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How to Choose a Clothesline

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Use a clothesline instead of a dryer to dry your clothes in warm, dry weather. You save money, energy, and the clothes smell great after drying in the fresh air! One reader says, "You get a little exercise, too!" Here are tips on how to choose an outdoor clothesline:

  • The average load of wash uses about 35 feet of line; your clothesline should accommodate at least that. Unless the height of a pulley-style line is significant, the clothesline shouldn't be a lot longer than that, as the sag factor increases with length.
  • A load of wet wash weighs about 15 to 18 pounds (assuming it is spin-dried). It will shed about a third of that weight as it dries. This may not seem like much weight, but it won't take long for your new clothesline to get stretched out a bit. By leaving a little "tail" when you tie your knot for either style of clothesline, you'll be able to undo it, pull the line tight, and retie it as often as you need to.

Three Common Clothesline Types

  1. Basic plastic clothesline has the advantage of being waterproof and cleanable (you can wipe off the inevitable mildew). With wire and fiber reinforcement, it is stretch-resistant—and it's cheap. You can find a 100-foot roll for less than $4. However, it is thin, which means that it will be harder for you to grip, and the clothespin is not going to hold as tightly as on a thicker line.
  2. Multifilament polypropylene (nylon) is tempting because it is lightweight, water- and mildew-resistant, and strong (our sample was 640-pound test). However, its slippery texture deters a firm clothespin grip, and it doesn't tie well.
  3. Our top choice is basic cotton clothesline. It's about the same price as nylon, which is about $7 to $8 per 100 feet. In theory, it is weaker (only 280-pound test in our sample), but unless you're hanging out pots and pans to dry, it should hold up fine.

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Comments

it's good that different

By Kenneth Lawrence

it's good that different companies come up with new designs for clothes to dry. i especially appreciate indoor clothes line, they never make my clothes smell dry. got it from http://www.lifestyleclotheslines.com.au/folding-rotary-clothes-lines/, they always come up with new designs which i love.

The rain I receive is off the

By Danny Lucey

The rain I receive is off the ocean. Will my clothes get dirtier if it rains on the newly washed clothes?

It's fine if the clothes are

By Almanac Staff

It's fine if the clothes are rained on; you just need to wait longer for them to dry!

Hello everyone :) I have

By Rachel-newby

Hello everyone :) I have never used a clothesline but I remember other people in our neighborhood using it when I was growing up in the early 80s. I have a few questions, since I'm new to this and thought I would maybe get one a try it out. First, does the dirt, pollen, etc cause wet clothes to get dirty? Do you have a problem with birds (poop) or hanging out on the poles/lines? If so, how do you deal with that? Which is better, a long line with a pulley system or the umbrella style? Lastly, what are the best types of clothespins to use? I'm used to seeing the wooden or plastic spring kind, but I do remember the ones that people used for crafts that have a little head at the top?

Thanks for all your help!

Hi, Rachel, You may find this

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Rachel, You may find this blog post on clotheslines helpful: http://www.almanac.com/blog/natural-health-home-tips/get-out-and-hang-out-your-laundry
If you have any questions, you could post on the blog to the author who will answer them!
Cheers, the OFA editors

I've just bought a clothes

By Polly Due

I've just bought a clothes tree from a company in California, Breezecatcher have this fantastic parallel clothes line, its aluminum but it looks like wood. I've been hanging out laundry for many years and I've never soon a clothesline as strong as this.

I always hang my clothes

By mulebelle

I always hang my clothes outdoors and indoors when it's raining too much. I know it sounds crazy but I just hate clothes dried in the dryer!

If you are looking for good clothespins, try Lee Valley Tools - just Google them. They have the good larger ones that really hold nice. By the way...I use clothes pins for everything it seems. A very nice tool around the ranch!

Response to Marsha Knatcal -

By Rebecca Lynch

Response to Marsha Knatcal - I also live in an area where a full clothesline isn't possible. However I bought a folding drying rack from amazon.com and I hang clothes on it and put it in the yard right behind the house. Large racks will fit almost a whole load, and I can even drape sheets over it. I don't know if this will help you but just thought I'd suggest as it has worked well for me. I can't stand to run the dryer when the weather is nice out!

We've installed a

By Heather Morijah

We've installed a clothes-drying tree at every house we've owned; I like it much better than stringing a line. Takes up much less space and can be folded up and stored for the winter. Not too expensive, either.

I really miss hanging our

By Marsha Knatcal

I really miss hanging our clothes out to dry, but a few years ago we moved to a woooded area and there is no place to put up a line. Even so, the pollen from all the trees would stick to the wet clothes - yuck. Sure wish there was a way...

I love line dried clothes,

By aschenbrodel

I love line dried clothes, but as a Washington State resident, we don't get to till August thur Sept. Mighty short drying season!

I too hang out my clothes to

By Jayne Stubbs

I too hang out my clothes to dry. Being a senior, 68 this year, I remember using the the wringer washer and hanging the clothes out..Also, I recall my Mom using the curtain stretcher to dry the starched curtains. WOW..the early 50's..what a way to live..fresh smell of bed sheets..fresh grown veggies and so much peace and neighbors so willing to help each other. It seems this day in time people want too much in the way of materialistic items..will not save for them and to get a young teenager to mow the lawn or shovel snow...no way. the world of video games, cell phones and pc games have taken the children out of the sunshine, which provide the Vitamin D and has caused so many over-weight youngsters and Diebetics at such a young age.

To hear my parent and grandparents speak of their days of growing up and I thought "um" well, I now can see what they meant..

We never left the door unlocked, however, as a youngster I could walk down the street and my parents did not have to worry about kidnapping/molestation and murder.

However, change must happen..Just look at how far medicine has come and the longevity of us now..

In closing, I am thankful every day that I experienced the quieter, easy life with God's creations and I still can "sing in the sunshine" and hang out my clothes.

I live in Alabama and hang

By 49hillbilly

I live in Alabama and hang out year round. When it's rainy I just don't do laundry or just enough to 'get by'. I wait untill I can hang out again. The smell of line dried clothes is one of my favorite smells!

It still isnt nive enough

By little rit

It still isnt nive enough here in northeastern ohio but I love to hang the clothes out, they come in smelling so fresh, you dont have to use the iron.
My only problem is finding the old time clothepins, my grandmothers are about gone and the new ones dont hold up, anyone out there have any place to buy the old time wood clothpins?

Have you tried craft shops?

By Kathy F.

Have you tried craft shops? They sometimes have the old-fashioned clothes pins. I live in southeastern Ohio and enjoy hanging out clothes too.

If you do not find them at a

By swood

If you do not find them at a fabric store like Joann's you might find them at a teacher supply store - they are used in crafts all the time.

If you are refering to the

By 49hillbilly

If you are refering to the old peg type instead of the type with the spring, I have seen them in craft stores, such as Michaels and JoAnns.

I love hanging out clothes,

By Linda Johnson 6

I love hanging out clothes, hard to believe in some parts of this country it's against the policy of homeowners to have clothes lines,now I would be finding a differant place to live, no, I wouldn't have moved there to start with. Love the crisp feel of towels, they dry you off so much better when hung outside, and ohhhh to slip into the sheets that have been outside all day drying.........need to go back to the 50's, so much nicer.....

The "fiefdom" I live in

By vcross1960

The "fiefdom" I live in doesn't allow anyone to have a clothesline or even put clothes out on a drying rack in your backyard (we're only allowed cross beam fences four feet high). Of course, they also don't allow solar panels or composting, they're keeping the subdivision "tidy" they say.

There used to be a rule

By crazynance

There used to be a rule against lines in Ontario, but David Suzuki got them to change their minds! :D

I am so fortunate to live in

By Theresa Townshend

I am so fortunate to live in Florida. I hang my clothes all year. Once in a while we get a rainy spell so I can't, but that does not happen often. I do put some snuggle in the rinse water so that there is a softness that I don't get with line drying. Our water is very hard.

Snuggle (or any commercial

By Scott Giddings

Snuggle (or any commercial fabric softener) have chemicals. I have no idea what they are or what they do to me or the environment. I have found a little white vinager in the rinse water will act as a softener. After drying outside there is no lingering vinager odor.

No mattter how hard they try,

By Ellen Delatte

No mattter how hard they try, no chemical company can duplicate the fresh, clean scent of clothes(especially cottons)dried outdoors. If you let the dew fall on the clothes and then dry, they come out particularly fresh and linens will stay that way for a long time.

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