Hanging Out The Washing To Dry - A Skill Revived

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    Sep 25, 2012
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These days more and more people are becoming conscious of the need to use electricity more carefully; both for environmental reasons and to save money on the household budget.

I live in the Caribbean, on a remote beach in Belize, and entirely off grid. We generate our own solar power, which is ample for lights, fans, computers, refrigerator, even our freezer. However anything which has a heating element – such as a clothes washer or a clothes dryer – is impractical. Clothes washers and dryers just consume too much electricity.

So come wash day, it's hand washing for me using a washboard in the time honored way, after which the clothes are rinsed, wrung out (this is a fine workout for the arms) and carried out in a basket right away to be pinned up on the washing line.

I have two washing lines, one right in the face of the prevailing easterly breeze, and one behind it, a little more sheltered. Heavy things like jeans, towels, sweat shirts and t-shirts go on the front washing line, where they get the benefit of the most breeze and dry the quickest. Lighter things like cotton shirts, blouses and lingerie go on the more protected sheltered line, as our winds can get very strong, and this prevents too much wear and tear in the wind. Before washing, everything is turned inside out to help prevent fading in the bright sunshine and salty air.

I always start hanging the washing out at the far end of the lines. This means that you don't have to walk past wet washing hanging flapping in the breeze and slapping you in the face as you go by! I use clothes pins made from bamboo, as bamboo is a very environmentally friendly material which regrows quickly. Bamboo pins are very cheap to buy, but I always have a fresh pack on hand as they don't last very long in our tropical climate.

I must admit that I like to see a pretty line of fresh, sweet smelling washing, and I amuse myself by juxtaposing attractive colors – pink against amber, orange against jade. When the washing is dry – and this generally takes just a couple of hours on a sunny breezy day – I remove it from the washing line and fold and stack it, like with like. So all the towels go together, all the underwear, separated by his and hers, all the t-shirts. I have a small table nearby used for this purpose. This makes it so easy to put things away straight where they belong. And at the same time, I also avoid the electricity consuming chore of ironing. If you hang things up straight away, any creases will just drop out of most fabrics. Only very fancy and special things ever get ironed in our house!

Of course, we do have wonderful drying weather most days, even in the rainy season, as the rain falls mainly at night. Should I forget to bring the clothes in at the end of the day, or I get caught out by an unexpected shower, then I just smile and give thanks for the extra “rain rinse” as it's called here. If you want to find out more about how you can live off grid in the tropics, check out www.yourhomeinbelize.com 

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To find out more about life in Belize go to www.yourhomeinbelize.com

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