Thank you, God, for the sunshine!

Marriage is about the most expensive way for the average man to get laundry done.

– Burt Reynolds, American actor

It was very sunny in Kuching yesterday. I was pleased I could dry all the clothes I washed the previous night as well as the canvas shoes I washed earlier in the morning.

Besides that, I also grabbed the opportunity to hang all the blankets and put the pillows and settee cushions in the sun.

Thank God for letting the sun come out on my day off! There is something unforgettable about the fragrant smell of sun-dried laundry or for that matter, sun-dried pillows and cushions.

According to a New York Times article written by Cara Giaimo on May 29 this year, people have written poems about the smell of sun-dried laundry.

The smell has been imitated by candles and air fresheners and at least one person even fought in court for the right to produce it naturally.

The writer said some atmospheric chemists like the scent of sun-dried laundry, too. So much so that in a paper published this year in ‘Environmental Chemistry’, researchers examined line-dried towels at the molecular level to try to pinpoint the source of their specific fragrance. The research was led by Silvia Pugliese when she was a master’s student at the University of Copenhagen. Pugliese’s mother used to line-dry laundry when she was a child and still does whenever she can.

“The fresh smell reminds me of home,” said Pugliese who was excited to research such an everyday subject.

As for me, the fresh smell of sun-dried laundry, pillows and blankets makes me happy and reminds of my simple childhood days in the town of Sibu when almost every family in our humble neighbourhood hung their laundries and blankets out to dry on sunny days.

In my current neighbourhood in Kuching, very few families do that. Yesterday, besides me, only my neighbour next door and neighbourhood across the lane put their clothes out to dry in the sun. No one else laid their blankets or pillows in the sun.

Long ago, it was also common to see pillows being sun-dried on window sills in Malay kampung; this heart-warming sight was often captured in old paintings on rustic life. I have not visited a Malay kampung in ages, so I am not sure whether pillows are still being sun-dried on window sills.

However, in modern China, the blankets and bed sheets still come out on sunny days. In the ‘Vagabond Journey’ blog on January 29, 2014, the writer said on such days, the blankets and bed sheets would cover swing sets, pull up bars, bench hacks, railings on bridges and entire lawns. According to the writer, they are laid out in the sun not for drying but disinfecting.

Commented the writer: “This is a country that has no use for the clothes dryer — the very concept seems overtly stupid to most Chinese — as they don’t only hang their laundry out to dry but be solar cleansed as well (anyway, why would anybody buy a machine to do something that the sun does for free?)”

In Duchang, Jiangxi province, the writer walked along the banks of Poyang Lake, crossed a bridge and looked up to find a city completely hidden under a layer of blankets, sheets, long underwear and pillow cases.

Trees, the writer added, sprouted underwear and t-shirts, the ground was turfed in bed sheets, railings wore colourful quilts, bushes were suited up with pyjamas and the sides of apartment buildings were almost fully blankets. Sticks and poles were even haphazardly set up to hold more quilts and sheets.

When I told my younger sister in Johor Bharu recently that I was sun-drying my pillows, she told me how her husband and his colleagues would disinfect the pillows in their hostels when they were working in Singapore.

“They would put their pillows in black garbage plastic bags, tie the bags securely and leave them under the hot sun. Do you know that without fresh air, the germs and mites in the pillows will die?”

So far, I have not sun-dried my pillows this way but nevertheless, I thought it was an interesting idea and good food for thought.

According to an article I found on, there are many things we can clean with sunshine besides pillows. They include comforters, mattresses, stuffed animals, upholstery, suitcases, stained Tupperware, dingy whites, mouldy items and outdoor furniture.

The article says sunshine does more than just help plants to grow. It also kills bacteria, dust mites and other creatures and removes stubborn odours.

“Just 30-60 minutes is usually long enough for the sun to clean an item, but be sure to rotate the item if needed to get all sides and angles clean. Don’t leave things out for too long though or any dyes on them may begin to fade,” it adds.

Lastly but not least, here are more reasons for you to dry your clothes or other belongings in the sun. Since it is a natural sanitiser, the sun will make your clothes smell not only fresher but also cleaner. The sun can also make white clothes whiter and the colour of other clothes lighter, too.

Until next week, stay safe and be thankful we are born in tropical Malaysia where there’s plenty of sunshine for us to dry our clothes naturally and sanitise our pillows, blankets and bedsheets.