Drying Clothes the Feline Way

Since the 1950s, and the advent of consumer durables such as washing machines, electric irons, and tumble dryers, domestic labour has become easier. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, my memories are of taking these electricity-using gadgets for granted. They were a nuisance when they broke down and costly to repair or replace.

When I was expected to do chores, they were ones that required manual labour – especially drying the dishes (which I hated). So I would argue instead for cleaning the shoes (insisting that my brother had to take his turn brandishing the tea towel). I vividly recall my mum doing the washing and ironing of all our clothes. She was concerned (like her own mother before her) that her children looked spic and span – especially when going to the dentist. Six clean and smart children walking along the London Road in duckling formation – mum leading the way, me dragging my feet at the rear.

Today, for me, washing and ironing are a weekly activity, squeezed into non-work time. Domestic labours they may be, but they are done at a different pace to the rest of everyday life, which makes them pleasurable and not just chores.

Now we are faced with a decarbonisation agenda that involves significantly decreasing our energy consumption; it seems that the routines of daily life will have to change. I have an energy efficient washing machine and I hang out my wet washing on the line at the bottom of the garden in the summer months, and it is one of those things I find a pleasure rather than a chore. But in the winter months clothes-drying is a long drawn out affair. The towels often end up in the electric dryer rather than leave them hanging up wet so that they take on a horrible dank, musty, fetid smell.

So what to do? Thinking back to ❝ the good old days❝ of me dish-drying, my brother shoe-cleaning and my mum hanging out clothes to dry outside on the line, there were always cats around – multiple colours (black, tabby, tortoiseshell and ginger) – and usually warming themselves in a sunny spot. The feline approach to life – find a sunny spot to lie down for a snooze – is also the way to dry clothes without recourse to the tumble dryer. Place a rangy enough clothes-hanger in front of the window in the sunniest room in the house, and the tumble dryer can be out of a job much of the time. Drying cloths the feline way!

Karen Henwood

Happy cat washing its face

The feline approach to life – find a sunny spot to lie down for a snooze – is also the way to dry clothes without recourse to the tumble dryer.