Friday, January 18, 2013

Textile Friday: Lint Balls and Dryers

     Ok, back a little bit late than never. My laptop was cat burgled last week after the resident cat found that she could make cool beeping noises with her butt if she sat on my keyboard. I still have no idea how she managed to tie up my computer in knots with no actual knowledge or opsiable thumbs. Thankfully, I have an awesome husband who can fix anything, even feline blunders. Now, I know everyone out there doesn't use a dryer, so next week I will discuss hanging clothing.
     Dryers are an amazing gift in terms of giving anyone anywhere in the world with access to electricity warm, dry clothes in a matter of minutes or hours depending on the model. Anyone who has needed a last minute pair of pants for work or shirt for a date night can attest to how powerful these machines are in terms of saving you time and allowing you to ignore the weather. Who cares if it rains? You can still have warm fluffy towels for your shower.
    They are also incredibly energy inefficient. Like so bad the US government doesn't even bother to rate them bad. There's a lot of improvements on the market, but most are still too pricy to bother recommending or using. There is however, one which I feel obligated to mention, if you don't already have a couple of dryers balls, please go buy a set TODAY. You can find them everywhere for $4-8 a pack (Etsy, Amazon, Ebay, YOU name it) for one simple reason: they work.
      Dryer balls are small balls that provide loft in the dry cycle which translates to 15-50% energy savings (average is around 20-25%) per load. Since it costs a min of $5.63 to run most dryers per cycle, even the sloppiest apartment dweller with a load a week will find the balls pay for themselves every time they run the dryer after 2 months, thereafter you save $1.25 min per cycle. A sweet couple hundred dollars a year for most small families of two like us (multiple the more kids you have). I wish all my advice could be as bottom line helpful. You can also make you own easily compliments of this great tutorial here with yarn and a pair of old pantyhose.
      Ok, I am getting off track..washing machines ruin clothing lots of different ways, dryers ruin things in simple ways. They shrink clothing and harden it. This is normally in response to heat (often heated air) and motion. The motion generally isn't that critical unless you snag a button, but the only have to think about fabric cushions left on the front porch exposed to the elements. It gets hard, brittle, and smaller. Same with your dryer. Dryer balls and dryer sheets help prevent this, so does limiting the heat and time a piece spends in the dryer. The old advice to clean your lint trap each cycle is golden, also follow your general settings. Most cheaper clothing (polyester) needs permanent press or should ideally be line dried. Gentle or low heat is better for cottons to prevent shrinking though you can read the manufacturer labels for specifics.
        Sadly, that's all folks... the best solution to using a dryer is a $5-8 toy and reading the labels to prevent any gross mismatches in fabrics to save you $200 plus a year, but there ya go. I used to say buy Sanfordized cotton as it lasts forever and is designed to shrink less than 1% over time, but you don't see it as much any more so it's not very practical advice. However, if you like shopping thrift stores, I encourage you to snap up anything with the sanforized label on it. Lee, Wrangler, Arrow, a bunch of great clothing lines all mark some of their most durable stuff with this name. Next the world's favorite: line drying. Happy friday everyone!

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