Save money, cut carbon emissions, and extend the life of your clothing—all with a few bucks’ worth of rope.
By Jean Nick, Organic Gardening
Line drying is back! True, electric clothes dryers aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. But, as you may find simply by strolling around your neighborhood on the next sunny Saturday, it seems like more people than ever are returning to the tried-and-true combination of sun, wind, and clothesline to dry their clothing and linens. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times reported that the trend was becoming popular among celebrities, even as some ordinary folks had to battle with local home owner associations that banned the practice as “unattractive.” Hanging your laundry out to dry instead of firing up your dryer reduces your electric or gas bill, lowers carbon emissions, helps your clothing and linens last longer by eliminating some wear and tear on the fabric (saving you more money), is a great excuse to get outside, and gives your fabrics that natural, fresh outdoor smell (no need to use chemical fragrances that claim to mimic it). Even if you don’t hang every wash load, each time you do, you save yourself money and help protect the environment.
There are all sorts of drying line setups, but all you really need is a length of clean, strong rope that you can tie between two trees or poles. Having a tightening mechanism of some sort is a good idea, as every type of line I’ve used has stretched over time. You can buy tighteners at a hardware or home improvement store; they attach to the line and make it easy to take up any slack without having to untie and retie the rope. Be sure you hang your line high enough so heavy washed items won’t brush the ground. Pick a site where no one will run into the drying laundry and also consider how far you will need to carry your laundry. Avoid putting your line under trees that drip sap or where birds tend to perch. If you are short on space, you can buy a retractable clothesline, which attaches to a wall and lets you extend the line when needed, or an umbrella-style clothesline, which is like a patio umbrella but has clotheslines in place of umbrella fabric. These options require a bigger up-front investment, but you’ll recoup the costs.