Tuesday, May 04, 2010

letting the hippie out

Sorry, but I'm taking the excitement level down around here. Last post was about seductive dance, today's is about drying your clothes. Titillating, I know. Try to contain yourselves.

I need some advice. I hate using the electric clothes dryer, and our laundry room is often seen overrun with clothes hanging from a metal drying rack, wet clothes on hangers hung all over the room, and sometimes even clothes in the dining room or kitchen draped over chairs. My old house had this fabulous clothes line across the section of the basement devoted to laundry, but the new house is lacking in such novelties. Our new room is a largish laundry room, so there is no reason why I can't eventually add some laundry hanging racks or whatever, but it isn't in the budget right now.

Anyway, I've never experimented with outdoor laundry drying, and I'm intrigued. I read people's reports of the fresh outdoor smell on sheets or clothing, and I want to see if this smell really lives up to its reputation. I want a clothesline.

Josh is mortified, of course, and has been muttering under his breath how tacky we are going to look and what is wrong with me, and keeps suggesting ridiculous alternatives to dry our clothes that do not include drying outside. I will not be deterred, though. I want the fresh smell, I want to feel these amazing sheets, I want to embrace my eco-friendly side.

My problem is, I don't know where to start. My instinct is to buy two pulleys, string one from our deck and one from our tree. Then I'd stand on the deck with our laundry basket and attach each piece of laundry and pull the string away from me as I load it up, then do the opposite when I take it down. Of course, this is maximum visibility and maximum tackiness in Josh's opinion. This is the cheapest and easiest option, however. Another possibility is to buy one of these portable racks and put it outside on the patio or deck or whatever when I'd like to hang up clothes, but there are an awful lot of portable racks and they aren't quite as inexpensive as I'd hoped. I looked up all the other directions for installing a more permanent clothesline, but those directions involved concrete and digging holes and I just don't think we'll ever get to it these days.

So, suggestions? Anyone use a clothesline? Liked it, hated it? Have tips on which to buy? Would like to tell me what a crazy crunchy nut I'm turning out to be? If you'd told me a few years ago when I was dry cleaning everything I owned, ordering take out every night at the office, and gas guzzling all over town, that in a few short years I would be hanging everything up to dry, breastfeeding my 16 month old, participating in a community supported agriculture share, and buying tons of organic foods, I'd have laughed in your face.

Oh, how times have changed!


Stacy said...

I love to dry clothes outside. They do smell awesome. my BF hates it! So right now I do not have an outside line-we moved into new house last year too.

I prefer the umbrella type clothes line. They are compact and do not take up large amounts of space, yet normally you can get 2-3 loads on one. They are not terribly expensive-$40. But you need to buy an additonal pole to put it in unless you are very short. I used a chain length fence pole, they are open and you can simply slide one pole inside the other. you can drill through it and put a screw in to make it the excat height you want.

If money is tight, for maybe $5 you can buy a 100 length of clothes line at walmart etc, and simply tie it up between a couple trees.

The pully system works also.

Any way you do it. Look for a nice nylon rope, that is about 1/8-1/4 thick, that won't stretch. that is the one bad thing about traditional plastic clothes line, it stetches out. and then your cloths drag the ground.


Theresa said...

I love my outdoor clothes line too. All I did was buy the line and have the hubs string it up between two trees, wrapped around the trunks, so I have a double line. Of course, ours in the back yard, and even though we don't have privacy fencing, it's still fairly "hidden" from the road view. Still, the hubs NEVER uses it. If he does the laundry, it will end up in the dryer. When I use it, his only stipulation is to please not hang dry underwear. LOL

Chatty Cricket said...

Ohhhhhh, we have a clothesline at the beach, and GAH but I love to dry stuff outside. We mainly use it for towels and bathing suits, HOWEVER, things dried on the clothesline DO SMELL BETTER. Ours is a permanent line strung between two trees at a reachable height. It's just a standard line.

I WILL SAY you must check the clothes and shake them out pretty well to ensure you're not folding any critters (spiders, ants mostly) in with your clean things, but that's not the hugest deal. I would totally think you can find a retractable clothesline anywhere- hang it between two trees, or a tree and your deck and then you can pull it out when you need it, retract it away when you don't.

Clotheslines and outdoor showers are two of life's most overlooked delights.

Anonymous said...

Drying laundry by solar power is amazing! Although most people are looking for a bargain they end up spending more year over year to replace the economy versions, or give up after a few mishaps and rewashing the load that ends up in the neighbors’ yard. The price of a good clothesline has changed since the 1940's like everything else. If you need to justify the spending, calculate how much 15% of your electricity bill is and the 2 pounds of CO2 for every 1000 watts of electricity you save. Then go out and do it right. If you have the backyard space post (tree) to house with two pulleys is the best way to go. It is always on and you will tend to use it more. Don't even bother trying the lighter smaller versions and knock offs sold at the department store. They are made to break. The retailers are providing cheep low quality versions because the market thinks 1940's prices and so....spend your money wisely. Plastic coated wire works well with zink pulleys (must have ball bearings to last). Tell your husband to get over his self and build you something you both can be proud of. Happy line drying.
Harness the power of change!

BabyMac said...

This is hilarious to me! Is there any other way to dry your clothes? Must be an Australian thing. We ONLY dry clothes in the sunshine - once you feel those crisp dry sheets that have been in the sun you will NEVER go back! Promise. I can't believe that everyone doesn't have a clothes line?! This has made my day HL! So, I am completely not sure what to suggest as I never knew that you guys didn't do this - but go for it! We have ones that pull out from a wall (retract) to a pole that can be taken out. Or a hills hoist which is an umbrella type thing - or a rack that folds out from a wall and then can fold back flat against the wall when you are not using it. SO many options! Good luck x

jo said...

Good god people. It is a clothesline! It's not like you are going to hang your knickers out for the world to see and it isn't as if you will leave your laundry out for weeks at a time. I just can't fathom the anti clothesline hatred.
I live in Newton and I use a clothesline. SO THERE. Take that lexus/BMW/Mercedes driving, Mc Mansion living snobs. I have a clothes line and a Jag so maybe I can't half hood credit I have a line rigged so I can unhook it, coil it, and take it down when not in use and I have one of those lovely telescoping poles I use to prop up the center of the line to stop the sheets from dragging. And oh dear lord the smell of freshly dried sheets CANNOT be replicated in any bottle. It is the smell of my grandmother, of summer, of living simpler and happier. I will NOT give that up just because someone considers it gauche. Really? I consider you chatting on your cell phone at top volume telling our life story at Whole Foods for all to hear gauche, so take that.
Just go for it, you'll never go back and screw image.

jo said...

I realise after hitting post that sounded very cheeky. People are so polarized about the whole issue, but I just don't understand the fuss over such a simple thing.

liz said...

Our HOA won't allow a clothesline (BOO!), but I vote that you get one. They're cheaper, better for the planet, better for your clothes. Sunshine is a terrific disinfectant and a natural, non-toxic bleach. Which means you need to bring your dark stuff in as soon as they're dry, but your whites you can leave out longer.

Summer said...

It's too humid here for me to dry clothes outside (not to mention there isn't any room on my tiny condo porch) but I still hang all my clothes to dry. I only use the dryer for towels (which tend to be stiff if hung to dry) and sheets. I use a foldable drying rack I bought from IKEA many years ago... I actually set it up in my bedroom! The rack holds a full load of clothing. I love it, and it's a great alternative if you're not able to set up a permanent clothesline outside. (Liz, I wonder if you could get away with setting up one on your deck or patio, if you put it away between loads?) In any case, I highly recommend this $20 rack, it'll pay for itself many times over!

OneTiredEma said...

Just hung out my first load of the year. I should have about 5 months until the rain comes back.

The middle eastern sun dries stuff in 2-4 hours, depending, and I figure it offsets the cost of using the A/C for months on end. It doesn't totally, but it's better than nothing.

It's good for the planet. Go 4 it!

halloweenlover said...

Summer's comment gave me the idea of just putting my regular little drying rack outside until we figure out our clothesline situation, and my clothes are currently drying outside on the back patio! HURRAY!

I just pulled in my first outdoor dried load! Yay!

Mary Q Contrarie said...

You will love drying clothes outside. They have a special feel and scent to them that you just can't get from a clothes dryer. I dry all my clothes on clothes drying racks. If the weather is nice the racks go outside. During rainy periods or when it is too cold. I do my laundry right before bed and place my racks in the middle of the living room directly under the ceiling fan. When I get up in the morning I simply take it all down and I have dry clothes.