Monday, October 15, 2012

Pros and Cons of Line Drying

It's like rai-ee-ain on your laundry day!
I have started line drying. While this is somewhat out of necessity (we have an electric dryer and the house has a gas hook-up), it isn't a stretch to say that line drying is something I had always wanted to do at the old house, but couldn't because of a tiny, shady patio and HOA restrictions! Now that I have been line drying for a few months, I want to share what I've found to be some of the pros and cons of the whole process:

Cons:
  • My laundry is now subject to the weather. Last week it rained on laundry day. (see above photo).
  • It takes longer to hang the clothes on the line than than it does to throw clothes in the dryer
  • It takes longer for clothes to dry unless it is HOT outside-- then it is actually quicker.
  • I actually have to plan ahead in terms of my wardrobe. There is no more "quickly" washing an outfit an hour or so before needing it (see above).
  • Lint and dog hair doesn't magically disappear like it does in a dryer, so if one's husband leaves receipts in his pockets and they disintegrate in the wash, there are still bits of laundered paper and fibers all over the dry clothes. Same goes for dog hair from the world's most sheddingest dog. (yeah, yeah, lint rollers are cheaper than power for the dryer)
  • Crunchy towels. If you like rubbing yourself down with sandpaper post-shower, then line-dried towels are for you. I do not, so it is a MAJOR con. One that has me seriously thinking about asking my neighbor if I can dry our towels in her dryer.

Pros:
  • It totally ups my crunchy street cred. Sure, I'm not cloth diapering right now, but this offsets adding my Seventh Gen. diapers to the local landfill, right? Right????
  • The laundry smells GREAT. Before you say "well, yeah, my laundry smells good too," let me share that we use a scent-free eco-friendly detergent because Little Man is allergic to most commercial detergents. So, instead of getting its clean, fresh scent from mystery "fragrances," our laundry smells like sunshine, fresh air, rainbows and unicorns. (P.S.-- stay tuned for my adventures in DIY laundry detergent).
  • We're saving money on dryer sheets and electricity, so that is a bonus.
  • I can pair up socks as I hang them and that saves precious minutes when it comes to folding time.
  • I get some alone time to reflect on life as I hang the laundry. It has become my quiet zen time.
  • I can use hanging the laundry as an excuse to ignore the fighting and crying that often floats out the back door and assails my ears... "No, Mommy can't come and deal with playroom tragedy #155 right now, she's hanging laundry."
Overall, I am happy with our decision to line dry and would encourage others to give it a whirl.

Anyone line drying and have the solution to my towels as 100 grit sandpaper issue? Any of you hoping to make the leap into line drying and have questions? Let me know! I'm planning a future Q&A post with one of my cousins who is a line drying pro and who I think is totally rad.


This post is featured on The Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Wednesday Blog Hop

38 comments:

  1. If you use white vinegar the same way you would fabric softener it helps get all detergent residues out of the towels and makes them softer despite line drying. Don't worry about the smell of vinegar as the previously praise sunshine will overwhelm any traces of vinegar.

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    1. Thanks for the tip! I'll have to try it on my kitchen towels, as I just washed the bath towels today. That will also give me a chance to see how the vinegar scent fades after a dose of rainbows and unicorns!

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    2. I add lavender EO to the vinegar and although when I actually wear my clothes there is no scent at all (either vinegar or lavender) when I hang indoors it gives me a wonderful smell while I hang which adds to the zen like feeling you mentioned. The vinegar is awesome, because hanging indoors without the added vinegar makes towels worse than outside because there's no wind

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    3. Charli-- Thank you for that tip! I usually put tea tree oil in with my towels/kitchen wash because it helps get rid of any mildew-y funk smell they might have. I'll have to add lavendar to the vinegar and see how it works out!

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  2. I gas dry all my clothes for five minutes, put them on hangers, then on to the clothes line to dry. This will solve your wrinkle and crunchy and hair problems.

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    1. Thanks for the tip! Unfortunately, I don't have a gas dryer, so that won't help, but may help other line dryers out there! :)

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  3. Try the vinegar rinse and then hang them over the towel rack to "steam" as you shower. Softens them alittle and then you keep telling yourself that they are better than a loofah at removing skin. Smile!

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    1. I have the most glowing skin on the planet after drying off with a fresh-from-the-line towel!! It is truly assisting me in reversing the aging process by scraping off a layer of skin. :)

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  4. I've been line drying for nearly five years now. It's lot of work. I just try keep telling myself it's good exercise. Good luck.

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    1. How did I forget that "Pro"?!?! It is excellent exercise!!!

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  5. Yeah, the towels are a downfall...but the electric bill being about a third cheaper, seems to be worth it...but IF you can use any kind of liquid softener in the wash...it does help...

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    1. I agree about the electric bill. Our bill for twice the amount of house is about half what we used to pay at the condo, so that is a bonus.

      Alas, I am pretty sure liquid softener would turn my Little Man into a walking hive. :/

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  6. for many years I "hung out" mostly because i didn't have a dryer for a few of my hanging out days.. had an old wringer washer also that i gave 20 bucks for.. saved me about 5 dollars a week in laundromat fees( that tells you how old i am!).. small baby and real diapers!! many days i hung out..the clothes froze and then i would bring them in and hang on hangers.. towels were saved for windy days(really windy).. one night wind came up so i quick washed blankets.. left them out overnight..wind whipped the bottoms right off them!!! but you are right.. they smell heavenly!!

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    1. YIKES!!! We get a nice breeze around here, but never enough to take the bottom off of a blanket! :)

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    2. Hi I'm new to your blog & love to line dry. If you hang the towels and sheets so at least the corners touch they *flick* eachother and keep from becoming so stiff. A trick my Mom taught me years ago..loving your blog!

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    3. Glad you are loving my blog! :)

      I'm gonna have to have my towels and sheets get to know each other! That is a good little tidbit to know!

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  7. Give your towels a couple vigorous shakes before and after drying them, it'll help soften them up, and ditto the vinegar. If you dry them on a windy day you can skip the post drying shakeout(the wind does it for you ):-)

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  8. If you switch your detergent to Charlie's Soap (order it online) you will not miss softener or your old stuff. It works great. We first started using it for cloth diapers. I grew up using the "upside down umbrella" spinny style clothes dryer. I liked the etiquette rules my mother set forth: panties and bras on the inside lines, then shirts, and pants, finally large stuff like towels and sheets on the outside. I love that all the clothes get washed and you don't have to wait for the dryer. My Grandmother hung a line on the inside of her garage door. She could easily open the garage for the clothes to dry, and if the weather got bad, she would close it. You would have to wash the inside of your garage door fairly well, but I always thought it was brilliant!

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    1. We had the upside-down umbrella dryer too! Of course, in the heat of the Central Valley of CA, our stuff dried SO stiffly. I swear my jeans could've walked off the line!!

      And being less than couth, I let everything hang out... unless I know my father-in-law or any other males who aren't my husband or children are coming over.

      I'll have to check out Charlie's Soap. I know I heard it bandied about when I was cloth diapering, but have yet to try it. When this store bought detergent runs out, I'm going to try my hand at making my own detergent.

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  9. So it looks like the hands-down best thing to do is add vinegar in the place of my fabric softener. I'm definitely going to try it out with my kitchen laundry tomorrow!

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  10. Oh how I loathed line drying when we were growing up, mostly because of the crunchiness! Hope the vinegar works well for your towels

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    1. Yeah, I was nervous about the SUPER crunchiness I remembered from childhood, but thankfully, the milder weather prevents taht. Everything is pretty soft and fresh.

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  11. I have always line dried and dont have an issue with crunchy towels. My last washing machine had a built in dryer which got used about 3 times the entire lifetime of the machine, so when it gave up and died I got one that was just a washer this time.
    I recommend using white vinegar in the rinse cycle, it works better than any softener, (and it doesnt leave a vinegary smell, honestly) so maybe that is why you have trouble with the towels.
    Living in the UK means I have to pick and choose which days are best as far as the weather goes, as we do get a LOT of rainy days. On summer days I can get several batches dried in a couple of hours as it is so warm and breezy, but in winter I can have a line-full out for several days when it is so wet and cold (I have an indoor maiden for emergency drying but it still takes a day indoors)
    If you have an airing cupboard consider fitting a tension rod across so you can put things on hangers in the cupboard, this dries them well)
    If you find clothes are coming out dripping wet, consider setting the machine for an extra spin cycle (not rinse and spin - just spin) this will get rid of some more excess water.

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    1. I wonder if the UK's naturally damper climate contributes to your softer towels. I have a sister living in Brazil who couldn't understand why EVERYONE there seemed to line dry. Growing up in the super heat of CA's Central Valley (100+ for most of the summer) she was used to crunchy everything. She said the humidity of Brazil actually keeps the line-dried clothes soft.
      Those are some great pointers for people living in areas where they don't get massive sunshine (like here in Southern California). I have an indoor drying rack which I set up in the kitchen on last week's rainy day, which came in handy when it was pouring rain and I realized I was wearing my last pair of clean underwear!

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  12. "snapping" and vigorously shaking your towels(and other items, too) will loosen the stuck-together fibers that cause them to feel stiff. You may notice they are softer on windy days?

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    1. I have been shaking them a little (more just to uncrumple them), but will up my efforts to vigorous!

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  13. Ooh...also, my grandma bought a retractable clothesline and eye screw and had them up in the bathtub. She would use that if things were very wet out. We hang almost all our clothes on plastic hangers on the molding over the doors. Sunday night requires ducking and dodging. I love it because I never have to iron! We take all slacks, shirts, and Kenzie's uniforms out of the wash and hang them up damp.

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    1. Not that I ironed before, but the not ironing is also a perk! :)
      I love your grandma's resourcefulness! That is pretty brilliant!

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  14. My dryer has been broken for about 6 months so I have been line drying for that long. I love the smell and the quiet time outside enjoying the sounds of the birds and the fresh air.

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    1. Me too, on the smell and quiet time. Hanging laundry on the line is kind of a zen time for me. AND it makes me slow down and be quiet for a little bit.

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  15. If you bring in the towels while still slightly damp, they will not get so crunchy. I just hang them up in the bathrooms or drape over laundry baskets slightly damp and they dry soft in the house. However, I am off laundry duty now, as I am a teacher Sept-June and my husband does laundry when I go back to work. He uses the dryer, but likes that I use the line in the summer.

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    1. I will definitely give that a whirl. Perhaps the damp dry + vinegar will be the answer to my towel ailment! :)

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  16. Here are my line-drying tips. Other pros are getting rid of static cling and having your clothes and linens last longer.

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    1. The lack of static cling is a bonus, for sure! I'll have to check out your tips!

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  17. A wonderful post. I am line drying and i am using Soap Nuts. I have been using these for months and our laundry feels a lot softer after line drying. You see my post about soap nuts in my Blog ( The green Minimalist. http://thegreenminimalist.blogspot.com/) . I just ordered a big bag. I might be able to send you some to try.
    Lovely blog By the way.
    Thank you
    Paris
    Here is the link about the soap nuts.
    http://thegreenminimalist.blogspot.com/2012/09/laundry.html

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  18. Oh, the towels, hang them so they overlap and touch. As the breeze moves them they rub each other and stay soft...it works for me. On super hot days when they dry quickly I go & change the hanging position...more work but worth it. Otherwise, look at it as a built in exfoliant!(SP?)

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  19. I grew up with line dried clothes, so I love the stiff " crunchy " towels. I like the way they feel and they dry better. I also think that dryers ruin your clothes. They shrink & fade them. line drying deff. prolongs the life of your clothes and linens. The smell is amazing too!! The only issues I have is the time and occasional inconvenience. You do have to plan ahead and check the weather channel first. I'm a Florida girl. lol

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