It used to be a common sight to see a clothesline in backyards with clean laundry blowing in the wind. These days, it’s not as common, but it should be. Drying your clothes on a clothesline saves money, energy and helps your clothes last longer. If you’re new to the idea and are learning how to dry clothes on a clothesline, these tips are just what you need.
Growing up in a trailer where air conditioning was a dream, my Momma used a clothesline a lot of my childhood. I loved watching sheets blow in the wind and I especially loved how clean and fresh they smelled when she brought them inside.
As an adult, it’s been a rare thing for me to have the room to hang a clothesline, but when I can do it, I always make sure I do. After all, using a clothesline has quite a few “wins” for me that go far beyond great smelling sheets.
But, if you have never used a clothesline before, you may be a little unsure what the best way to use said clothesline is. You may even be unsure why you should dry your clothes on a clothesline. That’s where I come in.
Why Should I Use a Clothesline?
Whether you know it or not, your dryer is one of the single most expensive appliances you have in your home. They consume the second power to run and also tend to heat your home up quite a bit. In the summer, this means you are paying more to cool your home. The fridge is the first in case you were wondering.
This can be especially damaging if you’re trying to cool your home without air conditioning.
A clothes dryer can also be extremely damaging to your clothing. High heat like they put out can melt and weaken clothing fibers, destroy prints and more.
A clothesline on the other hand is free to use once it is set up. It does not heat your home or send you running for ways to save money on your electric bill. It also doesn’t add any additional wear and tear to your clothes.
How Big Does My Clothesline Need to Be?
The truth is not very big at all. You will need to work with the space you have. If you have a nice backyard, you shouldn’t have any issues. If you live in an apartment, your balcony may work if you have one. If not, you can even string a clothesline in your shower or use a portable clothes drying rack with the same results.
How Long Do Clothes Take to Dry on a Clothesline?
It depends on the weather. If it is a hot, sunny day, your clothes will dry faster. If it is humid, they will dry slower. Obviously, if it is raining, they won’t dry at all. 😉
How Do I Set Up a Clothes Line?
Take a look at the tips below. They will help you learn how to set up a clothesline and how to make sure your clothes are fully taken care of. Once you’ve read them, you’ll be ready to hang your own clothes out to dry!
Find the Right Spot for Your Clothesline
Having your clothesline in the best spot in your yard will ensure that your clothes get dry quickest. Ideally, you will want to hang your clothesline in a place that is free from trees and receives sun for most of the day.
It can also be helpful if you can hang it away from buildings that may block the summer breeze. The breeze combined with heat from the sun are what ultimately dry your clothes so having a good amount of both in your spot will be extremely helpful.
Another thing to take into account when you are looking for the right spot is where you will secure the line itself at. This could be between trees, between buildings or any other place that is secure. Just keep in mind that if the line itself is not secured properly, it could fall and take your clothes with it.
Use the Right Type of Clothesline
Honestly, you can use any type of rope to hang a clothesline, but it is best to use something that will hold up to the weather. Some types such as jute rope will not hold up to sun and storms as well as others.
For the best results, use a rope specifically made for clotheslines. These often are coated in a plastic outer layer that allows them to take a beating without fraying or breaking.
Choose the Best Type of Clothespins
You will need something to hang your clothes on the line with. Otherwise, you are likely to find your underwear flying down the street with the first strong wind that hits them.
The first type of clothespin is wooden clothespins. While these are more natural, they are also far easier to break and tend to dry out in the heat making them unusable. These are likely what your granny used.
The second and far more durable type are plastic clothespins. These work the same but will last far longer meaning you save even more money by not needing to replace them as often.
Make Sure Your Clothesline is at the Right Height
It may not seem important, but how high your clothesline is hung is actually important. If it is too low, clothing like jeans and sheets may drag the ground getting dirty all over again. If it is too high, you may not be able to reach it easily.
Typically clotheslines are hung between five and six feet. The best way to gauge is to simply hang it at or slightly above your head. You will still be able to reach it easily and at that height, nothing should be dragging the ground.
Another option that doesn’t require you measuring is to use a premade clothesline structure like this rotary clothesline dryer. These typically come needing put together, but they take care of any height issues or that pesky where to secure the clothesline issue at.
Soften Your Clothes in the Wash
If you are used to using fabric softener, you will likely want to continue softening your clothes. However, you do not need to use an expensive name brand fabric softener in your wash and since you are not using the dryer, you can’t use fabric softener sheets.
The quick answer to this is to use plain white vinegar in your wash cycle. Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load depending on size. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oils if you would like a specific scent. The vinegar will work in the wash cycle to soften your clothes even more than the clothesline alone will do!
Check Local Laws
While I have never had an issue with this myself and I don’t believe I know of anyone who has, different cities and towns have different laws. Check with your local City Hall to make sure you’re allowed to have a clothesline.
Some places may consider them an eyesore and may have bylaws stating you can’t have them.
Check HOA Rules
IF you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, you will also want to contact them to be sure you’re allowed to hang your clothes to dry. This is far more likely than a city having laws against it since HOA’s can be quite picky about what they allow people to have.
In either case, it is well worth making those phone calls. The fines that may be involved if you break a law or rule are not worth the savings your clothesline will bring you.
Check the Weather
The last thing you want to have happen is to put a nice, clean load of laundry out to dry only to have the sky open up and dump the entire Pacific Ocean on top of them. Like I said above, that rather defeats the purpose and keeps them from drying at all.
Instead of risking this, check your local weather reports and radar before you put a load on to wash. It’s best to wait a day to wash and dry than it is to waste energy or have sopping wet clothes all day.
Finally, learn to be patient when using a clothesline. You are used to your clothes dryer getting your clothes dry in about an hour. When you are hanging your clothes to dry, this could take longer.
If you don’t have a little patience about it, you will be tempted to go back to using that expensive machine. At a time when most people need to boost their savings and save as much as possible, it is worth the extra patience required if it helps you financially.