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Friday, May 8, 2009

line drying

Many people want to learn how to hang clothes on the line--whether it is to save money, protect the environment, or just because line-dried clothes smell so nice. An often overlooked benefit is how much line drying will save on wear and tear on clothing. Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge, after the first try or two of hanging things on the line, people usually get frustrated and quit.

It seems like hanging clothes on the line should be simple, right? Like so many other homemaking skills, there is an art to hanging clothes on the line. Like other skills, it will take practice. With practice, you will be able to hang an average load of laundry in about five minutes and take them down in that amount of time. They'll be as wrinkle-free and soft as if you did them in the dryer.

Here are a few things you will need to know before you start.

1. This is what I do to keep my laundry dryer-soft. You can do one or all of these if you want. First, when I have a dryer, I always fluff my clothes in it for about 5 minutes. This uses almost no electricity and makes the clothes just as soft as if you had run them full cycle in the dryer.

When I don't have a dryer, I try to hang my clothes on a windy day. It does the same thing as a dryer. In Kansas, a windy day can be almost everyday, but for those who live where a five-mile an hour breeze is considered a gale-force wind, don't despair! There are other things you can do.

2. As I begin to hang each piece of clothing, I give it a sharp snap, or shake, holding from the bottom of a shirt or pant legs. This doesn't take long. I just do it as I am going from the clothesbasket to the line, making it done and ready to hang when I get it up to the line. You don't need to do this with everything; for example, you don't need to do it with socks or undies. I do it to items I don't want wrinkled or things I want soft, like towels.

3. I always use fabric softener; if you prefer, you can use vinegar.

4. Fading is not a problem for me here in Kansas. It is hazy and defuses the sun's rays slightly. When we lived in the northwest, though, it was a real problem. If you find fading to be an issue, just turn things like jeans or dark T-shirts inside out.

It also helps to slow fading if you bring items in as soon as they are dry. In the opposite way, I leave my whites out as long as I can because it bleaches and brightens them.

5. You will need clothespins and a clothespin bag or apron. You can get clothes pins and bags at Wal-Mart or Dollar stores. They are usually with the things like ironing board covers. I prefer a clothespin apron. I made mine; it is about 10 inches long with just two large pockets on the front for the clothes pins. It ties around my waist like an apron. Either a bag or an apron is just fine.

Before you start

Hanging out the clothes starts before you even leave the house. The next few steps may make me sound like Martha, but there is a reason for the method. Most of these steps not only speed the hanging of the clothes, but they also make taking them in quicker. The steps even help in folding and putting away.

If you are new to hanging clothes on a line, you may want to just practice hanging things the way I will show you. After you get that down, you'll want to speed things along by practicing the next steps.

Before I put the clothes in the basket to take outside, I sort them quickly on top of the washer or dryer. This doesn't need to be done perfectly and will get easier the more you do it. I pull out the big items like the sheets or tablecloths. I fold the sheets in half and gently lay them in the basket. This way, when I am ready to hang them, I just pick them up out of the basket by their four corners and quickly hang them because they are already folded and ready to go.

Next I do pants and jeans. The legs get folded with the seams together and then folded in half and laid on top of the sheets.

Any large towels go next. I just lay them in the basket.

On the washer or dryer I lay piles of tT-shirts all together, shirts together, hand towels together and all like things together in their own piles. I then stack them into the basket beginning with largest items and working my way to the smallest.

The next items in the basket are washrags, dishrags, and underwear. I lay them in flat piles, corners together, like laying a stack of papers. I do this because I can pick up the whole pile (or hall depending how big it is), and take it to the line. Because the corners are together, I can pin one corner after the other very quickly without having to go back and forth to the basket each time to get another item and I don't have to stop to straighten each one.

Last in the basket are the socks. I straighten them out and flatten them, laying one on top of the other, toes together. Again, I can pick up a stack of them and quickly go along the line, hanging them without having to return to the basket each time.



Hang by the legs. Water wicks down to the heaviest part of the jean (the waistband). The weight of that water combines with the weight of the waistband, pulling on the pant legs and pulling out the wrinkles. The same idea applies when steaming a garment. Gently pulling on it will remove wrinkles.

You can pull the pockets out if you want. I don't usually do that because they seem to dry fine, even here in humid Kansas.

Shirts and blouses

Hang upside down by the side seams. This puts the heaviest part of the garment at the bottom, as explained before. It also prevents puckers from the clothespins (as you would have if you hung them by the shoulders).


If you don't straighten out t-shirts, the corners at the seams can have points from the clothespins. To prevent this, bring the side seams together, then the center of it and gently pull, then hang by the bottom. You don't need to pull all your T-shirts. I have a couple that don't seem to hang right, so in order to prevent the pointy sides you can get on some T-shirts, I do this. I normally don't pull the kids' items because they aren't as much of a problem.



To hang a fitted sheet, I tuck one corner into another, fold it in half and hang by each end with the pockets (or corners) hanging down.

For a flat sheet, I just fold it in half.

You will want to note that for items like towels, dishrags, underwear and T-shirts that you can pin the corner of one item with the corner of the next item. This will cut down the number of clothespins that you need to use.

Undies and socks

If you don't want the whole world to see your undies (or "smalls" as our English friends call them), then you can hang them on the back line or the two lines in the middle. Socks are hung by the toes and I usually hang a pair together. This saves on pins and time.



It is nice to have a stand on which to set your basket. It saves you from bending over each time you pull an item from the basket. Even a small table or chair would help. Tawra has a metal table she uses. It has metal legs from an old tv tray. Legs like this work better if there is a board attached across the top.

Years ago I got a shopping cart from a grocery store auction and it was just perfect as my "laundry cart." It was the right height and I could roll it to where I needed it. I made the mistake of getting rid of it when I moved. Now I use a thing from the 1950s I found at a garage sale. It has tv-tray type legs with a canvas bag across the top. It is the perfect height and has a place for the clothespins on the side.

Taking things down


I fold my clothes as I take them off the line and most everything is folded by the time I take it into the house. It takes so little time that I was folding faster than Tawra could take the pictures. Less than 30 seconds.

A couple of final tips:

* See which way the wind is blowing and hang your clothes so that the smaller things are in the front. That way the wind can pass through to the large things at the back. If you put the large things in front it blocks the wind from getting to the smaller items behind them. (Unless you need to hide your undies like I mentioned above.)

* Always bring your clothes pins in at the end of the day. It helps them to last longer and prevents black marks on your clothes that can happen when the clothespins are left out.

* If you haven't used your clothesline in a while run a rag along it to clean it off before hanging the clothes.



Source Citation:Cooper, Jill. "How to hang clothes on the line: how hard can it be to stick a clothespin on the fabric and put it on a line? But, as many have discovered, the results can be stiff and wrinkled clothes." Countryside & Small Stock Journal 93.3 (May-June 2009): 55(2). InfoTrac Garden, Landscape & Horticulture eCollection. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 8 May 2009
Gale Document Number:A198409954


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