Sun-dried laundry: Advocates cite many benefits of clotheslines

As sunshine once again fills our days, people who enjoy the benefits of their laundry being dried outside are returning to the tried and true backyard clothesline. While a majority of homes in the United States have a dryer, outdoor clotheslines remain popular.

According to studies, a clothes dryer can account for up to 6% of a family’s home energy usage and expense. Reducing your home’s demand for electricity from coal or natural gas power plants also helps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions caused by its production. Drying just half of your laundry can keep about 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year out of the atmosphere. Sunlight can also bleach and disinfect; clothes can smell fresher without the use of additional chemicalladen laundry fresheners.

Several Curtis Park residents have depended on clotheslines for decades.

Gerre Buehler of Third Avenue likes her umbrella clothesline because Sun-dried laundry she can use it with an umbrella stand. It’s easy to move, set up and store over the winter. Gerre notes, “I can usually get two loads of clothes on it, and on a really hot day the first load is dry by the time I go out with the second.” Gerre also learned that you can burn 5.72 calories per minute hanging laundry.

Becky and Rudy Martinez of Fifth Avenue moved to Curtis Park over 45 years ago. One of their first improvements was to install an outdoor clothesline. Rudy built a line-andpulley system and maintained it in good working order for decades of family laundry. Becky says using the line dries the clothes faster. To avoid shrinkage, there are some clothes and linen she has never put in a dryer.

Some advocates of clotheslines suggest there’s etiquette involved in drying clothes on a clothesline. There’s even a website,, that offers these basic rules:

  • Hang sheets and towels on the outside lines, underwear in the middle;
  • Hang socks by the toes;
  • Hang pants by the bottom;
  • Never hang a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail;
  • Hang clothes in a certain order, “whites” with “whites,” and hang them first;
  • Wash the clothesline before hanging any clothes;
  • Always gather the clothespins when taking down dry clothes.

Some people find clotheslines distasteful and think they lower property values. Across the country, homeowner associations, condominium committees and local legislation have banned clotheslines. In response, some states, including California, have declared they are “right to dry” states, voiding any community bans on clotheslines.

The Crocker Village HOA allows clotheslines as long as they are below the fence line and not visible when viewed from the development’s streets.

Easy to install backyard clotheslines are readily available online and in hardware stores. The basic component – 100 feet of clothesline cord – is available from various retailers as cheaply as $7.

A commentary on the amazon. com website says a clothesline is “a great save on energy costs, gives your clothes a fresh smell, and helps protect the environment. While dryers do have their place, on a good weather day it’s a good option to air dry laundry outside.”

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