Drying Clothes Naturally

Clothes and Towels Sunbathing on the Clothesline

Washing and Drying Your Shirts

A well-made shirt can cost $100.00 or more. That is an investment to protect. Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Ideally, one would hang shirts on a clothesline, upside down, with clothes-pins or pegs. This keeps pinch-marks off the important areas of your shirts. The sun will dry them in no time. Alternatively, one could hang them indoors, perhaps out-of-sight behind the the shower curtain, on hangers. A sturdy spring-rod, placed inside the shower area for the purpose of hanging clothes to dry will not interfere with your existing shower-rod. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt, which will die an angry death before its time. My husband and I have shirts from France and England that are more than twenty years old, and in perfect condition.

An electric, energy-consuming dryer is an enemy to high-quality clothing. In fact, dryers shrink clothes and wear them out quickly; lint is composed of fibres that a machine robs from your clothes. You’d be surprised at how swiftly shirts dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, they’re easy to iron. In cases of stubborn collar and cuff soil, when hand-scrubbing fails, you can still wash your white shirts in hot water, soap, and a little bleach, as long as they are rinsed well, and then hung to dry. (Bleach alternative may be a better choice, if you can get it to work on stubborn stains. I sometimes use hydrogen peroxide and/or vinegar.) The sun will do some natural bleaching of white cotton. Save costly energy and your shirts by hand-washing and sun-drying them.

Giving your precious shirts to a dry-cleaner or other laundry service is wasteful. They crush buttons and machine-dry the poor things. Do clothes hanging on a line outdoors conjure up bad images for you? Too bad, because it is one of life’s simple luxuries to be able to dry a beautiful, well-made shirt in the sun–some of the best people do it. Believe me, it’s not remotely infradig to care for your own shirts. After all, who cares for them more than you do?
~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, May 2008-2012

Preserving Your Clothing

Clothes dryers are energy-wasters, and will ruin your clothes as well, through fibre-loss and shrinkage. Hand-washing and line-drying your shirts will extend their lives. I use Zote soap and a small microfibre cloth to rub dirt out of cuffs and collars. Underarms need special attention, too. The reason for using a microfibre cloth instead of a brush is that it is more gentle on the fabric, but is strong enough to grab what I like to call “café crud” from cuffs. You don’t need a fancy contraption for clothes-drying; a nylon line from a variety store, and a packet of wooden clothes-pins or pegs for three dollars or a couple of pounds will do just fine.

When travelling, pack a small piece of Octagon, Zote or similar bar of laundry soap for hand-washing dainties and shirts in your quarters. The shower is a nice place to hang them; they will likely dry overnight, and probably not need ironing.  You might pack a couple of clothes-pegs as well.

The sun acts as  a fabric brightener, and your clothes will have a clean, fresh scent if treated to a sun-bath.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2009-2012

Washing and Drying Clothes without Electricity

Washing and Drying Clothes without Electricity, et Cetera

Posted at 10:58 AM on June 11, 2009

M-J's Clothes-Washing Operation (photo copyright Elegant Survival 2009)
M-J's Clothes-Washing Operation (Photo Copyright Elegant Survival 2009)

M-J’s Clothes-Washing Routine

We don’t have a washer or dryer. That’s by choice. I have plenty of water, two sinks and two buckets. When I say “plenty”, I mean it is available, but I don’t waste it. The beauty of washing and rinsing in buckets is that one can dump the “grey water” out in the garden. Plants don’t mind soap or vinegar, in fact, vinegar and salt, as I like to say, are fertilizers. I have the luxury of a washbasin and a rinse-bucket. Note that the silver one matches the sink, while a white basin would look swell in a porcelain one.

This isn’t “roughing it”. I once lived without running water for over a year, with just wood-stoves for cooking and heating. I took sauna (pronounced “sow-nah”, not “sawna”) regularly, though. Then there was the time I lived in a tee-pee for two weeks in 25* weather. I am used to building my own fires for cooking and heat, making my own bread the old-fashioned way, washing clothes by hand and hanging them on the line to dry. Those things are muscle-building, and who needs a fancy “health-club” when saving electricity and doing things yourself keep a gal in shape? I don’t watch television; we cut the cable last year, as described in Household Hints. No problem–as a radio-nut,  I have a lot of them, all operable with batteries, including a short-wave.

One of my favorite themes here and on the Elegant Survival News blog is getting by without electricity. For now, I use a computer, and someday, when the power-grids fail because of ridiculous energy-restrictions, I am going to adapt to the new situation with my usual vigor.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2009

Wash-Water Additives, Laundry Boosters




Baking Soda

Hydrogen Peroxide (for white items with stubborn stains)

Sometimes I use a combination of the above additives, depending upon the stains at hand.

For wringing clothes, I sometimes use The Absorber, available at auto-supply stores.

The Clothes Line, an Elegant Survival Original, Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2006
The Clothes Line, an Elegant Survival Original, Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2006

When it is raining, I use a wooden laundry-rack instead of hanging clothes outside. If you live in an apartment, plastic hangers on an extra shower-rod, placed in the middle of the area above the tub, works well, too, with adequate ventilation.