Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Fine Art of Line Drying

I don't know what it is, but I feel like the perfect little housewife when I line dry clothes. It's really the only chore that I absolutely, thoroughly enjoy. And why not? I get to be outside on a perfect day in the sunlight and fresh air while burning about 70 calories in a half hour. Perfect! It saves money on gas/electric if using a machine you own or the stacks of quarters needed for a pay-machine. Dryer lint is basically just your clothes shredding, so line drying helps your clothes last a little longer. There's every reason to line dry your clothes. Here are my tips and tricks for efficiently and easily line drying all of our clothes.

Buy clothespins from the dollar stores. A big pack of wooden ones costs $1 (for 36 at Dollar Tree) and lasts just as long as more expensive ones. Keep an eye out for clothespins at thrift stores too. You can really never have enough.

Don't buy the cheap rope clotheslines that the dollar store sells. They are a little cheaper, but they do not last as long as a nice, plastic encased line. Worse yet, they will start shedding and will leave fuzz all over your clothes. As it is, the price difference is negligible: $1 for a cheap line, $4-6 for a nice line. When you consider that you'll go through 2 (at least) in the first year if you leave them in the elements, whereas the nicer ones will last for years, it's a no-brainer. Plus you don't have to try to dust off the fuzz from your hubby's favorite t-shirt without him noticing.

When you hang your clothesline, stretch it as tight as possible and leave a tail when you cut off the excess. As you hang clothes, the line with stretch a little or a lot depending on the quality of the line. If you leave a tail, you can pull it tight and retie as needed.

You can use as clothespin bag to hold your pins while you work, or keep them all in a clothespin apron (basically a half apron with a giant front pocket for holding the pins). I don't have either. I have a pretty basket that I put on my patio table (right next to my line). I pin a dozen or so pins onto my shirt, grab a handful of clothes and go hang. It's not pretty, but it works until I get around to modifying one of my aprons.

If you have your choice of weather, go for a warm, low-humidity day with a good breeze. This will ensure that your clothes dry quickly. Also, windy days make for softer clothes which makes for happier families.

If the weather is uncooperative (as I write this, we've had rain 28 of the last 30 days), you can still hang dry clothes, you just have to hang them inside. Get creative with this. Hang light items from hangers on the shower rod (don't hang too many or too heavy items or it will fall). Use clothespins to hang items from a wire shelf (again, stick to lighter items) or a thin towel rod. If your wire shelf is securely fastened to the wall, you can hang some lighter items from hangers slid in between the wires. Hang items from door handles or bathrobe hooks. Hang items from the oven door handle. Drape items over the back of wooden chairs. Drape items over stairway banisters. Lay items such as sweaters or shirts flat on a table, counter or the washing machine. Or you could go conventional and get an indoor clothes drying racks. Whatever.

In my old apartment, there were hooks in the basement where we washed our laundry. We strung up a clothesline and were able to line dry regardless of the weather. This basement wasn't very musty or humid, so this worked well. Clothes took longer to dry than outside, but it was a workable option, especially in winter.

If you have a "hang dry" setting on your washer, use it. This will spin the clothes longer to get them a bit dryer before you line dry them. If you don't have the option, simply set your dryer to spin dry a second time. In fact, this is a good tip even if you use the dryer as you can run the dryer for less time.

Make allowances as necessary for family bliss. Trucker is all for my efforts to save money and act in an environmentally responsible manner. What he's not a fan of is crusty jeans, towels and socks. Fair enough. I don't want to force him to wear uncomfortable jeans and have him snap and declare that all of his clothes much be machine dried. Instead, I line dry everything, then take down the items that are very rough, and toss them in the dryer for 10 minutes. It softens them just enough to be comfortable for him, but not long enough to make much of an impact on our energy bill. I soften our towels, jeans and socks; nothing else is crunchy enough to need it.

If you have to pay for use of a dryer, the above tip won't help you, since you'd still have to pay $1.50 for the 10 minutes. Instead, wait until you have a few loads of laundry to wash. Wash all the loads at once, then separate out the items you want to dry in the machine from the ones you are okay with line drying. Usually, you can consolidate three or four loads of wash into one load for the dryer. Line dry the other 2-3 loads and you'll save $3-4.50. This was my method when we lived in an apartment with pay-appliances.

I generally sort my clothes as they come out of the wash into my large basket. I put heavy items on the bottom, then have one corner of shirts, one corner of underwear, one of socks and one of dish towels/wash cloths/rags. This makes it easier and more efficient when hanging the clothes. Also, my clothesline will hang two medium-large loads of laundry, but I usually end up washing three loads. I start by hanging the light items from the first load, then work to the heavier items. I do the same with the second load. By the time the third load is coming out of the wash, the some of the lighter items are dry and I can remove them and start hanging items from the third load. Yes, I am aware that my OCD is showing. But it works.

As you pull damp clothes from the bin, give them a good snap. This will make for softer, less-wrinkled clothes. (This tip is also good for machine drying as it prevents tangled up messes that take longer to dry).

On sunny days, turn jeans and dark clothes inside out to prevent fading. Make sure to remove dark items as soon as they are dry. For whites that need brightening, leave them out in the sun as long as you please as the sun acts as a nice, natural bleach.

On really windy days, overlap an inch of fabric from each piece over the line and put the clothespin over both layers. This will keep the clothes from blowing off onto the ground.

If you are running out of space or clothespins, you can run a row of dishcloths or other lighter items together. Overlap the corner of the two pieces and use one clothespin to hang it. You can run this as long as you'd like. This saves enough space to add a couple more items and uses one less clothespin per item. This will take a little longer to dry, but helps in a pinch. You can also hang them using just one clothespin, but I find this tugs them out of shape, so I prefer this method. If you have plenty of space and pins, use two pins per piece. Hang dishtowels with a button-closure hanger by fastening over the line. This saves space and clothespins.

Towels are draped over the line. After awhile, if I remember, I flip them around. I'm not sure if this speeds dry-time, but I do it anyway. To dry them faster, hang in a single layer horizontally, fastening with 3-4 clothespins.

I drape sheets in half across the line and fasten a few pins along the length to keep it from blowing off if it's breezy. Blankets are draped in half also, and flipped after an hour or so.

I hang socks by the cuffs. Most people have told me the proper way is by the toe, but Trucker thinks this makes the toes wear out faster. Again, family bliss. I hang them by the cuffs. You can hang pairs together if you'd like to save hands-on time, although it may increase dry time.

Underwear is hung using two pins if I am trying to dry items quickly or by one if I am running short of space and/or pins. I hang boxers by the waistband with two pins. I drape bras over the line and fasten the clasp.

I hang t-shirts and tank tops by the bottom, using 2-3 pins per piece. I button dress shirts, then use 3 clothespins, one on each side and one in the middle.

Dresses can be hung from the top using a 2-3 pins depending on the dress. I often hang them on a hanger and hang these either on the line or inside.

I hang pants/jeans by the legs. Some people hang them from the waistband saying it dries them faster. However, the weight of the waistband gently tugs the pants down, eliminating wrinkles.

When the items are dry, I bring out two baskets, 1 large and 1 small. I first take off every piece that I want to fluff in the dryer: jeans, socks and towels. I toss these into the small basket and take it all in immediately to the dryer. I toss it all in at once and set for 5-10 minutes. Then I go back out to the rest of the laundry. I take down items by type, jeans/pants first, then t-shirts/tanks, then underwear. I fold each piece as I go and place Trucker's items on one side of the large basket and mine on the other. When all other items are removed, I drape dress shirts and dresses over the top so they don't get wrinkled before I have the chance to get it on a hanger. By the time I'm done removing and folding these items, the dryer is done and I can fold those items.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any tips to share with everyone?

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