Laundry

I’m not single. I’m not social. I’m not rich. Which is to say that even if my small town did have a laundromat with an attached bar and live entertainment I would still hate laundromats. That being said, for seven years after moving out to the country, this was how the laundry got done. Then, as the house renovations progressed, the issue of a washer and dryer started to bubble to the surface. Initial investigations led my wife and I to consider front-loading machines for their water efficiency — important when you are living off of the rainwater collected in your cistern.

In looking for a decent machine, though, it quickly became apparent that planned obsolescence had hit new heights. The new wisdom seemed to be that you chose the machines with the best reviews and the features you wanted and then considered yourself lucky if it lasted 5 years and threw a celebratory party with cake and champagne if you crossed the 7-year mark. Alternately, you could try to hunt down one of the older machines if someone was willing to part with them. If you went really old you might even find something repairable. What you gained in longevity, however, you would pay for in efficiency. At the time we had managed to go the few years since I had put the metal roof on the house without needing to order water.

To our advantage, though, it is just the two of us. Without several children and with our dog refusing to wear pants, the amount of laundry we generate is actually fairly small. After some number crunching and research, we decided that washing by hand and line drying was the way to go. Not just line drying, though, and this is where I get to introduce a pretty fantastic bit of kit. You see, there are a few problems with line drying. The first of which is the obvious weather component.

NinaSoft laundry spinner.

NinaSoft laundry spinner.
Image from NinaSoft website

On a hot summer day, line drying is a quick and efficient way of getting your laundry dried out. In wetter seasons or during the winter, however, outside line drying ranges from impractical to impossible. You can dry clothing indoors, but it brings with it its own set of challenges — it introduces excess moisture into your building envelope and can still take an extremely long time to complete. There is also another issue that actually arises from the washing end of the process. When a washing machine spins after each rinse cycle, it actually flings water and detergent out of the clothing. This is one of the advantages of the front-loading washing machines. With their incredible spin speeds, they end up spitting out nearly dry clothing that has had almost all of the water and residual detergent flung out. By contrast, if you leave your clothing to dry in the breeze, the water evaporates but the detergent remains.

Enter the laundry spinner. There are several competitors in the marketplace, but we settled on the Nina Soft by The Laundry Alternative. Online reviews vary somewhat but our experience has fallen in line with what seemed to be the general consensus at the time we bought ours — a decent machine at a low price point sold by people with crappy customer service. It has now been a couple years that we have used the machine and we are quite happy. Basically you take the hand-washed clothing and put it through the machine in reasonably sized batches. Each spin takes only a few minutes and I find it easy enough to mix it in with other household activities so that I’m not just standing there watching it turn. The clothing comes out ever so slightly damp and dries extremely quickly on a sunny day. Most importantly, we can dry the clothing inside in a single day in the winter, even without sun. If we have a sunny day then the great room of our somewhat passive-solar house makes quick work of the remaining drying.

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