Tuesday, June 28, 2011

But Is She Really Thrifty: The Art of Line Drying

 My little Joey in my clothesline

I absolutely adore my clothesline.  As a mother of two (and a cloth diapering mother, at that) the clothesline gets quite a workout around here! Not only do clotheslines save you money and wear and tear on your clothing--it's excellent "sun therapy"!  I call it my "zen time". There is just something so simplistic and lovely about seeing clothes blowing on the clothesline.  Over the last five years of using a clothesline, I've come to discover there are "rules" and etiquette (okay, most of it is old news..but it's still fun) to using a clothesline.

First and foremost is the weather!  Let's think for a minute how a dryer works: heat plus movement. If there's no movement (i.e, wind) the clothing will get stiff---but they'll dry. If it's not hot enough the wind movement will eventually dry them (says the woman who's been out in the snow getting clothes off the line).  But there IS an ideal weather for clothesline drying: warm and a little windy. As a general rule you don't want to have your clothes on the line at noon (when the sun is at it's hottest) or your clothes can dry TOO fast without enough movement (think of jeans that can stand up without anyone in them.). I'd rather dry clothes outside with it being windy.

Stiff clothing means your clothing has build up from detergents and softeners. There's really no reason for it if you're choosing your drying weather carefully.  Add some white vinegar to your rinse rather than ANOTHER boatload of Downy and don't let your washer rinse your clothes to oblivion.  Clothes that have been wrung TOO dry will have perma-wrinkle.  You can also add a little bit of lemon juice to your white clothing before hanging them up and they're be nice and bright again!

I know a lot of people recommend putting your clothing in the dryer AFTER you've had them on the line. Please don't. Dry clothes (even slightly damp clothes) in the dryer is a fire hazard. If you MUST use your dryer put your clothing right from the washer into the dryer for a few minutes and THEN put them on the line. I never do. It defeats the purpose of USING the clothesline for me. But, to each their own.

Now, for hanging the clothes. Shirts should always be hung from the bottom hem (the part that sits on your waist/hips). Pants should be hung from the ankle cuff. The weight of the material at the waist will help "iron out" the wrinkles. If you have dark washed pants, hang them up inside out AND upside down.  In fact, anything very dark should be hung inside out. If you have the space, let your towels hang long-wise (hotdog style, not hamburger. lol). I very often chain small things like dishtowels, washcloths and the like together. I also have a handy little clothes hanger with "arms" that works great for socks and smaller items. I've heard they have a cool one at Ikea. I use wooden clothespins (not pegs) because they're a little more "organic" so if I break one it just gets pitched into the fence row. The springs should never actually touch the clothes so I don't worry about rust.

Etiquette wise, one should always bring in your pins.  That being said, I never do. Once a year I take them off and clean off my line with some white vinegar... other than that, meh. They stay up so they're spaced apart for when I wash the same darned clothes all over again in a few days. Further etiquette says you should never hang clothes on the line on Sunday or the neighbors will "talk". Again, lol. I try not too, but that's a personal religious choice. If my neighbors hang their clothes on the line on Sunday I most certainly won't be stoning them. Just funny antiquated facts.

The next question is normally "what kind of clothesline do you have and how much did it cost to get it all set up?". Well. My line was already up when we bought this house in 2001. I have a "T Bar" (meaning the 2 ends look like big T's) line with 3 actual "lines" to hang on. If you're starting from scratch, do yourself a favor and buy plastic coated WIRE lines. The last time we replaced a line (about 3 years ago) we could only find this flimsy plastic online line. Bleh. It sags like nobody's business so I have to use a stick to hold the line up higher. Despite tightening, and tightening, and tightening.  If you can, pick a location so that you're clothes face East to West so you get morning AND evening light. Avoid building your line under trees or other places were birds may live (and thus dookie on your clean clothes).

So, there's the majority of my sage wisdom when it comes to clotheslines. Buy some flour sack towels JUST so you can hang them on the line. They're the best. :)

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