Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Brand New Solar Powered Clothes Dryer (AKA clothes line)

I’ve been using my clothesline for week now and I absolutely LOVE it! I love the way my clothes smell and feel when they come off the line and I have yet had to iron anything. It does take longer than it used too as I am trying to figure out a system to take things out of the washer in an order so like items can be hung up together.

My line is rather makeshift and there’s not much room on it, only enough room for a not too big load. I kind of want the umbrella kind so I can hang two or more loads on it. I am very anxious to see our next TECO bill. All of my research has told me that line drying will save between 5% and 10%, however, our dryer is extremely old (read NOT ENERGY EFFICIENT) and it takes and hour and half to dry ONE load of clothes.

In doing research for proper clothesline hanging here is what I have learned.

Soap is what makes your clothes feel stiff after line-drying. I have also learned that most people use way too much soap when washing clothes. You could probably get away with using only half of what the manufacturer says to use. This will save you money as well.

You must use a fabric softener. I use distilled white vinegar. I fill up the Downey ball that I used for fabric softener before I discovered the miracle that is vinegar. I know that vinegar takes out soap residue. I found this information on Wikipedia about fabric softener. “Fabric softeners work by coating the surface of the cloth fibers with a thin layer of chemicals; these chemicals have lubricant properties and are electrically conductive, thus making the fibers feel smoother and preventing buildup of static electricity. Other functions are improvements of iron glide during ironing, increased resistance to stains, and reduction of wrinkling and pilling.”

Do you really want chemicals to “coat the surface” of your clothes? I don’t and vinegar is cheaper.

When I take the clothes out of the washer I shake them out and make them “snap”. This helps to shake out the wrinkles. I do this inside because I am afraid to drop the clean clothes in the dirt outside. I try to take the clothes out of the washer in the order I want to hang them up. I try to hang all like clothes together—shirts with shirts, towels with towels and so forth. This makes the line look prettier and it makes it easier to put them away.

Now to actually hanging the clothes. You will want to wipe the entire length of the line with a wet rag before hanging out your wash. There’s no point in hanging clean clothes on a dirty line.

The main rule I learned in research is if you wear it on top, then hang from the bottom. If you wear it on bottom, hang from the top. Shirts are hung upside down with an inch or two over hang. I was letting them hang from the hem until I read that could tear a hem and stretch the clothes. Jeans are hung from the waist with an inch or so overhang. I hang ALL dark clothes inside out to help prevent fading and pants are hung buttoned and zipped to keep the butt from getting a fade triangle. Nothing says designer like a light colored triangle on your rear =).

I hang underwear from the waist, mine and the boys. I understand that some of you may not want to hang out your “delicate” items. I do. I have privacy fence on all three sides of my

back yard and my line is not visible from the road. If you don’t have that luxury, you can hang your delicates on the middle of three lines surrounded by not so private articles of clothing. Socks I hang by the toe with the match clipped either with the same pin or right next to it.

Towels I hang longways with several inches hung over. Sheets I fold in half and hang with a few inches overhang. Fitted sheets I do the best I can =) Dress shirts are likely the easiest thing to hang. I button them up on a hanger and put the hanger on the line secured with a clothespin.

Never leave your pins on the line when there are no clothes. This looks sloppy and will make your pins weather and midew. I have made a pin bag out of one of the boy’s old shirts. I made it out of a t-shirt that I cut down the front two thirds of the way and sewed up the bottom to make a bag. I slipped in a metal hangar and stitched the shoulders a little so the hangar won’t slip out of the shirt.

I hang the entire bag on the line when I’m putting out clothes.

Here is a fun poem I found when doing research on clotheslines. I have no idea who may have written it.


A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by.
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.
For then you'd see the "fancy sheets"
And towels upon the line;

You'd see the "company table cloths"
With intricate designs.
The line announced a baby's birth
From folks who lived inside -
As brand new infant clothes were hung,
So carefully with pride!

The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed,
You'd know how much they'd grown!

It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.

It also said, "Gone on vacation now"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare!

New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy and gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way . . ..

But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make work much less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is any body's guess

I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung on the line!

Ok, I know that one who has been hanging out clothes for only a week is not really one from whom to take advice. These ideas are not my own (except for the pin bag, which I found online after I made mine). I am enjoying being outside early in the morning hearing the birds chirp and getting a bit of fresh air before my day really begins and when the clothes come off the line they really do smell wonderful. Give it a try. I spent less than 10$ on my line and pins and was lucky enough to have a tree and fence to attach my line to.

If you decide to try it, I want to see your line, send me a picture. And, as always, ideas to make this better are always welcome.

Happy washing,


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