10 reasons to shlep your laundry outdoors to dry

Photo by Graham Reznick, Flickr Creative Commons license.

Photo by Graham Reznick, Flickr Creative Commons license.

Okay, it may not be spring yet, but here in Boulder we’ve been having a two-week warm streak. Yesterday, in 70 degrees, I hung laundry on the line strung across our second-floor deck while house finches trilled in the pines just off the patio and red-shafted flickers called noisily from the neighbor’s yard.

So here are ten reasons to keep shlepping wet laundry out the door–and in my case up the stairs–to the clothesline:

  1. Sunshine is free.
  2. So is wind.
  3. The clothes smell terrific when you bring them in. Nothing like sun-dried sheets to crawl into at night.
  4. The wind blows the pet hair off the laundry (except for the white hair on the darks and the black hair on the whites).
  5. Antiquated homeowners’ agreements that prohibit clotheslines need to be updated anyway. For instance, a “Right to Dry” bill is making its way right now through the Virginia state legislature; the bill will prohibit community associations from banning clotheslines. See Project Laundry List‘s report.
  6. You can thumb your nose at the class snobbery that led to banning clotheslines in some communities in the first place.
  7. You could save 10 to 15% of your electricity bill every month because your dryer is the third-largest electricity hog in your house, after the fridge and the lighting.
  8. Your clothes will last longer because they’re not tumbling against each other and melting in high heat.
  9. By using less energy, you contribute less to global warming.
  10. It’s a great way to do meditation. You can say hello to the trees or birds or grass or sweet soil under your feet while you’re outside.

And in another day or two when the weather is freezing again—typical for March (and April and May) where I live along the edge of the Rockies—I’m told clothes will still dry outdoors, as long as the sun is shining. Brrr! Maybe I’ll opt for an indoor rack. I like my meditations warm.

WRITING POSTSCRIPT: For poetry relevant to this post, see the Poets Online site. They publish a writing prompt each month, and poets submit their results to the site. A recent prompt was “Laundry,” and some wonderful contributions can be found on their December 2008 archive page, including poems about hanging wash on a clothesline.


4 Responses to 10 reasons to shlep your laundry outdoors to dry

  1. Hystery says:March 6, 2009 at 6:22 am

    As far as I’m concerned, hanging laundry is a religious experience. There are few things more beautiful than the sight of freshly washed sheets snapping and billowing in the breeze or of my family’s blue jeans, all different sizes, hung side by side in the warm sun. For inside drying, we installed a retractable clothes line that when extended runs the width of the house.

  2. Mandy says:March 6, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I like the idea of drying my laundry outside but it does require more time so I’m not say it’s something I would definitely do. However, it would be great to have the option and as you say, many of us do not due to restrictive covenants. Maybe I’ll float this one with my HOA and see what the reaction is ….

  3. Jlegge says:March 8, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I am a die-hard laundry hanger-upper even in winter indoors. I have a drying rack in the house – no reason not to use indoor winter heat and my thoughts are that with each piece I place on the drying rack I am adding moisture to the air and saving on the electricity. I find it very satisfying. I maybe use my electric dryer 3 x a year.
    When growing up here in ND, my parents didn’t have a dryer-they strung zigzag-style clothesline rope on permanent hooks throughout the kitchen and living room. This for a family of six worked well.

    When my kids were babies I used cloth diapers and if it was above freezing the diapers were hung out. Where there’s a will (or a need), there’s a way.
    Maybe some day people will have more time than money and slow down.

  4. Chandi says:March 15, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Oh yeah, me too. I live in co-housing and we have tons of acreage around us and we have a handful of laundry lines tucked in to sunny spots…. and most of us use those lines throughout the winter. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Chandi from Blog Babes