I am over-the-moon thrilled to know that SO many of my Thrift Me Pretty peeps are die-hard line dryers! I received a number of laundry love notes after my last post, TOP 10 REASONS TO LINE DRY, and couldn't wait to write all about THE ART OF LINE DRYING.
I figure that if the process of line drying is laborious, and you end up having to re-wash everything because they took too long to dry (and got stinky), or got all bunchy, saggy and wrinkly, then it wouldn't be worth your time. I don't like to be stinky, bunchy, saggy OR wrinkly, and I'm guessing you don't either. The techniques that follow will leave you with crisp, fresh smelling, un-shrunken, un-faded clothes and linens. And if you do these techniques with love, then you'll be creating art-on-the-line. Enjoy.
THE ART OF LINE DRYING
1. FADING. Turn your darks inside-out if drying in direct sunlight. Otherwise you'll be telling all of your friends that Gray is the new Black.
2. BROKEN CLOTHESPINS. For the love of sun and rain and wind, buy high quality clothespins. The springs on a cheap clothespin will blow out if you hang anything heavier than a tissue. And they'll rust. Spend the few extra bucks for sturdy clothespins with stainless steel springs. Check your local hardware store for quality clothespins.
3. SAGGY-SIDE-SEAMS. You know what I'm talking about, right? When you put on a shirt and the bottom hem is in the shape of a sad face... with the side seams hanging lower than both the front and back of the shirt. This happens when loose knit shirts, like t-shirts, are hung upside down, with clothespins on the side seams:
This hanging technique works with woven's and lighter weight knit shirts (like kids shirts, or synthetic, hydrophobic shirts.)
But for grown-up cotton shirts, I recommend simply draping the piece over the clothesline (if it's not windy) or wooden drying rack, being careful NOT to pull the fabric beyond the natural drape of the shirt where it meets the line/rack. I'd steer away from clothespins here (if on the line)... they'll leave pinchy marks on your clothes.
4. CRISPY/STIFF CLOTHES This is an interesting one for me, because I LOVE stiff jeans and crispy towels! I know. I'm an oddball. But it's how I grew up. To me, crisp means fresh. Like a cucumber... and nobody wants a soft cucumber. But, if you prefer soft jeans and towels, simply add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to your rinse cycle, and that should do the trick. If you don't want to wait around for the rinse cycle, use a fabric softener dispenser ball like THIS. I'd suggest avoiding traditional fabric softeners because ONE - over time, they effect the absorbency of your fabrics (no good for towels) and TWO - they are full of chemicals. Another option - throw your clothes in the dryer for 5 minutes before you hang them on the line. That should soften them up.
5. WRINKLES Give your clothes a good shake before hanging them. And when I say shake, I mean more of a snap. This will relax the wrinkles. A nice breeze will also help with the wrinkles. My friend Sara told me that she hangs her pants upside down, by the bottom cuff, because the weight of the upside-down pants will help reduce wrinkles. I've never employed this technique, but it makes sense.
6. SLOW TO DRY Hang jeans, pants and shorts from the back part of the waistband, zipper down, at the pant's side seams, as seen below. This allows for optimal air circulation throughout the garment.
I would also suggest hanging your pants (or anything with pockets) inside out, so that the pockets can dry more quickly. You'll notice that pockets are the last to dry if hung the regular way.
7. SHOULDER BUNCHES Never hang a shirt by the shoulders. Ever. Shoulder bunches aren't cute on anybody.
8. ALLERGIES They are a bugger, aren't they? Just tonight my eyes felt like sand paper, so I went to the drugstore to pick up some Zyrtec. Thankfully, I'm far more dependent on a daily dose of organic, fair-trade, dark chocolate than I am on allergy meds. Not much you can do about allergies and outdoor line drying during allergy season (whatever that is for you). Except maybe line drying INSIDE! If you have a laundry room or non-stinky basement, that's ideal. Set up a line in there. Otherwise, your living room will work just fine. Most everything will fit on a wooden drying rack. Woven shirts can be hung on hangers and set over your door jam. Fitted sheets can be hung on hangers too. If you wash at night, most everything will be dry by morning.
9. UNDERPANTS If you don't want all of your neighbors to know the make and model of your undies, hang them by the crotch with one clothespin. They won't look like anything except fabric.
10. STINK Sometimes, during peak humidity, my dish cloths and towels get stinky. When that happens, I just hang them in direct sunlight for a full day and and let the bacteria massacre begin, and like magic, the stink goes away.
Other Interesting Line Drying Tidbits
- If you attach a clothesline to a conifer, be leary - they drip sap (it's happened to me).
- If my back is sore, I place my hamper basket on a chair near the clothesline for less up-down-up-down-up-down.
- Drying on a wooden rack inside will raise the humidity level in your house. Avoid during the muggy season. But go for it in winter when the air is dry.
- Wipe your line down occasionally.
- Clothespins are called pegs in the UK.
- I hang like things together, and on the same line each time. I have no clothespins on my first row, as it's for items I drape over the line, like blankets, sheets and knit shirts. The second row of my line is for socks, girl under-things, and the baby's pj's (which I hang by the feet). The clothespins are lined up nice and close, so no clothespin rearranging is necessary. The third row is for shirts and the fourth row is for pants - and the pins are already spaced in a way that makes sense for each so I never need to shift the clothespins around. Talk about efficiency!
- I usually stroll out to the clothesline after an hour or two to flip things over that I have draped on the line (like knit shirts or duvet covers). Speeds drying time.
BONUS - give your clothes a good shake before bringing them into the house. Baby Z got stung tonight when we put on his freshly line dried pajamas. Seems there was a bug/bee lurking in his jammie-pants :(
Well there you have it. If you're new to line drying, get out there and hang some clothes! Enjoy the sun beating down on your face and the sound of the wind ruffling your linens. Breathe in the sweet smells of mother earth when you tuck your babies in at night in those same lined dried sheets.
Tell me, did you try line drying this week for the first time? How'd it go for you? If you're a seasoned line drier - what sun-sational line drying techniques do you use? I LOVE to hear your stories, so tell me all about it.
To your VIBRANCY! xo Stasia