I’ve mentioned my dryer dilemma before, as I’ve talked about how much I hate doing laundry. Hanging laundry, while the most frugal, and certainly best for the environment, was never really by choice. So after we moved, and space no longer became an issue, I knew that getting a dryer would no longer be a question of if, but when.
Sure enough, when my birthday rolled around, my husband (literally) showed up at the front door with a dryer. Yippee! But being able to dry my laundry in a flash doesn’t mean that the money saving concerns (nor the environmental ones) go out the window.
To begin with, there’s all the electricity that dryers use. They are certainly one of the heaviest consumers in a household. Then there’s the effect on the clothes- tumble dried clothes are definitely susceptible to more wear and tear than line dried clothes. On the other hand it is just So Nice to no longer have to spend 20 minutes per load hanging the clothes and then ten minutes taking them down again.
Here are four ways to mitigate the effect that a dryer can have on your pocketbook.
1. Don’t use it.
What? After all that time exalting the benefits of a dryer, why shouldn’t I use it? Because, also as stated above, it can have an effect on clothes: shrinking them, causing stains to set and plastics to crack. I hang all of my nice unmentionables (nursing bras don’t count), nice work clothes, polar fleece garments or t-shirts with designs on them. If I hang them on hangers, it only takes a minute and makes putting them away easy. Plus, I’m not hanging a full load, so it only takes a few minutes, and these items dry quickly. And I never put rugs or rags in the dryer- they get tossed over the back balcony to dry- which usually takes less than 24 hours.
2. Use it less, part one.
Think about how often you wear your clothes before washing them. Since coming to live in France I’ve changed the ways I wash my clothes. Admittedly the French (especially in the summer, on crowded public transportation) can sometimes deserve the stereotypical comments we make about their hygiene, but most of the time their habits make sense. Do you really need to wash that sweater right away? Probably not. And if it hasn’t been washed, it probably doesn’t have to be dried.
3. Use it less, part two.
When you do put your wash in the dryer, where do you set the timer? Are you choosing the number automatically or arbitrarily? What would happen if you set it for ten minutes less? New dryers often have a setting allowing you to choose your desired degree of ‘doneness’, from damp and ready to iron, to fully fluffed and dried. Try choosing less time and see what happens. You can always add more time later, of really needed.
Another trick is to add an extra spin cycle to the end of your normal washing machine cycle.
4. Don’t add extras. But maybe just one.
Forget the dryer sheets (and the fabric softener) and the ironing after. If you give your clothes a good shake when you take them out, especially if you dry them only to the point of slightly damp, you won’t need to worry about static or wrinkles. Put them on hangers or fold them neatly right away and they’ll stay crisp as well. If you’re not worried about noise, you could try tossing a (clean) tennis ball into the dryer. It will help fluff the clothes as they spin- but I wouldn’t try this one at night, if you have close neighbors or in a high-heat industrial dryer.
Finally, although this isn’t a tip that applies only to dryers, take good care of your appliances. Make sure there’s nothing blocking the vent, empty out the filter regularly, yada, yada, yada– you know the drill!
Do you have a dryer? Do you prefer a dryer or hanging your clothes? How do you save money while maximizing convenience?