Why Hang Dry?
Living in the age of iPods, hybrid vehicles, and high-speed wireless internet, many people find the idea of hang-drying clothes ludicrous. With all the technology available, including high efficiency dryers, why would one even fancy the idea of using a clothesline? Don't be so quick to dismiss the ancient apparatus. By using a clothesline as opposed to a machine dryer, you can save money, reduce CO2 emissions, and increase the longevity of your clothing.
BENEFITS for the Environment:
Clothes dryers use an average of nearly 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. That's remarkable when you consider that a typical household in the United States consumes a total of about 11,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year; your clothes dryer could be accounting for ten percent of your total electricity use! The majority of the electricity in the United States is generated by burning fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels is associated with many harmful environmental effects, such as global warming, air pollution, water and land pollution, and thermal pollution. A simple shirt, during all of its years of use, can send up to 9 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere!
BENEFITS for Your Wallet:
Each year, it costs about $130 just to run your clothes dryer. When you include the price of the dryer and the cost of repairs, it can add up to a lot of money. In contrast, most clotheslines are cheap to buy or make. Also, all of the energy from the sun is free!
BENEFITS for Your Clothes:
The dryer can wear down the material of your clothes, especially undergarments, clothing with elastic, sweaters, and other delicates. You can see this wearing for yourself every time you remove lint from your dryer. Zippers and other metal hooks can also snag on other clothes in the dryer, damaging material. Have you ever noticed your new clothes shrunken to a size smaller than you wanted? Blame your clothes dryer. Although most people shrinking is due to the temperature of the dryer, it's actually the tumbling action which causes this unpleasant effect. Fortunately, line-drying your clothes helps you avoid all of these problems, making your clothes last longer.
If you make a clothesline yourself, you only need to spend money on a few materials like cord, posts, and cement. There are also pre-made clothesline contraptions which can cost from $15-$130.
Time and effort: Variable
If you buy some pre-manufactured clotheslines, all you need to do is hang up and take down clothes. If you make your own clothesline, it may take an hour or so to set up, but it may also last a little longer.
Buy or make a clothesline?
There are different kinds of clotheslines for various households. Making your own clothesline is very cost-effective, and this type is sturdy against wind. On the other hand, if you don't have a lot of room or privacy in the yard, or if the weather is too rainy or snowy, you might consider buying a pre-made clothesline that is appropriate for you.
Buying a pre-made clothesline:
Consider these option when shopping for a store-bought clothesline:
Retractable clothesline: If you want your backyard to be used to hang laundry one day but to be out of sight the next, you can buy a retractable clothesline. The line retracts into a mounted wheel, freeing up your backyard without the sight of strings to worry about. There are also a few indoor retractable versions that can be hung in your bathroom.
Umbrella clothesline: If you want a relatively compact clothesline with little effort, try the umbrella clothesline, which looks, appropriately, like an umbrella! You can rotate this type of clothesline around, so you can stand in one spot and hang all of your clothes to dry. For an even easier task, try the Hills Hoist, which is a popular umbrella clothesline in Australia. The particular advantage of this brand is that rather than reaching up to the clothesline to load your clothes, you bring the line down to you. Umbrella clotheslines do require some installation, so follow the first few steps of the directions for making a clothesline in order to install this type.
Drying rack: There are plenty of reasons you may not be able to put a clothesline outside. Maybe it rains or snows often where you live. Maybe you don't have a private backyard. Perhaps your homeowner's association feels that
clotheslines are unsightly and has banned them from the neighborhood. Fortunately, you can use a drying rack to dry your clothes indoors. These are easily found in many stores and are simple to use. Just put smaller items on the bottom racks and larger items on the top ones. For large sheets, try hanging them on a regular clothes rod.
Installing a Clothesline:
Clothesline set (or make your own poles with iron pipes, fittings, and 12 eyebolts)
Bag of cement
Large bucket or wheelbarrow
1. Find a flat place in your backyard that is relatively private, so your neighbors can't see it. If possible, try to position it so that it isn't visible from your backyard, either, so your guests won't get a glance at your laundry selection.
2. Try to figure out the exact position of the poles. When the poles are parallel north and south, the clothesline will tend to receive more exposure to the sun. Also, try to put the poles at a good distance to maximize the line without too much sagging.
3. Dig two holes (about a foot wide and a foot deep) with the shovel.
4. Pour the bag of cement into the wheelbarrow. You can do this by placing it in the wheelbarrow, ripping open the top, and tipping it over. Spread the cement around the bed of the wheelbarrow with the hoe, and then make a valley in the center of the cement.
5. Gradually pour about half a gallon of water into the valley you made, using the hoe to mix the water in thoroughly. Chop up any clumps, and continue to mix until the cement is a good consistency.
6. Shovel the mix from the wheelbarrow into one of the holes that you have dug, filling it halfway with cement.
7. Stick one of the poles in the center of the hole and use the level to make sure the pole stands straight.
8. Fill the hole in the rest of the way, overfilling a little.
9. Repeat steps 4-8 for the other hole, making sure that both poles are at the same height. If the land you are working on is angled, adjust the level of the poles to account for that.
10. Knot the cord or wire through the eyebolts from one side to another.
Using the Clothesline:
In order to keep the clothes un-dented and unwrinkled, shake each piece of clothing before putting them on the line. Use as little pressure with the clothespins as possible so as not to stretch the clothing.
Hang skirts, shorts, boxers, and pants right-side up. Hang all tops by the bottom, since the collar and shoulders have more material and need to have more airflow. Make sure sleeves aren't caught inside shirts, or they won't dry! You can pin underwear on the top or on the side with one clothespin. Hang socks, but don't bother matching them on the line.
In order to dry towels or large sheets, fold them loosely and hang them over two consecutive lines. Do not use clothespins, since the weight of the items may be too heavy for the pins.
Put large items like sheets, large shirts, and skirts on the outer lines, and smaller items in the center in order to hide your socks and underwear.
Knits or dressy clothing may be damaged by clothespins, so hang them on a hanger and pin the hanger to the clothesline.
To prevent dark or colored clothes from fading, hang the clothes inside-out. Leaving white clothing out in the sun longer can help to whiten any stains or fading.
Try "linking" the clothes to save clothespins and space. To "link" your clothing, overlap the clothes, using one clothespin to catch the ends of two different items of clothing at the same time. In order to do this best, put the first clothespin on the edge of the first item. Then, use another clothespin to pinch the other side of the item onto the line. Pick up another item of clothing and slide the edge of it under the second clothespin.
Remember that the clothesline is in an outdoor environment and can accumulate dirt. In order to keep your clothes clean, wipe down your clothesline occasionally with a damp cloth. Store your clothespins indoors and take them out with your laundry.