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Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Drying clothes becomes a bit of an obsession for most Tasmanian families in the winter.
We line dry at every opportunity but because the daylight hours are so reduced, the washing must be brought in and "finished off" on drying racks, even on sunny days. As the sun sets in the winter here, the air quickly becomes chill and damp.

And on consecutive wet days....
When visiting, a common phrase upon greeting is"Excuse the washing...",
but by bringing it in we take advantage of the heating that is already in use rather than spending extra money using a dryer.

Now-a-days most people have collapsible white plastic coated wire hangers. Super portable and easily tucked away but not designed for significant weight and they collapse readily when trying to manoeuvre them.
I'm fortunate to have acquired a couple of vintage ones. They are a bit larger but certainly much more able to hold outer clothing. I'm not sure what wood this one is made from but it is time for a bit of wax! It folds up neatly and when extended to it's full spread it is locked in place by the angle cuts of it's "elbows". A really great design and maximises the space.
Solid rails are fitted and joints are strongly hinged.

The other one is an extremely simple style that concertinas together and stretches out with simple top and bottom rails. A pair of damp shearing dungas are quite heavy and this is perfect for the job.

We use electric heating and the clothes usually dry overnight. The electric dryer is seldom used but handy for linen wash days and the shearer's singlets.
A typical wash day for the shearer in winter is 2 or 3 pairs of dungas (thick pants especially designed for shearing), 6-8 singlets, 4 thermal long sleeve tops, 2-3 pairs of socks and 2-3 bath towels. He is constantly changing wet soaked garments all day to stay dry and warm.

I remember when the children were babies and toddlers. Going through several changes each day meant we constantly had ladened wire racks in the winter. Another good place I found to dry some smalls was on racks over the hot water cylinder. One of my neighbours had her husband rig up some pulleys and ropes on the ceiling so she could hoist up a drying rack to dry in the warm air near the ceiling like she did back in Scotland.
Care should be taken though. Never place washing directly onto a heater. Take care not to place too close to a heat source for fear of scorching and starting a fire and be mindful to keep washing out of "falling reach" near a fire place. Have patience and turn regularly and take advantage of as much sunlight as possible.

How is this oh so mundane but essential job done in your neck of the woods?


  1. We have a wooden clothes rack too and the washing dries overnight in front of the Saxon wood heater. Socks are dried on the towel rail of the Rayburn. Even on sunny days, unless there is a decent bit of wind, washing can hang out all day on the outside line and still be damp at the end of the day. I love the smell of the clothes dying inside as I wash in nothing but pure( Velvet) unscented soap - such an old-fashioned clean smell.

  2. I have the same situation here in Devon in of the wettest, rainiest places anywhere, all year round, lol. I also live in a flat, so trundling downstairs with armfuls of damp washing and walking across a squelching wet meadow to hang out washing is something I rarely do. So, I have a clothes airer in the hall (almost permanently) next to the radiator, which dries them quite quickly in the winter. I love those wooden ones, Tanya. They remind me of the kind my mum used when we were children. :)

  3. When we lived in North East Victoria a few years ago and had high ceilings my husband made drying rack with a pulley system so all the clothes were up at ceiling height, it was marvelous

  4. I am coveting your wooden clothes hangers. We have a big white (ugly) plastic one permanently set up next to the wood stove. I've been on the hunt for wooden ones for a while now. We have a rail around the wood stove to protect the toddler so this rail is also where we hang all the towels after bath and showers and they dry so quickly. Otherwise I would have damp mouldy clothes and towels from the cold living in the Snowy Mountains. I had no idea shearers needed to change that much in a day. My gosh such hard dirty work.

  5. We will need to adapt when we move back to NZ as it will be very different to here in QLD.

  6. I love this post. I have a clothes horse just like the large one in the second photo. It is the one my Mother used to dry my nappies when I was a baby and I'm 61 now. I am very proud to have this family heirloom as an important part of my winter clothes drying routine.


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