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Help! Our dryer broke! February 7, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , ,

Silence Dogood here. Last night, the moment I’d hoped would never arrive finally did: I was drying the laundry when I heard an ominous “BAP! BAP! BAP!!!” sound, as though someone were pounding on the glass of the deck door. Rushing into the kitchen, I saw our black German shepherd, Shiloh, lying peacefully at the foot of the bird cages, as opposed to barking her head off and rushing around and around at the door. Oh, no: The sound was coming from the dryer.

Fortunately, the laundry was dry, so I hastily turned off the dryer in case it wasn’t a loose or broken belt or something but the engine getting ready to blow. (Having just watched a couple of DVDs of “The Red Green Show” with our friend Ben, I could easily picture the scene.)

Now, if you’re a normal person, you’re probably thinking, “So, call a repairman!” or “Just buy a new one!” or “Hang the clothes on a line in the basement!” or “Just hang ’em up on a line outdoors!” But as far as I can tell, none of these solutions will work. Here’s why:

The apartment-sized dryer-over-washer was in place when we bought our cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, back in the day, and it looked ancient then. It has to be at least 20 years old, and could easily be 30. Or more. I have never to this day figured out how they got the washer-dryer into the tiny bathroom/laundry room off the kitchen to begin with; small as the unit is, it’s wider than the door, and there’s no way someone could have turned it past the sink once you’d gotten it in the door to begin with to position it where it is now. As far as I can tell, there’s also no way to get behind it to do any repairs, much less get it out of there, without chainsawing down the wall behind it.

Even if someone could manage to remove it, the cheapest replacement I could find online costs $949, plus, of course, tax and potential delivery, installation and removal charges. As we struggle to pay our monthly fuel oil and deregulated, skyrocketing electric bills in this bitterly cold winter, coming up with that sort of sum is out of the question.

As for line-drying, we have no basement, or any other place to run a line in the house. (I do have a wooden drying rack in the laundry room, but it’s hardly big enough for our friend Ben’s socks, much less a load of laundry.) And it’s so cold outside wet laundry would freeze on a line before I could get back in the house. Not to mention that we have a yard full of trees—and birds. I’ve never understood how people manage to hang clothes outside without having them splattered by bird droppings.

So here we are, dryerless and with no good alternatives in sight. At least the washer still works. My best plan so far is to do the wash here, then bag it up and carry it to the local laundromat, a mere 15 minutes from us, to dry it. (With just the two of us, we’re usually able to get away with one or, at most, two loads a week.) I’ve never washed clothes in a laundromat before, so I have no idea how much it would cost to use their dryer. But I have a feeling you’d have to do an awful lot of drying to rack up $1,000!

If anyone out there has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. And I have a question for anyone who does use or has used a laundromat: Is it safe to leave your clothes in the dryer while you go off and run errands, or must you sit with them while they dry? Many thanks for all advice!

         ‘Til next time,




1. nikki counts - February 7, 2011

I’m really sorry to hear about your dryer. It sounds like they put the washer/dryer in place and then built around it.

I’ve used laundromats many times. If you live in an area with little crime, then it’s ok to leave it alone in the dryer and go do other things. I’ve done that many times. Some laundromats have rules that specifically say you can’t leave laundry unattended. Also, if the laundromat is busy, you may come back to clothes setting on a table. People will see a dryer setting there not running and remove your clothing, even if it’s not dry. The nice thing about a laundromat dryer is, you can put a lot more in it than at home. Also, you might want to bring some disinfectant to wipe down the inside of the dryer or at least the table your going to fold on. People set their baskets on the floor, then on the tables. They let their kids walk or set on tables.

Hi Nikki! Thanks SO much for the great advice! Our local laundromat is in a tiny college town, on a quiet side road, and attached to a drycleaners, so I’d hope the crime rate would be low! And I think I’d try to make every effort to get back there before the time on the dryer runs out. Otherwise, I guess I’d deserve that pile of damp clothes on the counter!

2. Barbee' - February 7, 2011

I grew up in the days before there were such things as clothes dryers. Mother hung her wash outdoors and in wintertime she said it would freeze dry. I don’t know how long it took. She didn’t have bird feeders so she didn’t have that problem.

Hi Barbee’! The Amish here hang their clothes out in freezing weather, too; I just don’t understand how they get dry! But I guess they must, somehow, or the Amish wouldn’t do it. Still, I think I’ll stick with the laundromat!

3. tw - February 8, 2011

Count on a quarter getting you no more than 6 minutes of dryer time.
If you plan on spending $949 on the dryers at the laundromat while you are out running errands, it’s almost certain you will see some of your clothes on somebody else.
Outside, your frozen clothes will dry, albeit slowly; did you ever put a snowball in the freezer? Within three years it will totally evaporate!
Best just to put up a washline in the greenhouse, dry the clothes for free and keep up the humidity.

Oh, my, Tom, what a concept! I don’t think anybody would want to be seen in my clothes! But putting up a line in the greenhouse is a great idea, and one I’d never have thought of. Thanks for coming to the rescue!

4. Mary - February 12, 2011

I do not own a dryer. I use this clothes drying rack. My house is small and I do not have a basement either. Here is how I make it work. I start the first load of wash when I start dinner. By the time I have the kitchen cleaned up the laundry is done. I go hit the spin cycle one more time on my washer. Since the more water that is spun out the less that has to evaporate. I then hang that load up in the middle of my kitchen. (Benefit of keeping of from snacking before bed.) Then if I need to do a second load that one goes in the middle of the living room right before we go to bed. Both loads are dry in the morning and I simply sort it right off the racks and every one is responsible for putting their basket away and having any dirty clothes back to me before supper time.

Bless you, Mary, what excellent tips! I have a folding wooden dryer in the laundry room, but it’s all folded up to fit in the available space, so I mostly use it to dry socks and the like. Now I’m inspired to take it out and open it up in the living room (the only space that will accomodate it), and you can bet I’ll hit an extra spin cycle on the washer at the end of the cycle. Thank you SO much!!!

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