Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Put It All on the Line (Literally)

Monday morning on my run, I noticed a new clothesline at a neighbor’s house. It’s one of those single pole types with multiple rows of lines filling a metal frame. Shirts on hangers hung neatly from each row and waved in the breeze. I didn’t stop to be certain, but my casual in-flight count was 24 shirts! That’s a lot for such a small set up.

At our house we have a single line with pulleys on both ends. One pulley is attached to a pole on our deck and the other is atop a long metal pole secured in the ground with cement. Because our line runs down hill, the pole is extra tall.

It’s surprising to me that more of my neighbor’s don’t utilize a clothesline. A dryer is one of the biggest energy hogs in the house. Our electric bill goes down by half in the summer thanks to solar powered hot water and the clothesline. I resisted the line for too many years thinking it would be too time consuming, too labor-intensive, too ugly.

Now when I drive up my driveway and see the clothes blowing in the breeze, it makes me smile. And I look forward to the five minutes I spend each morning hanging clothes out. It’s my time to listen to the birds, take in the sunshine, and be left alone. No one ever offers to help hang out the laundry (except my father-in-law’s wife who understands the sacred space created by clotheslines).

A few years back, my cousin talked up her clothesline so heartily that I asked her to be my first guest blogger. She wrote a really nicepost about the ins and outs of hanging out laundry, but she also talked about the joy she found doing it. I recall at the time thinking, “Yeah, but she’s a crazy Unitarian tree-lover.” I didn’t get it. Now I get it.

If you want to save money, help the environment, have naturally fresh-smelling clothing, and guarantee yourself 15-20 minutes of quiet time each day, install a clothesline.

It’s also better for your clothes. The dryer breaks down your clothes much more quickly than sun/air-drying which means they’ll last longer. And UV rays from the sun kill bacteria.

There are lots of options from the single pole type my neighbor has to a double stationary line, to the pulley system we use. I have to say that the pulley system is by far the most user-friendly.  When you install your clothesline, be sure to pay attention to trees that will shade or crowd your line (notice in the picture up top that we have a tree making a play for the clothes on my line which will need a severe pruning sometime soon – hint, hint, honey.)

My cousin gave some great tips in her post, but here are mine:

1. Hang shirts upside down so that you don’t end up with funny pointy spots on the shoulders where the shirt sagged against the pin and dried that way.

2. Shake your clothes thoroughly before hanging them to dry.

3. Dry blue jeans and towels in the dryer unless you don’t mind the feel of pants that can stand up on their own or towels that – as my MIL says, “offer some exfoliating power.”

4. Hang the longest things on each end of the line and the shortest things in the middle where the line will sag so your long things don’t touch the ground.

5. Buy WAY more clothes pins than you need. They have a way of vanishing in the grass when you drop them because you’re in a hurry. They also make great chip clips (and paper clips in a pinch).

6. Turns pants/shorts inside out because otherwise the pockets may not dry completely and it’s a gross feeling to pull on pants with wet pockets.

7. Match up socks as you hang them up to save time pulling them off the line (which is many times done in the dark of night and a great hurry).

If you can’t put up a clothesline because of lack of space or neighborhood ordinances against them (which, can I say, are completely asinine and ridiculous and I think could possibly be unconstitutional), you can find other places to hang clothes. Bathrooms, basements, and utility rooms can handle a line or at the very least, a drying rack. Banisters and railings also work well.

Line drying your clothing is well worth the effort and I promise you’ll thank me for the nudge later. And if you need anyone to protest with you at your next Neighborhood Association meeting, I’m there. I love a good protest.

1 comment:

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