Air-Drying Laundry, Sans Clothesline

I’m going to make a confession here. I don’t have a clothesline.flexible bucket laundry

You heard me right. I could have one, but the only location that puts it close to the house would also block my view of the backyard and the bird feeders. I love my view and I love my birds. I could put a free standing line in the far back yard but I know myself well enough to know that I am not going to want to carry a basket full of heavy, wet blue jeans across a slippery path in the dead of an icy winter. For that matter, I won’t want to carry a heavy basket that far in the summer … so it’s no clothesline for me. Still, I don’t want to use my electric dryer unless it’s a real emergency, meaning we are all down with the flu or some other thing too awful to contemplate.

Here’s what I do instead. At night, just as we are starting the bedtime routine, I put in a

Get maximum drying space with our hardwood-framed clothes drying rack.

Get maximum drying space with our hardwood-framed clothes drying rack.

load of clothes. I do jeans or towels at night. Before I go to bed, I set the clothes rack up in front of the stove in the living room and hang the just-washed clothes there. By morning, the heavy stuff is pretty dry and some much-needed moisture has been added to the air. I put things that are not quite dry in the dryer without turning it on. I start another load of light things and when they are washed, I set the rack up in the mud room and hang them there.

After supper, I toss anything that needs a quick tumble in the dryer and let them toss about for 5-10 minutes. While I finish up after supper chores, my girls fold the now-dry clothes and deliver them to the appropriate place. This keeps my laundry caught up and my electricity usage to a minimum. I find that line dried clothes don’t need any fabric softener and that final toss generally removes any need for ironing.

It is imperative to have good quality, extra-large drying rack

Extra-large arch drying rack can be set up over a furnace vent or fan for added air circulation and faster drying.

Extra-large arch drying rack can be set up over a furnace vent or fan for added air circulation and faster drying.

s for this to work. Two is a good idea if you have a large family. In the summer, the racks live on my back porch and clothes dry outside.

I have also worked hard to get my kids to realize that not every article of clothing needs to be washed every time you even think about wearing it. Towels can be hung to dry after you use them and many things can be worn several times before washing, especially if you clean spots when they happen and hang carefully when you take them off. Your clothes will last longer with less washing and drying in machines.

I have also brought back hand washing. We all wear wool socks in the winter. I find they last a lot longer if I hand wash and then dry away from direct heat. The same is true for washable wool sweaters and fine things like blouses and undergarments. It sounds crazy to even consider such a radical thing but it’s like anything else. Once you get in the habit it ceases to be a chore and is just part of life.

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.