Just Hanging Out: Classic Laundry Management

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When we moved from Kansas to California late last month, we were without a clothes dryer for several weeks. It’s a long, boring story why that is. But, the point is that while I could clean clothes, I couldn’t dry them with the push of a button. Not a good thing when you have up to ten loads of laundry a week.

Some folks would probably head to the laundromat once a week. But, people, I’m not hauling six kids and ten loads of laundry anywhere.

Since I’m a 1-2 loads/day kind of girl, I really did not want to let things pile up, either. So, in order to roll with the punches, I went back to my roots. I did my laundry – at least the drying part of it — the way my grandmothers did it. I hung it out on a clothes line.

(That’s the view from my back door. Cool, eh? Love the palm trees.)

Anyway, laundry on the line proved to be a challenge, initially. But, I did some internet research and learned quite a few things.

  1. Up to 10% of a home’s energy use is due to the clothes dryer. Reducing the usage (or not having it at all) was saving me a few bucks.
  2. Line drying is a very savvy, green thing to do. You’re cool if you dry your clothes this way.

So, to dry your clothes on the line can make you cool and richer. Who knew?

I also found some tips to make line drying easier:

  • wash the load at night or first thing in the morning so that it has enough daytime to dry. Clothes take longer to dry in cool weather.
  • shake out each article of clothing to help eliminate the wrinkles.
  • hang tshirts and socks upside down so that the marks from the clothes pins aren’t as noticeable.
  • hang shirts on hangers on the line. Takes just a few seconds to slip them on and makes collecting the dried clothes a snap. Putting them away is even easier.
  • sheets dry really quickly. Just fold them in half and then fold them over the line.
  • hang jeans by folding them over the line. Flip them halfway through to dry the other side.
  • don’t leave clothes out after dark as they can attract insects, such as bees and moths. (Ask me how I know.)
  • check the weather so you don’t have to rush out in a downpour, collect your clothes, and rewash them. (Ask me how I know.)

While we are back to having a running dryer, I have still left the clothes line up. Once I get over my bee/moth phobia, me and my clothes pins will be back in business.

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  1. My mom always hung our clothes out to dry(until we realized that I had severe seasonal allergies!). The feeling of getting into crisp, sun dried sheets on a fall evening brings back great childhood memories. Glad it worked well for you (less the bee/moth phobia).

  2. I get really gung-ho about hanging my clothes out to dry every Spring… and then, mid-June, the beetles arrive and cling to everything I hang. Ewww. Back to the dryer I go…

  3. When we were growing up, my Grandma dried all the laundry out on the line. There was nothing better than crawling into bed under crisp clean sheets.

  4. I started hanging my clothes on the line this past summer and I love it. I used to always forget to get the clothes out of the dryer but now every time I look out the window, it is a great reminder to put them away.
    I also put them in the dryer right out of the washer for about 5 minutes (I set my kitchen timer) to keep them from getting too crunchy on the line.

  5. We bought a retractable clothes line this past spring. I dried all our laundry on it all summer! Hot CA summers mean laundry dries almost faster on the line than in the dryer! Great thing about it…our electricity bill didn’t budge! Usually it goes up quite a bit in the summer. I haven’t used it since the days are cooler (and they are harvesting…lots of dirt), but maybe I should try at least one load a day out there (when harvest is done)…anything helps right? Not to mention, I felt very “suzie-homemaker” when I laundry on the line!! LOL!!

  6. Reminds me of Mexico! We were there for four and half months while we waited for my husband’s visa to be approved. This city gal learned quite a bit about primitive life…lol…pre convenience like dryers, water heaters, microwaves, etc. Good times…but sore thumbs!

  7. I grew up hanging cloths on the line and can remember making the mad dash when a storm was brewing. I wanted to hang a line here, but our HOA forbids it. So, I’ve got a drying rack in my ut.room where I do my laundry and hang our jeans, blankets and other heavy stuff. Don’t know that it saves us a whole lot of $ but maybe some. I’d love to get a retractable line to hang in my ut. rm., but the room is already quite small and we’d have to get rather creative with storage otherwise. I think they’re not the cheapest thing either…but, maybe something to bring up again w/ my hubby.

  8. My mom did the same…with 7 kids. I loved the smell of sheets on the line. There is nothing quite like it. My mom says it is also a great stain remover….the sun.

  9. I hang most of my clothes inside to dry on a drying rack. I also have a drying pole thingy in my laundry room to hang things on.

    I don’t put much outside to dry, I am afraid they’ll get fire ants on them. I understand your phobia!

  10. My neighbor and I both line dry-I am sure the neighbors think we are nuts! LOL!

    I do draw the line at hanging out our underwear, however. We live in a development, and the neighbors don’t need to see everything. I also use the dryer for my husband’s work clothes. (engineer). I can whip them out of the dryer and hang them right up without needing to iron them.

  11. A few years ago, my bloggy friend Amy (GiftofGreen) had a ‘clothesline challenge’. She doesn’t do it anymore, but it totally changed how I do laundry. I live in Michigan, so drying outdoors is too hit or miss. I had my husband hang up two clothes lines in the laundry room (tiny house, tiny room) and got 2 drying racks.
    Sometimes I get lazy and go back to using the dryer, but 75% of the tine I use the clotheslines. I feel so… old fashioned and resourceful 🙂

  12. I love a clothesline, and for most of my big laundry years had an excellent one. Where I live now it’s a little trickier — after 11 years I’m still trying to figure out where to hang my clothes.

    I will say that I didn’t care too much if it rained on my clothes — just pull them in and put them out again when it stops (my line was on a pulley) or let them get wet — they’ll dry!

  13. I would like to line dry clothes but I can’t stand the stiffness or the feel of clothes that have been dried without a dryer. Any ideas on how to avoid this?

  14. I line-dry outside when I can (high humidity means sometimes it’s not worthwhile), and inside the rest of the time. And I cloth diaper. Strangely, it really isn’t that hard. And if it gets rained on… well, I just need to leave it out a bit longer to dry. 🙂