How to get washing dry when the sun isn’t shining
It’s been raining on and off every day for about three weeks now and my dirty washing pile has grown so high I need a Sherpa to help me get over it. Help! It’s tough when you rely on the weather to dry your clothes but the sun just isn’t clocking on. Your whole wash day routine is thrown into chaos and we all know how quickly the washing can get on top of us. Dirty clothes in the laundry basket, damp clothes hanging listlessly on the clothes horse, the dryer working overtime … and still we have nothing to wear!
I’d be tempted to throw the lot into the dryer, but I’m still reeling from our last electricity bill. It seems like such a waste of money to dry clothes in the dryer, so it’s always my last possible resort for day-to-day stuff. I am, however, OK with using the dryer to dry king-size sheets and towels in winter and during a long wet spell any season, as it’s almost impossible to lay sheets out to dry indoors. Outdoor drying is the only way sheets really get dry enough to put back onto the beds or to store, but for everything else, there are ways around getting laundry dry when it’s miserable outside.
Here’s how laundry actually gets dry (even when it’s raining)
Getting clothes dry is a matter of evaporating the water that washing them required. Things remain wet when the atmosphere around them is damp, so that explains why, even when indoors, clothes hang like wet fish on a rainy day. The three factors that increase evaporation are heat, ventilation and time.
Even without ventilation, your clothes will eventually become dry using heat alone. The sun produces the necessary heat to evaporate water molecules in wet clothing, as does the clothes dryer, a radiator or a heated towel rail.
To speed up the effects of heat, you can add a little wind – the fan of the clothes dryer, a standard fan or even (for desperate people) the fan in your hair dryer. Ventilation helps wick moisture molecules away from the fabric and into the air. Airing cupboards, used to dry clothing in many parts of Europe, use only ventilation to get fabric dry. This process takes longer than methods that use heat.
The third factor in getting stuff dry is time. Heat will dry things pretty quickly, ventilation will dry things a fair bit slower, but add the two together and clothes dry so quickly it’s like magic. A breezy, hot day in the middle of summer is the day you wash every sheet, curtain, towel and tablecloth in the whole house and bring them all in by lunchtime.
So, now we know what we need to get the washing dry, let’s take a look at the wet, cold or miserable weather alternatives for drying laundry and see what we can do to conquer Mount Washmore.
1. Line drying clothes outside
You can still dry your clothes outside if you have an undercover area such as a verandah or patio. String up a clothesline down the middle of your covered area to be sure rain won’t reach it. Hang your clothes out the minute you get up in the morning and assume they will be out there for the full day.
A good breeze will dry your clothes even without sun, provided that it’s not a strong enough breeze to blow rain sideways straight under your covered area and onto your clothes. Even if your clothes don’t dry completely in a day you can still use this method to get most of the damp out of them and use the dryer to finish them off. This is a great way to make using your dryer quicker and cheaper (see below for more dryer tips).
Given that clothes need heat and air to dry, if the day is wet, cold and airless, there’s absolutely no point hanging the clothes outside.
2. Using the clothes dryer
As we’ve seen above, you can dry your clothes on an undercover line outside and then finish them off in the dryer. If that’s not an option for you, there are a few tricks you can use to cut down on your dryer time and save yourself some money:
1. Add a dry towel to the load – the towel will wick moisture out of the wet clothes.
2. Throw a tennis ball in with the towel – it aids in lifting clothes so the air can circulate faster.
3. Clean your lint filter – that lint is not only a fire hazard but it stops the dryer from working efficiently.
4. Shake your clothes out before you put them in the dryer – you’ll smooth out the surface area of the garment allowing the heat and air to penetrate.
5. Remove clothes you plan to iron before they are bone-dry – it will make ironing faster.
6. Use the ‘delicates’ setting on your dryer it will take longer, but because it uses less heat it also uses less electricity to run.
7. Don’t crowd the dryer – depending on your washing machine capacity, most dryers will not take a full load of laundry. Clothes will take twice as long to dry if you cram them all in. Dry in two batches to allow air to circulate freely.
8. Don’t under-load the dryer – it’s a budget buster to dry only one or two items. Wash items with a larger batch and then dry everything together. If you simply must get one item of clothing dry before any others, lay the wet garment out on top of a dry towel, roll the towel up and then press down firmly on the rolled towel. The garment inside will be almost dry when you’ve finished.
3. Drying on a clothes rack
During spells of wet weather, just about every home you visit will have the drying rack out and fully loaded, usually in the corner of the main bedroom. Here are some tips for getting things dry quickly so you can reclaim your bedroom:
1. Add air to speed things up – set a fan on low right next to the drying rack to circulate the air and halve your drying time.
2. Add heat to speed things up – if you’ve got the heater or radiator going to warm the home, you may as well put the clothes rack right by the heater. Make sure it’s fire safe.
3. Don’t overload the rack – cramming a full load of washing onto a tiny rack is not best practice. Buy another rack or even three so you can allow air to freely circulate between all the clothing.
4. Set up the rack near a window – there might not be a great deal of light coming from outside, but it’s better than nothing.
5. If you need something dried quickly, try the towel method outlined in point 8, or if you have heated towel rails, take the bathroom towels off and put the garment up instead.
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This article was written by Maxabell for Kidspot.com.au and has been adpated for Kidspot.co.nz