Monday, July 7, 2008

Let It All Hang Out

Line Drying The Wash


Now that you've switched your energy supplier to a renewable source, let's get started on some energy saving changes. Otherwise, you might end up with a higher bill than usual. Yes, the winds of change do cost a bit more, but by changing some wasteful habits at home, you'll actually see a significant reduction in your monthly bill.

I started rack and line drying my clothes this past spring and was amazed by how much money I saved on the electric bill. It really shouldn't come as much surprise, though, considering that a dryer is one of the most energy-sucking appliances in the home. My particular model uses about 3 kWh per load to dry. Multiply that by approximately 20 loads per month (or more) and you're looking at over a $6.00 savings for one simple change.

Now, I've heard a bit of discussion online about the many reasons people can't / won't line dry: prohibitive HOA rules, allergy concerns, arachnophobia, bird poop, limited space, no line, inconvenience, blah, blah, blah. However, if you hang your line inside the house, most of these issues become, well, non-issues.

Here's the deal: if you have room for a washer and dryer - you have room for an indoor line. I have one of those 5-line retractable jobbies that is mounted right over my washer and dryer. Works like a frickin' charm and holds an entire load of laundry. If I happen to run out of room, then I start tossing clothes over the shower rod, onto the backs of the kitchen chairs or on door knobs. Sure my house sometimes looks like a stripper convention just met, but hey, I'm saving loads of electricity!

So really, the only excuse that really holds water (so to speak) is that hanging laundry is a bit of an inconvenience. Mmmmhmmmm. You know what else is inconvenient? Not having a habitable planet. That's really inconvenient. So nut up and install an indoor line already. And use it. Daily. No more excuses.

For those of you who are already line drying - take it to the max. Do it ALL. No more "I'll just put the load in for ten minutes to fluff it up". What are you? A delicate little flower? Toughen up already! Wear those crunchy panties and be proud! Besides, it'll de-sensitize your ass so that the recycled toilet paper won't bother you.

Already taking it to the max? Convince a friend or family member to give line drying a try. Help them install a clothes line or get them a 'nice rack' as a gift. Because once you go rack, you never go back.

As always, stop by the Yahoo! group for further discussion. The folks there always have tons of great ideas!

44 comments:

Jo said...

Proud Australian line dryer here, can't imagine doing it any other way. Well, OK, here in rainy Tasmania we do the indoor rack thing about 5 months per year, but even with 4 kids I hardly ever use the dryer. My best tips? The best way to dry shirts (business, school uniform etc) is on coathangers, with the top button done up to stop them falling off. I have an old shower rail hung up across my laundry that I suspend them on. And I have found that the very best way to dry a woolly sweater is laid out flat on the floor on a towel folded in half, preferably in a spare room where no-one will walk on it!

ib mommy said...

Ha! Arguing with a teenager about crunchy drawers.... the highlight of my summer thus far. I have to make sure I shake off all the ants before she sees them as well. We live in an HOA so I have retractable lines in the back yard. I hang the laundry out during business hours and can put the lines away before anyone sees them.

ib mommy said...

to clarify.... i hang when my neighbors aren't home so they won't complain!

agreenfire said...

I already take it to the max. All my towels, jeans and undies are crunchy. I rack and line dry. I have sung the praises of line drying to my sister, my parents, and my friends. So far, no takers, but I will keep trying. The only bad experience I have had so far is when a spider laid it's eggs on my sock. I just rewashed it and felt not the least bit bad about drowning all those spider babies.

Bobbi said...

I love my clothesline. Everything always smells so fresh when I bring it in from the line!

Academic said...

Okay, I recently posted on my blog about trying to live simply when one belongs to a 1 person, 1 cat household and the subject of clothes drying came up. To be clear, I lived without a dryer for a year in a 4th floor apartment so I used a drying rack. The problems where that the drying rack fell apart consistently, my pants always required about 5 minutes of ironing per pair if they were going to look decent for work, my shirts were also hit and miss with quality. It was also exceptionally hard to dry linens in this way. My whole house got taken over by drying laundry because my drying rack occupied significant square feet in my bedroom and everything hanging needed to dry on the shower rack.

By contrast, having a dryer reduces my ironing to nil, frees my house, and allows me to separate my colors and my whites. My new apartment only has space for a stackable washer and dryer; my understanding of the stacked sets is that the dryer uses the waste heat from the washer to help reduce its energy pull.

I also live in an apartment complex where it would go against my lease to hang laundry outside.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but I'm wondering how to simplify my life and not lose my entire house.

Thanks!

Jenn said...

Been line drying since January...indoors at first and then put in an old fashioned clothesline...just like my grandma had! No HOA's here.

The only time (and I mean the ONLY time) I use the dryer is to get the doggy hair off. (Blakets for furniture covering and my sheets when it storms or the fourth of July :-))
Can't seem to find another way. Something about washing seems to weave the hair in the fabric in a way that no lint roller or duct tape can reach.

The Purloined Letter said...

I love the peace I feel when I am outside on a beautiful day listening to the birds and clipping to that gentle rhythm. It isn't as much fun indoors--but it is quite convenient when it rains. While it takes longer to clip than to throw in a dryer, it sure is faster to fold from the line than it is from the machine.

Gary M. Comins said...

I actually heard this article on the car ride in this morning ...

"Morning Edition, July 7, 2008 · A woman outside the nation's capital spent the holiday weekend considering our nation's freedoms. Wei Wang of Maryland wants to hang clothes outside to save money and energy, but her homeowners' association says that's banned. Wang is not alone. A number of states are considering laws to guarantee homeowners what's called the "right to dry."

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92278878

--- gmsc

Chile said...

Hey! If you think your ass needs to be desensitized to recycled toilet paper, try using line-dried terry cloth wipes that have not been air-fluffed for 5 minutes. Go ahead. Try it. You'll come crying back to your heat-free dryer in no time. ;-P

Britta said...

Delicate Little Flower here pledges to stop doing the 10 minute fluff on my skivvies. SIGH.

Kelsie said...

I hang anything and everything outside (including cloth pads:), the neighbors be damned. I also proudly used my crunchy bath towel last night, and convinced myself that it was simply offering extra exfoliation. :) There are actually neighborhoods here in my hometown (the "better" neighborhoods) where hanging your clothes outside IS against the "rules." Why? Because it looks "lower class." It always gets me how doing things more simply and in a way that is better for the earth (riding bikes, buying used items, hanging out your clothes, etc.) often leads to questions as to whether or not you're impoverished!

Burbanmom said...

Chile --

Touche!

See, you come off as such a hard-ass, but deep down (or under?) you're really just a big softie, aren't you?! ;-)

Chile said...

Erin, SHHHHH! You're not supposed to expose all my secrets to the world. Now I'm gonna have to come up with some tough mean blogpost to get my cyber-cred back. Word!

artbystrongheart said...

I love line-drying. It gets me out of the house and into the sun a few times a day during the work week (I have a home office).

"Academic," I found that giving shirts a hard shake (snap) and then hanging them on hangers and hanging the hangers on the line (or shower rod) minimizes the ironing and frees up space for those items on which I use clothespins.

jennconspiracy said...

I dry everything - in low light or wet weather, I just put everything on hangers on the shower bar and around on the mouldings above the doors.

Christy B said...

I rarely use the dryer and I don't have too much of the crunch problem. I use Baking Soda, Vinegar & Hydrogen Peroxide in the washer - I wonder if one or more them keeps the stuff fairly soft?

Not everyone who has a washer & dryer has room for a line - those of us with stackables can attest to that!

I hang all button down shirts with every button done up on a hanger and put in the doorways (saves lots of space), try to pull all wrinkles out of everything while it's hanging - no ironing needed! I hang pants over the shower curtain rod and that eliminates wrinkles. I have a towel warmer in my bathroom that isn't plugged in but it makes a fantastic clothesline!

I have also seen Retractable Clothes Lines for the shower (some hotels have them), thought about getting one.

One way to deal with the sprawl of drying clothes is to do a load as soon as you enough for ONE full load not multiple. I use doorways (closet, bedroom, etc...) to hang the hangers with drying clothes. I do it at night and usually by morning everything is dry.

MamaBird said...

All right, babe, I'm in. I am one of the whiners with supposedly no (outdoor) space, bird poop, blah blah. Love the looks of the retractable and will seek more guidance from the yahoogroup. I had been tossing the idea of doing at least some indoor drying around for the last week (heh) so this is *perfect* timing to kick this one out.

arduous said...

To be fair Burbs, a lot of people DON'T have room for a washer and dryer. I certainly don't. I don't really have room for an inside line either. I do sometimes dry my clothes in my apartment, hanging clothes and towels over my futon, my chairs, my desk, and hanging underwear in my bathroom. But it takes a good couple of days for stuff to dry like that so if I'm having company over any time soon, I just can't do that. OTOH, I do about two loads of laundry a month. Sometimes it's easier to just reduce your laundry by wearing clothes more often (I tend to wear clothes until they get a stain on them, so a shirt might go 6 or 7 wears before it goes in the wash.) Two loads in the dryer a month is not something I'm losing sleep over. :)

Harper said...

I have hung clothes to dry for at least 20 years. I don't find it to be more work than using a dryer. I hang clothes on hangers on my shower rod and when they are dry I put them in the closet. Done. Don't need to iron -- if there are some wrinkles on a dry shirt that didn't come out I simply spray the area with water and swipe it smooth with my hands.
However, I do dry towels and undies in a dryer so I'll see if I can work myself up to crunchy panties! The towels are another matter. I use a laundromat and live on the 2nd floor and lugging a washload of heavy wet towels up the stairs sounds hard. Poor me. Maybe I'll try using the extractor rather than the dryer. It still uses energy but for a much shorter time and no heat. Baby steps.

heather t said...

Hey, I've been using the drying rack more faithfully this year and I AM seeing savings on my electric bill. Woo hoo!

And, yeah, WAY faster to fold stuff straight off the rack vs in a big pile on the couch. Don't know why.

TIP: If you don't want to install a line, try a collapsable folding drying rack (not the umbrella type). I can get almost a full load on one of these and they only take up 12"x36" of floor space.

QUESTION: my "hangup" (pun intended) is the heavier/bigger items like jeans, towels and sheets. I just don't have room to hang them all, plus they will take about 12 years to dry in our humid summers. Any suggestions?

Mr. Nissan said...

Good idea. That's a good way to save energy during our crisis in America

Kelsie said...

Christy B,

White vinegar is a known fabric softener! :)

-Kelsie

Warren Street said...

Hey, perfect idea--thank you.

I'm going to fashion what we call a "link" in this Internet parlance and ask my readers to "click" the link and show you some love for your great idea.

Mama Bear said...

I just popped over from Crunchy Chicken and had to laugh. I also blogged about clothes lines today. :) I linked to this post on my blog, if you don't mind.

Green Bean said...

Already taking it to the max - which is actually really nice. I love to escape my kids just for a few moments to hang some laundry. It's a great excuse.

Let me see if I can go all missionary on you and convert my neighbor who has shown some interest in line drying.

Chile said...

Hey Green Bean, if you keep preaching to your neighbors and trying to convert them, you're going to have to change your name to Green Zealot.

Verde said...

I've been 98% line dry since the days warmed this spring. I actually like it and yes, those things that have been mentioned before like, it helps cut down on folding time.

Allison said...

My son (9 yo) is the delicate little flower who wants his shirts and shorts soft. I tell him to deal with it.
But I have a problem. I love to wear jeans and they come out extra crunchy when line dried. Any help on how to avoid that?
Also, if you are still saying no to line drying and you have one of those smelly front loading clothes washers (you know who you are out there), the line dryer helps take out the smell better than any dryer.

knutty knitter said...

suffering from culture shock here...have never owned a dryer. Never saw one til somewhere in my 20s. If you've always had crunchy clothes, soft ones just don't feel clean. I sometimes resort to the dryer next door for a 10 min swish in the middle of winter (about 3 times a year) and it never feels right or clean to me!

viv in nz

Chile said...

Allison, Chile the comment and dryer whore to the rescue! If you tumble the jeans in the dryer ON AIR for 5 minutes when wet and another 5 minutes when dry, they will be far softer.

Now, before Erin jumps down my throat for recommending the use of the dryer, please note that generating the heat for the dryer uses waaaay more energy than using the fluff setting. And, the total use time is far shorter than drying a load. Oh, and you can also fluff tumble two loads at the same time. So, all in all, it's a huge energy reduction, and you can still have less-than-bonescraping-crunchy clothes.

Let's see if she lets this comment through. Ha! ;-)

christy b said...

allison - are you saying that ALL front loaders smell?
Why - what causes it?

I have been considering getting a combo washer/dryer and they only come in front loaders. I haven't heard this before...

Also, maybe try vinegar in the wash. I posted that I never have the crunch problem and thought that maybe it had to do with what I put in the wash (baking soda, vinegar and peroxide). Kelsie responded saying that vinegar is a fabric softener.

christy b said...

allison - are you saying that ALL front loaders smell?
Why - what causes it?

I have been considering getting a combo washer/dryer and they only come in front loaders. I haven't heard this before...

Also, maybe try vinegar in the wash. I posted that I never have the crunch problem and thought that maybe it had to do with what I put in the wash (baking soda, vinegar and peroxide). Kelsie responded saying that vinegar is a fabric softener.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Erin, I clicked on the link for the retractable clothesline, and I need some clarification. What does the other end attach to??? My washer and dryer are in a little back hallway near the back door. And if I stretched a clothesline across them from one wall to the other, they would block the back door. Is there another way? It does look like a good idea, but I can't figure out anywhere else we would put it where the cats wouldn't have a field day with our clothing. Up too high, and I can't reach it either.

Beth

Burbanmom said...

Beth,

The other end attaches to two small hooks (included with the line dryer) that you screw into the opposite wall.

If you don't have room over your W/D, how about on a bathroom wall or in a closet? That way you could shut the door to keep out the kitties.

Let me know if you find a spot!

Kim from Milwaukee said...

I started hanger drying my clothes, putting them on the shower rod when I can't hang them from my balcony. I love the crunchiness of jeans, makes them feel brand new!!! I hang them at night, and in the morning they're all dry and wrinkle-free. Very easy. Makes me feel closer to my mom and grandma who used to line-dry clothes, even undies!

Going Crunchy said...

Don't forget the smell of sunshine that you carry around with you all day. It is wonderful....... Shannon

Crafty Green Poet said...

I've always line dried, here in the UK. My parents have always line dried in their garden which is the idea because the washing smells wonderful after blowing in the wind. We don't have a garden and a slight musty smell in clothes dried indoors is sometimes an issue in those long cold Scottish winters in a household with a minimalist approach to heating! But still wouldnt do it any other way!

Stephanie said...

Am I really an oddball that can't tell which clothes have been line-dried and which haven't once I've gotten to them? Huh.

I'm still working on line-drying everything, but I'm a whole lot better than I was a year ago, when it didn't bother me too much. When I'm back in school I won't use a dryer...

Robj98168 said...

My problem with line drying is the birds in this area poop on line dried clothes like kamikaze pilots to a PT boat. And first hey make sure they eat tons of blackberries so their poo is nice and purple.
It happens to me 9 times out of 10 when I line dry!

Anonymous said...

Just hung my first load of laundry today. Couple questions....I have 3 dogs and 2 cats (one of which is a persian with lots of really fine hair) - How you get the hair off if you line dry??? Do you have to iron if you line dry. If i cant resolve these issues thinking that I will just line dry the towels and linens and dry the clothes. I don't iron and don't want hair on our clothes.

P~ said...

I thought I'd throw my two cents into the ring as well. There are actually states that have put legislation on the books known as "Right to dry" laws to guarantee that people have the right to hang dry clothing regardless of HOA's. I blogged on it HERE in case your interested. We really need to take back this basic right. Glad to see so much interest in it!
P~

Erin said...

Thanks for such useful suggestions for change and also for holding us all accountable for the environmental impact we make every day! I am an apartment dweller without any yard space, BUT we have a large communal basement. Thanks to the urging from your post I decided to suck it up and put a little extra effort into finding a way to airdry my laundry. I hung two lengths of line through the length of the basement close to one of the walls so that it is not in the way. I can hang 2 whole loads! So far, 4 loads of laundry have been saved from the dryer!

Condo Blues said...

Our HOA won't allow clotheslines because the lawnmowers can't mow our yards effciently (sp) if we have clothes poles, flag poles, etc. that they have to mow around. However, even with a HOA you can line dry clothes outside. My neighbor puts her laundry on hangers and hangs it to dry on the lip of her open garage door. My house is full of allergy suffers, so I hang my laundry to dry on hangers in our bathroom. I hang socks and undies to dry on a multiple pants hanger.