Friday, August 6, 2010

Tips for Line Drying Clothes

As simple as a clothes line may seem, there are some things to know before you start using one. Helpful tips that will make the transition from an appliance to a natural resource more pleasant. 

Photo Credit: brioso

Before You Hang Dry

Not all clothespins are created equal. Some will leave more of a mark on your garment than others. If you're concerned about a imprint on delicates or other clothing, look for some of the newer Soft Grips or Soft Touch type and keep a few on hand. 

If you're using wooden clothespins, make sure they're free of splintering wood that could snag clothes and that they are clean so as not to leave a dirty spot. To clean clothespins, place them in a mesh bag and swish them around in soapy water, rinse, and air dry.

Is it clean? Because you seriously do not want a line down the middle of your sheets if you're draping them over it! Take an old rag and run it down the line to check and see if anything is going to come off onto fabric. This is easier to do on the nylon or plastic lines, but do it on cotton lines just to be sure!

Is your line taut? You don't want clothing dragging on the ground, especially with a breeze stirring them in the dirt. Farmgirl Cyn had her husband make wood poles with a "V" at the top to help prop up her lines when hanging heavy items so that the line wouldn't sag too much. Clever!

Is it at the right height? The temptation is to go high so sheets won't drag the ground, but this is a good way to be sore by bedtime. Make the line comfortable to reach.

Photo Credit: beebrisk

When You Hang Dry

• Hang like items together. It's just plain easier, especially when it comes to taking the laundry down and actually folding it. And hang large items such as sheets first. Then work your way down.

• My grandmother and mother always gave the item a good snap before hanging it. This straightens it out and seems to loosen the fibers a bit. (You don't want to dry jeans with the hem turned up or you'll never get it down again!) It also eliminates a few of the big wrinkles.

• We typically see items by the very edges of the fabric. I can not remember how many times they fell off this way as a kid helping my grandmother! Be generous and fold over enough to keep the item on the line a bit. For example, hang towels so that one third is on one side of the line and about two thirds is on the other. It may take a bit longer to dry, but you're less likely to have an item fall on the ground.

• Everyone has a preference as to how clothes should be hung. Some like to follow the rule that if it is worn on top, hang it from the bottom, but if it's worn on bottom, hang it from the top. Others like to hang pants from the bottom. If you hang a shirt from the shoulders, everyone's going to know you hung it on the line by the "clip marks". Make sense?

• Avoid hanging black, navy, and other item that can fade in full sunlight, however, whites will benefit from bright sunlight. 

• Some people like their towels a bit rough. Others, prefer soft. If you want them on the softer side (or your jeans), you can pop them in the dryer just a few minutes and then hang them out to dry. I actually do this with a lot of my winter sweaters and turtlenecks, even some that say to lay flat to dry. It gets just enough water out that they don't get stretched when I'm moving them around and it should keep your towels and jeans a bit softer. (Some pop their things in the dryer afterwards. Try it and see which you prefer). 

• If it's windy out, it actually will help your clothes seem less stiff. Plus they will actually dry faster since moving air is key. However, if you live where there's a lot of dust, it could also make your clothes... well, shall we say, a bit gritty? 

• Adding white vinegar to the softener dispenser can help with stiffness as well as setting colors in dark clothing. I often use this whenever I have a new black garment.

• If you plan to iron the item, take it down when it is slightly damp and iron right away. 

Photo Credit: lifecreations

Give me your best tips for line drying! And if you want to discuss more on clotheslines, why not come over to the new Homestead Revival™ Community Forum and chat? Sorry... the forum is no longer open, but I'd still love to hear your tips right here in the comment section.


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