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Hanging out the Laundry

Updated on July 12, 2019
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Mary loves discovering new things and enjoys sharing these ideas with readers through her articles.

Clothes pins
Clothes pins

The Smell of Sunshine

Imagine climbing into bed, pulling up the sheet and breathing in that wonderful smell of line-dried bedding. The smell of sunshine and fresh air, not a chemical substitute manufactured to smell like it. This is one of life's simple pleasures. Why do we love this I wonder. For all of us the answer may be different, perhaps it reminds us of home.

I love hanging washing on the line for many reasons, not just the wonderful fresh smell. I think it conjures up a time before life was so hectic. Up until the 1950s a woman took pride in her laundry and kept not only her house in order but also her children. It was a simpler time when we put less pressure on ourselves and were content with what we had. Suddenly with the onset of advertising and numerous labor saving devices, a woman was freed up to do other things such as go to work and bring in a second income.

Drying baby booties
Drying baby booties | Source

Save Money, and the Environment by Drying Clothes Outside

Hanging the laundry outside not only saves you money, it also reduces the burden put on the environment.

How much do you think a dryer cost you to run? If you are unsure there are a few quick calculations you can make.

  1. Firstly, find out how much energy your dryer consumes when it is on. That isn't as difficult as it sounds as this will be in your manual or alternatively on the internet. Most dryers use about 5 kilowatts of energy when they are in use. We will use this figure for our calculations.
  2. What is the cost of electricity in your area? This can be found on your electricity bill or over the internet via your electricity supplier's website. For the sake of our experiment, let's use 10 cents per kilowatt hour.
  3. How often do you use your dryer on average? Let's use a weekly figure here. If you have a large family it may be in use for 10 hours per week. You can adjust this to suit your actual drying time.

So the equation would be:

5 (kilowatt hours) x .10 (10 cents a kilowatt hour) x 10 (hours) =$5.00 a week. If you do this for a year, 52 (weeks in a year) x $5.00 = $260! Of course you may not use your dryer that often but the costs add up. Can you think of a better way to spend $260? Plus, if you buy those expensive dryer sheets the cost is increased even more.

What do you do before you add your clothes to your dryer? Clean the lint trap? This should tell you that a dryer is slowly wearing away your clothes. The fluff you are removing is the fibers from the clothes being broken down.

There is a lobby of people who dislike seeing laundry hanging out and many communities have banned this as they feel this is 'down-market or redneck'. They are worried that this will make the property prices fall in the area.

My Favorite Clothespins

Just as I have a favorite laundry basket, I also have a 'thing' about pegs. I prefer nice chunky ones that will hold quilts and even pillows in place. Some of the flimsy ones tend to snap. I know wooden pegs still have a loyal following because if the metal inside a plastic peg begins to rust it can leach onto the clothes.

It is a matter of choice. I always bring my pegs into the house when they aren't in use and when they are outside with me I keep them in a peg bag.

Do you hang out your washing?

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Rotary Clotheslines vs Straight Ones

When my grandmother was alive, we used to have a discussion as to which was better for drying clothes. She loved her straight line and I loved my rotary one. Her complaint was she could never figure out how to get sheets and bedding to go around the corner.

I tried to explain to her she only needed to peg it on the corners and it would billow out like a sail. I was never able to sway her to my way of thinking though. She loved her washing line as I loved mine. Perhaps it was from her that I grew to love this side of domesticity.

Hanging out laundry
Hanging out laundry | Source

Important tips on hanging out the clothes

Now, this is where the controversy starts. Everyone has their own way for hanging washing and I am sure this will cause heated discussions. Here is my method.The key is to try to avoid leaving peg marks on the washing. This means less ironing.

  1. I begin by wiping the line clean with a damp cloth. There is no point putting clean clothes onto a dirty clothesline.
  2. I hang shirts upside down placing the pin on a seam. This gives it extra fabric to grip on and if it is very windy, less chance of it ripping the fabric. The other advantage is, often this will be tucked into trousers and will never be seen, therefore it doesn't need ironing out.
  3. Jean and trousers I turn inside out and open the zipper. This allows the pockets to hang open away from the jeans. These I also flip upside down. If they are thin pants you can hang them from the waist as they will fill with the wind and dry quickly.
  4. Bedding I prefer to peg each corner so it catches the wind and you don't have that line in the centre when it is dry.
  5. Avoid placing articles where they will blow onto surrounding plants, buildings, or hitting the ground. If the clothesline was correctly positioned to start with, this shouldn't be a problem.

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.

© 2012 Mary Wickison


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