July 20, 2016

Clotheslines

When I bought my house five years ago, I was thrilled to see that it had two T-bars to hold a clothesline. The bars are iron and there is one by the house and one at the end of the yard. When I lived in the UK, we didn’t have a clothes drier and because it was so cold and damp, I never felt like my things were completely dry.image

But here in Maryland, where it can get quite humid, we also have lots of sun. So I take advantage of this by drying as many things on the clothesline as I can. Even on a humid day, if there’s a little breeze and some sun, things dry pretty quickly – even bath towels! Of course, there are some items that don’t go on the line – mostly my unmentionables, and knits which need the heat and agitation to pull the knit back into shape.IMG_1912

As I have said before, I barely use paper towels. Instead, I take advantage of my large collection of linen or cotton tea towels. I use them a couple of times, depending on whether I am cleaning up spills, wiping my hands or drying a pot, and then I put them in the bin for washing.I frequently find brand-new linen tea towels at yard sales and thrift shops. They need to be washed several times (just throw them in with your regular laundry) so that the sizing that makes them stiff can wash out.

Recently, friends brought me back the most fun tea towels from Portobello Road in London to add to my collection.image

After some trial and error, I began using plastic clothes pins from Muji, the amazing Japanese store. I found that if I didn’t take the wooden ones in after I used them, they became stained, which in turn, stained my clothes. Ugh. Although this one looks a little grubby, there’s an incredible little Potter Wasp’s nest that I found built into the end of a pin. image

A friend recently told me that when we were kids, living just a few blocks from each other, both of our mothers hung clothes on the line. His mother got anonymouse notes from the neighbours telling her that it was trashy to hang laundry outside. Apparently, this is still the case in some suburban subdivisions. Really? It’s not trashy, it’s smart.

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But when you think about the time and energy it takes to run a clothes drier, and how effortless it is to let the wind and sun do all of the work, why not hang your things on a line? And as an added benefit, they smell great!

13 comments:

  1. Hello Meg, In Taiwan clotheslines are very common (often on the roofs of apartment buildings). The only thing that works against them is the frequent rain and high humidity, which makes things difficult to dry. Also, clothes must be absolutely dry when you put them away, or they will mildew. One solution is to line dry most of the way, then finish in the dryer.
    --Jim

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    1. Jim... clotheslines are very common everywhere but the USA. The dry and mildew issue was the thing that was the problem in the UK. I always felt like things weren't quite dry. It was a happy day when I found that a neighbour took in laundry and that she had a tumble dryer.

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  2. In your case, I would not worry about tackiness... I would worry someone might steal my vintage tea towels!! I have a collection of vintage tablecloths and tea towels - they only get sun-dried in my back yard, draped over my juniper bushes, out of view of nosy neighbors. The moment they're dry, I whisk them back inside - no taking chances!

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    1. And the best thing about drying on the line or the bushes, is that it cuts way down on the ironing.

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  3. Loved reading this post. Who does not relish a night of sleep on a bed with sheets that have been dried outdoors on a clothesline? Bring back the clothesline!! I agree with your comment on wooden pins. It seems plastic is a better choice.

    best, teaorwine

    teaorwine.blogspot.com

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    1. I forgot to mention sheets! The very best!!!

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  4. Meg--
    Hooray!!! I have wanted to put in one of those drying racks that looks like a big umbrella in my side yard for years!! Have never gotten around to it and in the back of my mind I have a memory of the neighbor complaining about his neighbors squeaky clothes line when she reeling her sweet smelling laundry in!! What could be better than that sound!?!?! It certainly beats the roar of the leaf blowers from the lawn services!! I may just have to go find that drying rack now!!! Cindy

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    1. Agree 100% that the leaf blowers are way more intrusive! Those umbrella style racks hold tons of items!

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  5. I completely love this. And am not doing it because I need to see all my plants and clothes would block my view, and I would not be happy with the pollen and dusty my clothes would accumulate in our climate, but, I love the concept. And the photo.

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  6. We had to take our clothes line down when we had a pool. The pool is gone but we never put the line back up and truthfully I miss it. I don't miss the extra work but I miss getting into bed after the sheets have been dried on the line or opening a bureau drawer weeks after I put a shirt, pants or whatever in the there after being dried on the line. Most of all I miss drying myself after a shower with a towel dried on the line. I think I have to talk to my husband about putting another one up.

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  7. Well done Meg! I too dry as much as I can outdoors but find it more convenient to use those old-fashioned collapsible wooden clothes racks than a line. I have several of them and it is the easiest thing in the world to set them up on our balcony. Clothes dry within a few hours which was certainly not the case growing up in England. My poor mother must have endured so much to have clothes dried properly during the cooler months of the year.

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  8. I love this post Meg! I live in SoCal and have a laundry line. i have a lot of vintage table cloths, napkins and pillow cases and line dry them. I love it and use it all the time!

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  9. Hi Meg, I hope sometime you get to see this artist's clothesline installations. http://sandramcmorrisjohnson.com/Clotheslines.html She dyes yards and yards of fabric beautiful colors, and they wave in the wind and are as mesmerizing as the sea. I think you would love it!

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