CLOTHES LINES: WHAT’S HANGING
I decided to crowdsource this column, by asking my Facebook friends what does and doesn’t work for them about using clotheslines.
Since my sister loves to see herself in this column, I’ll tell you that her feedback was “What doesn’t work for me about hanging clothes to dry? Reading whole articles about it.” I happen to know that in spite of having their laundry in a laundry closet on the second floor, my sister and her partner hang things to dry – often on the exercise equipment, railing, and a small clothes rack.
Other friends had lists of things that stop them from hanging clothes outdoors – shade, dust, bird droppings, how long a line would be needed, changes in weather, winter, no clothes line. The friend who contributed the most to this list hangs his clothes indoors.
All the other comments I got were about how much people love hanging their laundry outdoors. Many people mentioned how good clothes and bedding smell when they’ve been hung outdoors. None of them talked about the problems, only the benefits.
Rick Morrell of Eat Healthy Foods and the Saskatchewan Eco-Network said, “you get that clothesline magic half the year. The rest of the time you use your dryer. It’s not ‘either or’, its ‘fresh air magic’ and the drier when you have to”.
One neighbor joked that our neighbors know so much about us, it’s nice to air our CLEAN laundry sometimes.
CBC’s The Vinyl Café must have seen my Facebook post, because they did an episode on clotheslines. I only heard part of it, but one writer referred to hanging clothes as meditative.
So, the practicality:
Several friends have portable racks that they can set outdoors in summer and indoors in winter.
New houses, like my sister’s often have a laundry closet on the second floor, which reduces a lot of effort in carrying laundry baskets up and down stairs. Unless you have a way to access your outdoor clothes line from the second floor, hanging clothes outdoors means you have to go back to carrying laundry up and down stairs.
Another friend believes that sunlight sanitizes clothes too. And it certainly helps whiten whites. I asked one friend about sun fading colors. She says she turns a few things inside out to prevent that.
I know that clothes certainly last longer when hung to dry rather than putting them through the dryer.
Yesterday, when I came home, my neighbor’s clothes line was full of bedding. The various colors of pillow cases and sheets was a beautiful addition to the sunny spring day. By the time I ran for my camera, the laundry was dry and gone from the line.
This wouldn’t be a column from me if it didn’t include some statistics. According to the federal Office of Energy Efficiency, dryers are about 17 per cent more efficient than they were in 1990. Most of this improvement is due to sensors that turn off the dryer when the clothes are dry. On average, a dryer uses 916kWh/year of electricity. In Saskatchewan, that means it will cost $120/year, and emit just under a tonne of CO2.
Personally, I LOVE the convenience of my clothesline. I’m spoiled with a large clothes line in the basement right next to my washer. I sort laundry and match socks as I hang it. I hang it as it comes out of the washer, then fold it a few days later when I have time – instead of having to fold it as soon as the dryer stops. I don’t iron at all. For those of you who like to look a little crisper than I do, I’d say hanging laundry REDUCES ironing.
The only things I really DON’T hang to dry are sheets and towels – because they wouldn’t dry fast enough in my house. I have a line in the yard, but I really don’t use it. With all the feedback I got from friends about how they love the smell of sheets and towels that were hung outdoors, I’ll try that. As I write, the towels are out there. And a white t-shirt that isn’t so white any more will be out there shortly.
Angie manages energy conservation projects for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and is an active member of McClure United Church in Saskatoon. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the work of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, go to www.environmentalsociety.ca.
“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)