Guest Post: Hanging Clothes

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Little House Living readers please welcome Cindy, our guest poster for today!

Last month I got pressed back into using my clothesline when my dryer malfunctioned and needed some repair. I’m no stranger to a clothesline; I’ve always been blessed with having a line in the back yard wherever I’ve lived. I’ve used the line off and on, mostly in the summertime. But the last couple of years got a lot busier and the clothesline got neglected except for an occasional bedding washing day.

The first day, as I started hanging clothes, I began remembering all I liked about hanging clothes: warm sunshine, a fresh March breeze, birds singing and flitting in the trees nearby, and a few peaceful moments to reflect, pray, and generally soak in the quiet while still getting my to-do list done. That afternoon, I remembered the other thing I loved, the smell of clothes fresh off the line, and at least
one thing I didn’t like as much – stiff towels!

Since our budget wasn’t prepared for a dryer repair and the weather was being extra helpful, I decided to find out just how much the convenience of my dryer was costing me and whether it was worth it. When I opened the new electric bill, I was glad to see my bill was lower. So I did some more research. I found a handy online calculator here which told me that with our local rate of about $0.10 per kWh of electricity and drying 15 loads a week for an hour each, I could save $0.44 a load or about $343 a year. For a stay-at-home mom, that is a pretty decent savings for about 20 to 30 additional minutes daily work.

So this led me to the question of whether we should repair the dryer or not. Well, as much as I admire the pioneer women who had no choice but to not only hang their clothes but heat the water and scrub them by hand, I can’t say I want to be like them totally. I’m not fond of freezing my fingers on below zero days in the winter, and with 7 children, there are days when I just don’t have that extra time or need something dry quicker than the rainy day will allow. So we’ll definitely be putting that electric bill savings into repairing the dryer (it helps to have a brother who is an appliance repairman). But I’ll also be using my clothesline a lot more when the weather allows now that I realize just what it is saving me. (I think I found a new summer job for some bored kids, too.)

Try it for yourself and see! This time of year is generally good for clothes drying. If, like me, you enjoy the fresh air and time to reflect, you may just enjoy the excuse to soak up the sun and enjoy the peace knowing at the same time you’re saving a bit of money.

Merissa’s Note:

I know some of you out there are like me and would love to line dry your clothes but your allergies prevent it from happening. My in-the-middle solution is to get an indoor drying rack! This may not work as well if you live in an area with high humidity but otherwise you can at least get the savings from line drying clothes…even in the winter time!

Do you line or dryer dry?

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  1. Both. It depends on the weather AND how busy I am! I have five children, four of which are in school. Two are going into 9th grade, one into 7th grade, and one into 5th grade and a two year old. We also have a farm so I just don’t always hang them out even though I prefer to.

  2. I have been hanging out my wash for 50 years. I use the dryer for underwear
    only, sometimes towels, if it isn’t very windy. No matter how cold, or how
    frozen the cloths get, it is the only household chore I really enjoy.

  3. I have used drying racks since the 70’s. Yes, I do use dryers at times, but I prefer to let the clothes and towels dry the natural way. On the screened in patio, it does not take long and I love the smell of the clothes dried that way. Inside is the same but a little longer.

  4. LOVING your blog in its entirety! I had begged for a clothesline for years and finally got one a couple of years ago (thank you brother and SIL for giving me your old one FREE!). I used it occasionally, but now I am on a mission. I constructed a small drying line in my laundry room too, with Command 3M hooks and indoor/outdoor clothesline…THEN I “urged” my husband to use the ramaining indoor/outdoor line to construct a line for our screened in porch. It can easily be taken down if we have cookouts/parties, etc. I use these line nearly every day (1 or more of them)…I love the savings and the time to reflect and talk to my Lord!

  5. I LOVE hanging my clothes out to dry. I thought it was a regular part of everyone’s laundry-washing life up until a few years ago, honestly. We do have allergies in our family, so when I line dry I pop them in the dryer for 10 minutes after taking them off the line. It is a compromise, and seems to do the trick.

  6. If the weather permits I dry our heavier items outside. I line dry bath towels and my heavy bedspread, throw blankets from the living room, pet bedding, and all the sheets. The sun kills micro organisms in laundry, so there is a double benefits there.

  7. I love hanging out my clothes most of the year! I live in So.East Texas so we have mild winters that make hanging in the winter months economical too. With the summer heat …some days my clothes get dry in 1/2 hrs time. Before the next load is ready to hang, I’m out there taking them down~
    When the kids were home– we had tons of clothes; but my Granny taught me ways to cheat when hanging the laundry…
    If pins are available, you can pin a cup towel to the bottom of another cup towel. You can pin socks to the bottom of cup towels…
    If you’re low on line… you can pin towels between two lines, the same with jeans too!
    For rainy days…I have a retractable line in the wash room…and it is screened, so they don’t get that musty smell~

    love, love, love hanging out the laundry. My favorite chore!

  8. I myself like to save pennies & dimes where I can, but my boyfriend & I live in a Rental Townhome Quad, so our yard consists of a small space in the front & off to the said of our porch. So we cannot put up a clothesline & I dont have an indoor drying rack…BUT we do have a rarely used full second bathroom with a Shower curtain rod! So when I do my laundry I hang as many pants & shirts on the curtain rod while we sleep 🙂

  9. I never hung out clothes until I got married, moved straight from the city to the country. What an eye-opening experience that was!! Now, 10 years, and 5 kids later, I still hang out year round. My husband even built me t-posts out of 4x4s so I didn’t have to worry about lines sagging. I will say the only time I do dry clothes indoors is when it rains for a week straight (does it about 3 or 4 times a year here), then they go to the laundromat. Ours is really cheap to dry, and even if I had a dryer at home, it would cost double rather than the gas and quarters for the laundromat.

  10. When we moved to CA (kicking & screaming, but hubby’s job required it) we discovered that our electric dryer was useless since all the houses here seems to be piped for gas dryers only. Well, the budget doesn’t allow for spending $600-900 for a dryer! But it’s a rental house, so no permanent changes to the house are allowed either…what’s a thrifty gal to do? I set up an “umbrella” clothesline in a bay of the garage with the base from a patio umbrella and voila! Four months later I still don’t have a dryer! Clothes get dried, they aren’t outside to collect pollen (or blow over into the dirt) and I don’t need to spend money on a dryer, just so I could then have a higher gas bill!

  11. I just discovered your blog today and I am really enjoying it!! Been making my own home and personal care products for 30 years, and it is always fun to see what other people are doing and get new ideas. I’ve had a clothes line since my grown children were babies. Thankfully, we do not have any serious allergy issues. I read recently that hanging clothes outside in winter was hard on them if they freeze. I have not been using the clothesline in frigid weather so I have not had experience in frozen laundry. I do hang what I can on a basement clothesline in bad weather. As others have said, hanging out the laundry is a wonderful time for prayer and planning — what I call the two essential “P’s”. I love the smell of clean, sun-dried laundry.

  12. I have a line in my laundry room and a rack. I throw my clothes in the dryer for 5 minutes to get the wrinkles out then hang them on hangers on the line or on the rack! works great. Then when putting away the shirts, they are all ready on the hangers, to be put in the closet. Cutting down on your time!

  13. I had to line dry outside when living in a rental house with a small washer & dryer for a family of five. I didn’t have time to wait for the clothes to dry before starting the next load. I loved the fresh smell but hated the stiff towels. I discovered if I put the wet clothes in the dryer for 10-15 minutes before hanging outside the towels were soft. I also used 1/2 C of vinegar instead of fabric softener.

  14. I use mine all the time, I can count on one hand probably how many times I use my dryer, but I only have one child, so that’s a help. One thing that keeps me doing besides the savings, is my daughter jumps into a fresh changed bed and says this smells like home!

  15. I have always line dried my laundry. In the winter, when it’s snowing or just way too cold, I dry laundry in my dining room, where I have a wood stove. I have a wooden drying rack and I also have an opening to the kitchen where I can hang clothing on hangers to dry. And no, there is no smoky smell. My problem is, I dislike having to put clothes away after drying….whether outside or inside.
    I am an empty nester, and divorced. But when all three kids were home, every day my clothesline was full. It has saved me so much money! Also when it is breezy outside, that is the best time to dry towels, as they will not be stiff then. And I never use fabric softener either!

  16. The cultural immersion and experiences you describe are so enriching. Travel is indeed the best education one can get.