Friday, July 8, 2011

Clotheslines... the lost way

When I grew up most of the people in my neighborhood owned dryers, however almost everyone had a clothes line in the backyard.  Now days you rarely see clothes lines and even more rarely do you actually see clothes hanging on them. 

I am part of a growing number of families bringing back this environmentally friendly and economic way of drying our laundry.

Did you know that it costs on average $.70 per load to use your dryer?  If you do only one load per day that's $255.50 in energy cost per year.  And let's face it who does only one load per day?  There are only three in my household and I do at least one load a day and at least two loads a day several times a week.  The savings can really add up!   Not to mention that try as they may, no detergent or fabric softener can duplicate the smell of line dried clothes!

If you don't have room for a permanent clothes line you can buy collapsible and retractable clothes lines as well as indoor clothes lines, although those won't hold more than a small load of clothes at a time.

Should you decide to invest in, or begin to use an existing outdoor clothes line there are a few simple things to remember. 

1.  The number one complaint about line dried clothes is the stiff feeling they sometimes get.  There are ways to avoid this.  First use a little less detergent in your wash, and another way is to make sure that you ALWAYS use fabric softener.  I do not recommend using store brand fabric softener, it simply doesn't work as well.  If the clothes are still a little too stiff for your liking, you can pop them in the dryer for five minutes after they come off the line and that will soften them up as well.
2.  Always hang your unmentionables (or silkys as my friend calls them) in the middle of the line so as to be hidden by whatever you hang on the outside.  My clothes line is just one line across so I cannot hide mine, therefore I choose to dry those inside.  I just hang them on hangers in the bathroom and they dry fairly quickly.
3.  If there happens to be a breeze and it is possible, hang button up shirts with the open side open to the wind.  The breeze will go through the back of the shirt and voila... no wrinkles!
4.  If you happen to forget about your clothes and they get caught in the rain or get left out overnight it is always a good idea to go ahead and re-wash them.
5.  Make sure you hang your whites out in the sunniest part of the day.  The sun acts as a natural disinfectant and bleaching agent.  You will have the whitest whites on your block!  By the same token, if you hang your darks out in the brightest part of the day be sure to keep an eye on them and remove them promptly when they are dry, otherwise one side of your clothes will be a shade lighter than the other side!
6.  If worn on top, pin it on bottom!  No one wants the "bunny ears" on the shoulders of their shirts (least of all our dh's!)  So the general rule is that if you wear it on the top of your body hang it from the bottom of the garment, and if you wear it on the bottom of your body hang it from the top!

I recently found a tip for storing clothespins.  Use an empty bleach bottle.  Cut the top of it and then cut a gap in the handle part.  Slip the handle over your clothes line and store your clothes pins inside.  You may need to sand around the top part that you cut so as to keep from cutting your hands as you reach in.

I hope I have sparked an interest in you to rekindle this lost quaint tradition of using God's dryer.  Let me know how it turns out!

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