25 July 2009

The Great Laundry Race of 2009

On your marks ... get set ... go!

It's the Great Laundry Race of 2009. :)

What is the Great Laundry Race? It's your opportunity to help discover the true answer to this burning question:

How much time does a person actually spend getting the laundry dried and folded?

See, since we moved out to Apple Jack Creek, we have been using a high-technology solar powered clothes dryer, and have experimented with a number of different strategies for optimizing the whole drying-of-laundry-chore. Hang the socks next to each other, to save time later ... put all the t-shirts on the same part of the rack, so you can pile them as you fold ... take down one person's stuff at a time, so that the finished pile of folded laundry is organized for delivery to the different rooms ...

Anyway, we are always looking for new ideas, and so we want to compare our experience with yours: whether you use electricity, natural gas, or solar power to dry your clothes.

So, without further ado, here are the details of the Great Laundry Race of 2009:

Eligible participants:

  • anyone who does laundry, by any method!

How to participate:

  • Wash your laundry the way you normally do. This race pertains just to the drying cycle. :)

  • Time yourself from the moment you open the washing machine and remove the clean, wet clothes until you get them to the place where they will finish drying. If you use a dryer, this is the time it takes to get clothes from
    washer to dryer; if you hang the clothes to dry, this is the time it takes to get everything set up in whatever drying arrangement you use.

  • You are timing only the effort of the human being - so if the clothes stay on the line for half a day or are in the machine for an hour, that part doesn't count.

  • Once the clothes are dry, start timing again: time from the moment you begin processing the clean clothes (i.e. removing them from the dryer or taking them off the line), until you have them all folded and ready to be put away (however you do that).

Recording your results:

  • Add a comment to this blog entry, giving as much information as you can including….

  • The size of the load you are timing with, as that will definitely affect the results. As a baseline, you can compare to our average size load: with our small front load washer, that'd be about four to six pair of socks, a pair of jeans, three or four grownup shirts, three or four kid size shirts, assorted underwear, and probably a sweatshirt.

  • Tell us your method of drying: what equipment you use, if you have a particular strategy for efficiency (e.g. "I hang all the socks together on the line so I save time matching them later"), and any other relevant details. Enquiring minds want to know how you do what you do! :) And, if you alternate between methods, by all means, run a comparison and share your findings!

  • Last but not least, tell us how much time your method requires.
    If you can average a few loads of wash, that'd be truly awesome.

And the prize!

  • Yes, we have a prize! Everyone is a winner when the laundry is done, but we have a prize for participating in our great Laundry Race. :)
    All participants in the Great Laundry Race of 2009 (i.e. those who comment on the blog with their timed results before midnight August 15, 2009) will be entered in a draw for a sample size tin of Apple Jack Creek's Calendula and Mullein Ointment. This stuff is good for all sorts of cuts and scrapes and bruises, and is made with nothing but flowers (grown right here), beeswax (grown in Alberta), and olive oil (from a local grocery store!).
    It's not much, I know, but it's one of the few things I have to give away that will survive mailing. :)

So, get your stopwatches ready, find your dirty clothes, and let's see how much time we're spending on the dry cycle!


  1. Okay, let me see if I did this right!

    Family of 2. Dark load. Approx 2 pairs of jeans, 3 khaki's, 5 t-shirts, 8 undies, 7 pairs of socks, my fabulous L.L. Bean hoodie, 2 nightshirts.... 2 swimsuits, and a partridge in a pear tree.

    I used an electric dryer for drying.

    Approx. 4 minutes to put the load in the dryer.

    Approx. 4 minutes for my 'quick' fold method. When I don't have time to put stuff away right away, I throw the stuff that is allowed to wrinkle directly in the basket (socks, etc). T-shirts I do a half fold and put in the basket as I get to them. Things that are to be hung I lay flat on a basket. Wrinkle resistant shirts I hand up right away. My laundry is right beside my bedroom so can easily hang stuff up.

    It took me 8 minutes to put the laundry away (the next day). I sort it by his and hers and fold it in the piles of where it will go. (e.g. white undershirts, socks, etc.). I leave the drawers closest to me open and put the stuff that goes in there right away and then put the rest away when the basket is empty.

    So I guess that equals 16 human minutes of laundry time for one load. There were no sheets or towels in this load! Hopefully this is right, if not I will try again with the next load!

  2. Yep Jennifer, that's EXACTLY what we're after!

    Perfect! I like your efficiency, too - nobody cares if socks are wrinkled, you're right! :)

  3. Oh darn!!!! I did laundry all day today and forgot to do this!! It was the perfect day as that is all I did . . just laundry. All I know is that the washer and/or dryer ran for 5 hours today for 3 loads!

  4. Well, AC, that's the cool thing about laundry ... there's always more of it! :)

    Thanks for remembering us, even if it was after the fact. ;) We anxiously await your contribution - we KNOW you are an expert at laundry!

  5. We aren't at home right now, so I can't officially compare, but... I would have to argue that having a dryer is one of the most glorious luxuries around!

    I can say unequivocally that laundry here (where we have a dryer - even if it is three floors down) is much faster and easier than at home (where we air dry inside our flat).

    Here (ie. with an electric dryer), I wash two loads, then put both loads (minus anything I decide doesn't need drying) into the dryer. Everything comes back upstairs, and gets sorted, folded, and tossed in the appropriate place. I haven't timed it, but I am pretty sure that soft, dryer-dried clothes are easier to fold than crispy-crunchy air dried clothes that stand up holding the shape of the thing they were drying on.

    At home (ie. using the air dry method), I take one load out of the wash (no chance of doing two loads in a day - there isn't enough room to hang everything to dry), then try to orchestrate room for drying. I have come up with a system that maximizes space, but it is cumbersome. Guy's sports socks and undies on the warm water pipe; thin socks and girl's undies on the plastic fold-out arms; shirts on hangers and hung from shower curtain rod (which requires crawling up on the side of the tub); shirts that are too heavy hang on wardrobe knobs in the bedroom; leftovers go on windowsills or radiators. Oh, and sheets get to dry by climbing up on the windowsill and hanging them from metal curtain clips.

    There's more...
    Halfway through drying, I go and rotate almost everything so that it dries faster. On damp, rainy days, I have to do this more than once. Then, hopefully it will be dry just before we go to bed, or the next morning (when everything has to be moved out of the bathroom so we can shower).

    I know that dryers eat energy, but twenty minutes in the dryer makes clothes so much softer, and less stretched out, and easier to fold, and with so much less fuss, that I'll happily use one while I have it!


  6. Ooh, I like contests, and did laundry today!

    A dark load for two people, dried in a coin-op dryer in an apartment-building basement. The load was two pairs of jeans, six t-shirts, three button-up wrinkle-free men's shirts, assorted underwear and socks, and a few dish towels.

    Two minutes for transferring the wet clothes to the dryer, scaring up the right amount of change, and turning it on.

    Its cycle is 60 minutes long, so everything is bone dry when it's done. The laundry room is small and dusty and dark, so I put all the clothes in the basket straight from the dryer and bring them upstairs to fold (two minutes).

    I turned music on to make folding less of a chore. First I shook out the button-up shirts and put them on hangers to bring back to the bedroom later; then I folded jeans, t-shirts, dish towels, underwear, and socks, in that order. (I like pulling out all the big stuff first before I fold pairs of socks, so there's less stuff in the basket to sift through to find matching ones.) I also sort things into piles for each of us as I fold. We're in a tiny one-bedroom apartment and share a dresser and closet, so putting things away is the fastest part.

    The folding and putting-away part took the first track and a half of the album I put on, which was seven minutes. So that's eleven minutes altogether. It feels weird to write out all the steps like this, and now I'm trying to figure out where to shave off time! :)

  7. Kansas Cousing (Deb)9:32 am

    I too use solar power for drying. I refuse to by a dryer until things start freeze drying.

    Here I go...
    I wash jeans first, as they take longer to dry. Can be folded as they come off the line, or if stiff enough they walk to the house on their own (lol).

    Next comes colors, I too hang clothes by gender (t-shirts, work shirts, unders, socks by the pair).

    Next of course is whites, I have found that you don't have to use hot water for anything, a little borax goes a long ways. Socks, Sheets and towels all wash together. They then hang along with their mates, ie; socks 2x2, towels in a row, etc.

    For me, laundry is generally one time a week 4 loads max, washing time per load 20 min, drying time 1 - 2 hrs depending on wind and type of cloth.

  8. Wow this is exciting! People are timing their laundry and posting about it! Way cool. :)

    Kansas Cousin Deb, do you have any idea how long it takes you to get your wet stuff up on the line? I am thinking you have a regular long line, not an umbrella thing ... I'm wondering if there is much of a time difference between the two. We currently have the umbrella one, but I think I'd like the longer line - for a bunch of reasons, of course, but I'm curious if there is much of a time difference. I notice that I 'spin' the umbrella around so I can group things on the line, and I'd have to be more organized getting stuff out of the basket and onto the line if I was dealing with the more 'linear' kind, I think.

    What's your impression?

  9. It was Fair Weekend here, so this is the first chance I've had to run the 'random number generator'...

    The winner is Kansas Cousin Deb!

    Ping me with your mailing address and I'll send you out a tin of what The Reluctant Farmer calls my 'snake oil' ... the ointment that's good for just about everything! :)

    Thank you all for your input ... very interesting discussion!

  10. Kansas Cousin (Deb)7:19 am

    I have a linear clothes line with two lines on it. It is probably 30 ft long. So approx 60ft of drying space. I have had both types of lines and prefer the linear. There is nothing like looking outside and seeing my sheets blowing in the wind. I feel like the air flow around these lines are better, sounds good anyway.

    It takes me 7 - 10 min to put clothes on the line, depending on clothes (sheets vs. socks).


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