Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Clothes Pins Make Me So Happy


Back in the fall, we realized that we weren't as energy efficient as I thought we were and made big some big changes to drop our usage. We ended up dropping our energy usage by over 70% that first month from the year before. Pretty exciting stuff.

But we weren't finished yet. Brimming with confidence, we decided to stop using our dryer.

Things were pretty challenging at first, but we stuck with it. Eventually we got our systems in place and things stayed pretty much the same after that. Until this week when everything changed. We bought clothes pins.



You Learn a lot when you Start a Blog


When I first started this blog, I figured that I would put some tips and tricks out there for saving money and living on a budget.  I wasn't sure if anyone would actually read them.

What I didn't expect was to get so much helpful feedback, well, back.

After posting about our decision to ditch our dryer, I was surprised by all the commenters who get by on hanging their clothes too.  Then I started talking about it and found out that a lot of my friends never use their dryers either.

The idea of not using our electric dryer to dry our clothes seemed crazy to me.  But, here were all these people who thought it was normal. Having huge frugal challenges to myself met with the response of, "So?" is probably my favourite part of having a blog.

We got lots of advice, but one comment from Jules of Outside Looking In fame stuck with me. (I've included the comment in its entirety below because I've found it so helpful.)

Get clothespins. When you can have clothes drying in a single layer instead of folded in half, the drying time gets cut in half. Mostly. 

I had always associated clothes pins with outdoor clothes lines, so it was a bit of a revelation to consider using them on indoor racks.


I Spent Months Dreaming of Clothes Pins


I had just bought a drying rack at full price and didn't want to spend more to save more until at least my first purchase had paid for itself. I could see myself getting sucked into an online shopping vortex and buying anything I thought could help us get at least one article of clothing truly dry (it was a rough start). So, we waited.

I was confident that our drying rack had paid for itself, and confident that clothes pins would improve our drying situation, so I went ahead and picked some up from our local Lee Valley Tools.


Results


We had figured out how to get by with our one drying rack for our family of three:

  • Clothes go on the rack 
  • Socks get clipped on a special hanger we had bought to dry cloth diaper covers (we switched to disposables after a year)
  • Dress shirts and hoodies and extra clothes go on hangers and get hung on doorways (annoying ducking under shirts to get into the kitchen)
  • Anything else gets hung off tables, chairs, laundry baskets, etc.

I'll be the first to admit that although it worked, it wasn't the most elegant solution. 

It's pretty amazing what a difference such a small purchase like clothes pins could make.

Originally we had draped clothes over each wire.  Then, we figured out the clothes would dry faster with more air flow, so we draped the clothes over two wires each.  The clothes did dry faster, but only half fit on the rack.

Clothes pins do let us dry twice as much on the rack in the same amount of time as promised. This makes me so happy!

Use clothes pins to dry more clothes faster on drying racks.

We still hang up some dress shirts in the doorways, but without the rest of the stuff hanging, the shirts fit to the sides and we don't have to duck as much.  The other random surfaces now are clear!


A Review of Lee Valley Tools Wooden Clothes Pins


I'd read enough times that clothes pins are one of those things that just aren't made now like they used to be. Knowing that I remember clothes pins being pretty annoying and finicky, I didn't want to go cheap and get angry.

When I want to buy something that will last, I go to Lee Valley Tools.


First Impressions:

Lee Valley Tools Wooden Clothes Pins in Package

The clothes pins came in no-advertising-no-nonsense packaging. They looked sturdy enough and I was pretty happy bringing them home.


A Closer Inspection

I had been building this clothes pin purchase up in my mind for months.  So, I scrutinized each one as I removed it from the packaging.  These weren't my dream clothes pins.

I felt a little sorry for them.  They shouldn't have to shoulder my expectations.



I pulled myself together pretty quick.  No, they're not 100% perfect, but they are very functional clothes pins.
  • I was able to pull them apart with some force, but they weren't twisting apart in my hands like I remember clothes pins doing as a child.  (the spring extends over the side of the clothes pin to restrict unwanted twisting)
  • The spring doesn't fit snug in its spring hole, but the pins still open and close fine.
  • Lee Valley Tools had another set of plastic disk style clothes pins for indoor clothes racks, so I was worried that the wooden clothes pins some how wouldn't fit on my indoor drying rack.  They fit fine.

Overall, I wasn't blown away by my Lee Valley Tools Wooden Clothes Pins.  But, none have broken yet and I am considering buying another pack. After reading the reviews for wooden clothes pins on Amazon, I'm not sure my perfect clothes pins do exist.


What's Next?


Remember how I was afraid of going out and buying anything and everything?  Well, I do have some other clothes drying related purchases that I've been putting off as well.

Spring is coming and so I'm trying to think up a good outdoor clothes drying option. (It says it's going to be zero degrees tomorrow. That's almost above freezing again!)

In the fall we had put our drying rack outside a few times.  But it was hard to get it in and out through the sliding doors and the wind blew it over a couple of times.  So, I'm trying to think of how we could rig up a proper clothes line.

I'll probably need more clothes pins and I might even pick up some metal clothes pins for more delicate materials or heavier things.

When the temperatures get colder again, I'll probably be on the hunt for at least one more drying rack.

Maybe we could pick up some fast drying technical fabric clothing...

Maybe I could pick up one of these hand powered washing machinesthat I spotted the other day.

Of course then I'd need to get a wringer... Or a spin dryer... Or...

Do you see why I make myself hold off on purchases?


It All Started with One Epic Comment from Jules of Outside Looking In:


Hehe, welcome to my life! I enjoyed this post, if only because I'm the one who does 99% of the laundry. And no, we do not have a dryer. And did I mention that we cloth diapered for six months?

Some more tips: Get clothespins. When you can have clothes drying in a single layer instead of folded in half, the drying time gets cut in half. Mostly. Jeans are always problematic; if I need the space on the rack then I hang them on the balcony for a day.

And don't be ashamed to get a second or even a third laundry rack. We have three--one that's the size you have, one that's slightly smaller, and one that hangs on the balcony. It's MUCH much easier to have stuff drying within 24 hours if you have more space.

We do laundry just about every other day, every third day at most. Our wardrobes are pretty limited--I have three pairs of jeans--so unless I want to wear summer dresses in the dead of winter, we kinda hafta do laundry as it pops up. On the flip side, though: smaller loads take less time to dry, and you don't have to fold it on the same day that you take it down. Most of the things I hang are mostly dry after 24 hours, and totally dry after 36.

(Also, if you can fold things while you're taking them down, do it! And hang pairs of socks together, so that when they're dry you can just roll them up)


Conclusion


Sometimes it's the smallest things that give you the greatest pleasures in life.  Clothes pins mean that I don't have to stoop to get to the kitchen.  That's pretty huge in my books.

Buying the drying rack let us stop using our dryer, which helped us save energy and money. Buying clothes pins, or any other clothes drying equipment won't save us any extra money, but it will make things more efficient and fun.

What About You?


Have you found the perfect clothes pins?

Have you bought anything small lately that has made your life so much easier?

Do you think I'm still doing this wrong?  I'm listening!



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