Ten years of family laundry and three broken dryers is enough for this mama to call it quits when it comes to replacing the dryer. Spending hundreds of dollars on an appliance that cannot handle my over-sized loads (not to mention the over-sized electric bill it produces) does not seem justifiable when there are other viable options. Consider two things when thinking about going dryer-free: time and number of loads.
There’s no way around it. Hanging up your clothes is more time consuming than throwing them into the dryer and turning the knob. If you work outside of the home this may interfere with other evening tasks. Also, the time it takes clothes to dry increases. Allow for overnight, plus one full day, if you are air-drying inside. This is an important consideration for those living in colder climates.
Depending upon the amount of laundry you wash in a given week, will determine how many days of laundry you must schedule. Your one day of laundry on the weekend may increase to 3 days of laundry spaced throughout the week.
Once you have considered your time and number of loads, create a plan. Here is a step-by-step guide for how I manage laundry for a family of six, without using an electric dryer.
First, sort laundry every two to three days. In doing this, you avoid the daunting task of laundry day with clothes scattered everywhere. The worst part of laundry is seeing the massive amount to wash. When air-drying your clothes, this sight is even more daunting! My piles of laundry are as follows: husband’s clothes, undergarments, my clothes, kids’ clothes, towels/rugs/sweaters. Sorting in this manner, I put one pile per laundry basket and keep all clothing off the floor. (You could easily separate using a laundry cart instead of laundry baskets.)
Second, consider washing the largest load first. Usually, the largest load represents what your family is running out of to wear. However, with four children, their load is usually the largest. If I know the children have clean clothes to last 1-2 more days, that load can wait. If I know my husband is running out of work shirts, that load has to be done first, even if it’s smaller than the others.
Third, take into account drying time. The use of ceiling fans, open windows (heaters or fireplaces in the winter) and a laundry drying rack will give you optimum drying time indoors. The drying rack I use holds one, large load of laundry. If I am drying one large load indoors, it will be another day before I can hang laundry inside; so it’s important to keep an eye on the weather forecast. When you can use the outdoor clotheslines, air-drying is much simpler and quicker, especially with an additional, mobile laundry drying rack.
Finally, remember that finding a routine takes time. Children love to help with chores and laundry is such a simple task for little hands! Let your children help sort, hang up, fold and put away. Teach your family about the positive impact you are making on the environment by conserving energy. Consider using the money you save on electricity for an eco-friendly activity with each other, such as roller blading or bicycling.