Line-Drying Your Laundry

shirt hanging in carport

Line drying clothes in our carport

I never thought I’d hang dry my laundry.  I kept thinking about how heavy the laundry basket would be coming out of the basement and then how I wouldn’t want my neighbors seeing my laundry hanging out. We’ve hung blankets in our basement before, but I’m not comfortable with the dust and kitty litter down there getting on my clothes and cloth diapers.  I KNOW that our gas dryer uses a lot of energy,  thank goodness it’s not an electric dryer, and I’ve been washing most of our clothes in cold for a couple of years now.   Hang drying laundry just seemed like a going green step that I might never be ready for.

So what changed?  Well, I’ve been reading a blog off on on called Life As Mom: on the road to joyful motherhood, and while Jessica’s life and mine  are significantly different (she has twice as many children as I do, homeschools and lives in California) she has a lot of home-keeping ideas that have appealed to me.   She was challenged in July by Seventh Generation and MyBlog Spark to participate in Project Laundry Line where she was supposed to wash all their clothes in cold water and line dry them for 30 days.   She has 6 kids and homeschools.  I was impressed.  The first thing that intrigued me is that she dried her clothes inside. Well, I had already started that with a small rack in Timmy’s room and air dried his cloth diapers during the winter. That hadn’t been so hard and added some extra moisture to the dry air in the baby’s room. 

I started to think about where else in my house I could dry clothes inside and I was stumped.  Wouldn’t work in our tiny house.   Then I entered her giveaway to win Seventh Generation laundry detergent, a laundry line, clothes pins and a laundry basket – as fate would have it, I won!

Shirts hanging at edge of roof

Shirts hanging out to dry in our carport

As I waited for the prize to arrive I started thinking about where I would hang a laundry line and focused on my carport.  I figured it would keep the rain off and no one else would have to look at my laundry every time they stepped out of their door or looked out their window.  That’s when things got funny.   I realized I ALREADY had THREE laundry lines in my carport, and they even had clothes pins on them.  Where have I been living?  Clearly I needed to start line drying things immediately. 

And it turned out it wasn’t that hard.  The baskets were not as heavy as I had feared (my front loader does a good job of spinning clothes dry) and while hanging things up takes more time than shoving everything in the dryer, I found that it is really easy to fold your clothes as you take them down, and thereby you skip the folding laundry step.  It also helps that my almost-toddler LOVES being outside, so he is happy playing in the yard while I put the laundry up or take it down. 

cloth diapers on an inside rack

Cloth diapers drying inside on folding clothes rack.

Overall, I’m not hang drying all my laundry, I just don’t have the time for that.  However, I’m hang drying a couple of loads a week and we are seeing a savings on the gas bill this summer!   My husband and I  talked recently about how the gas bill during the summer is pretty much just heating hot water, but I realized that it also covers our dryer.  We saw our LOWEST EVER GAS BILL USAGE (only 6 therms) this summer and I realize that line-drying my clothes is making a difference to our pocket book.

There are some issues around line drying such as crunchier clothes.  Jessica on Life As Mom has some suggestions about what orientation you hang your clothes to avoid that, and I’ve heard things about vinegar in your wash to help, but I haven’t tried that yet.  I also haven’t gotten any complaints from my family about clothes being crunchy when they put them on.   I’m also not sure how far with this I’ll go this winter,  but having the clothes under cover definitely helps when it’s a little rainy out!

Have you tried line drying?   Please share your thoughts, tips and experiences with us.

Happy Greening!
Alicia

 

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Comments

  1. I hang dry my clothes but put towels, sheets, etc in the dryer. I use vinegar as a fabric softener but my husband keeps complaining everything smells like vinegar. To that I replied, “ok, you do the laundry however you want!” We’re still using vinegar. When we buy a house I hope to line dry much more!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have been drying my laundry outside since my dryer died about a month ago. I Googled home made fabric softeners and found a recipe that works fairly well. I tried vinegar by itself and it doesn’t work. However, vinegar with baking soda and essential oils works well. Here’s the recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/homemade-fabric-softener-179890
    I use cedarwood essential oil and it smells great!

  3. I’m a little late posting this, but I can’t wait to line dry now that it’s spring. I was used to line drying everything as a kid and couldn’t wait to have my own dryer so I didn’t have to do that anymore. We even line dried in the winter with a line in our basement. I never in a million years thought that I would want to go back to that, but I can’t wait. I can’t wait to do this for our cost savings and also another way for us to go a little more green. I actually started hanging my clothes up in the basement this winter. Now I just have to get my husband to put up the clothsline. This just mught be my latest blog post at http:thehandmadeandnaturallife.blogspot.com

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