Clothesline Cons and Pros
Be GREEN: Cost-Benefit Analysis of 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'm there! I am committed. I even suffered through weeping and wailing and gnashing my teeth when I had the huge misfortune of living in a "planned community" that forbid air drying of one's laundry. (It was so full of rules that it made sitcoms mocking Housing Associations look absolutely mild. Bleccccch!) However, I would like to recount some of the minor disadvantages of hanging clothes outside on the line.
Sometimes birds and clotheslines do not mix
Sorry if I am being too blunt, but living creatures call my yard and your yard home. Or at least, it is part of the 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, 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 doodoo.
Please remember this when you choose what to put on the clothesline. :)
Umbrella Clothesline Dryers
Another presence in the great outdoors is weather events. Fortunately for me, that mostly means precipitation. Before I decide to hang out laundry, I check the meteorologists' predictions. If we need clean laundry during a week of rain, I resort to the clothes dryer. If we are fortunate enough to have dry weather forecast for my clothes washing time, there are two possible complications if the Weather Dudes are wrong. One: I am not home and the clothes get soaked. If I am able to hang around home, I can quickly race and grab laundry if rain threatens or begins. But, if I am away attending to all the rest of life..... you know the rest. Two: I am exhausted near bedtime and can't drag myself out to bring in the clothes. If 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 survive overnight. Then if it rains in the night , or if we have high humidity and dew in the morning, I have undone the drying of the previous afternoon.
Maybe you have more energy than I. I hope so. :)
Stiff-as-a-Board Garments and Towels
I am totally willing to live with this effect. I feel that after the T-shirt has been on my bod for five minutes, it softens up. Furthermore, I am willing to endure this "side effect" of using a clothesline in exchange for how great I feel by being a good green eco-citizen. In contrast, some members of my family do not get a big enough endorphin rush from saving fossil fuels,etc. to balance out what they feel is discomfort from the towels or the underwear. Who am I to judge how much pain someone else should endure, especially in their nethermost regions? So, I put their undies in the dryer.
I do wonder, though, about how green I am truly being if I air dry a garment and then iron it to make it look presentable. Have I undone all the earlier energy savings? I will need to consult Eco-Dude, my neighborhood green ethics expert.
Sun Bleaching of the Colors
Maybe I was a dufus of air drying, but I actually had the sun bleach out a green Robin Hood costume by several shades of color when I hung it out to dry. (A light lime Robin Hood just doesn't cut it.) This was at a home where the clothesline was in full direct sun. Now, my line is close to shade trees, so I worry less. However, I do remember that incident and avoid putting out any clothes item which I need to stay in its original color.
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. Every once in a while......you 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
I Vote YES to Clotheslines
Despite all these risks, I adore my clothesline. Even more, I will continue to use it proudly.
All of us can find articles outlining the pros of using a clothesline: saving electric or gas energy, thus saving moolah $ and saving the resources of Mother Earth, reducing the mechanical wear on clothes being tossed and cooked in a clothes dryer, having solar disinfection occur, gaining that fresh breeze smell. For me there is one more benefit: it is totally emotional and personal. It just feels "homey" to have a clothesline with clothing hanging on it. It feels right.
Text and photos copyright 2011 Maren Morgan. And, yes, we have vultures who visit our yard about once a year.