For the Home

Line Drying Your Clothes: Drip Dry DIY

A few years ago, our dryer broke. And because our dryer broke, twenty-plus of my sons “nappies” suddenly needed to find a home before they were useable again. It was also early Spring. Since it snows well into May in Utah, I set up make shift clotheslines in our sun room and let nature do her trick and drip dry our clothes. This lead to an amazing discovery: line drying is an amazing GREEN trick (in terms of the environment and its money saving value). I learned there is no better ‘whitening’ disinfectant than the sun, and one can forgo the harsh perfumes, dyes and chemicals in fabric softener and bleach. I took my ‘invention’ outside that summer. (Obviously I didn’t invent line drying, but it was such an ‘ah-ha!’ moment for me, it felt that way.)

Drip Dry DIY

At home, we don’t do anything fancy: wood clothespins and some thin rope between our fence and a post from our deck. Sometimes (ok, most of the time), when I’m outside with the gentle summer breeze blowing in my hair and a basket of unmentionables and mentionables on my hip, my mind wanders and suddenly I’m a sun-kissed curvy bombshell akin to that Italian goddess in Il Postino. Who knew laundry could be so sensual?

It’s not that line drying will suddenly make you the lead character in a foreign flim or romance novel, but it could leave your laundry 50 shades whiter and put some extra cash in your pocket with savings on your energy bill.

Already an air-drying master? Please share your tips!

Interested in giving it a go? Here’s a few helpful starter sites:

Line Drying Your Clothes:

  • TLC’s How Stuff Works: Tips for Line Drying Your Clothes includes answers the big question on how to keep jeans and towels from going “stiff’.
  • TammysRecipes has great tips, including building a lower line so kids can help too (think socks!) Hello family F-U-N time! We are definitely doing that this year.
  • Greenest Dollar – the mother-load of articles includes ideas for all types of air drying – for those in banned communities (who knew line drying was so controversial?!?!) and tips for inside drying.
  • You can purchase clothes lines, but if you’re the DIY type, here’s a six-step tutorial on building your own.

I’m sticking with my own make-shift variety for now, but will close by wishing you a happy and green Earth Day!

8 comments

  1. I have an umbrella-type clothesline, since we have a smaller yard. It opens up and has mutliple lines on it, and I can hang about 3 full loads, if not more. It also can spin, so if one side is facing the sun for a while, I can rotate it occasionally so that all of the clothes face the sun for a time and dry more evenly. I love that I can hang the laundry in the morning, and forget it – no folding all of those clothes until later, and then I can do them all at once!

  2. In New Zealand most people hang out their washing. One thing is if you hang out nappies in a frost, they come out really bright white with no extra chemicals. Don’t know how it works, it just does.

  3. I love hanging clothes outside. Been doing it for years. The best thing for me is that nothing shrinks and clothes don’t AGE as quickly. The dryer seems to wear things out quicker.

  4. I just got 5 more roles of washi tape the other day and added it to my collection, I used it to seal envies and make cards with it. I have two shoebox sized boxes full already !

  5. I have a retractable clothesline have had it for about ten years. It is a coated line that rolls back into it’s housing for the winter. It’s super easy to install, if I’m remembering correctly it’s a 50′ length, has five lines. My husband used pressure treated lumber for the posts so they wouldn’t rot. I connect the clothes together by using one pin to start and then using the next pin to finish that item and start the next. Less pins to deal with later this way. I made my own clothespin bag using an old pair of jeans like this: http://www.gwennypenny.com/2011/10/clothespin-bag-from-old-pair-of-jeans.html No one pesters me at the clothesline cause they don’t want to do the job! I always feel connected to my Scotch ancestors out there who were known for hanging out the washing in all kinds of weather!

  6. I got really lucky when we moved – my uncle and hubby designed my clothes line to be able to mow under easily but still give me room for 5 lines – enough for 4-5 LOADS of laundry ;>) A couple of tips I have found over the years (my dryer died again last week).
    1. a 1/2 – 1 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle (downy ball is good for this if you have one) cuts the lint and acts as fabric softener and disinfectant (leaves no smell after the sun does its trick.
    2. hang most things by the hems – weight and gravity help remove the wrinkles (I DETEST ironing)
    3. there is no such thing as too many clothes pins – use as many as needed to help keep the garment in its “normal” shape.
    4. shake out as many wrinkles as 2 hard “snaps” will take out.
    5. I agree about the dryer – 5 minutes tumble takes the stiffness out of the towels ( but stiff towels fold soooo much easier and you can get more on the shelf “deflated”).
    6. I hang laundry at all hours of the day – late at night and way before the sun rises – I don’t get hot hanging them out + I work during the day and leave out very early and get home late. During the summer – this works better for the dark stuff that may fade in the sun – lots of time they are dry before morning.
    Love the sun dried smell

  7. my line is the deck to the swing set. :) I wish I had post with lines like the old days. I only do clothes {no ummentionables, per families request :) }. I love sheets to dry on the line.

    no real tips or anything except to make towels a little less stiff as a board I like to pop them in the dryer for a few minutes. Which I guess defeats the green factor.

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