Monday, July 19, 2010

Grandma's undies

My grandparents never owned a washing machine and had probably never imagined a clothes dryer. As a child I remember tea towels and nappies would be boiled (separately) in the copper and my grandfather would do the rest of the weekly wash in the bath tub.
We lived in a very damp part of the Home Counties. In summer the washing was hung on ropes with hand carved wooden pegs we bought from the gypsies who visited each year and propped with long  forked sticks. In the winter, the washing was hung on a clothes pulley above the kitchen which boasted an electric oven and an open fireplace and was the warmest room in the house. The pulley loaded with wet washing was hauled up into the air, resting near the ceiling where it dried in record time.
When I first moved here, I was delighted with the fact that my Raeburn wood stove in the kitchen and high ceilings meant I could have a pulley of my own. It was cheaply constructed from timber off cuts of 630cm of 40mm x 20mm timber salvaged from old garden chairs and 7 x 180mm lengths of 10mm dowel. A chain was attached with screws at each end and used to hang the builders twine that was then threaded through two small pulleys attached to the ceiling. The cord is knotted to prevent it from coming away and is hitched onto a firmly secured hook set into solid timber.
Please take care that the cord and all other cords are kept out of reach of children. I recently found our ancient poodle with it round his neck, walking around in very confused circle. If he had managed to pull the cord off the hook, the weight of the washing would have strangled him. 
I can put a full load from my washing machine up in the rafters in the evening and most of it is totally dry by morning. My visitors, the ones that notice it, are hugely entertained by it but most people don’t notice it. I do try to remove the underwear from it each morning and to not load it up when I am cooking anything with a strong smell. The dogs may love me smelling of lamb roast but it’s not a great perfume for supposedly clean clothes!
This simple solution to clothes drying uses the heat from the stove, which also heats our hot water (and the house) and there is no tripping over clothes horses or rushing in and out as the rain comes and goes. Spread with a towel, it dries my felting. In summer it can dry herbs and chillies in bunches or lay on fly wire. When not full of washing, it airs the bathroom towels. My ten year old grandson insists he’d like to sleep on it!
Can your clothes dryer do all that and not cost you an extra cent on your power bill?


  1. I don't have room under my ceilings for one of those, but I do have one, under my carport.
    It's from Ikea!

  2. I'd love to see a photo...that's a great idea...


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