Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite things: clotheslines.
Clotheslines? Oh yes. We’re really getting crazy now.
They’re such a normal part of life in other countries, but since they’re less common in the states, we’ll share tips and advice for people who may just be getting started with line drying their laundry.
I love hanging clothes out to dry even though it takes a few minutes longer than tossing them in the dryer. Hanging clothes is a peaceful and calming ritual.
You methodically hang your clothes up to dry, and nature takes care of it. It’s quiet too; there is no loud appliance. It doesn’t seem right to me to heat up the inside of your house with a dryer and then cool it down again with the air conditioner when it’s already hot enough to dry your clothes in a couple of hours outside during the summer.
In Venice some people would hang their clothes on lines over the canals. I don’t know how they didn’t lose all their clothes. I regularly dropped something from the clothesline once a week, and my neighbors below had to give it back to me.
This drying rack above is what we used in Venice, and it’s by far my favorite style. Drying racks are perfect for when you don’t want the neighbors to see you have polka dot undies. It holds a lot even though it folds up flat like an ironing board and is lightweight. It doesn’t tip over from the slightest knock.
With drying racks you can quickly drape your clothes over the rods without taking time to pin them. You can move them around and out of your way, or inside when it rains.
We didn’t have a drying rack in our apartment in Florence, so during winter I hung clothes over the radiator and the bed rails, and they would usually dry by the next morning.
If you get tired of hanging your clothes around your apartment, you can point a fan at your clothes to simulate a breeze and speed up the process.
I planned ahead and did laundry by the weather. When I didn’t know what the weather would be that day, I could look across the garden to my neighbors’ apartments. If they were hanging out their laundry that morning, I could count on the day being nice.
I don’t do more ironing with line drying than when I use the dryer, but my family wears a lot of knits. Smooth clothes as you hang them to minimize wrinkles. If you hang shirts upside down and pin them by the hem, you won’t find a hard crease in the noticeable middle or shoulders of your shirt.
I like the convenience of leaving clothes on the rack until I have time to put them away, and they won’t get wrinkled, as opposed to when you leave a load of clothes in the dryer for too long.
Some people think that line-dryed clothes are too stiff, but I don’t find that to be an issue. They might be a little stiff when you put them on in the beginning, but they soften up after you wear them for a minute or two. I skip fabric softener because I’m particular about not wanting fragrance or residue on my clothes, but one alternative is to use vinegar as a softener in the rinse cycle.
Optionally, you can let clothes tumble in the dryer for a few minutes before you hang them, or just give them a good shake as you remove them from the line.
With line drying you never have to worry about the heat setting a stain in your clothes, causing crunchy elastic, or shrinking your new cotton blouse.
The sun makes your whites whiter. To avoid fading, hang your colored clothes in the shade or turn them inside out.
Lint can be a problem, so try to identify which of your garments are likely to shed lint and wash them separately, or use a lint brush.
Using a line can save you some money. Do you know how much it costs to run your dryer? I wrote about how to figure out the cost of electricity for your dryer, your computer, and other appliances. It costs me about sixty cents to run a load in the dryer.
In a previous Texas apartment we had enough space to hang a clothesline on our patio. We used a simple pulley, and you can see how we installed it here.
I have a small drying rack that is just right for hanging a load of diapers. When you put baby clothes and diapers in the sun to dry, you don’t need to use as much stain remover product. The sun makes baby poo stains disappear. It works like magic.
Sometimes drying racks can be more expensive than you think they should be. If it’s hard to find a drying rack in your area, try Amazon. I like the FROST drying rack at IKEA. I want to get one of these clip hangers for little things.