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A Word From Inside My Dryer

I am positively amazed how much I can learn with my head inside a dryer.

No, not a hair dryer. Those days stuck with the big puffy rollers in that machine are long gone. (At least for me). I imagine back then the gossip must have been entertaining.

I’m thinking of a clothes dryer and, since I have no intention of tumbling, it stays pretty quiet. In fact, other than drying clothes as it was intended to do, it’s pretty useless.

Well, not that useless for it’s a good place to put things on and it does make lint. The word “lint” was already in use by the 14th century to mean a “a soft, fleecy material made from linen usually by scraping.” Merriam-Webster won’t tell me what use, if any, it had back then.

Now we think of lint mostly as that stuff found in the dryer lint trap.

Some science stuff to get it over with, this from Popular Science: “Lint is composed of tiny bits of fabric fibers that are shed from the edges of our garments. Fabrics made of natural fibers like cotton and wool generate more lint than fabrics made of rayon or other synthetic materials. Bits of fiber break off from our clothing from the friction of wear.

“When clothes go through the washer, dirt and lint are lifted from the garments but remains on the fabric in its wet state. During drying, the lint is released as water is removed from the wet fabric and friction increases as a result of the tumbling action. Finally, a heating mechanism within the dryer called an open-wire element creates an air stream that sweeps through the garments, blowing the lint off and trapping it in the lint screen. The dryer’s exhaust system, which pulls moisture and heat safely out of your home, also helps to suction lint off the clothes.”

May I also add a word of wisdom to remind all to also check that exhaust system. Mine is a long pipe within the bowels of the house that can only be reached by taken it apart or going to where it exits. This too can get stuffed full of lint which is highly inflammable.

Wikipedia intelligently adds of fabric fibers: “During the course of normal wear, these fibers may either detach or be jostled out of the weave of which they are part. This is the reason that heavily used articles like shirts and towels become thin over time, and why these particles collect in the lint screen of a clothes dryer.”

Have you ever wondered if there’s a use for this stuff? The Internet offers many suggestions from spinning it into yarn, making paper mache or using it for dolls or stuffed animals, even fighting weeds. It is also a magnificent fire starter. And now Kaitlyn Bancroft in the Denver Post tells me lint can also go into my compost as well as things I have been tossing like eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, shredded newspaper, fireplace ashes, even hair and fur.

Let’s have some fun now and turn to Ben Lobaugh (Blobaugh) Online from October 9, 2012, and his Quantum Theory of Laundry: “The Quantum Theory of Laundry (QTL) states that a dryer is a closed loop, where nothing can escape, therefore any missing socks must still be in the dryer. Furthermore, this theory goes against conventional wisdom and suggests that removing lint is actual[ly] not a good idea as it will prevent you from ever seeing your missing socks again. The QTL uses many big scary mathematical equations to show proofs that the socks take on a particular wave function during which they transform from a sock into lint. Leaving the lint in the lint traps on subsequent loads further explains how socks may randomly appear in a different load. This is due to the wave function hitting the lint in the traps and converting it back into a sock.”

Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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