Drying Clothes

Spring clothespinsThere’s nothing quite like walking out of the house on a spring morning with a laundry basket of clothes ready to be hung. Birds sing, the sun shines and as you pin them up, the clothes become a part of the scene, flapping gently in the breeze, whispering tales of hundreds of thousands of women over the years. They’re all listening to the birds, feeling the sun on their faces and hands as they pin the family laundry to the line.

Once upon a time, women would get up early, put a pot of beans or a stew on the stove and then begin the laundry. They would start early so the clothes would all be on the line drying by noon and then they’d have time for lunch (often called dinner) and to clean up after it and have a little time for other things before bringing in the clothes, clean, dry and smelling fresh.

In this once upon a time land, laundry day was on the same day every week for every one of these women, unless it rained, of course. You couldn’t do laundry then because the clothes wouldn’t dry in the rain.

Clothespin Apron

Now, you can do laundry on any day and even at night if you want to. Indeed, some people do a load or two of laundry every day! Ugh. Limited to an automatic washer and an automatic dryer, a woman’s work is indeed never done!

It’s not too late, though. You can still hang your clothes outside and enjoy the morning. Drying clothes outside has changed a little over the years, but the concept is the same.  Along with drying your clothes, the sun will sanitize them and make the whites a little whiter. A little breeze softens the clothes but doesn’t beat them to death like a dryer does. Pop quiz: Where does dryer lint come from?

Clotheslines were, at one time, always wire lines, sometimes coated with plastic or rubber and strung between two posts, trees or other objects that were several feet apart. The clothes were pinned to the line with clothespins until they dried. Now, “clotheslines” are more properly called “drying systems” and while they may include a clothesline, they also include umbrella or spinning types of systems and racks of all kinds.

Extra-Large Spinning Clothes Dryer with Crank

Extra-Large Spinning Clothes Dryer with Crank

You don’t use clothespins with racks and some umbrellas but you will definitely need them with clotheslines. Don’t buy spring type clothespins from a dollar store or “big box” store because the springs are wimpy now and won’t hold heavy pieces on the line. How do I know? I now have a few dozen spring pins that are good for nothing but holding potato chip bags closed and don’t even do a good job of that.

While few households would want to be completely without a dryer, most dryers are overused. Electric dryers can use as much as 75 cents worth of electricity for every load and that’s not counting repairs and the cost of buying one in the first place.  Let’s take another peek back into our once upon a time: Clothes lasted longer. Electric bills were smaller. And you could go off to town or take a nap after the clothes were washed because you didn’t have to wait around for the dryer to finish.

What’s not to like about that?

About Pat Veretto

Pat is a frugal living expert with many published articles. She lives in Colorado and maintains her own Frugal Living Blog (which we love!).

4 thoughts on “Drying Clothes

  1. Pingback: Line drying activism and art — Lindsay's List

  2. “Birds sing, . . . ” How do you prevent them from landing on the clothesline or flying by and pooping on the clothes?

  3. Lora, most birds won’t land on the clothesline because it’s not stable or large enough and they won’t land on it anyway if there are clothes on it. If you have your line under a tree where they can perch, then you’ll definitely have problems.