Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday is Wash Day

During a recent wind storm, my clothesline bit the dust. Big time, no chance of repairs at all. I have been searching for a replacement for my simple one line retractable model. We put it up several years ago when Prince Charming became irritated with my "line drying" innovations. Prior to its installation, I would use any stationary object in reach to air dry items in the sun. After having to "uncover" his man tools enough times he finally relented to give me a clothesline. We compromised on a retractable version for space and ease. We had countless discussions on why I couldn't just use the dryer like "normal" people. "Not like we can't afford it!" he would mumble. As a child, my mother and grandmother would hang clothes out all summer long. Our line was similar to the one below. When filled with sheets or towels, if a good wind came along it would fly in circles like a pinwheel. I would hide among the dangling linens during hide and seek, lie in the shade in the heat of the noon sun, and we even found an egg or two pinned on the line come Easter morning. My father was rather tall, and since his "chore" was mowing the grass, this model allowed him to collapse the line to avoid the dreaded "clothesline ducking" while moving back and forth with the mower. Plus he wasn't fond of trimming and this meant only one pole to trim around.

So when Prince Charming insisted we weren't "poor" and didn't "need" to hang out our laundry, my standard answer was "if it was good enough for Mom, it's good enough for me". When he finally hung my 1 line retractable work horse, I couldn't wait to wash up a load of sheets and see them waving in the breeze. My family knew I'd lost my final marble for sure as I stood there admiring the lovely ripples. It took several tries before I mastered the knack of hanging them because Prince is a bit more "vertically challenged" than I am so the darn thing was too low to let things ripple too much. Still, the desert sun worked its magic and I snapped those babies off the line, smoothed them onto our comfy bed, and waited for sundown. I snuggled in that night, awaiting the verdict. Nothing. Not a word. Sitting bolt upright, I demanded to know the opinion of my hard labor. "OK, you win. Nothing like a line dried sheet on the bed", he mumbled. Victory was mine. If you have never felt or smelled the fresh sheets on you bed after a day in the sunshine and breezes, you simply haven't lived.
What's a girl to do come winter with the bitter cold and snow that will freeze your jeans solid faster than a jack rabbit? Why move the process indoors of course! To be honest, winter laundry indoors isn't fun. No sunshine, no breezes, and no darn room to hang it all up. I am lucky to have a closet bar above my machines where my "line dry" items can hang. If not, I'd need something like this baby for sure.
I like the way it has several lines for multiple items, and can fold flat when not in use. I also use the over the door hangers to hold items on hangers for drying.
One laundry chore I loath is ironing. I will admit sometimes when you take those towels and jeans off the line they could stand up like soldiers! Not my idea of comfy for sure. Here is a couple tips for you
  • Prior to hanging items on the line, give them a good shake, like cracking the whip. Do it again when you take them down and they won't be so stiff.
  • After you remove the clothes from the line, throw them in the dryer on fluff for about 10 minutes. Fold them immediately and they will be soft and wrinkle free.
  • another method is to throw them from the washer into the dryer for 10 minutes, remove while hot and hang on the line.

Now, like I said, ironing just isn't my thing. Likely due to the fact that when I was little, my "job" was to iron all my Dad's shirts and handkerchiefs. Our laundry room was in the dark, dreary basement and it would take me HOURS to wade through all his stuff every week. Work shirt and dress shirts alike had to be PERFECT, or I'd have to do it again. And again. And again. What kid wants to spend the entire Sunday afternoon holed up in the dark basement ironing snot rags? Jeez! I do admit, nothing is more sexy than a cowboy in a crisp ironed shirt though....
So, over the years I've gotten a few tips to cut down on ironing time.
  • hang up or fold items as soon as the dryer shuts off and no more wrinkles!
  • permanent press fabrics-need I say more? If that lovely dress shirt says 100% cotton, you may as well break out the iron now.
  • invest in a GOOD iron and maintain it according to the manufacturer directions
  • Keep a spray bottle of plain water handy to mist those stubborn deep wrinkles while you go along
  • put a layer of aluminum foil under your ironing board cover, it will reflect more heat and make it go faster
  • teach your kids to iron-THE RIGHT WAY so they can help
  • when hanging delicate to dry, gently tug the fabric in all directions to smooth the garment, and give it a firm brush of your hand over the wrinkles, repeat while drying and you can fluff for a few minutes on no heat in the dryer
  • in a time pinch and don't want to haul out the old board? Lay a bath towel over your washer or dryer top and iron away. Hey, don't judge me now, but I've been known to use the kitchen table on occasion, just beware the steam might do some funky stuff to the finish if you aren't careful. Don't ask how I know that either....

I know we all want to save a little money these days, and laundry adds up in the budget if we aren't careful. Want a few frugal tips to help?

  • Forget that fancy fabric softener. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the wash as you would fabric softener instead. Your towels will be more absorbent, your washer won't build up all that gunk in the basket and hoses, and I promise you won't smell like a pickle.
  • invest in a clothes line or improvise one. The dryer will cost you several hundred dollars a year to operate. Sunshine is free!
  • wash and rinse in cold water, no need to use that water heater on most household laundry
  • cut down on detergent. Ever actually read the directions on the package? Odds are you are using much more for each load than you need. Most times you can get away with even less than directed
  • only wash full loads
  • Pre-treat stains with laundry soap or baby shampoo, no need for expensive stain removers in most cases
  • add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the load to boost the detergent
  • forget the bleach, hang the whites on the line-sunshine will help whiten those stains, add a touch of lemon juice on the tough ones
  • if you must use the dryer, clean the vents after each load. Buildup will decrease the efficiency and MAJOR fire hazard
  • cut the dryer sheets in half, same benefits and less cost

So, how about you? Any frugal or handy laundry tips to share? Are you a clothesliner or a dryer? Go ahead, share while I search for a new clothesline....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

May the day be full of love for all of my blog friends!