When I grew up, I didn't know that people used driers to dry their clothes. We ALWAYS line dried, so I figured that EVERYBODY line dried. Year round. Even when it was 12 degrees outside.
Shoveling a path to the clothesline in the dead of winter was as normal to me as using the word "wicked" to add emphasis to everything. It was a wicked shock to learn that people used tumble dryers to dry their clothes, and an even greater shock to learn that folks outside of northern New England thought that wicked meant... well, wicked (like the witch), and not WICKED (as in - really, very or totally).
And over the years I've learned that there are laws and community association rules that forbid people from hanging their clothes outside. Wha-What? Arguments range from potential property devaluation to obstructed views, safety risks (strangulation-by-clothesline), and my personal favorite... OH MY GOD THERE ARE UNDERPANTS HANGING OUTSIDE!! And after researching the topic online for a bit, I've come to see that these arguments are wicked heated!! Will my clothesline really decrease your property value? Has anyone ever been strangled by a clothesline? Is it so shocking to know that people wear underwear? Could it really be true that a billboard of a scantily dressed teenager in her seductive push-up-wonder-bra and lacy panties is okay for one to see (and gawk at), but not a pair of full coverage cotton underpants?
After doing some research online, I discovered that a number of states have passed "right to dry" legislation, overriding any and all local rules and regulations that ban the use of clotheslines. PHEW! Vermont, of course, was among the first. (Yay, VT!) Curious to see if YOUR state has passed Right to Dry legislation? Check out this nifty organization/website, Project Laundry List, to learn more.
Anyway, I left home more than twenty years ago, and I've line dried everywhere I've ever lived since then. From Maine to Moldova. Alaska to Vermont. Even during the harshest of winters. And here's why:
Stasia's TOP TEN REASONS TO LINE DRY
1. It's FREE. The sunshine is free. The breeze is free. The dryer is SO not free. In fact, your dryer is one of the biggest energy suckers in your entire home! Check this out: In Vermont, I pay 15 cents per kWh for electricity, so if I were to use the dryer 10 times a week (I've got kids and I cloth diaper) for 60 minutes a pop, I'd spend around $343 a year just to run my tumble dryer! (Do your own calculations HERE.) I did an experiment a couple of years ago, where I didn't line dry once for an entire month - and sure enough, my electric bill was around $30 more than usual that month. Ouch!! Did I mention the sun and breeze are FREE?
2. It smells SO good. There is nothing better than the fresh-air scent of line dried clothes. Especially sheets. Pure delight. Skip the chemically laced fresh-air-scented detergents and go for the real thing.
3. The sun whitens whites and disinfects - no bleach required. It might take a few days in direct sunlight to brighten your dingy whites and kill the stink-germs, but it's free - both economically and chemically. And cloth diapering mamas - the sun does magic on your prefolds!
4. Your clothes last longer. Lint (in your lint trap) is worn away fabric (from abrasion) that happens during the tumble drying process. I'd say a good 95% of my family's clothes are thrifted, which means they've already lived a first life. If I'm to get a good second life out of them, I need to launder them with care.
5. Line drying reduces wrinkles. I never iron. EVER. And I'm not wrinkly. It requires a good shake and some slick hanging skills, but the results are worth it. (Stay tuned because this Thursday I'll share all of my fancy line drying tricks with you right here!)
6. It's therapeutic. Gentle breeze tickling my neck. Sweet sunshine kissing my checks. The slow methodical motion of pinning the clothes to the line. Deep breaths. Grass beneath my feet. Baby playing at my side. It's not a place that I worry or fret. Instead, it's where I think. Come up with ideas. I'm open. Wild hearted. Connected to the earth - the wind - the sun. Sweet perfection.
7. Saves on other appliances (not just the drier!).
In the winter, if your house is dry - hang your clothes inside on a rack. The evaporation will release much needed moisture into the house, just like a humidifier. I do it all the time.
8. It's my morning calisthenics. Up-down-Up-down-Up-down. Basket to line.
9. It's social. Depending upon where you live, it can be wicked social activity. Most days I end up chatting with the neighbors when I'm hanging the laundry.
10. My clothesline is my family's Lookbook. I love seeing baby Z's cloth diapers being bleached and disinfected by the sun's rays. My husband's sleek J.Crew button-up shirts remind me how handsome he is. I giggle when I see my daughter's plaid shirts and shorts (which she pairs together), reminding me of her quirky style. And seeing my own polka dots, ruffles and stripes reminds me how lucky I am to have a line filled with clothes that suit my soul.
And because I LOVE clotheslines so much, I'm going to devote the next entire newsletter/blog post to HOW TO LINE DRY YOUR CLOTHES. Because yes, there is a right way to hang clothes on the line. And I'm going to teach you how to do it so you can avoid misshapen droopy shirts, faded jeans, and wrinkly everything.
Do you line dry? Are you a fair weather clothesline user, or a badass-shovel-a-path-to-your-clothesline kind of gal? It's a funny thing to be passionate about, but I know that we clothesline gals have a special sort of kinship, and I'd like to know WHO YOU ARE. Tell me what you love most about line drying. Inspire me. Inspire others!
To your VIBRANCY!