Frugal Laundry-Misc (long) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Well, we've got to start somewhere, and things could get lost in one big thread, so let's break out some stuff. I'll start with laundry.

Line drying saves money. It also lengthens the life of your clothes. It isn't hard to do, even inside. And in the winter, it helps humidify the house without a humidifier (and the health risk with that). Start hanging up just a few things if you find it overwhelming. I hang all our tops on hangers except for very heavy sweaters and such. Those I throw on a drying rack until they dry a bit and weigh less. Then onto hangers they go. I treat wire hangers as little clothes lines. Using clothes pins I just clip things onto the bottom wire. Things like underwear and socks get hung with one pin and as many as will fit on a hanger; things like wash cloths, towels and jeans get put on their own hangers with 2 pins. On the rare occasions that I can find them, there is a style of plastic hanger with an inset area on the upper shoulder. They work great for hanging jeans by the belt loops.

You can hang the filled hangers from some sort of indoor clothes line, curtain rods, hanging plants, whatever. Just use some common sense and don't use electric wires or overload something. The reel type clothes lines are still made, I saw one in a small town hardware store the other day for $15. I'm sure the X-marts would have them cheaper. There are also a lot a clothes racks and sweater drying racks available cheaply. As long as the cats don't use them for jungle gyms, they work very well and can be folded up and stored when you're done.

For outside lines, I prefer the plastic coated wire, but the cotton lines and steel wire work just fine. I've never had an luck drying outside in the dead of winter, well, the clothes do freeze (usually on my arm before I get to the line) but I've read of a lot of people who let their clothes freeze then shake off the ice so they have virtually dry clothes.

Don't do as much laundry. Bath towels can be used more than once. Honest. Much more than once. Just give them a chance to dry. The layered look may or may not be in fashion, but it not only keeps you warmer, but makes laundry easier. The t-shirt underneath is a lot easier to wash and dry than the big bulky sweater.

Try cutting back on your laundry detergent when you wash. Most folks use too much anyway.

Air stuff out instead of washing it. Take the blankets an

d pillows off the bed and give them a good airing. It will freshen them up and you won't have to mess with getting them washed and dried. I read once that somewhere it used to be the custom to turn the sheets top to bottom at intervals to get "clean" sheets, I wouldn't go quite that far....

You don't have to sort your laundry and do a bunch of little loads. I basically sort lights and darks. You know what is brand new and could run, or stuff like yellow chore gloves and that rotten red sweatshirt that will forever run, so pitch them in with the darks. Use a little common sense and hold some stuff out for another load or make other adjustments as needed.

I've read that if a label reads "Dry Clean" you can probably hand wash it. But if the label reads "Dry Clean Only" it has to be dry cleaned. I avoid anything that's labeled dry clean, so try at your own risk.

Any thing to add? Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, September 20, 2000


Hanging laundry on the line is one of my favorite things to do. When our dryer went out a few years ago, we didn't fix it or get a new one. Makes it a little harder when it's rainy, but it's doable.

I hang stuff out all year 'round if it's 30 or above.

I remember my grandma airing stuff all the time, especially rugs.

My husband got a drying rack and hanger with little clothes pins on in at a yard sale for cheap. We use those in the winter for clothes and for drying herbs in the summer.

Like you said, it adds moisture to the air in the winter. We have a wood burning stove now. Really helps out. I put the rack close to the stove and they're dried in no time.

I sort the clothes as I take them out of the washer and hang up the shirts/t-shirts right away. Most dry without wrinkles that way. Glad you posted this thread.

-- Cindy (, September 21, 2000.

Our first winter in our home when I was getting hugely pregnant with son number one we had no dryer. I used string and ran two lines the length of our roomy upstairs hall and with the dry heat of the woodstove on the main floor I was able to dry a couple washer loads a day. Great for increasing the upstairs humidity too so even though I now have a dryer I still hang stuff upstairs in the winter (outdoors in summer and mild weather). Dryer is for hard to dry stuff and rainy weather. What a diff in the power bills!

-- Alison Proteau (, September 21, 2000.

I also use the "free" outside dryer. You can take frugal laundry one step further and hand wash clothes that arent really that dirty. Overalls, work shirts and towels go in the machine but t-shirts, dress shirts, cotton dresses, dish towels and underwear can be washed by hand saving gallons of water. I wash two loads in the first tub, rinse in the second and rinse again in the third where I add l cup white vinegar. The I add soap to the second rinse and use it to wash two more loads. Use the last wash water to clean the porch floor or something. Blessings Peggy

-- Peggy (, September 21, 2000.

I just picked up a set of hand-cranked wringers on e-bay (antiques, I think, but they work, which is all I was concerned about!). Now I need a set of laundry tubs and a scrub board, and I will see just how fast I can do our wash by hand!! :-) Also have a couple of sad irons that came with our old wood cook stove -- should be enough, in this era of blue jeans and t-shirts.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, September 21, 2000.

Kathleen, I bought a new set of hand cranked wringers from an amish friend. They work great. My dh attached it to a frame he put on a slat bench we had on the porch. One wash tub sets on one side and another on the other. I put a large plastic dishpan under the wringer to catch the water. I'm short and wanted the tubs at the right height to use the scrub board without killin my back. I have a nail in the porch rail to hang my washboard and plunger that I wash with. The funny thing though is that for a while my friends thought it was for decoration till they came whilst I was awashin. Now they are sure I'm crazy. I must be because I really enjoy washin by hand. Blessings Peggy

-- Peggy (, September 21, 2000.

Good post Gerbil,Still thinking of super gluing the dryer shut,my teenagers refuse to use the wood clothes dryer.Glad to see you back again, hope all is well.I broke my computer so until hubby gets it fixed I cant send or recieve email. Boy will I be glad when It Is fixed.

-- kathy hG (saddlebronc@msn.comka), September 21, 2000.

This is a good topic. The timer broke on my dryer so we tossed it and vowed never to get another one. At first I missed it but now it's just part of the routine. I would love to buy a ringer but they are so expensive. My husband picked up an old tub style electric washer with the drain hole in the bottom and I am going to take off the motor and try to hook a bicycle up to a belt so I could ride the wash clean. I'm not terribly handy so we'll see. Usually I have great ideas but not a clue as to how to put them into practice.(of course that's what hubby is for). I do get a little tired of all the bugs in my dry laundry from off the line. Also with this incredibly rainy spring and summer I had lots of trouble getting the laundry dry. Luckily my 3 year olds love hanging the wash.

-- evelyn Bergdoll (, September 21, 2000.

Here is a little something that I did that is real handy and does not take much space. I took a hook (quarter inch I think) and screwed it into the ceiling about four feet away from the woodburner, then I hooked a five foot length of quarter inch chain on it. This will hold a couple of dozen hangers with wet clothing. It is back in the corner of the room and out of the way. Works good should last a long time, no power required...

-- Ed Copp (, September 22, 2000.

A popular way to hang laundry outside here in NE Ohio Amish country is to use pulleys. Attach one pulley to a pole near the house and one on a tree, high up, or a barn peak. The laundry line wraps around both pulleys. Then all you have to do is pull the line toward you to take laundry off or put it on the line. One family has the laundry line going right into their mud room, so she doesn't even have to go outside! I want my hubby to set up a system like this for me from my front porch to a tree. The laundry really waves up there in the breezes! Mary

-- Mary Fraley (, September 23, 2000.

Mary, I was thinking of the pulley system, but indoors, from a loft in a house with a cathedral ceiling! Keeps the laundry up in the warmest air (for winter use) and out of the way, but still accessible.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, September 23, 2000.

Great thread! i have an old washer on my front porch, but have never had a dryer. i have an outside line for drying but here in western oregon we get a lot of damp rainydays and inside woodstove drying is the best from Oct thru April. i have a long peeled fir pole running the length of my front room and i just hang things on the hangers then put them up there. sox & undies go on a wooden rack next to the woodstove. a small fan circulates warm air down from the ceiling. i have a scrub board and one tub i use when the washer conks out and i haven't got around to fixing it. there's always junk in the water pluggin up the valves and such we have gravity fed creek water. i'd love to have another tub and a handcrank wringer. i get clothes much cleaner by hand than the machine does! americans wash too much. use things until they truly are dirty. airing outside is a good way to re- freshen clothes that aren't actually dirty, just worn a few times. hang things out under the eaves or on a porch on a rainy day. the negative ions in rainwashed air remove odors and leave thinhgs smelling fresh. i play music in bars on weekends and air out my filty tobacco reeking clothes outside. really works!

-- Juno redleaf (, September 24, 2000.

I had a wringer washer for a long time, out in the front lawn was the best place to do the laundry in the summer. That way I could run the garden hose instead of carrying water. I bought mine at an auction for $1. It did finally conk, but does seem that its not a major break. I do use the modern washer now, and really appreciate it.

We havent had a dryer for 10 years. You learn to watch the weather, and I limit washing to no more than 2 loads per day so as not to overload our septic system.

One thing that wasnt mentioned about hanging clothes inside is that if you have a well insulated, tight house the humidity is not a plus. I have had problems with the windows steaming up because the humidity level is too high. If this is the case you can rot your walls and lose the insulating value of the fiberglass insulation. I hang my clothes outside until they are as dry as they will get(in the winter). Bring them in stiff as boards and hang them on drying rack. By the time they come in they are only a little damp so it isnt such a problem with humidity. If they are too damp I put them in the laundry room which we put a heavy duty exhaust fan in and run the fan for awhile. Tami in WI

-- Tami Bowser (, September 25, 2000.

We hang our washed clothes outside under the big overhang on the porch of the bunkhouse (we put a clear Lexan roof on the overhang, and if there's any sun, it gets pretty toasty). I have about 60 lineal feet of line...holds at least 2-3 loads, depending on bulk. When it's cold and raining in the winter, we dry our clothes on a folding rack in front of the wood insert (we have a blower, so it dries them pretty fast). Seems like that rack is up all winter, though! The rack is small enough to fit through the door into the main bath, which is where it goes, clothes and all, if company shows up. We use our dryer for "fluffing" up the clothes sometimes, or to finish if we are in a hurry.

We use our bath towels for maybe a week! It didn't occur to me to use a fresh one every time we bathe. Guess I'm a slob! Plus we wear our outer clothes several times before tossing them in the wash. Easier to wash ourselves, and socks and underwear. Besides, the waists in my jeans always fit better after a wearing or two...hmmm...

-- sheepish (, September 26, 2000.

I don't know if this belongs on this thread or not, but for some time I have been trying to figure out how to fit a laundry area into the tiny cabin we will initially build when we move from here -- just seemed like no way to fit it in without increasing the square footage of the plan. A couple of days ago it occurred to me that I could put the laundry tubs (which we have -- I went exploring in the seldom- visited territory of our cellar -- LOL!! -- and found a perfectly good set of tubs down there!!) in the kitchen and put a plywood top on them with cut-outs for a couple of plastic dishpans. When I want to do laundry, just remove the plywood and the dishpans. Also, hubby bought one of those hand-cranked "pressure-washers" that Lehman's sells so maybe I won't need the scrub board! ( Yes, I could just put the dishpans on top of the plywood without cut-outs, but I think it would hurt my back -- ditto for just doing the dishes in the laundry tubs.) We are getting pretty well prepared for this move, just need a serious offer on the property here!!

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, September 26, 2000.

I love talking about laundry~and that's with 6 daughters! I think all the ideas mentioned are great. We hang our laundry out in the winter here in Alaska and allow it to freeze dry. My only problem is when there has been alot of rain like this summer. I have ran out of cloth diapers a couple of times because they just aren't getting dry quick enough. Guess I should buy a few more. Diapers almost have to be hung out, IMO, to kill bacteria.I can bring them in later to finish drying.I do laundry at night and hang it inside to dry. When everyone is sleeping, no one seems to notice the drying laundry! Then in the a.m. I take it down, put it away and we have room again! Kathleen, does your *pressure washer* work? In your opinion how much does it hold? Also, I make my own laundry soap and I feel that my clothes are much cleaner and fresher and it is cheaper too I think as well as being better for the septic.

-- Tammy S. (, September 26, 2000.

I make laudry soap too from Ivory bar soap and washing soda. I found the recipe online and it saves a bundle as its only about a dollar a batch (Cdn.). A big plus is that it doesn't suds up so much at all so it rinses out much easier. My house is old and though revamped by previous owners, tightly sealed its not, humidity is usually not a problem at all. The air upstairs is so dry in winter with our woodstove cranking out the BTU's that our noses and skin get irritated. In a way I consider us lucky in that because it encourages me to line dry indoors rather than use the dryer in winter. I love the idea of a bike powered washer!!!! Thats an amazing plan.

-- Alison Proteau (, September 27, 2000.

Another way of washing clothes is a bucket then to agitate use a plunger. I know they make ones just for this purpose but I have used just a regular one and it does work. I think the hardest part of doing laundry is the wringing out of the clothes so if you have a set of wringers it will be a lot easier. gail

-- gail missouri ozarks (, September 30, 2000.

Alison, I would love to know how you make your laundry soap. And don't you all find that your clothes are more wrinkled when you hang them to dry than when you machine dry them? Frankly, I don't have the time to iron everything nor the desire to do so. Any one got any tips on "wrinkle free hang drying"?

-- Greenthumbelina (, February 24, 2001.

I haven't really had much trouble with wrinkles. I do try to pin them on the line carefully to avoid strange clothespin marks. No line- drying here today - 35 mph winds, lots of ice & rain!

-- Jean (, February 24, 2001.

Careful hanging is a good start. The best non-wrinkle days are always outside with a nice breeze. Must shake it out of the clothes. Nothing beats outside line-dried clothes. We are having a few warm days and I have enjoyed hanging the sheets before the snow returns.

-- Anne (, February 24, 2001.

WOuld anyone know where I could find a washboard/scrub board in the UKor or in the Netherlands or in France??? For actual use and not decorative purposes. I would really appreciate some tips...People don't seem to be using old stuff anymore.

Many thanks.

-- Bharatee Lowtoo (, October 09, 2001.

To avoid the wrinkles put the clothes (even t-shirts) on hangers, and clothespin the hanger to the clothesline, or use a small clothesrack and hang them on that. I have not noticed any fading either.

-- GT (, October 09, 2001.

you can get washboards in many shapes and sizes from the catalog. i'm trying to find a good wringer..they are so expensive!any tips on this? i tried to use a mop wringer and it just didn't do the trick...

-- allison (, November 11, 2001.

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