Homesteading 101: Line-Drying Laundry

Good morning, guys! Hope all is well at your homestead! Here at ours, Spring has finally sprung! We had TWO seventy-degree days in a row, and we took major advantage of it.

I repotted most of our seedlings. Learned something this year that I will pass on to you guys: Acorn squash will definitely be direct-sown next year. No seed starting indoors for the Acorn squash. This was a new plant for me, and I experimented. Experiment didn’t do so great. The seedlings were leggy and weak. All but two have died, and I expect the two survivors to meet their Maker soon. But I’m a hopeful person, so I haven’t pulled them up just yet. I’m gonna let them have their fair shot to flourish.

We direct-sowed radishes, beets, turnips, carrots, and English peas last week, which was awesome! I love being able to get barefoot in the dirt again after a long winter!

And here are some pictures of our lovely flowers that have graced our beds this Spring. Ah, this is my FAVORITE time of year! Everything is coming back to life, the birds are chirping and fluttering about making their nests, the squirrels are running around chasing each other up and down trees, the scents of cherry blossoms and lilacs are in the air, and I get to enjoy all this… while I hang out my clothes. And that’s why I decided to dedicate an entire post to the wonders and benefits of line-drying laundry.

Seriously, it’s the best. Let me tell you why:

First of all, it saves money. Those are magic words to me. I remember the first summer after my husband and I married, he built me my first clothesline. I immediately started hanging out ALL our laundry, save on rainy days. Our electric bill went down 30 dollars the next month. So there’s that.

Three kids and fourteen years later, I’m still saving money hanging out our laundry. With time comes new lessons learned, though, and I want to share them with you today!

There are other benefits to hanging out laundry besides saving money and electricity. I love the way my bedsheets feel and smell when I hang them out and drift off to sleep on them that first night.

I love the glimpses of nature in the morning when I hang my things in the morning. The crispness of the morning, the sweet chirping of the birds, the scents of fresh cut grass and flowers wafting my way. It really gets me ready for the busy day ahead. I find it relaxing and invigorating at the same time! In the evening, when I take my last batch of laundry in (because on long, dry days I can wash and dry a few large loads before nightfall), it is so soothing and relaxing to watch the sun go down and feel the evening breeze on my skin. I’m telling ya, it’s the best.

So, how do you do it? When can you do it? And where can you do it? The answer to the last question can depend on a few factors. For example, if you live in a neighborhood where there is a Home Owner’s Association, a clothesline might be prohibited. The good news is that there are laws in some states making it illegal to put bans on clotheslines. The reason? What was once seen as an “eyesore” is now seen as “eco-friendly”. Yay for that!

So how do you make a clothesline? Well, there are a lot of options, some of which don’t require building anything at all. If you have limited space, try a retractable clothesline, Like these. I was so surprised when researching clotheslines for this post to find out that they actually sell a FIVE LINE retractable clothesline! That’s incredible! Of course, you will still need two sturdy freestanding objects to connect said clothesline to, and it’ll have to be high enough so your clothes don’t drag the ground.

Remember the old fashioned clotheslines that look like a giant umbrella skeleton? I didn’t know these were still manufactured, but they are! Take a look! I think the neat thing about these clotheslines are that they are small but you can still hang a lot of laundry on them!

My husband built ours using 4×4 treated posts to make a “T”. Then he drilled in some Heavy duty eye hooks from which we hung our lines. The great thing about having the eye hooks is that they make great “hanger holders” when I want to hang out dress clothes! Take a look at the picture below!

Choosing a good line is important. I have used plastic clothesline, which dry-rotted in the hot Louisiana sun. So then I changed to Cotton clothesline. It has a tendency to stretch out, so I have to tighten them every once in a while. Other than that, I have no complaints.

What about clothespins? I have learned the hard way that not all clothespins are created equal. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get good quality pins, but definitely get good quality ones! Here’s a picture of the three types of clothespins I have collected over the years. The two to the left are your run of the mill pins. The last one is the old fashioned kind of pin that my Mom bought me a pack of from an old country store that was going out of business (because my Mom understands how much I love hanging out laundry). For real, I have no idea how long those pins had sat there in that store. But I’m glad there was a pack left for me, because they are wonderful! And look! They are still around! I use this type for jeans. They hold the jeans snugly to the line and won’t budge till you pull them off, which is good because wet jeans are heavy and require a good strong pin.

The pin in the middle of the picture is my least favorite pin because it’s weak and not good for holding more than a kid’s tee shirt or a bedsheet. Good thing I have a lot of those to hang out! You can see it is ever so slightly more narrow at the top than the pin on the far left. That translates into less leverage and less of a hold when hanging something by the pin. So I held on to the weaker pins, because I just couldn’t throw them away knowing I could still use them with some of the laundry. But I did go ahead and buy more pins that are more heavy duty. You can find them online easily or in the home section of most stores.

One of the things I had to consider was the wind at our house. I love it, because it scarcely gets hot without a nice soothing breeze following, AND steady breezes = fluffy soft laundry. However, if you use weak clothespins, you will end up with a yard full of laundry and broken pins after the wind has torn them off your lines and left your clothes to blow all over the place!

One more thing to think about is WHERE you will place your lines. If you can, try to find a spot not completely in the blazing sun. Our house in Louisiana had no shade so I had no choice. My clothes were in direct sun all day, every day. So I had to be careful to take my dark clothes in as soon as they were dry, lest the sun bleach and dull their colors. Direct sun is great for white clothes, however. You also want to place your lines where there is a nice amount of air flow as well. Be sure the breeze can get it there and fluff everything out!

Once you’ve got your clothesline up and ready to go, you can start hanging out laundry. Here are some tips that I have learned to be more efficient and cost effective when doing laundry.

Distribute your laundry weight appropriately. Wet clothes are HEAVY, and wind can stress out your line and your pins. So why make things worse by hanging jeans in the middle of your line? Hang your heaviest laundry where your line is strongest. In my case, it is at the ends of the lines. In fact, if I have a lot of pairs of pants to hang out, I always hang them first on the ends of all my lines, then fill in the middle with everything else!

Hang out EVERYTHING. Even undies? Yup. You just have to be discreet about it. If you’re like me, that is. I hate using my dryer, and I refuse to use it to dry our unmentionables if I’m hanging everything else out. So I plan ahead. I wash my casual clothes first. Hang them on the lines that your neighbors will see. Then wash your, errrr, delicates while you are hanging your first load. When the delicates are ready to hang out, you can have them in the back, hidden behind your jeans and shirts. They also tend to dry quicker, so hanging them out later than your first load is fine!

Keep an eye on the daily and weekly weather. If you’re like me, you have set days to do some of your laundry. Like I do my towels every Wednesday and wash sheets on Friday. Usually. However, if rain is predicted on Wednesday but there’s fair weather Tuesday, I may just do laundry Tuesday. Or let’s say the morning will be fair, but thunderstorms are forecasted for the afternoon. I will put on a load of laundry the night before and hang them out first thing next morning. That way they have plenty of time to dry before the storm rolls in. Last Spring, I even hung my clothes out before I went to bed and took them in when I woke up the next morning because the night was so breezy and the humidity was so low. That was really neat!

Hang your clothes out all year, even in the cold! I should say, hang them out if there’s no precipitation. But yes, you can hang out clothes even in the winter. Learned this in 6th grade Science this year with my son: Sublimation is when ice evaporates without first turning to water. This is a great help with hanging out laundry. You can hang it out, it will freeze, but if there is a breeze and relatively low humidity, the ice in the clothes will turn straight to water vapor and they will dry. It’s amazing! I actually tried an extreme form of this this past winter when it was 10 degrees F. The clothes froze in the basket before I could hang them out! But the breeze dried them just the same, and that afternoon I brought in dry laundry! Amazing!

Don’t underestimate the power of the “indoor line”. Even on wet humid days when you can’t hang laundry outside, you can still hang them inside, provided you have the room. In Louisiana, I converted the boys’ bedroom into my inside clothesline during wet days! The dry Central heat dried clothes quite nicely. Here, we have a basement. So I have two lines permanently hung in my laundry room. When the weather is damp outside, I hang clothes there, two lines at a time. Again, the dry air inside works great. Only thing missing is the breeze!

Add white vinegar to your wash to soften your clothes. I hate to admit this, but if there is no breeze blowing, your laundry will dry a bit stiff, whether you use fabric softener or vinegar or not. But vinegar in a Downy ball added to my wash does help a bit. It’s also cheaper than fabric softener, and more natural. I scent mine by adding white vinegar to orange peels or lemon peels in a jar. The laundry comes out so fresh!

Yep, hanging out laundry is great! It’s cost effective, and not difficult at all. Sometimes it just takes some advance planning to make a success of it. Give it a try, and enjoy the fruits of your labor! The fresh air, the music of nature, and the sweet sweet smell of freshly hung out laundry at the end of the day makes line drying one of my favorite homesteading habits!

Just another simple step! Enjoy!

*As an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a percentage of any purchase you make using links in my blog.

7 thoughts on “Homesteading 101: Line-Drying Laundry

  1. I love the smell of hung-out laundry. And you’re right, those sheets are the best! Money saving and eco friendly– what’s not to like? And if you are middle aged or older–like me– your parents did it this way always. Great post! Thank you for stirring the memories.  👩🏻‍💻

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      1. My husband and I have 5 acres. We have gardens, put up veggies and other canned foods, and just love the beauty and wildlife of our small property. We also forage for wild berries each year and make jams. It’s awesome. You can homestead on any amount of land if you plan your space the way you’d like it and to suit your family needs. I’m always looking to see what other folks are doing and then incorporate ideas as they inspire me or fit with what we want to do. I look forward to seeing your posts each week! 👩🏻‍💻

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      2. I feel the same way! We just have a half acre. But we get a lot of food from it! Little by little we are adding things like berry bushes to get the property the way we want it. It’s fun! Thanks again for reading!

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