A couple of years ago, I think, I put out a tweet that went along the lines of, “So sick of hanging out the same washing day after day and it still NEVER DRIES. How are you supposed to line-dry clothes in the winter?”

This got retweeted by a mutual with tens of thousands of followers, and then I got inundated with snarky replies like “TIL they don’t have dryers in Australia 🙄” and “Everyone in Europe manages this easily so I guess you’re just really dumb,” and yet no one really had a great answer to my question (not even the Europe person when pressed, shockingly).1 I got some helpful tips, like “if it doesn’t dry in one day, take it in overnight and re-hang it the next morning, so frost doesn’t re-wet it overnight” and “windier dry weather is a more important target than sunny weather”… but these tips have not been the magic bullet I was looking for.

I feel like it never used to be so hard when I was growing up during the Millennium drought. For about ten years it almost never rained in the winter, so all of this was much less of a problem. But the drought broke as I reached adulthood, and most winters since then have seen Melbourne closer to its long-term average levels of rainfall, with rain on over half of the days. This winter has so far felt worse than average, with rain on at least two-thirds of days, and even the dry days mostly being thick with clouds and humidity.

At our place, our laundry system is breaking down. We’re hoarding so many dirty clothes in anticipation of the rare dry days that we’re not actually getting to the bottom of the laundry basket when those days arrive. When we do hang things out, they’re not drying, even when we hang it out and take it in 2–3 days in a row (until the dry spell ends). From the time we can actually get it up to the time we take it in before sunset, that’s often only 6 or 7 hours… in the summer clothes can dry that fast, but not in this cold, humid and often sunshineless weather. Drying clothes inside isn’t really working either because Vivian just stacks it all in a pile and leaves it in the coldest room in the flat, which makes for less than optimal drying conditions. I could take responsibility for re-hanging it all properly myself, but when I’m so utterly lethargic from seasonal depression that’s a really tough ask. Another problem is that our place is prone to damp – when we have cranked the heating to dry clothes indoors, the windows fog up and the humidity is palpable, making me worry that we’re going to encourage mould.

We have considered getting a dryer. The problem is that our laundry doesn’t have room for one. It’s not that common to have a dedicated laundry room in a flat in the first place, so we’re better off than some people, but the room is only large enough for one machine, not two. So then I’ve considered replacing our washing machine with a combined washer-dryer, but every model I’ve found is front-loading and has hinges on the left.2 Well guess what… our laundry only has a slot for a machine on the right side of the room (so to load such a machine as I described, you’d need to reach over the door and chuck clothes in from that awkward angle… not to mention getting them out again), and there’s very little space in front of it for the door to actually open due to an in-built cupboard that’s there. Vivian’s asked if we could buy a dryer and put it outside… but there are no electrical outlets out there… and I can’t help but think an appliance will not last long left outside 24/7. They’re not designed for that, are they? If we owned the place we could consider remodelling the laundry, even making room for a dedicated dryer, but we do not. So in the long term I think our only viable option is to replace the dedicated washer with a washer-dryer combo regardless of the awkward positioning, but in the short term that feels wasteful when the old machine works perfectly well for what it does. After all, is it worth owning a dryer we’d only need to use for one-third of the year?3 (And yet every time we reach that one-third of the year, I’m like, ummm, yes, this would definitely be worth it.) Maybe when we one day have kids and our laundry demands increase exponentially, we’ll have to bite the bullet.

So short of that, what else could we try? We could try moving a clothes horse to our bedroom, where we run a heater overnight, I guess. I could iron more of my clothes (maybe the heat from the iron will get them to dry the last little bit of the way? although it wouldn’t be an option for everything – not fleece or wool, nor would it really work for towels or bedsheets…). These options just sound kind of labour-intensive to me, and at a time of the year when I struggle to muster the energy for much of anything.

I guess this post is more of a rant than a real call for help. I think I understand our options at this point and it’s just a matter of deciding what trade-offs we can live with. Just another reason why I cannot fucking stand the winter 😅

  1. I tried looking up this supposed “European solution” myself but it seemed to be just… windiness? Like finding a breezeway with very very high winds and then it doesn’t matter if it’s cold and gloomy, the sheer amount of fast-moving air will buffet the moisture out of garments. So that’s nice and all, but I do not have a breezeway. ↩︎

  2. It seems like in the US they have stack combo units, with a top-loading washer below and a front-loading dryer on top. That would work with the space we have, but such units do not exist in Australia 😢 ↩︎

  3. May weather is so bad most years that I’m counting it as a winter month here, ok. ↩︎