Saturday, July 11, 2009

In praise of clotheslines

When I was growing up, my grandma Evelyn always hung her laundry to dry on the clothesline outside her house on the ranch. She had an electric dryer, but used it only in the winter or the rainy season. I fondly remember the slightly stiff feel of the blankets and dish towels that smelled like fresh air and sunshine.

Last year I bought a five line, retractable clothesline to hang in our laundry room here in Seattle. Although an outside line would have been preferable for that fresh air smell, given our climate here on the coast and my husband's dislike for looking at laundry hanging outside our house, putting it up in the laundry room made the best sense for us. It's great. Instead of being a time-consuming labor of love, it has turned out to be a boon. Besides being good for the environment, our clothes don't wear out or fade as quickly, stains don't set as easily because they're not going through a hot dryer, and I don't need to do NEARLY the amount of ironing that I would if things weren't being hung to dry (I don't like ironing). We try to use cloth napkins as much as possible (getting several meals out of each napkin before it goes into the wash) and they all look nice and crisp after coming off the line. The same goes for the girls' cotton dresses, which would always need to be pressed to look decent don't need a thing. I can hang two full loads of clothes at one time on my 5 line set-up. In the winter when we have the furnace going in the house, the evaporating water from the drying clothes makes having a humidifier unnecessary. Bath towels still go into the dryer to keep them soft and bed sheets are too ungainly for me to deal with on the line, but 90% on our laundry is line dried and I love it!