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Solar Powered Clothes Dryer

Michael Giacopassi

Posted on January 12 2023

In 1980 an Australian man put an ad in newspapers across their terrifying continent advertising a solar powered clothes dryer. Business was good - as people were looking for an alternative from high electricity prices. Although solar power was just gaining attention as an alternate energy source many people were eager to find out more. The early 80’s saw energy crunches, oil embargos and the search for a different way to generate electricity was on. Reducing oil and natural gas consumption was real.

Imagine a cheap alternative to drying your clothes. The clothes dryer is one of the most expensive appliances in your home to run. Countless loads of clothes to dry can add up quickly.

So, when orders started rolling in and the product was delivered to homes across Australia what did they get in the mail?

Rope.

Clothesline to be more accurate.

I was reminded of that fantastic story because of a sponsored ad I recently read somewhere in the online wasteland. It was an informational story/ad talking about how drying your clothes on a drying rack can significantly increase the amount of moisture in the air thereby potentially causing mold. This was news to me. 

I imagine your clothes would have to be soaking wet to put that much moisture in the air. Modern washing machines spin so much of the water out of them they are practically dry coming out of the washer. Even if you were sink washing your clothes you would wring them out before hanging them to dry wouldn’t you? If you didn’t, I think the water on the floor would be a bigger problem than the water in the air.

After digging a little deeper the advertorial was an ad for electric clothes dryer. Of course, it was. A warning about drying your clothes in your home in order to scare you to buy an unnecessary appliance.

I understand that owning a dryer in many parts of the world is a luxury and an item to aspire to own. A dryer makes life easier. It reduces the amount of work and decreases the time between a wash and when you can wear. Ideal for people without a massive Americanized wardrobe selection or just one work uniform. It can be a sign that you made it. No longer airing your dirty (or clean) laundry in public shows that you are doing OK!

Conversely, in the developed world abstaining from your dryer can be seen as a luxury. A luxury of our greatest resource – free time. 

The ability to wait for your clothes to be dried by the air and sun rather than electric heat and dryer sheets. That is a power move. It portrays a less harried lifestyle. It harkens back to single worker households. A stay-at-home mom lifestyle that is out of reach for most people.

One of my earliest and fondest memories is running through bedsheets lazily swaying on the clothesline in our backyard. It was summer and I was spending time with my mom. A warm summer daythe cool fresh sheets waving in the breeze and brushing across my sun warmed face. I can feel the feel the sheets and sun and smell the grass at that moment in time to this day.

My mom was ahead of her time regarding the conservation movement. She didn’t attend rallies, write letters but she put in place ideas and actions at home that have a place in today’s modern environmental movement. The idea of owning a clothesdryer but not using it to save money & electricity. Composting, recycling, sewing deep, thick window covers may have been considered frugal but it saved more than money.

Interesting how the things that save us money are also good for the environment. Probably because these actions use less resources, using less new materials and reusing what you already own will be what saves our planet.

Over the past few years, I have turned to air drying my clothes that I can’t remember the last time I used my dryer. I hang my clothes over chairs and tables in the winter but the real treat is summer time drying.

The smell of cotton bedsheets dried by the warm summer sun. Its almost intoxicating. For me it could be a trigger to a flood of memories and long summer days of past. It is also a fresh scent that cannot be captured by any dryer sheet, fabric softener or Yankee candle. You cannot reproduce this smell in a lab. You can’t measure or quantify it. It is a scent all of it’s own and it is magical. It is the smell of sun, of summer, a warmth on your cheeks, a freshly mowed lawn and wildflowers.

A smell that cannot be bought. It can only be produced by the act itself. A smell that stands on it’s own. It needs summer, sun and time to be created. A smell that cannot be rushed, cannot be obtained through money, connections or influence. There can be no instant gratification.

The texture of a summer line dried cotton sheet is every bit of a sensory treat as the smell. It is soft. Not chemically produced fabric softener feel soft. Not the fake soft that puts a barrier between you and the cotton. It is the cotton. It is breathing. It is air passing through and picking up the beauty of the natural world.

Fabric softeners actually reduce the absorbency of towels. So contrary to every ad ever – these chemicals are not your snuggly friend they are made out to be. Ditch them for a few loads and see the difference.  

What a rare treat. This smell, this feel. Only obtained through a tiny act of saving the planet.

 

This post contains no Amazon affiliate links. Exactly none of my posts will ever contain Amazon links. There is nothing to buy, only things to not to buy. Stop buying dryer sheets. Stop buying fabric softener. Start using the sun and change the world.

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