Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Keeping the crunch out of air dried laundry

The two big questions that have come out of this challenge have been the logistics of effectively air drying laundry as well as how to keep your clothes from getting crunchy.

A lot of these suggestions were made in the comments of other posts, but I thought I'd put them all together in one post for people who are looking to try a solution to the problem.

1. Look at your detergent - If you are using a petroleum based detergent without any kind of fabric softener then it's possible that it's leaving more of a crispy film on it. Try a gentler soap. Regardless of the kind of detergent you are using, the other possible issue could be that you are using too much detergent and not all of it is getting rinsed out.

2. Add a softener - There are natural fabric softeners available, but the most commonly used, and cheap, one is vinegar. Add it to the fabric softener cup or to the load directly as a rinse if you don't have a newer machine.

3. Spring for a little drying time - Some people swear that drying their laundry for 5 minutes before hanging them out to dry helps keep them from being crunchy. I prefer finishing the laundry in the dryer for two reasons - the first is to make sure they are dry (which is hard to do here in rain and humid city) and the second is because it takes out the crunch. If they are already dry, you can just run them on "fluff".

4. Give it a good shake - Sometimes just shaking your clothes out really well before hanging and/or drying them where it's windy so the clothes move around can help prevent stiffness.

Did I miss anything? Any other suggestions?


Rosa said...

You missed "learn to love the crunch!"

I grew up with line drying so I actually prefer my towels kind of crunchy - it feels healthy and exfoliating!

The other thing is that it just varies by weather - fast hot dry days give you crunchy cottons, long mild humid days give you soft.

Carol said...

Buying a dryer is so tempting but when I think of how much power it consumes it totally discourages me from it. I also grew up with line drying. When I have to line dry indoors because of the weather, we make sure that there is enough space for air to pass through. Or make use of fans to dry. Scented fabric softeners also helps from here. I only use it when we have to do it indoors. Although it is still best when the sun is really hot, the clothes smell better even without the fabric conditioners.

WrethaOffGrid said...

Using less washing detergent is a big key, you can probably use half or less. These commercial detergents are leaving residue on your clothes, just look at the rinse water after it has agitated for a few minutes... when I do use commercial laundry detergent, I always do a second rinse to get my clothes better rinsed.

Another solution is to make your own laundry soap, just use equal parts by volume of grated bar soap, washing soda (not baking soda) and borax. The bar soap, make it as plain as you can, don't use moisturizing or exfoliating soaps, I use castile soap or Ivory, grate the soap, measure how much you have, then add the same amount of the other ingredients, mix well, you can use as little as a tablespoon, up to 3 tablespoons, no more!

A lot of people like to take it a step further and turn it into a liquid, I don't bother.

I have been using this for many MANY years, my clothes come out just as clean if not cleaner, I love the smell, or lack of smell, if it's clean then why do I need an extra scent? And my clothes are less crunchy when I line dry.

If you use gray water on any plants you wish to keep, omit the borax, it will kill plants, your clothes will be just as clean.

I also use bluing on my clothes, most commercial laundry detergents have optical brighteners that are left on your clothes (part of the residue?), I just use Mrs Stewart's bluing, it works great, I don't use it on every wash, just when I think about it or as needed.


Suze said...

We live in a hard water area and line dry almost everything. Soap based products results in grey scum on everything. The only other things I do is to wash towels etc in bicarb only. Line drying kills nasties. Because we react to some laundry detergents I use the smallest amount I can. I remember hearing that companies encourage you to use more than you really do need. They do want to make money after all.

caron said...

When I was having my HE washing machine balanced, the washing machine repair man said that the residue from using too much detergent causes alergies to soaps and dyes. He also said that too much soap makes the machine work too hard, and ruins the machine. I never really thought about it being related to crunchy clothes.

Anonymous said...

I recently heard on NPR that you can use a little as 1/8 detergent of what they say to use in both washers and dishwashers. I'd been doing this with my clothes, but I tried it in my dishwasher and I think things were actually cleaner.

I don't mind the crunchiness - but I still have to do a few minutes in the dryer to make finish off the drying.

Liz said...

Another way is to eliminate the detergent. I use a laundry ball, which means I don't need detergent or softener. And because of that, I can also interrupt the washing machine when it switches to the rinse cyle and skip that, going straight to spin (saving electricity, water and time).

Leslie Richman said...

I don't get crunchiness except for towels. It doesn't really bug me enough to change what I do! :)

Greenpa said...

Rosa - you beat me to it!

There IS a certain "wimp" factor here (no one present, I'm sure!) - similar to those who insist they cannot live with a lightbulb which does not reach full brightness for a horrid 20 seconds.

When it does happen that your pants came out a little on the crunchish side, the whole disaster lasts for about 5 minutes, then the cloth gets softer from being worn and flexed, and you quit noticing it anyway.

Grandma didn't die from the crunchy underwear. :-)

Anonymous said...

I read an article in the NY times about a guy called the appliance doctor-I think he has a blog. He adv that most people use way too much detergent in washing machines and dishwashers. If I can find the link, I'll send it.

I live in SE Florida where the humidity is extremely high. I either move my racks inside to finish under my ceiling fan, or finish fluffing in the dryer for 10 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Not related to crunchiness, but indoor drying. According to Japanese T.V., scrunched up newspaper under the washing absorbs some of the moisture, reducing drying time.


Hazel said...

@ Greenpa- "There IS a certain "wimp" factor here (no one present, I'm sure!) - similar to those who insist they cannot live with a lightbulb which does not reach full brightness for a horrid 20 seconds."

But surely you concede we deserve instant brightness along with non-crunchy clothes? We are worth it!

I agree with those who suggest we are encouraged to 'over-dose'. More detergent leads to more rinsing agents or softeners to compensate for the extra detergent, conveniently manufactured by the same company.

Soapnuts are worth a try. They are imported, but they are fairly traded, economical and compostable :o)

Mrs Mallard said...

I relish the crunch! I guess I use it as a positive adjective, though, where "crunchy" means not fluffy and rife with static. Yes, the clothes are a little more coarse, but Greenpa is right--they soften up quickly after you put them on. And I definitely second all the voices singing the Use Less Detergent song. We use the Ecos liquid laundry detergent--it has a fabric softener incorporated into the detergent, you only need two tablespoons per load, and it's ridiculously inexpensive at our local Costco. Our line-dried clothes have a soft crunch...a good crunch.

Cutting back to one tablespoon of dishwasher detergent has made a world of difference, as well. Dishes are sparkling and no need for a rinse aid

Susan Och said...

I read an advertisement for a spa, extolling their line dried towels for their superior ex-foliating properties. Now when my daughters complain about the towels I tell them that they could pay extra for that somewhere else, but at home they get it for free.

lauraleighton said...

One other reason to tumble them in the dryer after line-drying, even if they are totally dry, and not too crunchy: Sometimes bugs like to hide in them! I remember once my brother got stung by a wasp that was hiding in his shirt! Spiders sometimes enjoy hangin' out on line-dried clothes, too. :S

cchase said...

What to do for very delicate items so that they're not super crunchy?

I usually wash on cold delicate cycle. I read that with hard water you need to use more soap. But from what I read here is that not true???? Anyone still following this thread? Help.