Monday, May 12, 2014

High and Dry: Why the Clothesline Deserves a Comeback

Throughout my childhood, we had a clothesline. It was just out the back door of the house, right past the laundry room. In many ways, the clothesline almost seemed like an extension of the house, like an outdoor adjacent room.  I can clearly remember my mom always hanging out the laundry. I loved to play in the damp rows of clean towels, cloth diapers, jeans, and sheets as they billowed in the breeze.  And, to this day, one of my very favorite smells is clean sheets that have been dried on a clothesline; when you lay down to sleep on them the smell is heavenly. If the sun has a smell, that has to be it.  When my family  moved away from the house with the conveniently-placed clothesline, my mom used the clothesline less and less for everyday laundry, though she still used it for sheets and pillowcases.

Despite all my pleasant memories of having a clothesline, I'd never given much thought to having one of my own until a few years ago ago when I got really interested in cleaning naturally. I remember reading books about green cleaning and being amazed/horrified by all the things in dryer sheets.  A ton of chemicals are used make laundry static-free (you can find a list of the ingredients here). I wanted to use a clothesline just to avoid the toxins in dryer sheets! (Sidenote: even if you use your dryer, you don't need dryer sheets or chemical softeners -- vinegar does the trick!)

I've also since learned that dryers are a major energy-using appliance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the clothes dryer alone uses up around six percent of your home's energy usage. Of all household appliances, the clothes dryer comes in at #2 for using the most energy; the refrigerator comes in at number one. Isn't it interesting though, that, unlike the refrigerator that is on 24/7, the dryer ranks so high even though it is only used in spurts, just a few times a week? I've read that running a clothes dryer is the equivalent of turning on 225 CFL lightbulbs for an hour. And that's for an appliance that we don't have to use.

Let me repeat that. You don't have to use a dryer.

To read the rest of this post -- about why the clothesline has lost its popularity here in America and why it deserves a comeback -- check out my post at The Green Phone Booth (where I contribute every second Monday of the month)!

{This post is linked up to Homestead Barn Hop.}


The Couch Potato said...

I can't stand the smell of drier sheets, we never use them

Heather said...

@The Couch Potato -- I totally agree. Once I stopped using them, I realized what a yucky, chemical smell they have.

judith said...

I WANT a clothes line!!! When I was a kid my dad made my mom the most awesome clothes line. It had five sides and was sturdy enough for the kids to use as a jungle gym. Of course we didn't walk on the wires but we could swing on it and spin each other around as it spun in the sun, as long as we didn't go so fast that the laundry raked the hedges. It was fun making mazes with the sheets.

Lorri Davis said...

@Endangered Lifestyle:
I've been after one for quite a while! My husband said that since I got the cow, everything else is on hold :( I'm planning on "rigging" one though :) Living in GA, we get plenty of warm/hot sunshine to dry all the laundry I can hang outside. Plus, with 6 kids including 4 teenagers, that is A LOT of laundry!!

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