My mom had a clothesline that seemed to stretch for miles! As a kid, I don’t even think I could reach the ends; they were high above the ground. I loved the smell of line dried clothes, towels and sheets. I still love that smell to this day but honestly, rarely line dry except for bedding. My neighbors, the Kuzminsky’s, gave us their old 7-line model, an upgrade from the single-line beast of my childhood. I’ve used it periodically over the past 15 years, but have to be honest that I’m halfway into converting it to an arbor for my grapes. At some point, I’ll have to commit to having a clothesline or having an arbor, but for now, it’s serving dual purposes.
Line drying clothes can be quite satisfying. As I mentioned, the smell is wonderful and the sense of accomplishment when glancing at a full clothesline is evident. There are many benefits of line drying.
- Cost savings:
- Line drying reduces electric bills by eliminating the use of a dryer.
- Clothes may last longer as they are not pummeled by a dryer.
- Material cost to set up a clothesline is very low.
- Sanitation: Sunlight is a natural sanitizer.
- Brightens Whites: Sunlight can brighten whites, reducing the need for additional bleaching or whiteners.
- Speed: Numerous loads of wash can be hung on the line at the same time, negating the time waiting for the dryer to finish. Especially when drying blankets or heavy items.
- Odor removal: Odors may still remain after washing clothes. Line Drying eliminates smoke, stale house, and other unpleasant scents.
On the reverse side, there are some things to take into consideration and may be considered negatively:
- Rules and regulations: Some communities may not allow or restrict outdoor clotheslines. They may be considered eyesores and have ordinances against line drying.
- Space: Clotheslines can take up a fair amount of space. Fortunately, there are many styles of clotheslines that can accommodate different outdoor spaces.
- Allergens: Certain pollens and allergens may collect on drying clothing and cause problems for the wearer.
- Fading: Dark clothing may fade over time with the repeated line drying in the sunlight.
- Weather: While sunlight is not necessary for clothes to dry, rain certainly will cause problems. There’s nothing worse than forgetting clothes are on the line when a downpour occurs.
- Stiff clothes: Line drying can cause a degree of stiffness to clothing that isn’t there when using a dryer.
Fortunately, many of the items listed as potential negatives can be negated.
- Check your local regulations before purchasing a clothesline or placement. Certain neighborhoods may not allow outdoor lines period. Some may allow temporary lines and others may allow clotheslines that cannot be seen from the street.
- There are many configurations for clotheslines. Some may be like mine, which is big enough to drive a riding lawnmower between the two skids, while others may be a simple pole with a circular line around it. Others may be a retractable line that you can easily pull out to use and retract when not needed.
- For the persons with allergies, there may be times when you will not want to hang your clothes outside. In this scenario, you may want to use an indoor drying rack to avoid pollens on your fabric.
- In consideration of fading, you may also elect to use a drying rack with dark clothes or some type of indoor clothesline to eliminate these concerns.
- Weather can affect the use of the clothesline. Be sure to check the weather before hanging out clothes and always take your clothes off the line before the sun sets to prevent moisture from reabsorbing into your clothes in the evening.
- Stiff clothes may be caused by detergent remaining in clothes. There are some recommendations to add a ½ cup vinegar to a load of laundry to break down soap residue and others to decrease the amount of soap you typically use. In my experience, I would recommend fluffing your clothes, especially jeans and towels, in the dryer with no heat if you are concerned about this or don’t line dry clothes that you enjoy the softness.
Using a clothesline is not for everyone, but the beauty of this task is that it is not an all or nothing skill. Establishing the clothesline is cheap, quick and easy. You can pick and choose when you want to use it or what you want to hang on it. You can limit your time to the seasons that suit you or hang clothes year round, even in snowy climates.
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