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Two rules for optimising laundry

I have many years experience of doing laundry without a tumble-dryer. I’m almost an SME. Like any good engineer forced to do manual tasks over and over, I have invested in optimising my laundry strategy to minimise the amount of time and effort required. Today, I bring you the fruits of my labours as two simple rules.

Note: there are three variants of drip-dry laundry apparatus to consider: clothes horses (portable rungs that fold into a tall configuration), linear lines (flex or wood that traverse a straight line) and rotary lines (inverted umbrella shaped clothes lines mounted on a pole). These rules apply to all three, and I will point out the optimal strategy for each apparatus.

Put the biggest items in the least accessible place first.

The least accessible place is the one that is most difficult to access, either because it takes the most time or it is the most difficult to reach or see. For a clothes horse, the least accessible place is at the bottom, because you have to bend down and clothes on top obscure the bottom. For a rotary line, the least accessible place is nearest the centre, because clothes on the outside obscure the centre. For a linear line, the least accessible place is at the ends of line, because it’s furthest from the laundry basket in the centre and so father to walk (strategies that move the basket will be discussed in a separate post).

By putting the biggest items in the least accessible place, we fill it up quicker. In doing so, we reduce the overall difficulty and time required by minimising the number of times we need to access the inaccessible place.

We choose to do this first because the least accessible places are even less accessible when obscured by other clothes. Hence, we put clothes in these places first to minimise the difficulty of doing so – if we put clothes in the most accessible places first it would only make our lives harder when using the least accessible places.

Soem purists will say that the biggest items should go on the outside of a rotary line to get the most direct sunlight and dry quicker. To them I say, the impact this has is negligible, and drying time is free for the individual because it doesn’t require active input. One minute of laundry deployment time is worth far more than one minute of drying time because it’s, like, MY TIME as opposed to time I could be doing something interesting whilst clothes are drying (like writing this post).

Pair socks after drying, not before.

Really, this has nothing to do with dryness and all to do with visibility. When you have socks in a laundry basket, it’s difficult to spot pairs because the basket has a small visible surface area and socks are obscured by layers of other clothes. When socks are on a line, there is much more area to see and it’s much easier to spot pairs. So, it takes significantly less time to find the matching sock if it’s done after the socks are both on the line.

With all three drying apparatus, just get the socks onto them as quickly as possible in arbitrary order, and worry about pairing them when you take them off.