It was after a sleepover trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I can remember where I was when I heard, time stood still and the moment was instantly ingrained in my memory.
My oldest son looked at me with bewilderment and quietly said, “I saw something at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. They had this machine.”
“Yeah, and it was so weird. She put the wet clothes inside it.”
I think I see where this is going. Did the clothes come out later on and they were dry?”
“YES! How did you know?”
Well, son, I guess it’s time you learned the truth. Some people in this world, yes even people in our own family, these people, they own “dryers”.
“What’s a dryer?”
(Big breath) it’s a machine that dries your laundry.
“Wait, they have a machine that is just for drying clothes? Well, that’s dumb.”
Now before you judge your grandparents too harshly, a lot of people do that. Alright, most people. Most people do that.
“But why would you bother having a machine do that when you can just hang stuff up?”
Secrets. We all have them. I feel compelled to share one. Some people are privvy, and you might have pieced this together already, but others might be shocked to learn that…
We don’t own a dryer.
You read that right. Not “we don’t use our dryer much” or “we hang some things to dry”. We really don’t own one.
I’ve hesitated to spill this somewhat little known fact because I didn’t want to seem smug. It’s kind of hard to tell someone “Oh, I don’t own a dryer” without lumping yourself in with those who tell you they “don’t watch TV” and sometimes “forget to eat.”
To be clear, I’m not ashamed, but I don’t feel the need to flaunt our “green-ness” or rub your nose in our energy efficiency.
We started hanging clothing to be more environmental. There was occasional use of the dryer for heavy things like towels and jeans that tended to get “crunchy” when exclusively hung to dry. Once we bought a front loader washer, the drying time was cut in half as was the crispiness of clothing. When we sold our first home and the buyer wanted our dryer, it wasn’t difficult to agree. I had intended to buy a cheap one for the new house, but we adapted to being dryer-less and never bothered.
I can hear you asking “Why?” maybe accompanied with an eye roll. Don’t worry, I get it. You’re not there yet. It’s hard to imagine life without the convenience of tossing wet laundry in a machine and an hour later poof! it’s ready to fold. It’s really not a big deal. Once you get a routine going, you’re all set. All you have to do is NEVER FORGET TO PUT A LOAD OF WASH IN AT LEAST ONCE PER DAY. Wet laundry takes a while to air dry, if you skip a day you are behind for a week.
After a while you get to know some tricks and develop effective strategies. For instance, jeans take longer to dry and will smell “off” if you don’t hang them near the top of the rack with room to breath. Socks and underwear take hardly any time at all. Same goes for sheets, sports shorts, and lightweight sports clothing.
A word of warning, if you put off hanging laundry one evening, you have guaranteed that someone will throw up or wet the bed. It’s a fact.
Do my husband and I always agree on laundry-hanging techniques? No. But that’s okay because even though he’s wrong, the laundry still dries. Eventually.
Yes, I have tossed a blanket over the drying rack when there is an abundance of underwear on display. And yes, there have been times it looks like I’m taking in other people’s wash to make an extra buck (please see previous note about not getting behind). But overall, it’s not that much extra work. And it’s worth it.
Try it, your clothes will last longer, your house will never need a humidifier, and the extra damp really opens up your pores.
I forgot to mention, we also used cloth diapers.
For nine years.
I’ll see myself out.
More of the backstory can be found here.