A Throwback to the Clothesline

Stringing up your laundry to dry on a (gasp!) clothesline may seem like an archaic tradition; it’s definitely not common anymore. Some well-to-do communities around the nation have even banned clotheslines, writing them off as eyesores to the neighborhood. Wouldn’t want to see your neighbors’ unmentionables, right? While that may be true, I’ll take a few undie sightings over wasting resources.

What could be more eco-friendly than harnessing the power of the sun to complete this chore instead of using the ever-so-easy, all-American appliance? Appliances use up the most electricity in residential homes. Even more than air conditioning, according to the Energy Information Administration. The clothes dryer is the third worst electricity-abusing appliance in the home, after refrigerators and lighting.

Rediscovering the eco-benefits of the clothesline can pack a double whammy by helping the environment and saving you some dough. Line drying also saves your clothes from the wear and tear of constant dryer cycles, which makes them last longer. Take advantage of the delicious springtime breezes and warming summer air over the next few months to dry your clothes naturally. Find out how.

The goods

How to hang
Talk about cheap. All you need to string your own clothesline is a clothesline or rope, a couple of metal hooks and clothes pins. Simply install the hooks into the two structures that will support your clothesline, such as the porch and a nearby tree. Then tie slip knots on either end of the clothesline and hang the ends on the hooks.

Choose the right pins
Wood is almost always superior to plastic in my eco-book, and clothes pins are no exception. Wood clothes pins will stand up better to wear than plastic ones. To make yours last longer, be sure to bring them indoors after each use. Or you could forgo the clothespins altogether and hang clothes on the line with the hangers you already own. Hangers would also help save space on the line.

Tricks of the trade

  • Hang delicate shirts and sweaters by the bottoms so the clothes pins don’t leave shoulder bumps where they pinch the clothes to the line.
  • Fold dresses in half across the line and secure with clothes pins.
  • Hang white garments in the sun. The light will act as a natural bleach and disinfecting agent!
  • I’m sure you already figured this one out: Hang dark-colored clothes in shaded areas to prevent fading.
  • To keep clothes from feeling stiff, hang them to dry on a windy day. The wind will naturally fluff them.
  • Check the weather. You don’t want a storm undoing all your hard work.
  • When space is short, go vertical. Hang certain items, such as dishtowels to the bottoms of each other.

Get outdoors and pretty soon you’ll have dry clothes with a fresh fragrance that no fabric softener or dryer sheets’ synthetic scents can match.

Still not convinced?

Give this calculator a try. It computes your dryer’s energy use and how much cash it costs you to operate it each year. Just think what eco-goodies you could buy with the savings.

image: itroy