Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Contaminated Clothesline

European drying cabinet
I found some cotton/nylon blend shorts a few years ago that I love. I looked online for more clothes made of a cotton/nylon blend and only ever found one more pair of shorts. But that was back in Beachton where I'd just wash the dirty pair in the sink and hang them on the line while I wore the clean pair. They'd be dry in just a few hours, the beauty of the blend.

Here in Austin I have a laundry room with a washer and a dryer. I still look for more of those cotton/nylon blend shorts, but then I remind myself I can just wash the ones I've got and wear them again. Not like I need a different pair of trousers for every day of the week to sit here at the computer by myself. I already spent all that money on the appliances so I shouldn't spend more on clothes. I actually put a clothes line up here on my depressing little patio, but I hesitate to use it regularly. If I put the clothes on there when they're clean and damp, what am I going to get back? I live downhill from a busy highway. My car is constantly covered in dust. There's pollen out there and all kinds of other odoriferous contaminants. I'm not sure what will wear them out faster anyway, the dryer or sunlight. So here I just go with the dryer.

I actually had a plan to build a laundry facility out in Beachton, one day, eventually, if I felt like it. I just went to my aunt's house to wash clothes when I had more than a sinkful. Laundry rooms in the house are just fraught with issues. Noise, vibration, humidity, risk of water leaks, potential ventilation issues. In the winter you want to capture the excess heat and in the summer you wish you didn't have it. If you could put it in another building why wouldn't you?

Apparently most people don't do that though. But there are alternatives to the usual stuff. I read this neat article today by Martin Holladay in the Green Building Advisor blog about innovative ways to dry clothes, including the European clothes drying cabinet in the stolen picture up there. He discusses the idea of a drying room, which sounds kind of awesome if you live somewhere that has contaminated outdoor air. (There's a picture of some other stuff, like unvented condensing dryers, which sound terrible, if you click that link.)

Another dryer idea I read about a long time ago was a scheme to pull hot dry air out of the attic to feed into the tumble dryer. If you combine that with this drying room concept you could make something even better. Build an insulated drying room on an exterior wall, use an inline ducted exhaust fan in reverse to pull the hot dry attic air into the room and then have an exterior wall fan to draw the air out again. You'd have to be sure to balance them and put them on the same switch or something to make it idiot proof.

I guess if you put the washer, a laundry sink and the water heater in there too you'd have a pretty good set up. The insulation in the walls and the weather stripping on the door would provide a good deal of soundproofing.

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