Monday, October 22, 2018


Some years ago I added a sturdy German bathing suit spinner to my batterie de laundry. It's hard to imagine life without it now. I'd sooner forgo the washing machine itself. The spinner is a small variant of the daunting stainless steel centrifuge that used to be found in every laundromat. A rigorous spin wrings cups of water from a finished load of laundry, slashes drying time, and can even produce clothing ready to wear.

I daydreamed about having an ultrasound function on the spinner so that I could simply load clothes into it, push a button, and get finished laundry from fewer cubic feet than even my small machine occupies. Learning about machines that heat their own water makes the idea even more beguiling. A rectangular case that is stout enough to sit on would be useful in small space. The corners of the case could hold washing products. Ideally the machine would include a filter to protect the environment from micro-plastic residues. Set up side by side, two such machines could halve water consumption by transferring the rinse cycle's volume to wash a second load. If such a thing exists, an ultrasonic wand component could add a degree of versatility to washing that would rival hand work. One could process large items in a bathtub, perhaps even window blinds, or use a sink for special items. Possibly one could also wash dishes in a pan of water. 

A small washing machine designed for daily use has non-obvious environmental advantages. The capital and space the machine requires eliminates the vast amounts of resources necessary to produce clothing. Given the profound advantages of hand-made clothing, a machine designed for ultra-careful handling would make it easy to justify the time and expense of a custom wardrobe. The Mallory expedition to Mt. Everest examined the clothing found on his remains, copied it, and tried it on a later climb. Carefully tailored wool was as effective as high-tech down in conserving body heat. Rose Wilder Lane's history of American needlework details the labor, value, and preciousness of handmade textiles in the early years of settlement. My limited personal experience of hand-spun, hand-woven, and hand sewn garments is that the elasticity of hand work generates a comfort and durability that surpasses industrial textiles -30- 

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