Monday, 11 March 2013

the Lost Skill of Airing

Perhaps a dramatic title, but this skill is one that is rarely used anymore and it REALLY works well.  In this age of mechanized housework, many old time natural methods have been lost in favour of pushing a button.  Laundry has transformed from being an all day laborious affair to one that takes mere minutes thanks to our efficient modern day machines.  I'd not want to do without a washer (and I'm very grateful for mine), BUT do we have to use it as much as we do?  Generally speaking, most of us are particularly bad for tossing clothes into the washer that aren't really dirty or smelly - they just aren't FRESH as in "just washed".

Airing is a wonderful solution that I'm using more and more.  Just yesterday, we draped the kids' down duvets over the deck railings for an afternoon of sunshine.  The breeze moved the air through the duvets and the sunlight disinfected them, freshening them beautifully. They weren't soiled or dirty because we use duvet covers, but the down certainly benefitted from an afternoon outside in the fresh air.  Both quilts smelled freshly laundered once we brought them in.

I've tried the same technique with clothing that isn't soiled.  A garment that isn't dirty or sweaty can easily be freshened if it's hung outside for a few hours in the fresh air and sunshine.  I use a drying rack that I keep by the front door - I can easily take it out to the front verandah and hang something on it in mere seconds.  The railings on our front verandah work well for larger items and will have to do until the snow has melted enough to reveal the hole for the rotary clothesline!

Curtains airing

Drapes can be shaken to release dust and hung outside to be freshened, mats and rugs can be hung over a railing, coats can be spot cleaned and hung outside, stuffed animals can be swatted to release dust then pinned to a rack in the sun, toss cushions can also be swatted to release dust then laid out on a drying rack...

toss cushions from the living room

Lest you think I've lost my mind (and don't do laundry anymore), I'm particularity picky about our linens being clean and any garment that is dirty IS promptly washed.  The effectiveness of airing is astounding though - harness that sun and fresh air to aid you in your home keeping.  This technique saves water, electricity and soap but effectively freshens many things that don't really need a wash...

Give it a try - your Grandma would be very pleased (she knew best!)  :)


  1. We lived in Germany when I learned this lost art. Seems like every week in an upstairs window a draped bedding set or sort of mattress was hanging.

    As I love sunshine fresh...I began to try this, and have been doing so for 20 plus years!! Thanks for sharing, as many times the obvious isn't but the reward is!


    1. Yes, Jennifer - I remember seeing that when I travelled Europe MANY years ago. It was so foreign to me - growing up, nobody in my neighbourhood even had a clothesline let alone aired anything so I honestly has no idea what everyone was doing!

  2. Im sorry, i still cant get over doing housework and being surrounded by snow. It just look unreal to me.

  3. Thanks to your idea I've aired our quilt and our duvet today. Our bed smells so fresh!

    And yes, I can't get over seeing all that snow either :)

  4. I love airing...when it stops raining (which isn't often at the moment!)I like to do our doonas and pillows and they always smell so fresh after being in the air and sun for a surreal seeing all your snow!!