The redhead’s little laundry secrets – The clothesline


If you read “The redhead’s little laundry secrets: Part 1″ that I posted on July 24 about homemade laundry detergent, I’m sure you’re anxiously awaiting to read the second part of my tips on how to save money on the world’s most exciting chore – laundry.

Why yes, I air my laundry in public!

Here’s my second tip – get yourself a clothesline.

“Um, a what?” is probably what most millennials are thinking aloud. I personally think clotheslines fell out of favor with the Baby Boomers and the Gen X’ers, but the Depression and World War II generation knows what I’m talking about.

My mom didn’t have one, but my grandmothers did. I remember running around between the lines when my grandmother hung bed sheets as a kid. To me, it felt like a secret, fortress-type hiding place.

Our house had old, rotted wooden clothesline posts when we moved in two years ago that were too far gone to use. In May, I had my husband construct these new poles out of metal and we painted them white. Wooden posts would have been cheaper, but I wanted something that would last a long time. I bought line and clothespins at a dollar store (seriously!) and started using my line in June.

Does it actually save money? Yes. A dryer is one of the appliances that use the most energy in your home. I saved about $5 last month on my electric bill and about the same on this month’s, so roughly $10 total. Yes, that’s not a lot, but that’s cash that I didn’t have before for just letting the sun and wind do the drying work for me. And, for the record, I have an energy efficient dryer.

The other perk of having a clothesline is that your clothes will smell amazing. Sun has a scent that no commercial fabric softeners can match.

Here are my tips and personal rules I use when hanging clothes on the line:

1. I don’t hang out the skivvies (underwear) for everyone and their brother to see. I have a wood drying rack that I leave in the laundry room or put out on my screened in back porch for the unmentionables. I could hang them out if I put them on the middle line where they’d be hidden by other clothes, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

2. I also do not hang out my dress clothes so they don’t fade. This load is the only time I use my dryer during a week.

3. Hang clothes between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Anything placed on the line before or after those times never dries completely for me. This may change if your clothesline is in a different location, but the sun is blocked during the after hours for my line.

4. Turn everything inside out to prevent fading.

5. Wash clothes in this order: Towels, jeans, sweatshirts/other heavy fabrics, knits, sheets. The towels take the longest to dry, so I want them out first, and the sheets take the least. I’ve had my sheets dry in 15 minutes before if the weather conditions are right.

6. The best drying days are those that are sunny, freaking hot and with a slight breeze.

7. Slight breeze and windy are too different things. You will be chasing clothes across the yard if the day is too windy. I speak from experience. One of Say Guy’s shirts made a break for freedom once.

8. Hang socks by the toes, shirts by the hemline, and pants/jeans by the waistband. These are the places where the pin marks are least noticeable. Clothes will dry exactly how you hang them.

9. Towels and jeans will dry as stiff as a board, but you can fix that. If the stiffness bothers you, just toss them in the dryer on air only and they’ll fluff right up. You’ll never notice a difference.

10. Don’t hang out clothes when the neighbors are mowing. For one thing, your clothes will smell like grass (unless you actually like the smell of cut grass) and two, you might get clippings on your clothes.

I’ve had friends ask me if hanging out my clothes bothers my allergies. No, it doesn’t. I can’t believe it either because I’m allergic to practically everything outside but poison ivy.

If you’re thinking about a clothesline and you live within incorporated city/village limits, you might want to check to see if there are ordinances against the use of a clothesline. Some towns do prohibit them, which I think is silly.

If you’re a crafty type person, you can make your own clothespin bag! Here are the instructions.

~ Julie

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4 responses

  1. This is great! I want a clothesline, but DBF isn’t sold. I wonder if I can win him over with the energy savings. I really love the tips about how best to hang things. My mom used to use a clothesline and while I found that clothes came out crisp instead of fluffy, but knowing that a quick fluff in the dryer will fix that makes my day! And think of the money we’ll save on dryer sheets! I don’t like liquid fabric softener. Oh man…I’m really excited now!

    • I say do the ol’ switcheroo on the fabric sheets and use baking soda and see if he notices. If he’s anything like Sax Guy, he won’t. Sax Guy didn’t even use fabric softener in college and couldn’t figure out why I thought he was weird.

      The clothesline does save money! It did cost a small fortune for the metal poles, but you can get retractable lines to hang from two poles, trees, etc. for a few bucks. Sax Guy wasn’t crazy about putting one up either until I offered to pay for it and bake him cookies. Pretty sure it was the cookies that sealed the deal!

  2. Pingback: The redhead’s little laundry secrets: Part 1 | Outtakes on the Outskirts

  3. Pingback: Tips to save money in 2012 | Outtakes on the Outskirts

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