Hang Ups

So, what’s your opinion of hanging clothes outside to dry?

At our last house, our dryer broke (a month before my due date!) and I was SO pissed off about having to spend money to replace something that we already owned that I insisted we could just hang up all of our laundry to dry and pranced around declaring that we didn’t even need a dryer and in Europe no one even owns dryers (true) and that it was better for the environment and I like hanging up clothes and then the rainy season started and I was nine months pregnant drying off after showers with scratchy towels that smelled like gas fumes, and we went out to Home Depot and bought a dryer tha weekend.

Laundry is one of those things that really stresseds me out, for some reason.  It can’t be done all at once.  There’s always some stage of it needing attention – I can never seem to get it out of the dryer and folded and put away all in the same day.  There’s stages of laundry all over my tiny house all the freaking time.  It drives me nuts because clothes stacked everywhere makes our very small space seem so much smaller.  But then a few weekends ago, maybe my new meds kicked in or something just snapped or god knows what really goes on in that brain of mine, I didn’t even plan it, I sware, but I just…stopped doing the laundry.  It piled up dirty and I just felt so much better about it.  There were no stacks of clothes waiting to be put away, no clothes that I should be transferring to the dryer, nothing waiting to be folded on my bed.  Freedom!

Eventually Mr. E did some laundry (how about that!) and when it was washed he went out and erected a fantastic series of lines zigzagging all around our carport and hung the laundry out to dry, and while honestly it’s not keeping me up at night or anything I was just wondering what everyone thought about clotheslines?

I think we have reached a good compromise…after I looked at the zigzagging mismatched ropes looping around the back porch and shook my head and said “This is SO Mr. E”, we put up some bicycle hooks and tied some rope onto some chain and stretched the clothesline across the very back of the yard. It can’t be seen from the street and because of the chain on the end it is easily taken down and coiled onto one of the hooks so it’s out of the way.  We no longer live in a neighborhood full of exhaust fumes so the clothes smell nice after they’re line dried.  And it does save energy and it is kind of fun, and we do have a dryer, so I don’t HAVE to use the clothesline for towels or on rainy days or if I just don’t feel like it.  It is way better for the environment and I’d like to say that it gives me that good kind of hippie “I love the earth” feeling but mostly it makes me wonder “is this kind of trashy, that I have my underwear hanging up in my backyard?”

So what do you think?  Do you ever dry your clothes outside, or do you think I’m a freak show for even suggesting it?  Besides that fact that I’m obviously a total freak show for writing over 500 words about my CLOTHES LINE.


24 Responses

  1. I live in an apartment in the northeast. Otherwise, I’d definitely embrace the clothesline.

    (When I was 22, I lived in a house with 5 other people in Mexico City where we had a washing machine in the bathroom and strung clotheslines in our bedrooms. I moved in in the middle of the rainy season, and nothing ever seemed to dry completely. That, I don’t recommend.)

  2. I love drying clothes outside. They smell so good! (I don’t live somewhere congested so I haven’t had them smell like exhaust.)

    I am always nervous a bee will be in my clothes though; I always beat the shit out of the clothes before taking them off the line. I look like the neighborhood nut!

    I like that it saves energy, too. If the clothes are too stiff/scratchy, I throw them in the drying for five minutes to soften up.

  3. I live in New Zealand, in the country, and we’ve got really good quality air outside. Most people own dryers (I don’t) but I would say most people who do have them only use them to dry clothes that are needed in a hurry or to just finish them off if they’re still a bit damp. I hang my washing in the garage while I’m at work and out on the clothesline on the weekends. On a circular clothesline you can hide all your knickers in the centre, behind the sheets and towels!

  4. I live in a condo, so I don’t. But I wouldn’t be against it if I had the space. I mean, in Chicago you could only do it like for 3 months, but when we used to hang them outside at my grandma’s growing up, I loved the way they smelled.

  5. Go green as long as it can’t be seen from the front of the house and you don’t leave it out for days:) Those are my only peeves about clothes lines:)

    The apartment I stayed in in Madrid was built to where every apartment had access to a central open air octagon that was solely for drying clothes. If your undies fell when you took them off the line, you’d have to go to the ground floor and have the guard let you into the little area. It kept everyone’s unmentionables out of public view and worked wonderfully. I always thought it was cool – until I tried to put my jeans on and realized they would stand up on their own. The lesson there is to use fabric softener!:)

  6. This is such a funny post! I have an umbrella clothesline in my backyard and use it sporadically (as in, if the nice weather cooincides w/my laundry day, they get hung up). That is few and far between in the Pac NW! But I can’t help it – it’s how I grew up. There were always clothes hanging out to dry!

    Oh, and I kinda embrace the trashiness of the clothesline! Then again, I enjoy being the neighborhood spectacle. Embrace your inner trailer park.

  7. Fuh-reaky, because I just this morning was asking if we should call the clothesline company that’s been advertising in the paper.

    We didn’t even have a drier when I was a kid. I love the smell of air-dried clothes.

    The only drawbacks I can think of are that I’d have to think about the weather more, and I hate those little clothespin-marks that get left on your clothes.

  8. I have about 14 houses looking directly into my yard so no, I will not be hanging my unmentionables outside. We did have a clothesline in Italy. My mother also scored herself a European dryer, in which she could dry about four pairs of unmentionables at once.

  9. I just had the mister string a clothes line for me in the backyard. When i was growing up (waaayyyy out in farm country) my mom refused to run the dryer from May until September. She used fabric softener to keep things from getting scratchy.

    I will not hang my undies up outside (too many neighbors already look at me funny), but I want to hang sheets and towels. That’s three loads of wash a week that won’t go through the dryer.

    Like Kate, I lived in Mexico (Guadalajara, not Mexico City) and I never did manage to put on a dry pair of pants during that entire rainy season. If it’s damp out, put your clothes in the dryer. Wet socks ruin days.

  10. I live in an armpit.

    Seriously. Moist and damp? We gots it. UGH. My hair and air drying clothes both hate this situation, but I don’t dry the majority of my clothes in the dryer; I hang them in the house. Every room has a ceiling fan, there is a hanging shelf above the washer and dryer and worse comes to worse, the shower rods.

    Laundry day is not the day we have visitors, FYI.

  11. When we lived at the rental place before I bought my house we had no dryer at all for the first three months we lived there. So I HAD to hang my clothes outside, and I hated it. Birds shit on them. Bugs got on them. Spiders festooned them with cobwebs even in the span of an afternoon. The trees dropped crap all over them. They weren’t in direct sun so they took forever to dry, and then with it being summer in Michigan, well, humidity isn’t conducive to drying clothes outside, not to mention the sudden summer thunderstorms that came out of nowhere and drenched them. They smelled funny and they were like cardboard. As soon as I got a dryer I put away my clothespins and never looked back.

  12. My mom was all about the clothesline when we lived in Wisconsin. In Las Vegas, not so much. I say go for it!

  13. I love line dried clothes, and want a clothesline for our yard, but my husband doesn’t want one out there. I’ll wait til he’s out of town and have you come out to Nebraska and help me!

    My favorite memories involve running through the clothes on the line and trailing my fingers along the sheets. Loved that. I could do that now and it would be like taking an antidepressant.

  14. We have a retractable line that we used a fair amount last year. But like Cate, I hate the marks from the clothspins. I also hate the earwigs. We have tons of neighbors too, BTW, and I hang the undergarments out like a damned flag. I don’t give a flapping pair of bloomers what they think.

  15. I live in an apartment, but most of the time when I have to do laundry I am able to coincide it with a visit to my mom. 🙂 Most of my clothes go directly from the washer to a clothes hanger. The clothes hangers hang on a pole that is directly above the washer/dryer. By morning, they are totally dry. I do this for two main reasons: 1. conserve energy (MY energy that is = less work — clothes that are on hangers already tend to actually get put away right away when I get home. Clothes folded up in a hamper … not so much.) and 2. Save on wear and tear on my clothes.

    If I have to go to a laundromat, I do the same thing, except I take my clothes home on hangers and hang them off of any possible hanging surface I can find.

  16. I love clotheslines. I keep telling the boy that he needs to get one set up for me. I LOVE the way it smells to get into bed when your sheets have dried outside and the smell lasts for so long! That being said – I HATE scratchy towels and still use the dryer for those, but I’m trying to wean myself off of that.

  17. My grandma had a clothes line. I loved going to hang up and take down laundry with her. One of my tasks for today is to research clothes lines and if I can put one up myself. I’m just a country girl stuck in the suburbs.

  18. Love the smell of clothes dried outside; do not like the allergy-related problems! You know, I share your it-goes-on-and-on feelings. A couple of years ago the dryer was broken and I had to haul things to the laundromat or whatever they are called in your area. I loved it–used 5 washers at once, dried everything, folded everything using their nice big tables, went home and put it away, all in a couple of hours. Now, whenever I get in a bind, I do so again just for the sheer relief of BEING DONE WITH IT. The key is to find a facility that is clean. I found one where the attendant wipes out each washer and drier with an antispectic between users. It’s also a good time to read a book, since there is nothing else to do!

  19. I LOVE hanging clothes out to dry. Growing up in Phx we lived in a town house setting with common backyard so it wasn’t really an option, but my grandmother always had her clothes on the line( in MN) and I loved running through them as a kid.

    We have an Arizona room(fiting since we live in AZ) and I hang dry most of my clothes on a drying rack but I would love to have a clothes line out back. The only problem is that we have a half fence so the whole world can see our back yard and I’m not cool with my undies flapping in the breeze. I say go for it! anything that comes out stiffer than you would like you can always throw in the dryer for a few minutes or use vinegar in the wash.

  20. our dryer broke and we lived without it for about 9-10 months. when it was warm, we hung stuff outside. when it was cold, we took the clothes to a laundromat. frankly, we wouldn’t have bought a new dryer were we not about to rent our house out! in England, the washers had such an awesome spin cycle that the clothes were practically dry when they came out! I miss England. =(

  21. I am all for drying outside because it uses no electricity and it’s free! But obviously it depends on the circumstances–the air quality, the climate, etc. In the summer here it would take six days to dry anything and it would become mildewed in minutes.

    Our neighborhood covenants ban outdoor clothes drying, and I’d love to challenge that on environmental grounds. Also I have no sympathy for anyone’s precious aesthetic objections – grow up! (I hope no one commented about that 🙂 but I figure it makes no sense to embroil myself in the fight because it’s unlikely I’d use an outdoor line in this climate.

  22. we have one of those retractable lines (fancy!) and use it mostly for drying diapers…not only do we not have to run the dryer for those but the sun bleaches them nice and white.

    we also use it for sheets when it’s warm and sometimes for towels too but then they have to go in the dryer for a minute to soften.

    i love the smell of stuff that’s been dried outside but not enough to put my undies out there. it’s good to have options though! 🙂

  23. Funny-I was just having a conversation with my mom about how no one has clothes lines around here anymore. We had one when I was a kid, and we always dried our sheets, jeans, shirts, etc. I wouldn’t let my mom put her ‘unmentionables’ out there because I was always afraid someone would come take them. LOL. Anyway, I think you should get one! My only complaint was on the days where there was no wind, the clothes & sheets would be pretty stiff when they were done drying.

  24. my dryer broke a couple years ago. I live in a location that hanging clothes outside is only practicle a couple months out of the year. So I have been using clothes drying racks exclusively.

    I love them. I simply move them around. If the weather is cooperating I put them out in the sun. If not the living room and kitchen for over night and the bedrooms during the day since no one is ever in them then.

    My gas bill went down 7% everymonth. Whoo-hoo. and my elastic on my socks and undies are lasting forever.

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