Monday, June 6, 2011

Laundry Day

Laundry is one of those things, I admit, where Shane and I diverge directly along the traditional male/female roles. In fact, practically since we started dating over four years ago, I've been doing his laundry along with mine. (He NEVER did laundry, and it started to bother me. Plus: we lived in the same dorm, laundry facilities were on his floor anyway, and the machines were huge so I could get a lot of laundry done all at once. So I took over, like I tend to do.)
We've had a rather interesting laundry history, too. I've already explained living in the dorms, but there was also the six months we lived in a dry cabin. That made laundry an interesting (and very infrequent) venture. We were, to be blunt, dirt poor and didn't want to go to the laundromat. Ever. So we relied on the generous nature of our friends, and a lot on the fact that Shane's younger brother was living in the dorms. Once a month we'd cart pretty much all of our clothes to campus and spend as long as it took to get things cleaned and at least mostly dried. There were a few times we'd have one bag of clean and dry, another bag for clean and not at all dried so that the second set could be laid around the cabin to try dry. Since we kept the temperature so low to save on heat, and the drying area was farthest away from the heater, things would more often get a little frozen rather than dried, but we made it work.
Now that we're in an apartment with an actual washer and dryer for our own use, I'm very conscious of the toll the electricity for it exacts on our electric bill. Especially the dryer. So I do all that I can to reduce the amount I actually put into the dryer. Our storage space (located right next to the washer and dryer, conveniently) has provided...well, not the perfect alternative (it's too small!) but an excellent one. There's a closet bar across the front, and I hang a majority of our clothes along there to be dried. At first it was just a few of our nicer clothes (the dryer is also very hard on clothing), but now it's expanded to almost all of our shirts, and all of my underwear. (Women's underwear is ridiculously expensive!) I keep meaning to add our pants into the growing list of things that don't go in the dryer, but there's more of a space concern for them. Now that it's summer, I suppose I could just set them outside to dry. Hmmm. The only thing I've found it's better to put in the dryer are towels, otherwise they get rather stiff. (Although, maybe just tossing them in for a small touch-up at the end of the drying process would fluff them up enough?) Yes, all of this does take a few extra minutes since I have to hang up each individual item, but the savings to our electric bill makes up for that. And it's still something that I can do and leave as I please. It makes me feel really good when I need to dry only one out of every three loads of laundry.
The other easy way I save is by using less laundry detergent. Like, waaaay less. I read this article a while ago about using less, none, or making it yourself and have totally altered the way I do laundry ever since. (I admit that I don't make my own. But I buy Seventh Generation soap, and the big container has lasted almost two years now.) For an average load of laundry, I try to put in no more than a tablespoon or two of soap. My laundry still comes out smelling fresh and clean, and it stays that way.
I also never use fabric softener or dryer sheets. I don't find them to be at all necessary, just a waste of money. My clothes are plenty soft, and since I air dry most of our stuff, there's no need for dryer sheets.
When we do eventually buy our own place, will I even bother to get a clothes dryer? Maybe.

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