Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why didn't I do this sooner?

I've never had an outdoor clothesline in any of the houses I've owned. Once we moved here, I thought about installing one but then was faced with a myriad of decisions. Should I buy T-post, retractable, or umbrella-style clothesline? And where should I put it?

I first thought of placing it in the back yard near our gardens and compost bins. But that would mean I'd have to walk across the yard for every load of wash...and I knew that I'd probably not use it much if it were too far out of the way. So I settled on a great spot: right outside the back door. I see it every time I come in or out of the house, which means it gets used a lot.
I wanted to install it last summer, but it turns out clotheslines are hard to find in my town. Unless it's April or May, our local hardware & home improvement stores don't carry them. I decided on an umbrella-style clothesline (around $40), because they don't take up lots of space, fold up when you're not using them, and can be easily removed for storage during the winter months. The post has a plastic sleeve that you set in concrete. I dug a hole 8" wide and 12" deep and filled the first 5" with gravel to allow water to drain out of the sleeve. It's one of those simple things that I wish I'd done a long, long time ago.

With a few exceptions (rainy days or the occasional diaper crisis when I needed dry ones STAT), I've used the clothesline for all of our laundry. Now I'm going to play chicken and see how long I can continue using it before winter weather sets in.

My next project is insulating our attics, basement, and crawlspaces. I know our insulation is nowhere near sufficient. Problem is, our attic spaces are not interconnected from room to room (we have a quirky old house that was essentially built room-by-room), and we don't have any access holes. That means we have to cut and frame several holes before we can even get up into the attics...which is why we haven't done it sooner!

What projects do you have on your "why didn't I do this sooner?" list?


  1. I bought an organizer for my sock drawer. We've also done some landscaping and I really hope we can change the carpet soon. The carpet we have now is very cheap, it stains easily and is generally not wearing well at all.

    We have a clothes line and I have used it occasionally, most recently when our dryer broke. But, try as I might, I absolutely hate the way our clothes feel when they are dried on the line.

    I've used all manner of softeners, but the clothes still feel way too stiff and a lot of our shirts become really stretched out. I also found bugs lurking in the seams the last time. I don't think I'll ever give up my dryer.

  2. My husband just asked this very question this morning while using our new diaper sprayer. :)

  3. Here in Europe dryers are not a staple household appliance. I dry my clothes outside in the winter (especially diapers) when the weather allows and pop everything in the dryer (even the stuff that's dry) for 5-10 minutes. On rainy days we hang the clothes on an indoor clothes line/hangar contraption and put it near a source of heat. Any use of air drying methods at least partially cut down on drying time, gives clothes at least some sun bleeching (especially nice for diapers and useful even if the clothes dont dry completely) and the brief stint in the dryer gets rid of that stiff feeling.

  4. Clotheslines are definitely on my list.

    My grandmother used hers all through the winter. She'd put the clothes out, let them dry, then shake off the ice and bring them inside. I haven't tried this myself though.

  5. Nice one Rixa. We call that style of clothesline a Hills Hoist - invented here. All you need is a good wind, especially in winter, to dry clothes- sun is not necessary! Im always flabbergasted to hear about the lack of clothes lines in the US- here in Oz they are an everyday thing- every house has one. Standard. weird if you don't. If you dry your clothes in a dryer, most of the time, people think you are bone lazy and pretty selfish using all that power! Even in winter- use all that warm air inside to dry your clothes. Cultural differences. As for not liking the 'crunchy' feeling- get over it -for the planets sake :-)

  6. Kelly has said everything I was going to say! We don't own a dryer, although I can understand during winter if you cloth nappy a dryer may be necessary for emergencies! We dry everything on the line or inside on clothes horses in the dining room! Ive never known any different so don't really understand the "crunch" factor.. go the Hills Hoist!

  7. what Daniela said - dryers aren't very common over here if you live in a house. If the weather's dry, clothes go on the clothesline; if not they go on the clothesline or radiators indoors. It's gentler on the clothes and they smell nicer, mostly:)

  8. For a while, living with in-laws while my husband was deployed, I used a drying rack outdoors. I loved the sun getting out the EBF poop! Then I somehow forgot about not using the dryer (plus we had a lot of snow).

    This summer we bought a simple clothesline for UNDER 2 DOLLARS at Wal-mart, connected it to two trees in the backyard, and it's great! After having things on the clothesline I put them in the dryer for 10 minutes with dryer balls.

  9. Sorry but I don't think that Kelly has any idea what a midwestern winter is like...nothing like in Oz.

  10. I bought a drying rack last year in hopes of cutting down on dryer use, but I just don't like the feel of the clothes, frankly. Popping them in the dryer for 10 minutes afterwards helps, but not enough in some types of clothes. So I didn't end up using it as much as I'd hoped.

    I do think it's a cultural expectation, though, since I know many places (Europe, Oz etc.) just expect line-drying. In many neighborhoods in the USA, there are actually CCRs (community laws) against having clotheslines in your yard; it's considered an eyesore. Hopefully in time we can change those attitudes.

    Our projects...we would like to add more insulation to our house and add solar panels, but that will have to wait for more cash. We did do a lot of caulking and other winterizing last year, and added a fireplace insert to recycle more of our heat. I'd like to add more storm windows this year.

  11. Growing up without a dryer, I never thought twice about the stiffness. We lived in a New England climate, and freeze-dried our clothes outside if it wasn't actively precipitating.

    What I did mind was the fact that our clothesline was downwind of the outdoor woodstove, so all winter long we could count on our friends to make fun of us for our smoky smelling clothes.

    You can keep clothes from stretching by hanging them by their middles, and not pulling them taut between the pins.

    Now I'm lucky enough to live by a stiff ocean breeze, so everything dries fluffy. I do appreciate it.

    And that stiff ocean breeze also helps me with my procrastinated project: sun-dried tomatoes.

  12. Hey Rixa, I asked my Granny what they did in winter and she said hung clothes on the line OUTSIDE!She said if it wasnt raining or snowing, the clothes went on the lne, they might freeze a bit, but she said mostly the wind dried them out that they were just cold when she brought them in! Too funny is the thought of frozen stiff undies! LOL She said they really did dry so give it a try!

  13. Okay, so I'm going to have to try the freeze-dry method and see if it really works! The worst thing for me isn't the thought of stiff, frozen clothes--it's standing out there in the cold hanging the clothes up.

  14. Be careful with winter line drying, though. My mother broke a sheet her first winter in Colorado.


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