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Do people still line dry their clothes?

Updated on March 19, 2012

Going back?

When most people think of line dried clothes they recall observing their mothers constantly packing wet clothes in baskets back and forth throughout the day. They remember the anticipation of watching for the coast to clear so they could play hide-and-seek between the sheets as they gracefully flapped in the breeze. Most of us can still recollect the fresh smells that lingered for hours in the summer winds. The sweet aromas were a comforting reminder of the love our mothers must have had for us to work so hard on our behalf. We know why women hung laundry in the early decades of the nineteenth century- But why would anyone choose to do it today? With the high capacity appliances, and laundry mats available, drying laundry is now a piece of cake compared to the line method. Most people would agree that the thought of hanging out the laundry sounds like back breaking work. Who would want to line dry their laundry in this day of age?

Do you line dry your clothes?

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A few good reasons

Yes, line drying clothes is not completely a thing of the past. Of coarse there are several places in the world where washing and drying clothes are done the hard way- hand washed and line dried. But even here in america, you can find clothes lines still doing the job modern appliances were made for. Clothes lines are still made and sold, and come in several portable versions that make drying clothes possible anywhere today. Most people use clothes lines to simply save money. Line drying laundry can significantly reduce the electric or gas bill. Drying clothes outside in the summer months can save you even more when the heat of the dryer can cause the air conditioner to work harder. There are several high efficient appliances that need less power to operate, but not everyone can afford to make that investment. Unfortunately, today's economy is forcing more americans to rethink the way we live and use energy everyday. More people are trying to go green and make a smaller impact on the environment. Large families admit that it is a huge help to hang laundry outside to dry. They can wash several loads in one day, and never be waiting on the dryer. This not only saves money, but it allows them to dry heavy loads of clothes like; blue jeans, towels, comforters, and heavy bedding in less time.

How does line drying compare to tumble drying?

Some people like the feel and smell of warm soft laundry tumbled with dryer sheets right out of the dryer. The downfall to using the dryer is the lint that your dryer is collecting is actually fabric from your clothing. The dryer creates more wear and tear in the long run. How does line drying compare? Line dried clothes dried in the wind and heated by the sun are actually more sanitized. The UV rays the sun produces can kill bacteria and prevent harmful mildew from forming, therefore providing a healthier environment for your skin. The sunshine can cause some clothes to fade. You may need to dry some dark clothing in a shaded area. The sun can fade stains on light colors and whites, and save you from buying bleach.


More Tips

Most people who refuse to line dry their clothes don't like the thought of putting on a stiff pair of pants, or a wrinkled shirt with clothes pin marks. The truth is, you can prevent that from happening. Using a liquid fabric softener that can be dispensed during the rinse cycle is the best way to get soft lined dried clothes. When it comes to hanging clothing you will find clothes pins work great for some clothing, and others not so good. If you have button up pants or jeans, you can simply unzip the zipper, and button the clothing directly to the line. This will allow more air to flow through the pant legs, speed up the drying process, and prevent several broken clothes pins. If you are worried about wrinkled button up shirts, place them on hangers. You can fasten hanger hooks directly to the clothes line and secure the hangers with clothes pins to prevent them from falling in strong winds. If ever you have a problem with wrinkles you can easily iron them out.


Look at the bright side

You can enjoy line drying your families clothes for all the reasons listed above. You will love the fact that it will get you out of the house for a breath of fresh air in between chores. It never hurts to soak in a little sunshine any chance we get throughout a busy day. As silly as it may sound, you can feel good about the way you are conserving energy in such a small way everyday. You should feel even better that you are saving your families hard earned money and the environment all at the same time. The greatest reward will be when you get the privilege to snuggle up with your loved ones in the fresh clean linens your small contribution provided.


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    • profile image

      SmartLadyinMD 4 years ago

      I grew up in Brooklyn, NY - my mother never had a dryer. She hung clothes outside and on lines in our basement.

      When my children were young, we owned a house that there was no ban on clotheslines. In the Spring and all thru the summer I hung clothes out. HAD TO DISCONTINUE IT because my doctor told me that the pollen was adhering to the sheets, towels, etc and it was not helping my hay fever. Nowadays I put sheets/towels in the dryer along with items that dry fast. I hang everything else up in the laundry room that takes time to dry...this is how I save electricity. I would love to smell the clothes again off the line but allergies will not allow for it. Once I was made aware of this by my doctor - my allergies greatly improved and I was not on constant meds.

    • Becky Peterson profile image

      Becky Peterson 5 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that line-drying clothes is not for everyone. Especially if it is causing someone a health problem. I will say however, that I do enjoy line drying my families clothes because it saves me a lot of time and money. I can get more dried in less time than the dryer can on a warm day. I have also never worn a house-dress or apron while doing it :)

    • taw2012 profile image

      taw2012 5 years ago from India

      I do line up my cloths. it is very useful and our cloths remain fresh. Very nice hub.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      My mother hung clothes on a pulley-line until dryers became "the thing everyone had". Her hands were a mess all Winter long because of it, and in Summer there were always times when we'd find a giant, outdoor, bug of one sort or another amidst our clean laundry.

      I, personally, have never hung a thing on an outdoor line. I've discovered that, at least in Winter, leaving the linens in the dryer for a while (where the outdoor air apparently gets in through the vent) leaves clothes smelling as if they've been hung outside (without my hands being destroyed and without any big bugs showing up on any pillow cases). Sorry... I'm not about to put on a house-dress and an apron and return to the bad old days of turning laundry-doing into a bigger deal than it needs to be. :) To me, it wasn't a fond memory to see my mother lugging wet clothes or standing outside and hanging laundry "all the time".

    • Becky Peterson profile image

      Becky Peterson 5 years ago

      It's neat to see how many people are still a part of such a long time tradition.Thanks a bunch!

    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina_writes 5 years ago from Dartmoor

      I would never dry my clothes in a drier they are either line dried, or dried on an airer if the weather is bad. Today was a really good drying day, warm sunshine and a breeze. I put my laundry on the line before work and now have a fragrant pile of clean clothes. Great hub. Rating up and following you.

    • Becky Peterson profile image

      Becky Peterson 5 years ago

      It is very interesting to hear people share their own clothes line stories. Thank you for your input!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      When I was a kid, my mom line-dried the clothing. I learned how as well. We had a pulley-type line that ran diagonally across the backyard, as did most of the homes in that neighborhood. It WAS back-breaking work.

      We did not get a clothes drier until years after my father retired, in fact, it was after I had married and moved away.

      In our first apartment, there were no laundry facilities, so we had to make weekly trips to the laundromat, which was not fun.

      The next place we lived was a duplex, and had laundry hook-ups, but we had to supply our own appliance. The area was small, and there was no practical way to string lines outside, so we opted for one of those apartment-size washer/drier combos, stacked one above the other. That served us for many years, until we moved to our own house. That, however, was in a climate where it was mostly cold and foggy. I had a rotary clothesline for a while, but the clothes never dried very well because of that damp climate, so a drier was mandatory.

      A few moves later, and where I now live, while the summers are hot and dry, there are also hot, dry sand-bearing winds, that would toss dirt right back onto the clean wet clothes. So I still use a drier. (I do have high-efficiency engery-star machines, however.....)

      And in my current physical condition, I could no more handle the lugging and hanging of wet laundry than I could toss a bull by the horns. Driers for me, all the way.

      Interesting hub.

    • alipuckett profile image

      alipuckett 5 years ago

      Great points! There are financial and even health benefits to line drying your clothes.

    • Becky Peterson profile image

      Becky Peterson 5 years ago

      Thanks Stephanie! I remember that being my mother's protocol to hanging laundry as well. I do hang laundry on warm days, and after hearing all these posts I am considering adding help mom hang out the laundry to my children's chore chart. I think it would be great for them to gain a few line drying memories of their own. I appreciate your vote!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Hanging out the wash was always one of my jobs as a kid, and my mother taught me how to shake out the clothes to avoid wrinkles. She also believed that clothes needed to look good on the line as all the neighbors could see our laundry. Bed linens and towels were hung together, underwear was usually placed on a line out of public view. I don't often take time to hang out clothes now, but do hang out sheets and blankets when weather is nice. Love the smell of those sun dried linens! Nice hub, voted up!

    • Becky Peterson profile image

      Becky Peterson 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your story :) I'm sure your grandmothers loved your help. The women who worked so hard to put clothes on our backs should never be forgotten... I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub!

    • Becky Peterson profile image

      Becky Peterson 5 years ago

      I love to hear there are still people who opt into being frugal. I'm so glad you like it. Thanks!

    • Becky Peterson profile image

      Becky Peterson 5 years ago

      Thank you Peggy! I am so glad you loved it. I am a mom of five children, so I understand the need to get the laundry washed and dried in hurry. I know now how much our mothers appreciated our help:)

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      I use to love to help my grandmothers with laundry just to smell the clothes as they came off the line. I remember one time, I was helping one of my grandmothers press the sheets through the wringer roller to remove the excess water. My arm got stuck and I started to panic. I thought the washer was going to eat me. (I was about four or five at the time.) I learned an important lesson that day about old fashion washing machines and caution. It never stopped me from enjoying doing laundry with Grams either. Even today, I still hang most of my laundry on a line. Terrific hub! Thanks!

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 5 years ago from Tucson, Az

      a good friend of mine has never had a dryer and loves her clothes line/and I spoke with my brother this wkend and he had just hung a clothes line in his yard. I had a line for the longest time but haven't used one since 1995/this hub made me remember how nice it is :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      When I was a child, I grew up with line dried clothes and nothing can beat that fresh air smell! When you mentioned playing amidst the billowing sheets...I had almost forgotten that. I had 2 younger brothers and it was fun doing that. When I was old enough, I helped my mother and it was always a fun time visiting, singing, etc. More natural exercise for all of us as the old wringer washing machine and tubs holding the rinse water were in the no need for gyms and stairmaster machines back then! Ha! Thanks for writing this hub. Loved it! Useful and beautiful votes and will share.