), by filling the

machine with hot water and add one quart of vinegar.

Run the machine through one entire cycle.

Fifth Suggestion: Wipe the inside of your washing machine first

with wet paper towels. This may eliminate lint on your clothes.

I usually turn my darker clothes inside out before washing, as

well to lessen the chance of lint getting on them.

Sixth Suggestion: If you use a liquid fabric softener in the wash,

then before you put your laundry out on the clothesline, pop

it into the dryer for 5-10 minutes. The heat activates the fabric

softener and when you hang the clothes out they'll dry nice

and soft. Beware! fabric softener leaves a residue on the dryer’s filter.

Your clothes may not dry as well after there’s a build-up of the

softener’s residue. Make sure that you periodically clean that

filter to prevent damaging the dryer. Since I prefer not to

use any fabric softener (vinegar used instead), I remove the

towels when they’re slightly damp off the clothesline, and

finish drying them in the dryer. In this way, they’re fluffy

and ready to be used by our house guests.

Dealing With Your Soiled Laundry

Seventh Suggestion: Sort your clothes. Normally, my first load

consists of whites. If there’s plenty of room, I’ll add kitchen

tea towels, and perhaps some of the Permanent Press shirts

and blouses, if there are only a few of them. To diminish the

chance of wrinkling of the Permanent Press tops, they’re

removed just before the final spin cycle ends. I watch the

amount of water flowing from the washer’s hose into the

utility tub. When the water begins to trickle, the

machine is stopped. The Permanent Press items are removed.

This is the time when the T-shirts (undergarments) are removed,

as well. Possibly due to their lightness, they tend, too, to s

how creases if left into the completion of the rinse cycle.

A better understanding as to why wrinkled underwear

might bother me today would be due to my assigned

household tasks when a teenage. My mother had me

ironing hankies, underwear, sheets, pillowcases, dish towels

and tablecloths. Then, there were the shirts, blouses and

pants. Today, I think: Why add more ironing work when it may be

avoided simply by removing the lighter items from the machine. I

find that the clothesline hung underwear, sheets, pillowcases and

dish towels look great without the need to iron them. This partially

may be due to the thread/cloth blends used today. Years ago, Cotton

was the King. You needed to use a sprinkler bottle to dampen the

items to be ironed. In the case of Cotton shirts, they were

dampened and placed in a bag in the refrigerator. During the winter

months, the dampened clothes were stored on the back porch. The

youth of this day and age, I believe, can't truly appreciate that

Permanent Press blend in clothes. As a matter of fact, they may not

even know how to iron!

A second load may consist only of Permanent Press items when

I have a large number of them. As like the load with whites, I

know to be present during the final rinsing cycle, so that

the clothes may be removed when the water trickles out of the

hose into the utility tub. Each item is shaken and loosely placed

on TOP of the dryer. When sorted into piles of similar bulk or

size, they are ready to be hung on the outside clothesline.

If it’s a rainy day, they are hung on hangers, and allowed to

drip dry. There’s usually a minimal amount of dripping due

to the rinse cycling process. To be on the safe side, a bath

towel is placed below the hanging clothes.

Another load will be for the towels. They’re washed separately

from the clothes as to avoid adding any lint to items we wear.

The bedding, sheets and pillowcases will be thrown into the washer

as another load.

Side Note: When a windy day is predicted or observed,

the blankets are hung on the line to air freshen.

Sometimes, the pillows are suspended while encased

in their pillow cases and clipped to the line for freshening, as well.

Eighth Suggestion: Clip pairs of socks together before

they’re thrown into the hamper or laundry container you’re using.

I recall, again as a youngster, sitting on the living room sofa with a

huge pile of socks. My job was to match them into pairs. For

some reason, there were always a few unmatched ones that

remained. It took another week’s wash, and sitting on

that sofa to find the missing socks. Sometimes I

wondered if there was a “monster in the house that ate them.”

Weeks might pass before that missing match was found.

When it was located, an inner glow was experienced --

Eureka! They’re all matched. To avoid this

"Task of Matching-up Socks,"

-You might try stuffing one sock inside another.

-Use Sock Clips . . . A variety abound . . . look online or

in mail order catalogs. Some examples:

Circular Sock Clips . . .

[Here's the web address, in case the "Link"

doesn't whisk you to the appropriate Web Page.


Each multi-pack has a total of 20 sock clips in four vibrant colors.

Call Toll Free: 1-866-583-SOCK (7625)

Snap Sock Clips . . . Item #: 027023 Sock Clips Set of 32 @$16.95


Ninth Suggestion: Try to hang the clothes, as if you were placing

them flat onto a hard surface. However, they’ll be suspended in air.

For instance, do not fold the tablecloth. Use the wooden spring

clothespins to pinch one edge of the cloth to the clothesline.

This will minimize the wrinkles, and only a little ironing may be

necessary. Apply this technique, especially with Permanent

Press items, and you’ll be pleased with the results.

Side Note: Place a sheet of heavy Aluminum foil underneath

your ironing board cover. As you iron that tablecloth, heat

will reflect off of the foil and partially "iron" the bottom

portion. When you flip the tablecloth to press, the amount

of ironing necessary will be minimal.

Tenth Suggestion: Be prepared for a wash day, and pouring rain.

Don’t despair. Save those 20% Discount Coupons received in the

mail or found in the newspaper from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Purchase a clothing rack. If you need more than one, wait until

you obtain another coupon for your purchase of a second rack.

I was able to get an old elementary school “Pocket Chart Stand” that was

being discarded. Mine doesn’t have casters. My “handy-dandy”

spouse made some repairs and repainted it. It works well to hang

a few items to dry or to hold while ironing.

Brand new, the Pocket Chart Stand would cost $57.95; and 3 or more for $52.15. [http://www.reallygoodstuff.com/product_details.aspx?item_guid=80d834a6-f04d-4c81-b754-a8864aeb33e1]

You might locate one on E-bay for a much lower price.

Or, just use something you have in the house, such as a

sturdy rod or wall hangers for your clothes rack. Just

make sure the rod is positioned well enough to hold the

clothes. Wet items are much heavier than when they’re dried.

Something you'll learn immediately when you find the clothes

all on the floor. We use plastic coated wired hangers for

clothing items that may be spring clipped clothespin to the hanger.

Shirts and blouses are placed onto plastic rounded hangers

to avoid shoulder creases. The hangers are hung with

ample space between one another to allow the clothes to dry.

Views: 61

Comment by Bill Kover on August 3, 2007 at 11:51am
Phew! I'm glad that you do the wash!
Comment by Fam.Moore on August 3, 2007 at 3:28pm
I'm going to try the vinegar trick! I'm certain I have "gook" built up!
Comment by Eleanor - 'El' on August 4, 2007 at 5:30am
Before the use of vinegar in my rinse water, I found our clothes graying. This was totally unacceptable! Once I had discovered the vinegar application technique, the graying problem disappeared. Now, our clothes appear cleaner and colors brighter.
Comment by Mary Lou Grier on August 9, 2007 at 2:19pm
First of all, 'El', thanks for being my friend! In Kim's
Aug. 4th email re the latest news she said the posting about laundry tips was by Eleanor Kover! So
that's why I asked Bill how to find it. Glad you put
me on the right path. While I originally thought I
was going to learn some new pointers on doing
laundry while on an Untour, the two parts you
posted on the value of solar drying at home were
very educational and entertaining. I grew up having
that experience and also during the first few years
of marriage, until having to travel to hospitals with an ill child forced a change to a dryer.

A further comment regarding yours re paying IRS taxes while travelling: I was referring to the payment of estimated taxes, which are due April 15,
June 15, Sept. 15, and Jan. 15. Some of those due
dates coincide during some of the heaviest Untour
Comment by Liss Poulson Small on September 5, 2007 at 2:15pm
Heloise taught me that when I leave my clothes in the washer too long, and they don't smell so fresh, a quick rinse cycle with vinegar added does the trick - no need to wash them all over again.
The sun does bleach clothes - great for whites - not so great for darks. Like Eleanor, I turn them inside out before washing and leave them inside out on the line. It really helps!
Thanks for such a detailed, precise run-down, Eleanor! Fantastic! And I love that Bill appreciates your hard work. :)


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