I’ll set the scene: It’s 2013, I’ve just moved into my own flat and for the first time in ten years, I don’t have a tumble dryer or a garden to dry laundry outdoors. However, my laundry is taking ages to dry. Hanging my wet washing in the largest room in my flat — the open-plan kitchen — means my clothes are susceptible to cooking smells. I knew I needed a solution to my drying problems when a colleague sniffed my (clean) outfit and asked if I had a second job in a restaurant kitchen.
A Capricorn who was born prematurely middle-aged, I’d been shopping at Lakeland since my teens. So when I spotted a heated airer in the catalogue, I visited my local store to see it in action before ordering for free home delivery. And not just because I lived in a top-floor flat and wanted someone else to lug the box up the stairs. It was love at first load. The device is 60 x 63 x 113.5cm when fully extended, with six foldout shelves, which provide a combined drying space of 13m (the equivalent of a 40-foot long washing line). Online reviews told me washing would dry quicker if the airer was covered (you can buy a custom-made cover, but I find a large fleece throw works just as well). When I loaded my first batch of washing onto the airer I was sceptical, but four hours later my washing was dry, and I was so happy I celebrated by throwing another load in the washing machine.
I didn’t tell anyone about the miraculous airer at first because I was embarrassed by my extravagance, but friends spotted it when they came to visit and bombarded me with questions. When I explained the device only costs 4p an hour to run and I could have my bedding stripped in the morning, fully laundered, and back on my bed that evening, they were seriously impressed. Word of the airer’s brilliance spread and within a few months ten friends told me they’d taken the plunge and purchased one of their own. My friends told their friends about the airer, creating a ripple of about 20 Dry:Soon purchases all over central Scotland. My friend Jen in Glasgow wouldn’t be without her airer now that she has a baby. She says: “I’m doing a load of washing a day and without the heated airer I’d be tripping over wet baby clothes. I’ve had to stop myself from buying a second one.” Jen persuaded her sister-in-law, Cara, to buy an airer and now, instead of comparing the state of their hangovers over WhatsApp, they brag about how many loads of washing they got through in the previous week.
I’ve since moved from the tiny flat back to a house with outdoor drying space, but I still use the airer three times a week because unlike the weather, the Dry:Soon is reliably warm.
Other Strat-approved laundry products
Professional costume designer Alison Freer swears by these inexpensive zip-top laundry bags, which allow her to wash her bras in the washing machine.
Contributor Sandy Yu was ironing-board avoidant, so she decided to invest in a handheld steamer to smooth out her clothes. With a lengthy cord and a water tank that lasts “even when steaming ten items at a time,” Yu says the steamer is exceedingly easy to master, and even the silkiest of fabrics need only a few puffs of steam to de-wrinkle.
Natalie Elliott recommended this detergent when we spoke to experts about the best natural cleaning products. It’s made from 96 percent plant-derived ingredients and is gentle on sensitive skin.
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