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Clotheslines: Eco, Green, Sunshine Tools That Also Might Provide Material For Your Comedy Club Audition

Updated on March 7, 2020
Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren explains climate, environment, problems and possible fixes and calls you to action.

Air Drying Laundry

Towels drying on peaceful clothesline. It's part of an ecologically sound lifestyle.
Towels drying on peaceful clothesline. It's part of an ecologically sound lifestyle. | Source

Be GREEN: Help The Whole Earth With Air-Dried Laundry

First, I strongly believe in eco-actions, green policies, saving energy and saving money. When it comes to using a clothesline - I am committed.

In my past, I suffered through weeping and wailing and gnashing of my teeth when I had the huge misfortune of living in a "planned community."

It forbid all sorts of homey practices, including outside air drying of one's laundry.

(It is so full of rules that it makes sitcoms mocking HOAs look absolutely meek. Bleccccch!)

I am SO glad to be away for the Home Owners Association from the underworld!.

These days I live in Normal Land and I use clotheslines both indoors and outside.

Indoor Drying

I know 3 methods for drying clean laundry inside:

1. Clotheslines - These can be strung anywhere where the floor won't be harmed by potential water dripping. I have strung them in my basements (a natural for unfinished spaces), bathroom (dripping over the tub), and a spare bedroom with tile floor.

2. Drying Racks - These are wood or metal bars arranged closely enough to be convenient but far enough apart to permit air circulation. They are usually portable, strong, and very lightweight.

3. Bachelor's Method - Any spot that works - also known as the Bachelor's Method - is the system in which clothing is draped on every doorknob, metal chair back, top corner of a door, and so on. My brother Dave and my partner Phil are masters of this style.

All of them work without burning up fossil fuel to create heat.

Clothes Drying Rack

Home-it Bamboo Wooden clothes rack - heavy duty cloth drying stand
Home-it Bamboo Wooden clothes rack - heavy duty cloth drying stand
My wooden drying rack is extremely handy for small items: socks, washcloths, undies. I place the clothes by types together on each rod, so that folding goes more quickly when all are dry.

Outdoors Clothesline

Potentially, you get more benefits when you hang your clothes to dry outside.

These can be a faster drying time due to wind and/or heat from the sun.

Also, some believe that the ultra-violet rays and other light from the sun disinfect the fabrics.

However, I would like to recount some of the very minor disadvantages of hanging clothes outside on the line. This is where you get the material for amateur night at the local comedy club....

(Historic note from my time as a colonial dance re-enactor: Settlers/invaders in 1700s southeastern PA dried clothes by spreading them outside on bushes, tree branches or the ground.)

1. Bird Doodoo

Sorry if I am being too blunt, but living creatures call my yard and your yard home.

Or at the least, it is along the flight path of their regular travels.

Birds fly high above my head and above my clothesline.

They have marvelous bodies designed to minimize the weight they carry into the skies. One part of this fantastically engineered body is a missing part: no huge storage facility for waste products. In other words, when birds make it; they drop it. And usually on the white dress shirt I have stretched out to get that clean, fresh air smell. Also, it is usually red raspberry-colored.

Please remember this when you choose what to put on the clothesline. :)

Sometimes Birds and Clotheslines Don't Mix

See the birds?  See the clothesline behind?  These are vultures - just imagine what their droppings will look like.
See the birds? See the clothesline behind? These are vultures - just imagine what their droppings will look like. | Source

2. Rain

Another presence in the great outdoors is weather events. Fortunately for me, that mostly means rain or snow, nothing worse.

Before I decide to hang out laundry, I check the meteorologists' predictions. If a week of rain is predicted, I resort to the indoors clothesline.

If we are fortunate enough to have dry weather predicted for my clothes washing time, there still is a possibility that the Weather Dudes are wrong.

This can lead to two possible complications:

One: I am not home and the clothes get soaked. (If I happen to be home when rain begins, I can quickly race outside and grab the laundry.) But, if I am away attending to all the rest of my life..... you know the rest.

Two: I am exhausted near bedtime and can't drag myself out to bring in the clothes before retiring.

This is more likely when I've done several loads of laundry and taken them in and out all day.

That last set of clothes on the line looks like it could (and should!) survive overnight.

So, if it rains in the night , or if we have high humidity and dew in the morning, my inaction has undone all the drying of the previous afternoon.

Maybe you have more energy than I. I hope so. :)

3. Stiff-as-a-Board Garments and Towels

That is what happens with air-dried garments and I am totally willing to live with this effect. It is temporary.

After a T-shirt has been on my bod for five minutes, or a towel has been used, it softens up.

I am used to this "side effect" of using a clothesline and I get a big endorphin rush by being a good green eco-citizen which totally outweighs softening the initial stiffness of fabric.

4. Lightening of Colors

Long ago, I was a newbie dufus of using a clothesline. (I grew up in an electric dryer household.) So, one of the first times I put wet laundry out on a clothesIine, I had no inkling of the power of the Sun Goddess!

Combine that ignorance with my high distractibility and you get Carribbean Robin Hood. I'll explain.

Being a do-it-yourself kinda gal, I had sewn and dyed costumes for an upcoming Halloween party. Thermal underwear soaks up the Forest Green dye quite nicely. The costumes looked marvelous.

My clothesline was gloriously stretched in complete, full direct sun. I hung laundry out on a Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day doing things inside.

At suppertime, when I went outside to bring in the wash, I had quite the surprise: the sun bleached out the merrie green Robin Hood costumes by several shades. Now I had light lime Robin Hood and Maid Marion.

This required the fast creation of a back story wherein Robin goes to dee islands, mon, for adventures.

Now, I always remember that incident and monitor any item which needs to retain its original color (i.e.: everything?) on an outside line on a sunny day.

Okay, I amend my parenthetical statement. Skuzzy, formerly white gym socks are probably begging for sun bleaching.

Baby Skunk

A baby skunk is not scary looking, but if SHE gets scared, watch out!
A baby skunk is not scary looking, but if SHE gets scared, watch out! | Source

5. Skunks

In the interest of completeness, I cannot omit the danger of having one's laundry "enhanced" by natural fragrances while hanging on a clothesline.

I live in a skunk habitat neighborhood. They are especially active several times a year during prime grub-digging seasons. Every once in a know the rest.

For me, this is most likely to happen overnight in the situation where I was too tired to bring in that last load of clothes.

Retractable Clothesline Dryers

Minky Homecare Outdoor Retractable Dual Clothesline Heavy Duty PVC Coated Energy and Space Saving Removable Laundry Drying Line, 2 x 49 Feet, Gray
Minky Homecare Outdoor Retractable Dual Clothesline Heavy Duty PVC Coated Energy and Space Saving Removable Laundry Drying Line, 2 x 49 Feet, Gray
I used retractable outside lines, but you need to remember to "give them exercise." Stretch them for laundry and then let them rewind when you are done. Otherwise, they can freeze in the stretched out mode.

Say Yes to Clotheslines

Despite all these risks, I adore my clothesline. Even more, I will continue to use it proudly.

All of us can acknowledge the benefits of using a clothesline:

  • saving energy
  • saving money
  • saving the resources of Mother Earth
  • reducing mechanical wear on clothes being tossed and cooked in a clothes dryer
  • gaining solar disinfection
  • getting that fresh breeze fragrance on the fabrics

For me there is one more totally emotional and personal benefit:

It just feels "homey" to have a clothesline with clothing hanging on it.

It feels right.

Sunrise Movement Call to Action

The youth of the world are fabulous! They are energized to work on what their forebears did not always do: help the environment. Kudos!

Let's all work to change human harmful habits so that the earth doesn't fry up and congeal like a casserole you left in the microwave way too long.

I especially invite all of you to embrace making changes such as using clotheslines.

Clotheslines are inexpensive, easy, practical, and use no fossil fuel.

What a simple, no-brainer way to let Mother Earth know you care!

P.S. - Yes, I had vultures who visited my yard about once a year.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Maren Elizabeth Morgan


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