All Washed Up

Friday, May 06, 2011 Road Junkies 0 Comments

EDINBURGH, Scotland Because they are such voracious consumers of energy, tumble dryers, the type used most often in the U.S., are found in only about half of British homes.  With high energy costs and growing concern about energy efficiency, the use of tumble dryers is widely discouraged.  Even the BBC reports that line drying is growing in popularity.

Integrated Washer-Dryer
We were pretty surprised therefore to find a handy dandy Hotpoint BHWD129 tucked into the kitchen cabinets at the apartment where we're staying in Edinburgh.  Smashing!  After handwashing our clothes for two months and with complete disregard for our carbon footprints, we were eager to give the machine a try.

This integrated machine does it all, according to the manual.  Insert your dirty clothes and remove them clean and dry and ready to wear.  Save money and hassle with this economical and functional machine, the advertisement promises.  Clearly it does not mention saving time.  Nor does it suggest what your clothes will look like at the end.  There is a good reason for that.

After a lengthy study of the control panel and the user manual, which we located online, we made what seemed a reasonable selection of cycles, inserted our clothes and detergent, and pressed the start button.  Like magic, the machine began to fill with water and agitation soon followed.

We weren't terribly surprised when the sounds were dissimilar to what you hear from a U.S. Maytag at work.  So we closed the cabinet door and pretty much ignored it.  An hour and a half later, we looked in the porthole to see what was happening.  We suspected that the washing stage might be finished because the high-speed spin cycle had been intermittently jarring objects across the kitchen counter and rattling our teeth for the previous 30 minutes or so.  Based on the numbers of fillings lost and cups broken, we estimated about 4500 rpm during that phase.

Soon we entered another cycle.  In addition to the continuation of occasional gurgling sounds, the drum would turn for a couple of minutes, stop, and begin turning again, but in the opposite direction.  Sometimes it would spin at a rapid pace again, but probably only at about 2000 rpm.  The indicator light told us it was in the drying phase.

This process went on for another hour.  When the END indicator finally lit, we eagerly opened the door to retrieve our clothes.  What a surprise!  We removed our clothes to find them slightly damp, prune-like with wrinkles, and somewhat smaller than when we inserted them more than two and a half hours before.  But, by golly, they were clean!  So we've cancelled our order for one of these.
We're sticking with the modern technology!  Faster, easier, and carefree-- once you dry, iron, and stretch everything back to its original size.