Around my neighborhood, people still hang their laundry on makeshift clothing lines in their backyards. Years ago my dad made a clothing line from a very long bulky chain that goes from one end of the backyard to the other. I don’t know the name for such a product but it closely resembles those weight chains used in fitness workouts except it doesn’t have a weight at the end.
Conveniently, those chains have big enough holes in each link to slip hangers into as a method of securing them in place. It’s handy on very windy days to prevent the hangers (with wet clothing on them) from being blown to the ground. A few times the clothes have gotten caught on garden soil beds. This is especially unfortunate for white clothes!
Spring, summer, and fall all-year around, laundry is always hung outside in my home as long as it is not raining. A recurring childhood memory of mine is seeing the laundry on the line billowing with the wind. I could often catch the fresh scent of the detergent from the fabric if I was close enough.
When I got older, I started to help hang clothes outside too. It took practice to get it right. My dad, for example, is terrible at it. The infrequent times he does it, he always puts shirts onto the hangers unevenly or without smoothing out the wrinkles first.
I’ve never used a drying machine before. The very first washing machine my parents got was in the same year I was born. 1989. It’s shocking that the machine was as old as me!
Clothes were usually loaded in from the top of the washer and the detergent and/or fabric softener dispenser was in a cylinder shape thing in the middle. At a young age, I liked watching my mom start the washing process and witnessing the water soak the clothes. Then the top lid was closed as the clumped garments were ground in a circle by plastic propellers in the machine. The motion and noise of it were always quite sudden and loud. Sometimes the machine would even jump a little from its original standing position because the violence of the spinning (to drain excess water from the clothes after washing) was that extreme.
Eventually, my parents gave the machine to my dad’s younger sister after they bought a better one. The newer machine had front loading capacities and its spin cycle was apparently designed to mimic how a dog shakes its fur coat of excess water.
It’s unfortunate when things are left in the pockets of pants or sweaters which then go into the wash. I’ve done that by accident so many times and then have to fish through the machine to see if I can salvage the item. Stuff like tissues and wrapped candy are a no-go, of course. Money coins are the easiest to fetch. Dollar bills get oversaturated with moisture but are useable after air drying. I think I left a USB in a sweater hoodie pocket once. Can’t recall if I could still use it after that.
Winter is the hardest season to go without a dryer. All washed clothes are hanged in the boiler room (which also has a makeshift clothing line made from the same chains as the ones in the backyard). It can get quite toasty in that room once the house heater is turned on. That’s all good and well, but the clothes otherwise have a slower time drying if the heater is not running. The result is a slight mildewy smell on the clothes.
Mostly, the reason my household doesn’t have a dryer is because interest in obtaining one is not very high. I have a “whatever” attitude about it, and my parents are the kind of penny pinchers who wiggle about contemplating buying something only to decide not to because they find it too costly or tedious to bother with. My brother, on the other hand, has pushed many times for them to consider a dryer. I can see the perks as it would simplify the drying process. There’s also dryers at laundromats but I know nothing about how to use those. If I lived by myself, I imagine I would either have both a washing and drying machine or depend on a laundromat to get my clothes washed if I could not yet afford to buy the machines.
For smaller, everyday things like underwear and bras, I tend to handwash them myself with soap. I am not a domestic goddess by any means. I just prefer my undergarments to be clean instead of letting them sit in the laundry basket for several days before it is machine washed. The handwashing habit began during the first year or so of managing my menstrual cycle. Thinking back, I was so unprepared. The night I got my period for the first time ever, my mom gave me a quick lesson about how to put a pad over my underwear but it took a long time before I mastered it. The result was I had a lot of accidents where the blood bled onto the underwear instead because of improper placement of the pad. Never before had I gotten so used to feeling hot, steaming water on my hands as I soaked and scrubbed out the stains.
How do you like to dry your laundry?
Featured Image by Juliet Flx.