Friday change of pace: The solar clothes dryer, a climate change solution

It’s Friday, and we all need a break from politics. So let’s talk about the how free energy from the sun can help us accomplish life’s routine tasks. For example, wanting to do my part to prevent climate change and reduce fossil fuel consumption, I’m going to install a solar clothes dryer at our place in the country. When I told the kids about this project, they thought it sounded pretty cool, but they weren’t sure about the technology or how it would work. They’ve never had any experience with a solar clothes dryer.

The technology is actually pretty simple, and it’s been around for decades. I recall quite vividly using our old solar clothes dryer when I grew up in west Orem in the 1950s and ’60s. Once I was tall enough to reach the solar clothes dryer, my mother would frequently send me out with a basket of freshly washed laundry, having  just run the clothes through a wringer that was hard on little boys’ fingers if you didn’t let go of the laundry item fast enough.

I especially liked hanging bed sheets, because they were very fast. You could hang a whole load and fill up the entire solar dryer in a couple of minutes. Socks, on the other hand, were a pain. My mother wanted shirts and blouses done just right so the solar clothes-pin marks couldn’t be seen the next day in church. You couldn’t fold the shoulder of the shirt over the solar clothesline or it would take a lot of ironing to make it look right.

And I was always a little embarrassed when it came to hanging women’s underwear – and we had a ton of it because I had five older sisters. In those days, when the neighbors got to see your underwear once a week, people tended to wear fairly conservative underwear. I can’t recall any thongs or tiger-print, see-through lingerie.

Bringing in the clothes from the solar clothes dryer was enjoyable. The warm bed sheets smelled fresh and sweet. I can’t think of any technology today that could improve on the old solar clothes dryer of my youth. And it’s quite inexpensive. I recommend it. But even if you’re a liberal, you might want to invest in some conservative underwear to avoid a neighborhood scandal.