Another mystery solved

by DaniGirl on January 4, 2008 · 17 comments

in How I love the Interwebs, Life, the Universe and Everything

Never mind how they get the creamy caramel into the Caramilk bar. Here’s my great mystery: how the hell does the Downy Ball know when to open up and spew the fabric softener into the rinse cycle?

Thanks to one of my new favourite sites, Home Ec 101, I now know the answer.

Being the anti-domestic goddess that I am, you might be surprised that this is one of my new favourite sites. But from it I’ve not only cracked the mysteries of the Downy Ball, I’ve learned how to make a damn tasty crockpot beef stew and collected a whole series of cookie recipes. I was playing in the archives of the “laundry lovin’” category when I found the Downy Ball revelation. (And did you know fabric softener makes towels less absorbent? Who knew?)

Anyway, now that I will be a stay-at-home mom again for the next year or so, I’m hoping this site will help me maintain the illusion that I have even the slightest clue about domestica.

What sites do you frequent that are outside of your regular interests and hobbies? Broaden our horizons!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barbara January 4, 2008 at 9:21 am

Does my husband’s blog count? He writes about the goings on in the world of Canadian military history (which was in my regular interests at one time but is so far out now that I feel like an imposter). I keep a Scientific American RSS feed on my iGoogle page and periodically dip my toe into a science story and occasionally check in with the Freakonomics blog.

I knew about the towels and fabric softener thing but haven’t convinced He who does most of the laundry of it yet. Thanks for the resource.

2 Jenny F. Scientist January 4, 2008 at 10:09 am

I did actually know about towels- it drives me crazy! My dad used to fabric-soften them and us three girls all had waist-long thick hair. Aargh.

Sadly, I have no time for extra information now! But I like the how stuff works one. Oooh, shiny.

3 Jenny F. Scientist January 4, 2008 at 10:19 am

Oooh, I take it back:

Though I really prefer the visual-only ones, like those amazingly awful Homeland Security ones, or the infamous one which appeared to convey “Don’t have a party in the cherrypicker.”

4 colleen January 4, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Did you know that liquid fabric softner makes your clothes, more importantly, your childrens clothes flammable?

5 Heather January 4, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Hey thank you so much for the link love. It is highly appreciated.
I read 214 blogs for my job with the local newspaper. I read a lot that are well outside my range of normal, but probably my favorite for thought provoking is

It’s often academic and has political undertones, but I am always left with something to chew on.

6 Miche January 4, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Thought you might be interested in these:

We use them in our dryer. I sense that our drying times have improved (but haven’t actually timed it) and it does help to soften clothes without chemicals. I wouldn’t say that using two is equal to using chemical fabric softener. However, we haven’t purchased more than two yet.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any sites to offer.

7 Valerie January 4, 2008 at 8:05 pm

another vote for dryer balls, here. I usually have no problem with static except for a few synthetic sweaters when mixed with socks, especially if overdried. But we’re mostly a cotton family, so they’re great.

8 Shan January 4, 2008 at 10:37 pm

Another dryer ball fan over here. I’m actually on my second set.

Thanks for the link.

9 Kels January 5, 2008 at 3:23 pm

As you said, Towels are less absorbent.. and for anyone who uses cloth diapers (like no one, but save the environment!) don’t use fabric softerners, might feel better on babies.. but less absorbent therefore leaves to bigger messes :S

10 Fawn January 5, 2008 at 5:56 pm

I don’t get why people worry about clothes being flammable — and except for children’s clothing, they’re not exactly flame-retardant in the first place. Anyway, I think they stopped making children’s clothing flame-retardant a few years ago.

I use cloth diapers and don’t use fabric softeners on them when I dry them – it does not seem to affect the comfy-ness of the diapers. Many cloth-diaper users like to line-dry, anyway, and the sun has a bleaching effect that is always welcome. I don’t do this because I don’t have a clothesline… but using the dryer is kind of softening in itself – you know how line-dried stuff is usually kinda stiff. I really don’t need fabric softener with the diapers anyway, because the only reason I use them is to reduce static in the loads that have lots of fleece or other static-creating fabrics. The cotton in the diapers don’t create much static. (Although back when I used fleece diaper covers…)

The problem with Downy balls is that they can damage the inside drum of your washing machine, nicking the paint off, which creates a spot that can start to rust. Besides, as we all start migrating to the much-more-efficient front-loaders — ya’ll are doing that right? 😉 — the Downy ball will go the way of the cassette tape.

11 Valerie January 5, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Actually, Fawn, children’s sleepwear is either flame-retardent or form fitting (like the newer stretchy cotton pj’s). And people worry because it’s the difference between a smouldering burn and poof, up-in-flames when, for instance, the child leans over to blow out a candle and leans too close.

12 Mac and Cheese January 6, 2008 at 1:10 pm

I visit random recipe sites for ideas that will never manifest themselves in my own kitchen. Other than that, I just stick to the blogs.

13 Chantal January 6, 2008 at 7:17 pm

Also, don’t use fabric softener on Dri-Fit stuff. It stops the wicking that makes it so awesome.

Other sites besides Google Reader and Facebook? Gossip sites. I’m ashamed, but it’s true.

…and just go from those.

14 Nora Bee January 7, 2008 at 2:32 am

I have a secret love for this site:

He makes cartoons from reader ideas.

15 Fawn January 7, 2008 at 3:59 am

Okay, point taken on the flame-retardantness (or whatever that word should be). I guess I was thinking that most clothes wouldn’t go “poof” anyway, so why expose our kids (and ourselves) to questionable chemicals? Also I assumed that the softener just destroyed the flame-retardant chemicals, not that it actually makes them more likely to ignite.

Here’s an interesting article on how clothes can go “poof” – scary:

I guess I’ll stick with dryer sheets!

Sorry for being off-topic, Dani…!

16 DaniGirl January 7, 2008 at 8:17 am

The things I learn from you guys! Thanks for all the links, and the info about the dryer balls. I’ve seen them around, but always had my doubts. Now I’ll have to try them out!

17 Ashley Jones June 6, 2021 at 1:08 am

First off I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I’ve had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Appreciate it.

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