Some thoughts about buying a clothes dryer

Living with no house help, you can’t imagine how many times I’ve been tempted to buy a clothes dryer and a dishwasher. These electric appliances may be considered standard household items in First World countries but not in the Third World. In fact, the washing machine was not a standard household appliance until about two to three decades ago. And by “standard” I refer to the middle and upper classes in the urban centers. In more remote places, washing by hand is still the way to go. In urban areas where good laundry women are fast becoming a thing of the past, the washing machine is the ultimate solution. But because this is the tropics where, except during the monsoon season, we get enough sunshine to dry blue jeans on a clothesline in less than two hours (seriously, that’s how hot it gets), the rise of the washing machine did not at the same time give rise to the clothes dryer. Most households with washing machines still dry their clothes under the sun on clotheslines. Those living in high-rise buildings do it differently — they take their clothes to laundry services (wash, dry, fold — no ironing).

Clothesline plus sunshine plus warm breeze are the perfect things for drying clothes. Cost efficient definitely as sunshine and warm breeze are free and nylon clotheslines are very cheap. But the process of hanging the clothes then taking them down from the clothesline after they have dried can be time consuming. And, during months when the weather is so unpredictable (sunshine one moment, pouring rain the next), it also means risking getting the clothes drenched in the rain before they can be gathered together and taken indoors. And that’s the part that really sucks. Half-dried clothes that you don’t know what to do with. So, you can imagine the attraction of a clothes dryer.

Still, I dilly dally about buying a clothes dryer. Two reasons.

FIRST. This is the Philippines where power rates can make your head spin (we have higher power rates than Singapore). Electricity is gold in this country because of a monopoly in the power supply industry.

SECOND. The environment. Hanging clothes under the sun has no adverse environmental impact.

Which brings me to something that President Noynoy Aquino said in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) a couple of weeks ago. In the SONA speech, President Aquino said that confidence in the Philippines has grown and investors are again willing to pour in money for oil exploration.

…muling nabuhay ang kumpiyansa ng mga namumuhunan sa ating energy sector. Patunay dito ang isandaan at apatnapung kumpanya na nakahandang tumaya sa eksplorasyon at pagpapalakas ng ating oil at natural gas resources. Sa huling energy contracting round noong 2006, tatlumpu’t lima lang po ang nakilahok…

And I go, “WHAT???” In a country with so much sunshine and coastlines, we’re still not pushing for solar and wind energy?

I am one person. And I have serious issues about buying a clothes dryer because I consider the environmental impact of its usage.

Noynoy Aquino is one person. And he is the President of the Philippines. He has the power to influence the course of energy and environmental policies for the next five years, he has enough researchers to study the viability of gradually switching to more natural sources of power toward the total eradication of the use of fossil fuel, and there he went talking about oil exploration.

I’m not saying that I’m a better person than he is. I’m not saying that I am better informed than he is.

I’m just saying that something feels wrong.


  1. Mark says

    I can reassure you Ms Connie that for many working class people in the so called first world , that washing machines only became common in the past 35 years or so. I can remember my mother, aunts and grandmother doing the laundry in a huge copper , filled with hot water carried to it in buckets! No house help for us lol . I remember the huge stick used to push the clothes under the boiling water , lol , and remember being chased by mum brandishing said stick when I’d committed some unremembered misdemeanour, lol.Thank goodness we could run fast! Now the concern is for energy conservation and clothes driers are seen as too energy hungry. Living here in the tropics I just hang things out under the carport and hope it dries within a couple of days.

    • says

      “remember being chased by mum brandishing said stick when I’d committed some unremembered misdemeanour”

      LOL I’m seeing a little you in my mind running fast.

      It’s crazy but, you know, it’s a very Filipino scene too? Except that in the Philippines, the stick was a “tukod ng bintana” which is a piece of wood to keep windows open. I’ve heard that my grandfather ran after my father while brandishing the stick on many occasions hehehehe

      • says

        I miss the smell of clothes that has been dried under the sun. When I was new in the US it took me a while to stop checking for the sun outside before doing the laundry lol

      • d0d0ng says

        I had my fair share of welts in both of my legs (same with my siblings) when I was very young because my Tatay was very strict. So everybody ran. But I was tired to run and get back into the house and to be hit again. One day I climbed a jackfruit tree next to our house and stayed at the roof (2 storey house) for the whole day baked in the sun. Nanay was so scared for me that the whip was no longer used after that.

        • Marvin says

          Diyos ko, due to the rains, all our clothes are damped and mabaho.l have to wash again.
          ng lumabas ang araw bilad kaagad pati unan. nakaka inis.

          But going back to Noy, sana he presents an alternative to coal and oil. and you are right, bein gin the tropics gives us the edge to harvest solar power, pero balita ko ang mahal daw? we have neighbors na me solar panels for water heating.

          • says

            Mahal kasi there are very few local distributors. I also have a friend with solar panels for heating water. Initial cost is high but, long term, it’s a sound investment.

            If the government didn’t impose so much duties on the entry of imported solar panels, they wouldn’t be so pricey. But, more importantly, why not encourage local manufacture of solar panels? That and wind-generated power should be top priorities for government subsidies.

          • says

            We live in Australia and use a dishwasher and washing machine. But we’ve resisted the temptation to buy a clothes drier. Most households in our neighbourhood are the same, and they manage to balance the time between caring for young kids and hanging their clothes out to dry the old fashioned way. Perhaps this is driven by a greater sense of responsibility over the environment here. Sunshine and dry air is abundant here, even in the winter months. So the natural resources to aid drying clothes are there. We just need to apply the EXTRA work to avail of these in a responsible way (i.e. without burning more fossil fuels which, as we know, any appliance whose primary function it is to generate heat is most notorious for). So perhaps take this as an example from an economy where the cost of acquiring a clothes drier amounts to only 2 weeks’ worth of one person’s wages. And yet we exercise restraint in the impulse to BUY and CONSUME even if we can afford to.

          • says

            Jacky, is Seattle City Light a private corporation?

            benign0, re “any appliance whose primary function it is to generate heat is most notorious for”

            Same goes for appliances that generate cold — fridge, aircon… That’s why inverters are the in thing today.

          • Jacky says

            Seattle City Light is run by the city gvt, although most of King County and the surrounding counties are serviced by PSE, which is privately run. No other option, but to pay. If we want gas heating instead of electric, we have to choose PSE in Seattle.

          • says

            It’s what we get for having a president who listens more to foreign influences and believes that foreign investments or the blind worship of it, would be the way to develop this country.

            Or maybe we should just be more vocal and organized about pushing for more sustainable energy sources. We have the tools to mount a sustained campaign to educate and push our government to follow our lead and make things a lot better in this country.

          • Mik says

            Alam mo C, our company recently became agents of a great brand of good quality solar panels –and guess where they’re manufactured? Shempre sa Pinas! We seriously reviewed the way our household was using power. So we looked at the wattage our appliances drew and slowly started replacing the ones that eventually broke down with more energy efficient appliances. Di ko lang alam kung same sa Pinas, but dito, power is cheaper at night, so now I do my laundry at night as well as fill the dishwasher up at night para one cycle lang.
            Also, we installed a solar panel system end of June and that, as well as our efforts to consume less electricity, our power supplier is now paying us for putting power back on the grid instead of us paying for power consumption at the end of a billing cycle :)
            When I looked into whether installing a similar solar system for my parents’ house over there, naku ang mahal pala talaga ng aabutin, especially since kailangan stand alone system dyan at mahihirapan ka dealing with Meralco kung hindi stand alone.

          • V says

            I’ve also resisted using the clothes drier here in NZ. I feel most relaxed hanging clothes outside while listening to chirping birds. cinderella-complex!

            Someone said that they tried to explore wind power but they are having a hard time harvesting it in the Phil. because of its unpredictable course unlike in some parts of europe. Maybe we should put more emphasis on geothermal power, specially that Phil is in the ring of fire.

          • ogz says

            Hi. connie, I bought a whirlpool commercial dryer a year ago, i’m the one operating it though i have househelps (the unit is expensive plus the electricity of course. hehe). I just use it whenever there’s a 3 consecutive days of rain or when I have to wash our blankies and comforters. Clothes stink especially denims when not sundried from my experience. Someone told me just to use a lot of downy but I think moisture can harbour more bacteria, thus causing the underwears garter lines on the waist to have rashes. So far, for a year now, my hubby and kids never complained about my laundry, hehe.

            Oh, btw, I enjoy using the convection oven which you suggestion a year ago, when I ask about electric, gas or convectional oven. Thanks and have a great weekend :)

  2. Nina says

    I think there’s a conspiracy in preventing or delaying the Philippines in moving forward in different aspects, one ofwhich is the energy sector. All efforts seem to be moving backward rather than forward.

  3. d0d0ng says

    I agree there is really something wrong with direction of President Aquino to pursue energy power through oil exploration which is currently a dead path. Either he misread it or his advisers are telling him something else.

    The biggest stumbling block for any oil exploration is China. The Chinese navy just recently cut the cable used by Vietnamese in oil exploration in the contested territory. In a few more years, China will overtake the US as #1 consumer of oil. Oil is a lifeline for Chinese expanding economy. When US Congress blocked China’s attempt to buy US Unocal in 2005, China responded agressively by entering an oil contract with Iran and expanded its oil interest in war torn pirate infested Africa.

    Similar to US oil policy, China cannot afford to deplete its strategic oil reserves in South China sea nor allow Vietnam, Philippines or any other country to explore and use a nearby oil area. The territorial dispute is primarily oil driven. China is vocal about its historical rights which precedes any country and already expressed that it will not abide with UNCLOS (it has veto right in the UN). China is heavily invested in aircraft carrier, stealth airforce and aircraft carrier killer weapons for sole purpose of protecting its increasing economic interest.

    The sooner President Aquino realize this, the better for the Philippines to steer to practical energy policy on solar, wind and hydroelectric (sea current).

    • says

      Geri, it’s habit forming, ano?

      Nina, yes, there is. I think about who the largest stockholder is of Meralco, the ABS-CBN connection (Kris Aquino and the ABS-CBN support for Noynoy’s presidency) and my head spins.

      d0d0ng, now that you bring China into the discussion, let’s connect that with the Spratly Islands dispute. The Philippines and China are still fighting over the Spratlys and most people think it’s a historical/patriotic issue and the right to fish the waters in the area. Heck, it’s about oil and gas exploration — the Spratlys being a potentially petroleum rich territory.

      • Mark says

        Kiss the Spratlys goodbye, the Chinese are building a very large blue water navy for just such future adventurism.

        • says

          I hate it that the Philippines’ claim over the Spratlys is being made out as a matter of national pride and patriotism. I wish the government would call a spade, a spade.

          • Jacky says

            Oh, just also pointing out that we only have one supplier of electricity also, Seattle City Light, so we’re also under a monopoly here for a power supply. :P

  4. Jacky says

    15 years in the USA< still don't use the dryer. My parents had a washing lady when I was a kid, we did purchase a washing machine until probably the mid 1980s.

  5. grace says

    im contemplating of buying a clothes dryer right now and stumbled upon your site. did you push through with the purchase – any recommended brands? i noticed cockroaches get attracted to the wet clothes and i’m deathly afraid of them. im buying one for my sanity hehehe thanks