Letâ€™s take a minute to word-associate. When I say the phrase “line-dry,â€ť what comes to mind? Maybe the dread from youthful chores resurfacesâ€”and, to go with it, cramped hands from years of pinning shirts and pants. Maybe you reminisce about the feel of sun-warmed laundry infused with the scent of fresh country air. Or perhaps idyllic images of clean, white linens flapping above a bright-green lawn are about all that your imagination can muster up.
Clothesline to Dryerâ€”and Back
For many, especially younger generations, the latter statement is closest to being true. When the clothes dryer entered the America household in the 1950s, line-drying soon fell out of vogue and families began to rely on this modern appliance to quickly and easily complete a necessary household chore. While weâ€™ve all probably had to hang something to dry at one point or anotherâ€”a wool sweater that could shrink under intense heat or a scarf with delicate fibers that could be damaged by a tumble cycleâ€”line-dried clothes are more often seen on laundry-detergent bottles than in backyards. As a result, fewer people have hands-on experiences with line-drying. On a far more disappointing note, many homeowners associations have made it illegal to hang laundry outside to dry.
However, whether due to economical difficulties or a movement spurred on byÂ Project Laundry List and other homesteaders to reclaim the right to line-dry, the number of people who view the clothes dryer as a must-have appliance has decreased in recent years. (See “Recession Obsessionâ€ť in the infographic below.) In 2009, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 66 percent of Americans considered the clothes dryer necessary.
How to Line-dry
While it appears many people are returning to the simple task of line-drying, many willing homesteaders still lack the fundamental knowledge to do it right. Use the tips below to properly line-dry your laundry.
- Hang shirts by the hemline, not the shoulders. Place one pin on each side, and one in the middle for button-ups. (Button the collars and cuffs, too)Â
- Hang jeans by the waistband.
- Fold pants for crease lines, and hang by cuffs.
- Turn out the pockets of jeans and pants for faster drying.
- Hang skirts by the hemline.
- Hang socks by the toes.
- Hang dresses by the shoulder seam.
- Hang underwear on inner lines, hidden from view.
- Hang linens and towels with one-third to one-half folded over the line, and pin in place.
- Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to wash to keep clothes soft after line-drying.
- Avoid line-drying outside on rainy days, and aim for days with a slight breeze.
- If your line-drying clothes happen to get caught in a rain shower, just let them dry longer.
- Shake laundry before hanging to remove lint and wrinkles and keep fabric soft.
- Smooth clothes as you hang to avoid wrinkles.
- Space clothes well for air circulation to increase drying speed.
- Hang clothes in the morning.
- To avoid bird droppings and other natural elements dirtying your clothes, do not hang under a tree.
- Keep fabric colors bright by avoiding hanging in direct sunlight.
- To decrease creases and wrinkles in your clothes, avoid folding over the line.
If youâ€™re new to line-drying (or you need a reminder to keep your laundry helper on task), print out the infographic below containing these tips and other line-drying facts.