family / home

how to hang laundry on the line (and a few other things)

because i didn't want you to see our underwear

So, while we're talking about great things our grandmothers have passed down to us, it occurred to me yesterday, as I hung a late-afternoon load of laundry on the line, that it was my grandmother who taught me the most efficient way to hang laundry on the clothesline. And not to be a laundry-line-know-it-all, but when I see other people's pictures of their clothes hanging out, I realize not everyone knows this wee bit of insight that makes all the difference.

I love hanging clothes on the line. I've overcome my distaste for stiff jeans and crunchy towels. But I'm also married to the dryer police. Though I've been known to hang out laundry in my mittens, I think my husband would like to see one of those Amish-esque laundry lines running from our upstairs window out to a tall corner of the barn. (He'd also probably like to go to work in a horse drawn buggy, but that's another story….) When he hears the dryer running, it's like he hears money and dollars bills banging around inside, shrinking and shrivelling up into nothingness.

how to hang out laundry

(I snapped my clothesline last week. And now it is a saggy mess. One of these days, I'll upgrade to something a little more permanent. In the meantime, this one gets the job done.)

I remember the first day I hung my laundry out on my grandmother's line. It was when we were living on her farm, while we made the transition to our new life in Maryland. She was coming in from morning Mass and stopped to talk to me while I draped shirts and pants over the line and stuck on a few pins.

She stopped me and told me I needed to figure out which way the wind was blowing. (On her laundry line, there's a little piece of string tied to one end. I don't know if this was meant to tell wind direction or not, but that is what I used it for.) Once you determine which way the wind is blowing you hang the clothes up so that they are open to the wind. This means only pinning one side of your clothes. As the wind blows, it will fill up and flow through your clothing.

how to hang out laundry

There wasn't much wind blowing when I took yesterday's photographs, but you can see how my pillowcases are filling with the breeze in this older picture from my grandmother's laundry line.

revisiting green laundry

It is remarkable how quickly your clothes will dry. It really makes a difference. Especially when you are trying to get multiple loads on the line in one day, or you're married to the dryer police chief–who is also very good at taking clothes off the line and folding them. 🙂

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

In other news:

**you must stop by Nancy's blog and read about the new home for two of Black Walnut's kittens.

**edited to add: Anke! How did I miss your blog?? You can see the other kitten, now named "Sweetie" who found a home with Anke. Details on her blog! Oh the wonders of blogging…..

**here is an interesting article from Food Woolf on how to help your local dairy farmer. I'll be interested to hear my husband's perspective on the article. He works in the ag industry and Horizon is one of his major customers. When I complain about the price of milk, he says it's good for the farmer that the price is high. Apparently there are rumors that a local dairy may start home delivery. I'd be the first to sign up.

**a few weeks ago, I introduced my children to the sweetness that is a Wendy's frosty. They'd never had one before. But Amy at MomAdvice makes her own at home.

**And lastly, a very thought-provoking, stir up your thoughts about schooling, blog post at Wild Parenting. (via simplemom)

because i didn't want you to see our underwear

So, while we're talking about great things our grandmothers have passed down to us, it occurred to me yesterday, as I hung a late-afternoon load of laundry on the line, that it was my grandmother who taught me the most efficient way to hang laundry on the clothesline. And not to be a laundry-line-know-it-all, but when I see other people's pictures of their clothes hanging out, I realize not everyone knows this wee bit of insight that makes all the difference.

I love hanging clothes on the line. I've overcome my distaste for stiff jeans and crunchy towels. But I'm also married to the dryer police. Though I've been known to hang out laundry in my mittens, I think my husband would like to see one of those Amish-esque laundry lines running from our upstairs window out to a tall corner of the barn. (He'd also probably like to go to work in a horse drawn buggy, but that's another story….) When he hears the dryer running, it's like he hears money and dollars bills banging around inside, shrinking and shrivelling up into nothingness.

how to hang out laundry

(I snapped my clothesline last week. And now it is a saggy mess. One of these days, I'll upgrade to something a little more permanent. In the meantime, this one gets the job done.)

I remember the first day I hung my laundry out on my grandmother's line. It was when we were living on her farm, while we made the transition to our new life in Maryland. She was coming in from morning Mass and stopped to talk to me while I draped shirts and pants over the line and stuck on a few pins.

She stopped me and told me I needed to figure out which way the wind was blowing. (On her laundry line, there's a little piece of string tied to one end. I don't know if this was meant to tell wind direction or not, but that is what I used it for.) Once you determine which way the wind is blowing you hang the clothes up so that they are open to the wind. This means only pinning one side of your clothes. As the wind blows, it will fill up and flow through your clothing.

how to hang out laundry

There wasn't much wind blowing when I took yesterday's photographs, but you can see how my pillowcases are filling with the breeze in this older picture from my grandmother's laundry line.

revisiting green laundry

It is remarkable how quickly your clothes will dry. It really makes a difference. Especially when you are trying to get multiple loads on the line in one day, or you're married to the dryer police chief–who is also very good at taking clothes off the line and folding them. 🙂

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

In other news:

**you must stop by Nancy's blog and read about the new home for two of Black Walnut's kittens.

**edited to add: Anke! How did I miss your blog?? You can see the other kitten, now named "Sweetie" who found a home with Anke. Details on her blog! Oh the wonders of blogging…..

**here is an interesting article from Food Woolf on how to help your local dairy farmer. I'll be interested to hear my husband's perspective on the article. He works in the ag industry and Horizon is one of his major customers. When I complain about the price of milk, he says it's good for the farmer that the price is high. Apparently there are rumors that a local dairy may start home delivery. I'd be the first to sign up.

**a few weeks ago, I introduced my children to the sweetness that is a Wendy's frosty. They'd never had one before. But Amy at MomAdvice makes her own at home.

**And lastly, a very thought-provoking, stir up your thoughts about schooling, blog post at Wild Parenting. (via simplemom)

39 comments on “how to hang laundry on the line (and a few other things)”

  1. My mama taught me to also hang clothes according to whom they belong. That way, when you fold, you have neat stacks that can be quickly and easily transported to the proper room/bureau/closet. It makes sorting a non-issue! xo

  2. I love how your way would work for pillowcases etc but here…i fear my pegs and line aren’t strong enough and i’d be losing laundry all over town! “Is it a bird, is it a plane….no it’s just your pants!”

    i am also a member of the dryer police… we don’t have one anymore but i do take jeans and denims to the launderette to dry. Because i have to physically have the coins in my hand to put in the machine i take notice of how much it costs. That said..the industrial dryers are so big, hot and quick that they are my new best friend! I don’t think a day goes by without me wearing denim so i’m not a fan of stiff + scratchy!more photos of laundry on lines please… very pleasing! x

  3. Did you hear that? That was me saying “ah ha” What a clever idea. I’m going to try that from now on. What about trousers, do you hang them from the waist or the legs? Anything to help the drying of clothes ;o)

  4. That is clever! My mom taught me that it’s ok for clothes to share a clothespin. Saves a little extra space and is especially helpful if you’re running low on pins.

  5. that is a very clever idea, I had never heard this one before! Might just have to give it a try if I ever hang stuff out again :)If you want to see Black Walnut’s other little baby, you can see her on my blog (a few posts ago) Sweetie has taken over our house and our hearts and looks just like the other two buggers. She is very sweet and loving also, we just love her to pieces!

  6. We are right in the middle of upgrading our clothesline situation. No more wobbley post, yippee! And double the space. Now I will finally be able to get a whole load on without overcrowding.

  7. I never thought of that! I remember growing up with my mom hanging our clothes out to dry. I love that smell. Where we live you can’t hang your clothes out to dry – Homeowners Association says no. very sad about that.

  8. I love watching clothes on a line. I hang my duvet cover up with a peg on each end, and then with one peg a third along the way of one side, and a third along the way of the other, just to let the wind blow in like you say.

    Re. the trousers thing – the rule I heard was to hang bottoms from the top, and tops from the bottom.

    These things excite me far more than they should

  9. Hey! I get laughed at for doing this by my neighbours! I am going to send them this just to show that I am not the only one out there opening clothes to the wind.

    And, I am sad as well…I LOVE hanging out laundry. My new rotary clothes line had me skipping for weeks. It even has wind cups to help it rotate. Magic, I tell you!

  10. On the dairy front, the problem is that what the dairy farmers are paid per hundred weight is at an all time low, while the prices haven’t dropped at all at the grocery store. So the farmers are getting paid next to nothing (not even enough to cover expenses in most cases) and at the store consumers are still paying near all time highs. So, hmmmmm, where is that difference in money going?

    I also LOVE hanging out clothes. I love to see things lined up all neatly!

  11. I use a modified umbrella style line that we made from an old coat rack, a galvanized bucket, split 2x4s, and eye screws. I hang everything stretched tight to minimize wrinkles. Bu I can hang a full load in 4 square feet. It usually dries in an hour or so in the heat we’ve been having lately.

  12. Hanging clothes on the one is also something that I learned from my grandma. She used a tent-like structure instead of a line so I dont believe she employed the method that you are speaking of, but I am going to try it!

  13. Thanks for the advice on hanging clothes.

    I have been living in Japan for the past two years, where dryers are not a standard piece of household equipment, and have hung all my laundry to dry since.

    What do you do when the weather is less than optimal? I am looking for some advice for when we return to the States in a month or so. I will, most likely, be apartment dwelling, but would still prefer to stay away from the energy (and money) sucking dryer.

  14. i’ve just started hanging stuff out on the line. I’m having trouble getting over the stiff tshirt and towel thing. sometimes i’ll throw the stuff in the dryer just to get the lint off the tshirts! crazy i know!

  15. It’s funny. Growing up in Australia, no one used a dryer unless there was the emergency drying of a school uniform before school or something. We all had clothes lines and if the washing got wet we brought the washing in on a rack and dried it by the fire. When I first moved out I used to love hanging the washing out. We all had the rotary clothes lines, so the wind direction was never an issue-the clothes line spun around with the wind. Now why I agree with you that it would dry washing more quickly, it pulls clothes out of shape pegging (pinning) them like that. I had a system for getting my clothes very square, for not having peg marks on shoulders or where they would show. I was even known to delight in doing a blue wash, a green wash, a red wash, a white wash and to hang the clothes out in their groups making triangles of colour (it used to amuse me that it would look fun from the air).

    Now we live in the US and I am addicted to my dryer. The thought of taking each load up the stairs and across the yard just doesn’t appeal anymore. Maybe it’s because the dryers are so big and good here and you can fit a whole load in it, maybe it’s because my line is so small I can only just fit one load on it. Maybe it’s because my laundry is so far from my line…. The exception is sheets. I love to hang out bed sheets. They come in like they’ve been ironed and they smell so good.

  16. I had to chime in on the dairy front because I have been working on dairy farms for the last 6 years and am always wondering what it is your husband does Molly… And I have to say that I am glad that you reminded people about milk and pricing. It always makes me cringe when I hear people complain about expensive milk or cheer about really cheap milk… (I wonder if I should say something – I think to myself) But it is true that these prices are ungodly and it is hard to see the way to get thru it. even the organic farmers are hurting… it’s SUCH a wonderful life and worth every minute of joy and pain… I always just ask people to pray for the farmers. and we’ll all hope we don’t see the 80s again…Oh – and I LOVE the laundry line, I am hanging out me diapers for the first time tomorrow!!! I also have heard tops from the bottom… and I love the part about the wind blowing… much love ladies!!!

  17. Thank you sooo much for including our homemade Wendy’s Frosty post,Molly! I would have never thought about checking for the wind direction, but now I am going to have to check to see if I am hanging things the correct way. 🙂 Thanks again for including me on your list!

  18. Wishing I had a yard so that I could have a clothesline… (Right now I just hang dry as much as possible in the house, which works but not quite as nice as outside would.)

  19. I too wonder if my clothespins are up to the challenge of holding on for dear life.. but genius idea!I used to not be a fan of the clothes “crunch” but now, as I dry myself off with my towels I get to exfoliate as well 😉

  20. great post-i tried it today and made a huge difference in speeding up the drying. shoulda thought of that before-thanks!

  21. We have a Hills Hoist rotary clothes line that would have to be about 30 years old and still working fine. (The one at my parents’ house was about 50 years old.) It swings around in the wind so that each side dries evenly. Yup, hanging clothes on one side only is the quick way for them to dry. Nothing quite as sweet as the smell of freshly-laundered, air-dried clothes.

    At home, I should add, I am the dryer police. 🙂 Even for jeans and towels. DH got used to crunchy bath towels when he married me.

  22. When my grandmother used to write me letters, there would always be a few lines about hanging out the laundry. I know she enjoyed it, though she never showed me her method. I became a clothesline enthusiast on my own, particularly when I lived on the coast and our clothesline was right on a cliff above the crashing surf. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and the tip!

  23. This made me laugh because my mother taught me the same thing. Also very specific rules for where the clothespins were to be located so the marks wouldn’t show and the clothes wouldn’t be oddly stretched out (shirts upside down, pins at the bottom hem on the side seams but dresses pinned at the armpits and underwear hung from the crotch). I still hang clothes that way but in Texas, it really doesn’t matter, they dry practically instantly. We only use our dryer about twice a year but are the only people we know that hang clothes out!

  24. Love this Blog! My dryer broke a few months ago. My kids were devastated and asked “How do we do laundry now?”. My thought was “Really?”. I immediately put up a clothes line from tree to tree. Yes, there were complaints of stiff jeans and towels. However, I thought the sheets were amazing! The dryer has been replaced. And in being a single parent, this is a great help. (I sometimes need to do wash at unconvential times.) BUT, when all possible, and especially on a warm summer day, the clothes will still be hung on the line!

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