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Hanging out the Laundry

Updated on December 23, 2017
Blond Logic profile image

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 fibres 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. Now there is thankfully a move to put this right. Below you will see a blog from the New York Times regarding this.

Clothes Pins Premium Jumbo Heavy-Duty Soft-Touch Pegs
Clothes Pins Premium Jumbo Heavy-Duty Soft-Touch Pegs

I love chunky pins. I want to know that if I have to peg out a quilt which was hand made by my grandmother, it isn't going to end up halfway down the yard. These pins ensure Granny's quilt stays put.


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.

© 2012 Mary Wickison

What do you love about it

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    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil


      I understand, it can seem annoying but for me it isn't signs of a ghetto just families getting on with their lives.

      So many countries have laundry strung across from building to building using any available space possible. They make use of free natural resources the sun and the wind.

      Thank you for your viewpoint.

    • profile image

      No 3 years ago

      I live in an apartment, and I personally hate seeing someone's clothes hanging outside to dry...Firstly, the sight of them just seems out of place. Not only does it make the area seem rather ghetto, but it also clutters up the entire balcony. Now, if someone is doing it in their backyard, I have no problem with it as long it is not 20 feet in the air or in my space, but in an apartment, everyone should be forced to have a clean, open balcony without the annoyance of having to stare at someone's laundry just hanging there....

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      My mother used to hang all her clothing outside and I loved the smell of the fresh air on them afterwards. If I could do this in my community, I would (yes, we have a very stuffy neighborhood!). Love the suggestions and cost analysis. The video gave me a good laugh as it depicts an unrealistic view of housewives today. Thanks for the information. Great post!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 years ago from SW England

      I love your comment about the 50s - so true! I have a line which I use when the weather lets me. So much fresher than the dryer (& of course the environmental issue). I have exactly the same routine as you! Thanks for the follow too. Voted up and useful.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Oh, I love this hub for so many reasons! My grandmother always hung out the laundry, and I enjoyed helping her with the clothespins, and then sleeping in the fresh sheets later that did smell like sunshine! Many excellent tips and points about the energy savings by hanging out the laundry. Useful and beautiful! Best to you, Steph

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 5 years ago from Brazil

      I think this topic evokes such wonderful memories. In the effort for modernization we have lost so much.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      Growing up in the country, we never had an electric dryer and the washing machine was a ringer washer. I, too, love the smell of sun-dried clothes. Especially sheets and towels.

      When I was about 11, my mother would wash the clothes and hang them out, and then she would go out to her 2 acre garden to work for the day. It was my responsibility to finish up the clothes. Bring them in when they were dry, fold them and put them away, or iron them as needed and hang them in the closet.

      I miss that clean smell of sunshine. Great hub!

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 5 years ago from Irl

      Brilliant hub - I too love to line dry in between the raindrops in Ireland.I love the sight of a nice line of billowing laundry,and that gorgeous fragrance.I also think dryers must be unhealthy in a house with all those fibres floating around!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Ahh...this made me smile remembering my childhood where my mothers old wringer washing machine and extra tubs for the rinse water were located in the basement. She had a few lines down there (just for rainy days) but most all of the time the wash was hung outside to dry. I loved that fresh air smell and we lived in the country. No air pollution back in those days. The lines were straight but we also used the seams to pin the clothes just like you suggested. Where we live now, the subdivision has a rule against any type of clothsline that can be seen. Thanks for writing this hub. Voted useful and beautiful (for the memories!) Sharing this one! :)