April 24, 2014

Clotheslines Bring Back Pleasant Memories

I’m not old enough to remember the time when a clothesline was the most common way to dry the week’s washing, and I don’t plan to give up the convenience of my washer and dryer, but I do use a rack outside on my deck to dry delicate clothes.  Preserving energy (and fragile fabrics) is one reason to use a clothesline, but as Jacques Kelly at the BaltimoreSun.com will tell you, there are others.

When will the green movement embrace the outdoor clothesline that stretched along so many of Baltimore’s backyards and alleys? Last week, I arrived home with bags of laundry from 14 days at the beach. After about an hour in my gas dryer, when a beach towel refused to dry, I declared the appliance all but dead.

No panic. I could, after all, handle the situation the way my mother did. Hang it outside to dry. Hang everything outside. Look, for the past few weeks we enjoyed sunny days with low humidity. Let the sun – not my natural gas supplier – do the work.

I have never owned a house with proper outdoor clotheslines. But I needed something to wear and figured I could improvise something with the help of poles that support my side porch awning. Before long, I had a dozens shirts and several towels out. In the hot afternoon sun, they dried as fast as the would have in my gas-fired dryer. I didn’t have to use fabric softener, and the clothes came inside with a clean, fresh smell.

My mother always claimed that doing laundry calmed her nerves. I can see her point. She never gave up on the sun and often swore that in the household art of spot and stain removal, there were few blots the sun’s rays could not lift.

She actually transported clothes from Baltimore to her summertime beach apartment, where she believed the sun would be more intense.

The laundry facilities in the old house – still there, still working – consisted of the well-used Kenmore washer and a pair of soapstone laundry tubs. There was also a ribbed washboard, scrubbing brush and an ample supply of homemade bars of super-tough laundry soap, which by family tradition was the secret agent for stain removal. That laundry soap was full of rendered fat and lye – all made atop the kitchen stove one flight up.

Grass stains, dirt and other annoyances were given a rigorous scrubbing with the lye soap and bristle brushes on the washboard. Oh, yes, we also used commercial soap powder, but we employed it sparingly.

We had two sets of laundry lines – one inside and another out. The inside set, strung along the cellar’s length, was used on rainy days or times when the temperature dropped below freezing.

The outside lines had to be strung on the days when clothes were put out to dry. They stretched across the length of our little garden and had to be supported with wooden props so the weight of the wet linen (bed sheets were the worst) would not pull everything down.

Baltimore once earned a nice reputation as having block after block of scrubbed marble steps. I often thought this was only half the story. You needed to check the backs of these houses on wash day.

In the days before the mechanical dryer was the household norm, brilliant, white sheets and pillowcases caught the breezes of Canton and Highlandtown. They resembled billowing sails.

I often wondered as I walked along these alleys if the launderers owned dryers or just believed in the sun’s power and refused to change their ways.

College Laundry Basics

For those lucky kids whose clean clothes and sheets magically appeared in their rooms all these years, the first week away at college will be a shock. About this time next week they will awake to the fact that Mom is no longer doing the laundry. When they call in a panic, you can refer them to us. With the help of Whirlpool, we’ll present them with the basics for getting through that pile taking over their room.

Step 1 – Prepping:

Treat stains by blotting, not rubbing, from the back of the fabric to the front.
Divide loads into lights and darks.
Check that zippers are closed, hooks clasped and pockets emptied.

Step 2 – Washing:

Use only enough detergent as specified for your load size (check the bottle).
Extra suds hold and re-deposit dirt on your laundry.
Use hot water to keep white loads bright.
Use cold water to prevent darks from fading.

Step 3 – Drying:

Select items from the wash load to place in dryer. Delicate items can go on a drying rack.
Add a dryer sheet to keep clothes static-free.
Empty the lint trap to dry faster and increase energy efficiency.
To avoid extra wrinkles, fold immediately.

Three simple steps… now they’ll only call for money.

Recall: General Electric Gas Dryers Due to Shock Hazard

Name of Product: GE Gas Clothes Dryers

Units: About 2,100

Manufacturer: GE Consumer & Industrial, of Louisville, Ky.

Hazard: A short circuit in the dryer’s wiring poses a shock hazard to consumers with ungrounded dryers.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported.

Description: The recalled gas dryers are 42 inches tall (back with backsplash) and 27 inches wide, and were sold in white. GE gas dryers model number DWXR463GGWW with serial numbers starting with AM, TL, SL, VL, and ZL are included in this recall. To find the model and serial numbers, open the dryer door and look in the lower right corner, in the area that was covered by the door.

Sold by: Retail stores, and authorized builder distributors nationwide from September 2006 through October 2007 for about $440.

Manufactured in:
Canada

Remedy: Consumers should stop using the recalled dryers immediately, unplug the dryer, and contact GE for further instructions and to schedule a free, in-home inspection and repair. GE is directly contacting consumers who purchased the recalled dryers.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact GE toll-free at (866) 324-3732 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, or visit the firm’s Web site at http://geappliances.com

Firm’s Media Contact: Kim Freeman at (502) 452-7819 or kim_freeman@ge.com

reaclled GE dryer door

Staber’s New Electric Clothes Drying Cabinet

Staber, an American manufacturer and online retailer of washers and dryers offers a new clothes drying cabinet as an addition to your laundry room equipment. Although drying cabinets have been used in Europe for years, many Americans are not familiar with them. They are in a simple form a box in which clothes can be hung up or laid out on racks while air is circulated around them to reduce drying time. They are not a replacement for a traditional tumble dryer, but an alternative to tumbling delicate or very bulky items.

Here are some benefits of the drying cabinet from Staber’s literature:
• To be used in addition to a conventional dryer; it is simply a different way to dry laundry

• Less wear and tear on clothing because of no tumbling

• Reduces shrinkage

• Lower operating temperature; increases life expectancy of clothing

• All kinds of clothing can be dried simultaneously, e.g. shirts on hangers together with sport equipment and boots

• Life expectancy of 15 years; minimal maintenance due to simple design

• Quiet operation, which makes it suitable in both houses and apartments

• Provides an energy-efficient drying process, and minimizes the amount of air to be evacuated

• Thermostat controlled, adjustable from room temperature up to around 150 degrees F

• Allows quick folding when removing clothes

The cabinet measures 67 1/2″ tall x 23 1/2″ wide x 24 1/4″ deep and retails for $949.00 online.

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Drying with Liquid? A New Twist on the Clothes Dryer

For the most part, clothes drying technology hasn’t changed in over 70 years, but the people at Hydromatic Technologies have a new plan. They don’t make dryers, but at the 2008 International Builders’ Show, they debuted a new technology – Hydronics- that could make future dryers better.

Hydronics is the utilization of water or other fluids to transfer heat from one location to another. Steam and hot water radiators are one of the oldest forms of hydronic technology. Similar to water heater technology, Hydronic Technologies has produced the next generation of liquid-based technology as a heat transfer delivery system. The result is an energy saving, faster drying technology

How it works:

Made of durable copper and aluminum, the Hydronic Dryer’s heat technology works by heating up a specially formulated, non-toxic and non-corrosive heat transfer fluid with an immersion element (similar to a water heater). The fluid is transferred to a heat exchanger where it is mixed with air. The heated air is then blown into the dryer’s drum. The result is a safer, highly energy efficient dryer, that dries faster than any other brand available on the market – up to 41% faster!

The company says this hydronic dryer can be added to an existing dryer by a trained technician in under 30 minutes. They also claim to be a safer, greener, economical way to dry clothes. Innovation is good, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

Is the Washer Eating Your Socks? -Missing Socks Form One of Life’s Little Mysteries

Two socks enter the washer. Two socks exit the dryer.

As household tasks go, what could be simpler? A pair of socks goes from drawer to feet to dirty clothes to washer and dryer and back into the drawer.

Of course, anyone associated with a social group that faintly resembles a family knows the truth. Socks do disappear. Virtually every residence in the free world has a drawer, pile or basket of mismatched socks. Millions – no, billions – of socks drift aimlessly without mates.

“Washing machines and dryers eat socks,” says my wife of 27 years, who oversees the laundry in our seven-person family. There are other theories, of course. Sock heaven is one. A Bermuda Triangle for socks is another.

For whatever reason, our family’s mismatched-sock pile grows and grows, like an expanding cotton-blended Blob. Two or three times a year we try to match socks. Far too often, they remain alone, sentenced to the rag pile, one wipe closer to the garbage.

Today, sock sales in the U.S. are about $4.9 billion annually. Perhaps because I seem responsible for about a $1 million of those sales, I just lose it over mismatched socks. As frustration builds, I erupt, like any normal, sock-wearing person.

Once, when my daughter Allyson was playing competitive soccer, her black game sock came back from the wash inexplicably partnered with one of my black dress socks. When I put them on, the sports sock reached my knee; the dress sock climbed past my ankle. “Who in their right mind would put these two socks together?” I shouted in a rage.

My wife, returning clean clothes to drawers at the time, answered: “If you don’t like how we do socks, you can do the laundry.” By emphasizing “you” and modifying “laundry” with a word unsuitable for print, my wife revealed to me for the first time that she is truly capable of murder.

Since no matches existed for these black socks, they, too, were exiled to our pile.

“I share your pain,” says Gail Hammond-Gibson, who manages the laundry in her Long Island Freeport household of four that includes husband, Bill, daughter, Nowell, 15, and son, Julian, 13.

The family has a bag of lonely, single socks. “The problem is the bag of mismatches is larger than our supply of good socks,” she says.

Although she has no proof, she wonders if socks are made specifically to disappear, or whether there’s a conspiracy between the weavers of socks and appliance manufacturers. “It’s all about buying new socks,” she says.

Hammond-Gibson’s son seems to be the only family member who has a plan for keeping his socks together; he folds the tops of one open end into the other. “At least they get to the washing machine paired up,” mom says.

The youngster is on to something, says Audrey Reed-Granger, a marketing and public relations executive at Whirlpool, a Michigan-based manufacturer of appliances. The journey from hamper to laundry room is fraught with danger for socks.

Contrary to popular opinion, washers and dryers do not eat socks, Reed-Granger says, and she insists there is no conspiracy between the hosiery industry and the appliance manufacturers.

There are logical explanations for single-sock phenomena. First, Reed-Granger says, most socks do not make it to the washer in pairs. “Boys shoot dirty socks into hampers like they’re shooting basketballs,” she says, “so socks end up behind furniture or under the bed.”

Then she asks me if I’ve ever followed my wife as she carries a load of clothes to the washer.

I reluctantly admit that my wife often leaves behind a trail of single socks, T-shirts and unmentionables.

“The logic is based on research by Whirlpool’s Institute of Fabric Science, which studies how consumers use things like washers and dryers. The institute also claims static cling causes socks to divorce. Even when a pair gets through the washer and into the dryer, static cling can split them up. A single sock can be swallowed by a pillow case or a pant leg, which hints of textile cannibalism.

“The laundry room has been unfairly identified as a Bermuda Triangle for socks,” Reed-Granger says. “But, really, it’s not the fault of the room or the machine. It’s you.”

Well, not me. And certainly not Mary Ellen Zimmermann of Kings Park. After 20-plus years of laundry, she knows exactly why socks go single: “They escape to sock heaven.” If you were a sock, she asks, wouldn’t you be looking for greener pastures?

Reed-Granger understands.

“Before joining Whirlpool, I had a lot of missing socks, too, and I thought I was going crazy.”

One solution is using mesh laundry bags, which keep socks together before they reach the laundry room, Reed-Granger says.

Experts like author Linda Cobb, the self-professed “Queen of Clean,” says clips and rings – sold as SockCops and SockPro and designed to link single pairs as they wash and dry – also prevent socks from disappearing. Reed-Granger prefers the mesh bags, because she says such plastic items could loosen and potentially damage the appliances.

To heck with bags and organizing clips, scoff those who launder regularly. Especially those who have large families. Bags, clips and rings are too much work. Plus, deep down, they are true believers in the household legends of sock heaven and sock-munching appliances.

Again, Reed-Granger understands. So much so that she grudgingly reveals there is a rare – an extremely rare – opportunity for a washing machine to gobble up a sock.

Under the lid of the traditional machine is a gap between the tub and the drum, Reed-Granger says. “You have to really, really overload a top-end machine, so when the cycle starts, a small item could be flipped up into that gap and be lost.”

To those who toil under mountains of grimy clothes, all the while haunted by the ghosts of single socks, it finally makes sense. “What did I tell you?” my wife says.


Laundry Video – Advertising Done Beautifully

Sometimes, an ad is just beautiful…

I might get my kids to help load the washing machine to do the laundry if such was possible.