A flap over outdoor clothes lines

November 30, 2009

Did you see the recent article about people who are fighting for the right to hang their laundry outside?

I’m sure glad that in my neighborhood, it’s socially acceptable to hang laundry outside.  But not many of my neighbors choose that option.  I’m the most frequent outdoor laundry hanger in my immediate area.  But I don’t choose that option regularly.  Of course, it’s not very practical in winter.  But I’m glad that there are no laundry line police in my neighborhood.

When we moved in 25 years ago, we found one vertical metal pole in our backyard — the remnant of a laundry line used by one of the previous owners.   I recognized that pole right away, because I grew up using laundry lines all the time.

When I lived in Detroit, my parents didn’t believe in clothes dryers, so in the winter, we hung up our clothes to dry in the basement.  But when the weather turned warm, we used the laundry lines in the backyard.  They were as much a part of our backyard as the rose bushes or the gate to the alley or the pear tree or the swing set.

And the clothes that dried outside smelled so sweet!  No artificial scent added to fabric softener can replicate the smell of clothes dried in the open air.

Best of all, it costs nothing to hang up laundry to dry.  According to the article, “dryer use accounts for about 6 percent of U.S. residential electricity use.”  The article mentioned that one family saved $83 a month by hanging up laundry to dry.  That’s serious money.

We do have a dryer, and I do use it for some things.  I tend to use it regularly for towels.  But for other laundry, I like to run it in the dryer for about five minutes, then hang up the laundry that goes on hangers.  In the winter, I set up a rack to let the clothes air dry in the house, which adds natural humidity to the furnace-heated air.  For other clothes, I often hang them over the edge of laundry baskets to air dry in the basement.

What do you think of the flap over laundry flapping in the wind outside?   Do you air dry any of your laundry?




  1. I live in an apartment complex so hanging my clothes on a line in the yard is not an option since I do not have a yard. However, I air dry all of my clothes. I purchased a really big laundry rack that will hold a large load of clothes.

    I save lots of money and time since I no longer have to stay in the laundry room feeding money into the machines or needing to wait for them to dry.

  2. Mary, I know what you mean. When I lived in an apartment, I used a big rack to dry a lot of my clothes, too. My choice was either to go out to a laundromat, or do laundry from inside my apartment. So I often chose to wash clothes in the sink and air dry them on my wooden rack.

    Thanks for joining the discussion!

  3. I have read articles about neighborhoods that “outlaw” clothes lines and cannot believe there are people who are against laundry drying outdoors. It’s free and smells good, and the sunshine helps bleach out stains. The house we lived in when we had our family had four long lines on the western side of the house. I had clothes drying down to a science ~ I knew how to make room for four full loads at a time. In inclimate weather, aka winter and spring, I hung clothes on lines in the basement. I didn’t even own a dryer until I was pregnant with my youngest child, and then we used the dryer only for towels, socks & underwear, and cloth diapers which were previously hung up to dry.

    Now I live in the woods and the trees make it hard to have a place to dry laundry outside. I have one line that I can use in the peak of summer. Inside I have a retractable line in the laundry room [which is also a bathroom], hangers, and a drying rack I use to dry most of the clothes I wash. It has been almost three years and I still miss my clothes lines.

  4. Interesting thoughts, Cindy! I love the smell of clothes that have dried outside. Because our laundry room isn’t positioned near the back yard, I rarely hang my clothes out without a lot of effort … but I have sometimes hung things over the patio table to dry out. I have no objection to the sight of laundry drying in the sun … I think it’s lovely and nostalgic.

  5. At any given time, my laundry room has a dozen pieces of clothing hanging up to dry at any given time. But, until I read your post, I never even thought of drying the clothes outside. I have a clothes rack on wheels that would make it easy to move the drying-exercise outside. Thanks for the great idea!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s