Happy day after Hanging Out Day! That’s what the folks at Project Laundry List have designated Friday the 19th a day for awareness, education, and laundry. They’ve put together a fine list of reasons you might want to air-dry, even if it’s slower, takes a little work, and could possibly expose your undies to the neighbors.
The humble clothesline is cheaper than a dryer to set up and to run, it takes better care of your clothes, with no pollution or fossil fuels at all. In fact, it’s the cheapest and most efficient alternative energy technology available to most folks. Solar panels and wind turbines got nothing on a little string between two poles.
These factors definitely motivate me to keep line drying, but what really got me started, even when a dryer was available, was pure selfishness. My dryer made the house hotter. It was old, leaky and our AC was past it’s prime and puny and finally one summer day I was hot as heck and not gonna take it anymore. Not one more bit of heat was entering my door.
For several months I enjoyed the fresh smell, the gentle exercise, and most of all the quiet coolness. Come winter, I went back to the dryer until one stormy night it died with load of jeans just washed, a load of blankets half-washed, and no spare money lying around for repairs or new dryers. All I had was just some line, a shoebox full of clothespins, and an enclosed porch (where, it turns out, my ancestors had left nails in the walls, high up, for their own wash line. Thank you, great-great-aunts Jenny and Mabel.) The jeans took a while and got kind of crispy but they dried.
Since then we’ve bought a new dryer, cooler and more efficient and very, much appreciated for specific jobs but the clothesline is still the main dryer and i’m still pretty much in love with air-drying. It is utterly simple but there are a few things I’ve learned:
- Smell matters. Blooming lilacs next to the line are lovely, barbecues not so much.
- Lint stays. Most lint is the fibers of your clothing and you want them to stick around, but the clothesline will not remove cat hairs, shredded tissues, or any other mystery lint, especially from dressy dark knits. Check pockets, match pets to wardrobe, or go ahead and use the dryer.
- Unmentionables are maybe the most important thing not to put in the dryer. They are delicate, full of heat-sensitive elastic, and not much fun to replace. But they’re also what you least want to share with your neighbors. Dry them indoors or set up three lines, with sheets and towels on the outside, skivvies in the middle.
- If you are lucky enough to have handmade quilts, please line dry them.
- On very hot days, bring the clothes in when they’re dry, unless you like starched shorts.
- Hang t-shirts by the armpit. Hang slacks by the cuffs. Snap plackets and hems to get a nice crisp finish.
- Dresses and blouses can go on hangers, which can also be easier for people with mobility issues.
- The sun’s bleaching action is gentle. It freshens musty smells and brightens whites but it doesn’t actually remove big globs of guacamole.
- Outdoor drying will slightly cool the surrounding air, making a very nice spot to lie on the grass.
- Put your line over grass because you will drop things.
- Indoor lines don’t need clothespins. Duh, you say, but I didn’t know that at first.
- Indoor drying humidifies the house, which could be good or bad, and it’s slower than outdoor.
- You can use anything from string tied between two tall things like trees (eventually this will hurt a tree) to a fancy folding rack. It’s your laundry.
Do you line dry your clothes? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.