Clotheslines are not a thing of the past. I grew up using a clothesline, and still do to this day. When my cousin came home for a long weekend he was amazed at my awesome clothesline and had a good laugh at me for using it.
That’s ok though, I know how awesome a clothesline is and others do to as it is making a comeback. It always brings back fun memories from my childhood. Line drying your clothes are not for everyone but not everything is.
Anything can be used as a clothesline if you really need it to be. I have hung my garments over banisters and railing, fencing, the back of kitchen chairs, and even on vehicles. It sounds crazy, but in a pinch just about anything works.
We have had to scrub our big area rug and leave it out to dry, it is too heavy to hang on the line so we used the truck bed to dry the rug. Also, after swimming in a creek we have thrown our wet clothes up on the hood to dry.
With that being said, let’s discuss the pros and cons to using a clothesline.
Pros to a Clothesline
1. Money saving.
Using a clothesline helps to save on your utility bills. Running the dryer costs money and line drying does not. This is the number one reason for me as I am always looking to save money.
According to The Department Of Energy about 5.8% of electricity in your home goes toward the clothes dryer.
2. That fresh linen smell.
Not everyone can smell the freshness of line dried clothes, but I can. The sun beating down on your clothes and the wind blowing to dry them makes it a beautiful mixture to drying.
3. The clothes last longer.
The dryer wears out the materials your clothes are made of over time. The friction in the dryer and the tossing of the materials wears them out quicker. Line drying does not break the materials down.
When it is hot out you do not want the extra heat from the dryer in your house. The air conditioner has to work hard enough without adding extra heat to your home.
I actually fold and put away my blankets and towels. It is much easier to fold when you use the line to help hold it for you.
The line makes folding large items, such as this blanket, a much easier chore to tackle by yourself.
When you are hanging clothes, you are much more likely to pay more attention to your garments for stains. While hanging inspect them and if there are any stains you can treat and rewash while they are still wet and it hasn’t dried to set. When throwing over into a dryer I forget to check for stains being removed.
7. No Wrinkles.
Line drying generally leaves the clothes wrinkle-free. With a hard snap of the garment the wrinkles can be reduced, and then there is no need to iron.
8. The kids can help.
The older kids can hang or take down the clothes and the youngest can hand clothespins. It is a good chore for them to have.
9. Forts and tents.
As kids, we would drape blankets or tarps over the line and build us forts and houses to play in. Your imagination could really get you a big ol’ house to play in. Then at night we would camp out in our clothesline houses.
10. Outside time.
I prefer to be outside over inside anytime. Using a clothesline allows me some outside time with my housework. It is also a play area for the kids to be outside.
11. Laundry disinfectant.
Hanging your clothes in the sun helps to naturally disinfect your laundry. The ultraviolet rays can naturally bleach your linens and help to whiten them.
12. Winter time humidity.
Hanging clothes inside in the winter can help to raise the humidity levels in your home. The higher humidity levels in the home can help to eliminate the need to run a humidifier and can prevent illness that comes with dry nasal airways.
13. Fire Prevention.
I’m not Smokey Bear but using a clothesline can reduce the risk of a house fire caused by the clothes dryer. No use equals no fire.
Cons to a Clothesline
It is never any fun to stick your leg into a fresh pair of line dried jeans and get stung. You will always want to check your laundry for bees or any other insects.
2. Stiff clothes.
Line drying causes your clothes to feel stiff. Using vinegar in the rinse cycle of washing will help eliminate the stiffness.
3. A bending line on the garment.
Unless you have a method to properly hang your clothes you may well leave a ridge line on the garment. Also, when hanging things like jeans the band doesn’t always get dry when bent over the line and pinned.
4. Your unmentionables.
If you are out in the country this isn’t really a problem. In a more populated location you may not want to hang your panties or bras on the line or at least try to get them in the center so that they are more hidden.
Rain rain go away or you can’t do laundry today. This one goes without much explanation, you can not dry clothes in the rain. So you will need to hang indoors or put your laundry off.
6. The wind is too strong.
I have had to go into the woods and gather some of my laundry that the wind blew off of the line.
7. Forgetting them.
There have been several times that I have gone to bed and forgot my clothes on the line. It is usually no big deal, but you have to let them hang to dry again.
8. Time consuming.
It sounds weird to say that hanging laundry is time consuming, but you have to consider getting them out of the washer to the basket and then out to the clothesline. Then from the basket and properly hung onto the line. This is not as simple as a quick toss into the dryer and hitting start.
9. Ordinance laws.
You may live in an area that does not allow the use of an outside clothesline. There could be a number of reasons for this so be sure to check before assuming.
10. Laundry fades.
If you are hanging your dark clothes in the sun they can fade, especially if left for too long. A short period of time in the sun to dry them is fine or hang the dark clothes in the shade for caution.
11. Animal attention.
This may not be a problem for everyone but it was when I was a kid. We had a pygmy billy goat, Buckwheat. He really “loved” our rugs when they were out drying. We had to rewash our rugs and hang them higher out of the reach of little Buckwheat.
12. Lines need to be repaired.
Over time the clothesline can become stretched, and will need to be tightened or even replaced.
13. Dangerous to kids.
I personally have never seen or heard of it happening to anyone, but a small child can become tangled in the laundry and can choke. Just be safe and watch kiddos around the laundry.
I prefer a clothesline any day, and will decorate my house on rainy days with certain items instead of throwing them in a dryer. I love me a good line dried towel after a shower, it seems to be much more absorbent.
My husband hates his pants being dried on the line, I still do it but I give them a good shake and fold them up after being dried. He has just learned to deal with it as that is how I am.
There are several different items and different designs and sizes that can be used for a clothesline. The purpose of it is to be productive, save money, and be a friend to the environment with less electricity used. The decision is yours on whether a clothesline is right for you and your household.
Sarah Rodriguez is a homesteading wife and mother of five living in Appalachia. She grew up in a homesteading and logging family.
She and her husband Arnie work their 10-acre homestead together alongside their growing family. Sarah honed her self-reliance skills through 4-H and FFA at an early age and is now teaching her children to live off the land, raise livestock, and the importance of both sustainability and frugality.