We have a communal laundry in my condo complex. It's clean because the janitors are awesome. However, random dryers won't dry properly, and some washers rather give you sopping wet clothes instead of doing the last spin cycle. Which wouldn't be as bad if it weren't SO EXPENSIVE. And they raised prices recently by a quarter apiece--so now it's $1.75 for each washer load, and $1.50 for each dryer load.
That means for a two-person household it's $43 to wash clothes every month at minimum on machines that the laundry vendor has trouble maintaining. But if I reduced drying, we could save about $10-15/mo. Or 120-180/year. Not bad for a $50 drying rack as a capital investment.
I'm not crazy enough to hand-wash clothes in my bathtub. But I am crazy enough to try air-drying my clothes. I bought a neat drying rack that looks vaguely like a tie-fighter from Amazon. It's collapsible so I can stow it behind my bedroom door, and you can use it as an A-frame rack, raise one arm, or raise both arms. And you can raise the arms and set it in any position.
I bought it because a reviewer said that it was sturdy when her cat decided to sleep in the hammock that was created when she draped her entire bedspread over the arms. Yes, when you have cats, you have to consider the very real possibility that they sleep on it.
I'm still experimenting with optimal drying layouts and how to plan out the laundry so that I can wash and dry things efficiently.
Firstly, I need to do washer loads more frequently than once every two weeks. Our habit is to wait two or three weeks, or whenever we utterly run out of clothes that can be reworn, including all fugly outfits, and then monopolize half the machines in the laundry room. Or about 7-9 washers at once, and up to 6 dryers.
But the rack can't hold them all. Well, it can, but it won't get dry. I was too enthusiastic yesterday and put four loads of laundry on there, and it's taking a little longer to dry...
Besides, maybe the more frequent laundry runs will help me dread it less often. I only mostly dreaded it because it was overwhelming.
Secondly, I need to figure out how to hang clothes so they dry most efficiently. Drape them over the racks? Use clothespins? Hang them on hangers and the hangers off the rack? How do you dry the fitted sheets anyway? How close can I hang the clothes to the ground without cat hair getting unmanageable?
Thirdly, some things still work best in the dryer. An acquaintance who lives in Bulgaria said that when they first moved there and had to air dry their clothes, her husband's "wrinkle free" shirts were wrinkly. Apparently the wrinkle-free chemical is activated by heat in the dryer, but thankfully the wrinkles fell away once he wore it due to the body heat. So, my husband's shirts and pants have to be tumble dried still. Which is fine, 'cause I ain't ironing.
Also, I found out the hard way that drying towels on the rack make for crunchy towels. And it takes forever (forever meaning 3 days) for the bottom portion to dry, thanks to gravity. So, towels should probably be tumble-dried. Quilts always take two runs in the dryer, so I'll just dial that down to one run, and then finish air drying it to cut down on the time it's on the rack.
I'm not a pioneer woman. This knowledge wasn't passed down to me by my maternal ancestors. And I'm not putting my clothes out in the exhaust-filled Chicago air. I'm doing what I can to save money in the space I have. And it'll take some experimentation. But not bad for shaving a little bit of savings here and there, eh?
Filed under: adventures in homeownership