DIY bag dryer + Longing for the esssspennnnsive

I’ve been saving plastic bags to send to Lou’s Upcycles, and I’ve become more concientious about washing and reusing my own bags, so I decided I needed a bag dryer. But before shelling out the $20 + shipping for any of the less-than-ideal commercial dryers I could find, I sniffed around for ideas online. I found several DIY ideas that were okay but not perfect. Then I (literally–the were in my Fibber Magee and Molly-style storage closet) stumbled across some vintage Tinkertoys Ron gave me the Christmas before last. Et voila!

Even if you don’t have any Tinkertoys already, you can pick up a new set for around $20 (the same price as a wooden bag dryer)–or, better yet, snag a used set for WAY less on ebay!

I anchored mine with a few wheels crammed into a mole jar, then filled with salt to weight it. Next time I use concrete, I’ll probably grab a bit to weight it into a soup can or somesuch instead–heavier and more stable.

The cool thing about a tinkertoy dryer is that you can add way more arms, and space them out more widely than the purchased dryers. But the best part is that you can add little wheels and spikes to the ends to hold your bags open while they dry. If you reuse bags at all, you know how hard it is to get them to dry properly even with a bag dryer, because of their tendency to lay flat and trap the moisture in.

Once you’re satisfied with the configuration, you can glue it all together with wood glue to make it sturdier.

BTW, if you take your lunch to work, lots of snacks and especially cheeses–and even frozen vegetables–now come in those very sturdy ziplock bags (see cheese & raisin bags, above). They’re perfect for sandwiches and chips.

But for every dozen little DIY projects, there’s always some huge-ticket item I desparately want (and in this case, actually need). But it’s scary to make a big, expensive purchase when we’ve just taken on a new car payment, and the economy’s so iffy. What is this painfully expensive object of my deep desire? A flat screen TV? A new laptop? No, something way less fun and way more expensive.

It’s a commercial dishwasher. The new undercounter ones take the same space as a regular household dishwasher, but work as fast as those awesome giant machines you know if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant. I don’t know whether I’d get the high-temp model (power hog) or the chemical sanitizer model (beholden to a lifetime of chemicals–not dangerous chemicals, I don’t think–but it’s like buying a vacuum cleaner that takes bags). I should probably make a spreadsheet and try to figure out the diff over 5 years, though not sure what to base power consumption on. The thing is: they do a load of dishes in 2 minutes. TWO MINUTES. Which means that we could switch to china, even for big events. Right now, I stay away from china when we have more than a dozen guests. But even the allegedly-compostable paper plates seem virtually indestructible–plus, disposables are expensive.

Anyway, I thought: why don’t I forgo any personal expenses for a month as proof that I’m financially responsible and deserve a major purchase?

And then 15 minutes later, I bought this:

Because it’s been a long time, and it’s an historic freaking donkey mug, and every time I hear any new administration stories, I get all teary, and even cynical Ron came home last night and said for the first time since he can remember, he suddenly felt optimistic! And Frankoma has mostly stopped making my favorite glazes and molds, and the doneky mugs are the about the only Frankoma I really really love.

So, anyway, the month of privation officially begins…. now!

I’ve got my fingers crossed Amazon doesn’t have any irresistable Deals of the Day until March.

  • Evelyn says:

    Nikki,
    That Tinker Toy bag drier is brilliant!

  • Elise says:

    Just my two cents, but the power vs. chemicals argument should really take into account the water situation in your area. Where I live electricity is fairly cheep, but every summer into early fall we’ve got a big drought, so doing as little damage as possible to waste water is fairly high on my list.

    Of course, the other thing to think of is water vs. landfill space. I don’t know the water situation in Kansas, but in many places you’re better off using up landfill (lots of space) rather than water (drought, aquifer depletion). I know in most of the west the choice between disposable paper or china that has to be washed every use should easily be tipped to disposable paper, there just isn’t enough water to be wasting it on plates.

    Granted, if it can do the load in two minutes, that probably uses a whole lot less water than the one I’ve got in my kitchen and takes an hour.

    Good luck on the decision making.

  • Cheap Like Me says:

    I love the bag dryer! And I agree that the mug was an absolutely justifiable investment.

  • Kyle Kunnecke says:

    bad girl – I had to buy one today… just now… it’s on its way to me! :) you’re an enabler!! hehe

  • Wrap-up: Washing bags, hybrid 7-seaters, stockpiling and salad dressing « Cheap Like Me says:

    [...] unless the cheese was moldy). If you are looking for a way to dry those washed bags, check out the Thrifty Knitter’s Tinkertoy bag dryer. It looks like a great idea. Meanwhile, at Casa Cheap, we fold the rim of the bag inside out so the [...]

  • nerdygirl says:

    Elise, it’s actually the opposite: the longer cycle dishwashers and washing machines use less water. The only way to get a machine-full of dishes clean in 2 minutes is to drench them thoroughly in a LOT of water.

  • Nikol says:

    My commercial dishwasher (yup, got it), uses less than a gallon of water per cycle and takes 2 minutes. The way they get them clean isn’t lots of water, it’s VERY HOT water and VERY HIGH PRESSURE. If the door’s not completely closed it will fly open in the first second, the pressure’s so high. It’s high pressure, but it’s the same water cycling around and around. The wash cycle’s about 165+ & the rinse cycle is 180+, which is essentially a pasteurizing cycle (will kill any food-borne bacteria in 30 seconds–145 degree water will do the same in 30 minutes, which is probably what’s going on in a residential dishwasher’s sanitize cycle). The rinse water for each load is the wash water for the next load, which makes them very water efficient. The heater obviously uses a lot of juice, but the cycle’s so fast, it’s probably about even with a full residential cycle. My electric bills are any higher now.

    For the record, a load of dishes in a commercial dishwasher is fewer pieces–a warewashing rack (the 20×20 racks you know if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant) holds about half of what you’d fit in a residential dishwasher.

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