Monday, September 24, 2012

the profound mystery of airing

For a few sunny September evenings, the shadows, strong and certain, come into their own and Scottish Husband's t-shirts on the line are suddenly beautiful.

Les vêtements de Bartley Aardvark, al fresco.
Scottish Husband says that he is tired of his stereotypifying name
and wishes to be known as Bartley Aardvark.

Jayne asks, in puzzled response to my recent desire for an Aga Airer, how airing works. Is there a stage in the laundry process at which the outside air becomes too harsh, too overwhelmingly airy, and the clothes need to be brought inside for some calming domestic air before they are folded and placed in the armoire? How does one tell? Is it worth the refolding effort?

As I struggled to reply, I realised that I don't really understand laundry at all, and have just been blindly following convention. Does anyone else have an insight into the objectives and intricacies of airing?

58 comments:

  1. I've been omitting to air my laundry all my life. So don't ask me. I follow a simple rule for my wet laundry - if it's dry and sunny-ish it goes outside until it's dry; if it's wet it goes on my indoor airing racks and or the radiators until it's dry.

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  2. I foresee a re-birth of the airing-cupboard. Mother used to wash and hang clothes to dry, iron and then place in the airing-cupboard, That place at the top of the stairs where the water-heater lived and the cat slept. And we would rise, bleary-eyed on cold, damp November school mornings, long before the sun was up, to retrieve toasty-warm uniform shirts to dress in. Ahhhhh, memories of childhood.

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  3. I personally think that, to use the profesional laundry term, it's all a load of romantic toot !!!! All this ' get the fresh air blowing through my clothes to air them and make them smell lovely ' does not ring true when you consider just what is in the air nowdays. Seeing that it's tipping it down here and has been continuously for a couple of days, our clothes with not be aired for the forseeable future ! XXXX

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  4. Oh Jacqueline I think I am your mother!! I use the airing cupboard all the time and in winter I put the kids clothes in there overnight so they get warm clothes in the morning.
    I think airing clothes is a definite requirement in the west of Ireland because most of our days include a sprinkling of rain showers....

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  5. Mise, that image of clothes drying on the line is beautiful.
    I've never thought too deeply about airing but I'm glad you're onto it. Surely someone out there has a PhD on it and can give us an insight? xx

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  6. Our climate down here is quite damp, and things rarely get properly dry outside. Especially these days when summer only happens in March.

    With our pre House and Garden little abode we inherited an antique central heating boiler in a walk in cupboard, allegedly 95% efficient. Sceptical I was. As so it turned out, when the boiler service man turned up and suggested that the figures might have been 'accidentally' transposed. This generates an awful lot of surplus heat. C'est voila. Airing cupboard. My Aga Airer got fixed to the ceiling in there.

    Within minutes, it seems, clothes are ready for the drawer. It's so useful that I'm not sure what I'll do when we replace the boiler..

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  7. I was raised by a mother who seemed to live in perpetual fear that we might catch a chill through wearing slightly damp clothes, yet never used the 'hot-press' for anything other than storing towels and bed linen. So it follows that I have inherited exactly the same habits, and like you blindly followed convention...
    I'm wondering now if I should make an effort to re-home the linens and use the hot-press for its intended purpose. It would be nice not to have airing racks hanging around the kitchen and hogging all the heat from the radiators!
    ... but then, would the clothes ever make it from cupboard to wardrobe? Adding an extra step to my most loathed task is not something that excites me... what a conundrum to present me with on this miserable Monday!
    Beautiful photograph by the way!

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  8. It seems a much more straight forward proposition here. We wash, we hang it on a line {indoors or out}, or those who are happy to risk the ire of the greenhouse gas gods use the tumble dryer. {The name Bartley Aardvark has me thinking of Beatrix Potter. Needless to say, I like it.}

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  9. The simple answer is NO, but when you find out let me know. I think with the advent of tumble dryers airing is not needed. Yes I know I shouldn't really use a tumble dyer but it hasn't stopped raining here since last Christmas yet and I have given in to modernity - electricity guzzler that I am. There I am out and proud.

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  10. If it's been in a tumble dryer it doesn't need aired- if it's been hung up it does (even if hung up indoors). Otherwise what would we use the hotpress for?

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  11. I am side-stepping the subject of airing to comment that I have noticed that whilst Americans frequently talk of folding laundry, they never mention ironing. Is this because they are one and the same thing? Do they smoosh the clothes flat with their palms? I have a poor track record with irons and would gladly bin mine if the same effect can be had with hand pressure alone.

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    Replies
    1. My great revelation this summer, Lucille, was that many clothes need no ironing at all if dried in a sunny window on a hanger.

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    2. I have gone one sophisticated step further as a result of all this expertise sharing and started to hang shirts from a hanger on the rise and fall (aka Sheila's Maid) airer over the ironing board, in a sunny window near the boiler cupboard. I may post pictures, because it's true.

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    3. Oh do post pictures, Lucille.

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  12. Hello Mise:
    Please may we take the liberty of the appearance of this post to air one or two things, not particularly laundry related?

    First, there is the deeply philosophical topic of a change of name, especially when the new moniker is to Bartley Aardvark.Apart from the canny way in which the surname may well result in the name appearing at the top of any list, we fail to see why SH should wish to change at all. Unless, of course, he is not Scottish, then it seems an entirely reasonable course of action.

    Secondly, there is the topic of indoors versus outdoors when it comes to drying, airing or any other activity. Having spent our formative years in the great outdoors almost permanently,we now hanker for the indoors in all things. Perhaps, with regard to the specific topic of indoor airing, this all can be accounted for by the way in which we remember getting dressed in the airing cupboard for years as our bedrooms, the bathroom and indeed everywhere else that one could have considered getting dressed were below zero every day except at the height of the summer in 1976.

    Finally, we should like to talk of things photographic and your Mondrian inspired outbuildings.......but perhaps that should wait for a future post?

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    Replies
    1. He is Canadian, in fact, Jane and Lance, but conceals his expertise on matters of laundry, unlike the delightful Canadian contingent further down the page. So the name change is justified.

      Indoors suits you well now: you are hothouse sophisticates, deserving of having the breezes stilled by high windows after your legendary taming of the outdoors.

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    2. So, Bartley Aardvark it is then. It does have a certain ring to it, we feel!

      Thank you for your generous comment about our 'taming' of the outdoors.....if only.....!!!

      As to your marvellous Mondrian inspired outbuildings, well, they are, as everything in the Mise household inspiring....now, where is our paintbrush....!!

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  13. I've never cared one fig about laundry, but I'll follow you anywhere for light and shadow.

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  14. Like several commentators above, I grew up with clothes being washed, ironed and then hung in the airing cupboard, but what is life for if not to move on from childhood?

    I now have a walk-in cupboard/tiny room where my boiler and also a dehumidifier live. My pull up airing rack (which I have always heard called a Sheila - ???) is fixed to the ceiling. Clothes dry overnight - even jeans.

    No ironing is done in this house except in dire emergencies such as my recent trip to UK. Several of my shirts are still in therapy from being ironed for that momentous occasion. The In-Charge folds and (presumably) smoothes and sometimes suspends on hangers - and that is plenty good enough.

    The less time spent dealing with laundry, the more time there is for writing on my blog, or taking photos, or picking sweet peas...

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  15. Oh my god. You mean you still dont have the airer? And Scottish Husband, instead of coming out and letting himself be known to us has decided now, to adapt a more curious persona. Your co-joined efforts to shield us from the real - and possibly hidden - truth is startng to unravel. The Aga airer salesmen will be knocking at your door soon. Make it right Mise. Restore Blogtopia to - as stated clearly on your sidebar - a place where everything is lovely, even if it isn't. We can't handle the truth.

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    Replies
    1. Your comment is lovely, Móna, and it isn't that it isn't. Blogtopia is duly restored.

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  16. In the laundry process, I iron as little as possible Mise. I do air dry items like lingerie and smother T's and sweaters before folding with my hands.

    When I was a child my mother always hung out the sheets to dry on the clothes line, so they enjoyed the fresh air!

    xoxo,
    Karena
    2012 Artist Series

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  17. The Janes/Jaynes seem to be very curious critters.

    xo J.

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  18. Here's a little input from "across the Pond" (NS Canada). I am an outdoor line dryer in the summer and spring & fall as weather permits. Otherwise, I dry undies and sweaters on my indoor drying rack and use my electricity guzzling clothes dryer for the rest.

    As to us North Americans never using an iron: if you take your clothes out of the dryer immediately upon it stopping, you only need to shake, hang or fold. An airing cupboard ..... sounds lovely! (Is that what the dark, dreary back of my basement containing the hot water heater and hanging racks would be considered?)

    And tell SH that Bartley Aardvark is a better choice than Slarty Bartfast!

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    Replies
    1. But Sandy aka Doris the Great, what if you are multitasking when the dryer stops, and easily annoyed by the anticrease feature?

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  19. Hi Mise. Just found your blog and am loving it. As a Canadian, I don't even understand this concept of airing. What the heck is an airing cupboard? Also, I don't even own an iron. As Sandy said, if you take things out of the dryer right away and fold or hang them up immediately, they don't need ironing. Sounds dreadfully bad for the environment, I know, but I make up for it everywhere else.

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    1. Thank you for finding the blog, Kari! I am willing to learn from Canada in this area of its increasingly evident expertise.

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    2. Now that is funny, yes, I was reading through this all answer section and was wondering if any Canadian noticed!((: I am originaly from Czech REpublic, now Canadian as you know Mise, and I lived in Dublin for half a year...so I must say that the Canadian expertise on laundry is a huge help, drier next to your washing machine is a must and my oversized Mielle washer&drier combo are my personal slaves LOL. I sometimes use a steamer to iron my delicate blouses or some wrinkles in clothes ...but never an iron! So Airing is just suddenly "old" and "outdated" to me and yes we Canadians try and do make up for the environment everywhere else we can...I do recommend all the extra time gained by not airing and I devote it to having more fun with my son....Also, please get the AGA airer you wrote about before....just for the style and look of it, it is beautiful and may come in handy sometime...not everything has to be useful ...right?
      big hug from Calgary! ciao Z

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  20. Who cares about airing? These clothes should stay on the line as a permanent art installation!

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  21. I believe airing to be a euphemism for 'Oops, I brought Bartley Aardvarks vetements in from the line while they were still damp'.

    I also believe it is true to say that 'Bartley Aardvark's vetements' is not something I could ever have predicted I would write!!

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    Replies
    1. Annie, your comment was the first to give me any glimmer of understanding of what airing really is.

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  22. Airing is something that only mothers do, and - as such - you are supremely qualified to carry this ritual out, even if you do not understand the process.

    Airing cupboards are places in which to lock unruly children, and a spell of a day or two in them does no harm at al, at all, atall.

    A freshly aired pair of underpants will prevent the most accident-prone child from stepping beneath a bus, so the mother should always send the child off in them before waving goodbye, and this ritual can be carried out long after the child has left home, or - if the child lives at home until late middle-age - until the death of the mother.

    After that, the child is on their own in the world.

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    Replies
    1. True, Tom, and sad. I shall focus on the airing and not pan out to this bigger picture, in my ostrich way.

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  23. Bartley-Aardvark-(that name is going to take some getting used to)'s vetements are particularly photogenic I must say Mise. Is vetements still pronounced with a scottish accent? In my head it is!

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    1. Yes, Amanda, the 'r's in 'vetements' are emphasised, and if the garments belong to a baby they may be called 'the bairn's wee vetements.'

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  24. I'm pretty sure we don't have airing cupboards in the U.S. I am trying to picture one--as it seems to be an oxymoron. Aren't cupboards closed (fresh airless?). I am very confused by this and all the ironing.

    I do know that I love your picture.

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  25. Warm dry weather being in short supply in Ireland, I have a habit of turning clothes inside out and back again periodically. This applies to clothes on the line or drying indoors — unless it's so warm that this step is unnecessary, but that's rare.

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    1. In my mental image of you, Stan, you wear a sturdy, charcoal grey Aran jumper, which would certainly take some diligent turning inside out to dry.

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  26. You wouldn't want to get the damp to get into your bones now would you? I have a charcoal grey Aran cardi, and I turn clothes round on the line to face the sun, but I don't have an airing cupboard (although I do have an Aga airer). Is there a prize I can claim?

    Pomona x

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  27. I hope Bartley isn't getting ideas above his station .

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  28. Airing? Hmmm. I don't know, but I adore your photograph.

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  29. Bartley Aardvark sounds intriguing and good to see he is airing his opinion here and demanding that his anonymity be blown away, cobwebs and all. I am saddened we did not see your smiling faces this time in Galway.

    Helen xx

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  30. Lots of airing goes on down here, mostly in the 'hot press' - where the hot water cylinder doesn't have insulation. It's effective for airing, but not for the environment! I never gave it much thought before, but it's probably necessary because of our damp weather. Now I won't be able to stop thinking about 'airing'!!!

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  31. Airing, I believe, is practised by brisk mothers and there are special cupboards for it. I think also that you 'air' hunting clothes and stout tweeds and the like before brushing off the dried blood and mud with a hard brush. Those of us who see carbon footprints as a personal challenge just blast any and all clothes in the drier until they are too hot for human hands. Or they melt.

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  32. All I know about Airing is you put the laundry out in the early afternoon and have it be on a dry day. but that's all I know! :)

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  33. We don't iron, or anyway, I don't. Just be careful to never buy anything that looks like it's really going to need ironing, and cultivate a rumpled look.

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  34. Love the photo. I love being able to hang my clothes on a line in the garden. Can't understand how hanging washing outside is banned in some areas of America. Airing, I think, it just making sure they are really dry.

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  35. Fantastic photo! Sorry to say though, that I've never 'aired'. We basically live in a forest and with all the critters, bugs, and bits of nature that are out there (not to mention the rain), I feel more comfy throwing it all into the drier where I know nothing crawly will attach itself to the inside of a garment. That being said...everyone always raves about airing and it's been an experience I have felt somewhat forlorn about missing out on.

    May your clothes be softened and misted (to get any wrinkles out) by the sweet, autumnal sea air...and your wonderful photo framed and hung in the laundry room! (That was my try at a poem-haiku-laundry blessing.)
    xo J~

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  36. You have indeed made a gorgeous picture out of Bartley Aardvark's shirts. As for insights: knowledge will come with experience, just keep logging in your airing hours and your questions will be answered. I do have happy memories of wandering through a maze of bright sheets on a sunny day.

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  37. I just thought airing was hanging clothes out (or in) to dry as opposed to using the dryer? Shows what I know ;) I'm just happy weather is warmer here now so my towels air dry in one day instead of 6.
    Love the name :)

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  38. At first glance I read your post's title as 'the profound mystery of AGING' - which, I suppose, just proves that I am...

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  39. Where does hanging your dainties in the shower to dry fall in all of this? (obviously not as pictureque as Mise's Scottish husband's shirts hanging upon the stormy glen (or is it a heath?)

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  40. Bartley Aarvark....hmmm sounds rather mysterious...or perhaps a rather quaint Austen-esque character of sorts...
    As for your air-er...it all seems rather foreign when one is living in the United States of Bracak and Mitt, where the mere concept of hanging ones garments out to dry is viewed as rather foreign and quaint.

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  41. Um, it's for drying things. When it's raining. Or when you pegged all your washing out beautifully this morning in a fine strong wind and gentle sunshine, and now it's raining.

    My mother has one, above her Aga. I live in a postage-stamp sized flat in London, with no Aga, and no Dutch airer. And no garden. (Instead, I have Dry-Soon from Lakeland Plastics, about which I am evangelical). Of note, if you cook while your washing is hanging above the stove, your clothes will take on some of the smell of cooking. Which is lovely if you're baking a cake, less good if it's frying onions, worst with fish.

    If that helps.

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  42. Mise, thank you for giving my question a whole post. I've read through all the replies, and have come to the conclusion... that I'm still confused. But I think Annie from knitsofacto has it right - an air of 'oops' wafts around the whole process.

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  43. This is one of the most beautiful photos I've seen. Love it! Good work.

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You're looking particularly well.

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