The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

October 1, 2009

I’m 44 Years Old and Finally Got a Rack!

I was kind of a late bloomer, always jealous of other girls’ racks and fearing I’d never have one myself. Even my younger sisters got theirs ahead of me. No, I didn’t suddenly pump myself full of plastic to impress the boys. It’s my new Drying Rack, people! What the heck did you think?

Committed more than ever to saving energy after seeing The Age of Stupid last week, I was determined to figure out a way to hang dry at least some of our clothes. The trouble is, we don’t have a yard for installing the kind of contraption Linda has, and we don’t have room in the house to put one up either. Our laundry room is basically the back hallway which has barely enough room for Michael and me to squeeze past each other. We also don’t have the right kind of wall space to put up one of those expanding dry racks.

So I was happy to find a different kind of drying rack. Called the Best Drying Rack, the unit is constructed of maple and corrosion resistant steel and is advertised as having “(no plastic parts).”

I’m always interested in companies that not only avoid adding plastic to their products but also see the wisdom in advertising that fact. So I asked the owner, Greg Baka, about that decision. His response:

I designed our Drying Rack to not have plastic parts after noticing that 1) plastic parts always break first, and 2) the antique racks I was basing my design on had no plastics

And in fact, the design is pretty ingenious.

The unit is basically held together by physics. No nails, screws or hinges except for a bolt in the top and bottom. Oh, and a tiny bit of Elmer’s Heavy Duty glue stick. Everything else slides and stays in place via gravity and friction, like the Mormon Tabernacle. And each drying arm moves on its own, so the unit can take up more or less space, depending on what is needed. It also retracts for convenient storage in our narrow hallway.

But what about the packaging? I asked Greg about the packaging, and he admitted that he does enclose the rack in plastic (bag, stretchwrap, tape) to protect it. But after looking at my web site, he offered to find a plastic-free way to ship it to me. And when he said plastic-free, he really meant it. He didn’t even use a plastic UPS envelope, and the package arrived just fine.

So, how well does it work? Check out the clothes drying in the sun on our back roof deck!

The rack will hold about one normal load of laundry. At this point, my goal is simply to hang dry one load of laundry each week (we usually have two or three) and see how it goes. Any new system takes some time to get used to, right?

One benefit I have already noticed is that my pants aren’t so tight when I put them on after washing, since they haven’t shrunk from the heat of the dryer. However, I will have to get used to my clothes being less soft. The beating they take in the dryer makes the cloth feel so much better to me, even though I know they are wearing out faster! I also noticed that since any lint does not get sucked away from the clothes like it does in the dryer, some of my darker items will need to be brushed before wearing.

So, yes, drying clothes outside will take some extra time and effort. But so does making homemade cat food or remembering to bring my own containers and bags to the store or writing to companies asking for no plastic packaging. Effort, sure. But really, so what? Aren’t we and the planet worth it?

Oh, and one other benefit not necessarily related to the drying rack but to the box it came in:

The good times had by all when Mr. Soots jumped into the tall box in the middle of the night and then couldn’t figure out how to get out again. Priceless.

Note: If you want to order the drying rack without any plastic, you can leave a note in the comments section of the online order form requesting it.

Oh, and one more note: I purchased this drying rack myself and am not receiving any compensation whatsoever for writing about it.

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8 years ago

I was so inspired by this post that I finally decided to stop using the dryer and order a clothes rack from Best Buying Rack. I wrote Greg an email asking him to package it plastic free and unfortunately he was unable to do that. Here is his reply:

Hi Sara,

Sorry, but we do not do the “no plastic” anymore. It caused some shipping problems.

There will be a plastic bag enclosing your rack, but it is re-usable.



I was a little disappointed by this and a little surprised that a company that can create this clever rack couldn’t come up with alternative shipment packaging. Still, I am thrilled the rack itself is plastic free.

12 years ago

I admit that about three quarters down the length of all those comments I got a little tired of reading them, so I’m not sure whether anyone else posted something like this yet…

After I moved out with my parents (a few months ago) I didn’t want to invest in a drying rack right away – and although my landlords have a dryer, I am so used to wearing hang-dried clothes that I didn’t want to use that, either (even if I didn’t care about the wasted energy, which I do). So I just used a piece of string – I think it was originally used to close a box or something – that I tied up on the inside of my shower. It was only meant to be a temporary solution, but it has worked so well so far that I’m seriously wondering whether I should invest money in something that I can practically have for free.

13 years ago

I still think you can’t go past the smell of clean laundry! That is what attracted me to the wall mounted coat rack. I keep mine in the laundry and it serves a double life one to dry all the washing loads on, secondly I use it to hand the ironing on and then it is simply gathered up and put away.

That was the plan but have to admit it is me that puts it away :( Beauty of the rack is that it just collapses against the wall taking up no space at all.

Thank you


13 years ago

Hi Beth,
I found your blog a couple of days ago and have been making my way through your archives and learning so much! I wanted you to know that after reading about this drying rack on your site I ordered one and asked for a plastic-free shipping container. Thank you for the inspiration! I also really like reading all the comments indicating that there really are other people out there on board with avoiding plastic. Yay!


13 years ago

I’m sorry to say this but you guys astound me. Here in Australia, we’ve always dried our clothes outside. Nothing better (or more energy efficient than fresh air and sunshine). We even invented the rotary clothes line called the Hills Hoist. And it’s also available in the US We only ever use dryers if it has been raining for several weeks. This is nothing new. We’ve always done it this way.

Jeanne of EcoLabel Fundraising
13 years ago

So my parents told me on the phone one day that they were taking a drive out to see some local Amish merchants in rural Iowa. I had a fleeting thought of a fabulous drying rack they bought from them last year for their own air-drying of cloths (they are very eco-friendly for a couple of old timers!) So, like any good, greedy child, I told them I would die for one as a birthday present. They just delivered it to me – the thing is huge! I LOVE IT! Now, if I buy the one you suggested, I may never use my high efficiency dryer again. Do you suppose my husband will be disgruntled or happy?

Great product (and post title).

Cheap Like Me
13 years ago

I’ve had this page open for a little while, and I keep giggling at your headline. :)

That rack is beautiful; it almost looks like a piece of sculpture in your hallway.

Line-drying is fantabulous. It will save you money on your utility bills, too. I estimate at least $70 to $80 per year by not using my energy-efficient dryer 7 months out of the year (I live in Denver, Colo., and the other five months, it’s a bit chilly to go outside). But if I hang things inside during those months I can bring the annual total to around $120, and you can buy a lot of chocolate with those $10 a month.

13 years ago

I saw one of those at an antique/junk shop this weekend. Thanks to FPF, I was able to impress my fiance by knowing what it was!

Mary Kay
13 years ago

In the summer I simply hang my clothes to dry in the closet. I keep the door open and make sure to leave space between the clothes. Of course, it is hot here. The clothes dry in no time. We also have a clothes line outside and we used it this summer for the diapers. I just found that drying the clothes in the closet reduces one step in the process. I also forgot. Nice rack!

Lara S.
13 years ago

Here in Argentina, everybody hangs their clothes. I do not know even one person who owns a tumble dryer.
Here are some other options, in case you didn't know these "racks"…

Most of them include some plastic parts, but are made mostly of metal and are very sturdy and foldable. There are many other models.
This small one is for hanging underwear or socks:

I myself rent a room and share clothing lines with 24 other persons. Only a few of them use take their clothes to the laundry service where they dry the clothes in tumble dryers. I do that when it rains for too many days and run out of clean clothes, and the difference it makes in my clothes is huge. The dryers ruin fabrics incredibly quickly.

13 years ago

I have a wooden drying rack, but constantly run into the more clean wet laundry than drying space, so I've ordered one (and requested plastic free shipping) and am eagerly awaiting its arrival.

13 years ago

I like the design. Is it better than a regular dryer? I think it would be better than wasting energy. Please respond to my questions.

Greg Baka
13 years ago

Thank you Beth!

This is Greg, the designer and manufacturer of Best Drying Rack. I'm glad everything arrived safe and sound without the plastic packaging. I'll have to seriously explore eliminating it.

Your picture of the empty rack does not have the tripod legs fully extended. Check out some of our drying rack pictures to see how the legs spread out much further. It is very stable with the legs spread out properly.

A few of your readers have ordered racks and left a note in the Comments section of the Order Form saying NO PLASTICS. I plan to use something besides newsprint to wrap the rack so that nobody has ink rubbing onto the wood.

Keep up the good work!

John Costigane
13 years ago

Hi Beth,

Finding plastic-free alternatives for all existing items is very worthwhile. Businesses who offer these should benefit at the expense of plastic variety.

My own situation has metal garden posts and plastic rope between, with a wooden pole to raise the ropes when full. A natural fibre rope would be the only plastic-free change required.

13 years ago

Another great rack I just discovered at a local sustainable fair in Seattle is Window Dry:

It's all wood except for the suction cups that hold it to the window. So it suctions to your window so you can mount up high out of kid/pets/clumsy adults knocking it over. It is surprisingly sturdy and gives me lots more drying space in my itty bitty apartment. I don't know what their shipping packaging is like as they are near me so I got mine delivered by the maker on the bus when he had errands near me.

13 years ago

Hey Nice Rack YOu got there babe!

13 years ago

Congratulations on joining the rack club (this post should get you some weird google hits). These days the only things I'm using a dryer for are flannel sheets in the winter.
Re lint — sometimes I have to resort to the cannister vacuum on a very low suction . . . my washer is ancient and seems to love to deposit stuff on fleece (but you're not wearing that right?).

13 years ago

Everything old is new again. I remember the family having a rack just like the one you show. I was fascinated by the way the wooden rods would deploy and played with that thing many times as a kid, along with the folding bed that was on rollers. Never put any clothes on it, though. Another thing I did as a kid was sit at the living room window and count the cars that went by the house.

Boredom – yes one had to be creative in those days before electronic games and PC's

14 years ago

When your clothes are dry, if they're really stiff you should shake them (you know, that hard kind of snapping shake that you do before you fold them up) That loosens up the fibers a bit. Drying clothes in the wind does the same thing.

Condo Blues
14 years ago

I line dry on hangers on a shower curtain rod in an extra bathroom. I only do it during winter because of summer pollen allergies. If you live in a cold climate, drying your clothes indoors adds moisture to the air which makes your home feel warmer. It also helps remove static electricity from dry heated indoor air.

May not work for you Beth, the kitties might think your clothes rack is Disneyland and mess up your clean clothes!

14 years ago

This is such a great idea! Apartment living has proved difficult in seeking out environmentally friendly ways to wash and dry clothes. I have just patio for this. From all these comments, it seems like they will last a long time. I applaud the vendor for his keeping his word and shipping it to you plastic-free!

Your blog is really inspirational. :)

axelle fortier
14 years ago

Beautiful rack. Beautiful Soots. If any of your readers would like a "Soots" of their own, I have two equally charming and handsome teenage boy kittens available for adoption. They are named AB (All Black) and BB (Basic Black) and their dirty kitty litter has NEVER once been scooped into a plastic bag and dumped. It has ALWAYS been attractively wrapped in neat newspaper packets and then dumped.

Brushes remove lint: nail brushes, any kind of scrub brush, a natural bristle hair brush, a whisk broom, your dog's brush (clean it first), and the harder the bristle on any of these, the better. A damp washcloth or piece of terry cloth will do the trick, too.

14 years ago

Love your new rack! I got a rack this week too but mine is a bike rack for my car :) I am fortunate enough to have a big yard with a clothesline BUT winter is coming and we use a wooden according style rack but it can only hold so much and there are 5 of us so…. Thanks for the info!!!

14 years ago

Beth, you'll get used to hanging your clothes! I was born and raised in Brazil and tumble dryers for domestic use simply don't exist there. Every apartment has racks mounted on the ceiling in an area next to the kitchen and near a window. After I moved to England, I had to get used to hanging my clothes on a folding rack indoors. I do the same now that I live in the US. I only use the dryer for bed sheets, as they are too big for the folding rack. Many Europeans install a rack on the wall or ceiling over the bathtub. It is not ideal but it does save space! :-)

14 years ago

Hi Beth-

One of my folding drying racks recently broke and yep like the guy that manufactures your poduct it was the plastic bit. I have another folding drying rack that is 100% wood that I've had for years and no problems. However, I was inspired by your repairing of the laundry basket and was going to try and fix it… :) However, this product looks really cool also and now I'm tempted to try it out. My advice to you though would be to actually buy two especially if you want to wash multiple loads. I dry the majority of my clothes and my problem is that I always run out of drying space. Your clothes will dry faster if they have some room to 'breathe.' Also, nothing beats the wonderful smell of clothes dried out in the sun! :)

14 years ago

If you want to soften your clothes throw them in the dryer for a few minutes. Bonus points for not using the heat cycle. They aren't as soft as if you had used the dryer, but better than just dried.

This also tends to get rid of the lint. At least somewhat.

I also use hangers and hang my clothes over the shower or on those over the door racks. Just be sure to rotate/give extra time for the stuff at the back.

Martin at Plasticless
14 years ago

Nice rack :)

We have the cheap coated aluminum kind that is widely available. I would have loved to have found a wooden one like the one Grammy had :)

I haven't had access to a tumble dryer for several years now. Winters can make for frustrating clothes drying, but we have managed.

14 years ago

All the pictures that you put are so nice.

Anna (Green Talk)
14 years ago

Oh, I forgot. If you find a nonplastic alternative for a "rack" let me know. I am waiting too.

Anna (Green Talk)
14 years ago

Beth, when we built our house, we designed a "drying closet" in the laundry room since I hang all of my clothes, shirts that need to ironed, and my kids' sports pants. I hate that snug fit that you get when you pull on your own clothes that were just in the dryer. Kind of like Brooke Shields and her Calvins.

The great benefit of hanging clothes is that the dryer sets in stains. Hang drying does not. Now I can see the stains in plain site and deal with them. (Like ring around the collar!)

Go luck drying outside.

14 years ago

the cat-falling-in-the-box is priceless.

one question: how do you get the lint off your clothes without using those plastic lint rollers? especially with cats?

14 years ago

What about one like this for the shower – like they have in hotels?

you could fit a bunch – especially on hangers.

14 years ago

Nice rack! ;)

I have a wooden accordion rack that's still in good shape so I won't need one of these for a long time, but if I ever do this one will be a contender.

You get used to the "scratchiness" of line/rack-dried clothes; they soften up pretty quickly from your body heat. And I actually prefer my towels that way.

14 years ago

My mom has an antique version of this: circa 1935 – a great long term investment! I spent a while looking around at flea markets trying to find another one for myself but settled for a folding rack. I have used my dryer twice in the past two years since getting a drying rack.
This looks like a great Christmas gift for my mom, because several of the pegs on hers have fallen out and it has difficulty remaining balanced in a breeze :o)

14 years ago

Awesome! I might have to get one of these so I can dry clothes in my basement this winter. It's getting to the season where it's hit and miss hanging clothes outside with the chance of rain.