I don’t own a clothes dryer, which means using sturdy indoor and outdoor drying equipment.
The year the wooden posts holding up our old outside clothesline finally collapsed, I ordered one I found online featuring steel posts and crossbeams and a lifetime guarantee.
Because it was a gift for the man of the house, I had the product delivered to my office, so I could keep it as a surprise.
It arrived one day when I was out of the office, appearing to be nothing but a couple of long, beefy steel poles taped together (the cross pieces were tucked inside the support poles, and customers provide their own clothes lines).
Because of my reputation as the office exercise fanatic, my colleagues assumed I’d ordered a stripping pole, since “pole dancing” was one of the hot new exercise trends that year.
We all had quite a laugh when I let them in on the true purpose of the poles. I hauled them home in our ancient pickup, and the gift was well received. We set the support poles into 18 inches of cement, and years later our laundry still swings brightly on sunny days year ‘round.
Are you planning to hang out this summer? If not, why not?
Let me give a few of my top reasons for hanging the family laundry outside:
- You’ll lower your gas or electric bill. Project Laundry List estimates the average household could save 10 to 20 percent percent on utility bills by hanging the wash.
- You’ll lower your risk of a home fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, clothes dryers or washing machines cause about 4 percent of house fires. In 2006, these appliances caused 15 civilian deaths, 360 injuries, and $194 in direct property damage.*
- Hanging laundry gets you outside. Being outside in bright light can alleviate depression, improve immunity, increase social relationships, and more.
- Line-drying prolongs the life of your clothing. The roiling and tumbling of damp laundry takes its toll on the fibers in clothing and bedding.
- Sunlight is a good bleach and disinfectant. Line-drying also helps remove stains without adding chemical agents to your wash. The downside: Fading. To prevent bright colors from fading, turn the items inside out, or hang them on bars in the shade.
- You can’t beat the smell of line-dried laundry. Ah! Plunging my nose into a pile of sun-dried clothes releases a cascade of feel-good endorphins. (Yankee Candle tries to replicate the scent in their Clean Cotton line.)
- Rough, air-dried towels make the best exfoliants. (Did you know you can actually buy “exfoliating towels”?) Saves time and money, since you can multi-task—exfoliate all over while you dry off—and forget about buying exfoliating scrubs and scrubbers.
*Thanks to alert reader, Peter Rukavina, for correcting the error in my original reporting of the fire danger.
Margaret Boyles lives in a wood-heated house in central New Hampshire. She grows vegetables, eats weeds, keeps chickens, swims in a backyard pond in summer, snowshoes in the surrounding woods in winter, and commutes by bike whenever possible.