Friday, May 22, 2009

Sunfilled laundry

Welcome back! Today I am gonna give some tips on hanging your laundry outside.

First, consult the daily weather report. I live in the wet Pacific Northwest, and we get random rain showers, even if the morning is dry. So it is worth it to check how the whole day is going to be. If there is rain in the afternoon, gosh darn, I can't do laundry that day. *tsk* Maybe tomorrow.

Second, it is best to start it in the morning. If the weather isn't very hot (upper 70's and up), it could take the majority of the day for laundry to dry (especially jeans). So I typically start by mid-morning. If you forget and do it in the afternoon, it is still worth doing. When you take the laundry down, set aside any damp items, and toss 'em in the dryer for a finishing dry. You still will have a much shorter cycle and save a bunch of energy.

Also, before washing, be aware that line drying will make your things more stiff than a dryer would. Now, you can use some liquid fabric softener to help that, or add some apple cider vinegar to the softener cycle of the wash (I have friends who do this, I have never tried it personally). Or, you can toss dry items into the dryer on the fluff cycle. This will use very little energy (since there is no heat), but will fluff those items up. You can also add some tennis balls or prickly dryer balls to assist in fluffing it up. Me personally? I just shift my perspective. It's not "stiff", my clothes are "crisp" when I put them on, and they soften quickly on the body. For those crunchy towels, think of it as a way to exfoliate after your bath! Maybe you will start a trend.

Okay, so you have a laundry basket full of clothes, and you are walking outside. Try to make sure you are in full sun, away from any trees that hang OVER the lines. Because, our friends, the birds, will have more fun targeting your clean clothes than they do a freshly washed car.

As I hang my clothes, I work on separating them into "people" groups. Each person's items get hung in one area, so that when I take the clothes off the line, I immediately fold them, and they are already sorted. (It's not laziness, it's efficiency!) I try to hand the "unmentionables" toward the middle, and the larger stuff to the one needs to see my families underwear, even if it IS the backyard.

Alrighty, t-shirts should be hung from the bottom, so the shoulders don't show the pinch points from the clothes pins. Jeans and casual pants can be hung from the waist band (I take this moment to STRETCH the wasteband out a little to be forgiving for that first buttoning), but dressier pants should be hung from the hems. Take a moment and snap them out hard to reduce any wrinkles, match up the seams in each leg and hang one leg on one line, the other let on the other line. You can also run your hands down the leg to smooth out any wrinkles and encourage that pleat line in the front of the leg to fall right. For dress shirts, or flannel shirts, I hang them from the bottom as well, the two outside seams, then the middle placket where the buttons are, smoothing that out so it lays flat (if you are tidy, you might even be able to get away with not ironing later...of course, I loathe ironing, and each person is responsible for their own in my house. So, this step is all that happens for me!). Socks I match into pairs at this time.

And now, just sit back and let the sun do the work!

Remember to take down the laundry at dusk (if not earlier). If you leave it overnight (and I have!), it will get dew-soaked and need a few hours the next day to dry.

So....why even bother with all of this? The best reason is I love the smell of crisp laundry. I love how my sheets and pillowcases and comforter smells when they have been dried outside. Also, the sun will help keep whites whiter without using any bleach. (Reminder--a good reason not to leave clothes out on the line for days. The sun will fade any colors over time!) And then there is energy savings. Sure, it may not be a lot for a single load, but do three loads at a time, once or twice a week, combine that over a month, and the savings add up.

Help the planet, help your pocketbook, and try line drying today!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post! I love line drying too...I have clothes on the line right now! :) I don't mind stiff either...they do soften up quickly. And the smell! Oh nothing beats climbing into bed with fresh line dried sheets after a long day. Love it! :) I also love your clothes line...I have the old fashioned looooong lines between two poles, but yours is fantastic, especially if one is short on space.