Line drying and insects

miscindyJune 27, 2011

We live in the country and naturally have a lot of insects. Today I put up my clothes line and I just brought my first ever line-dried load in. There were quite a few insects on them, including lots of really tiny ones that looked like specks of dirt. I shook them out and ended up putting them in the dryer for a few minutes. That killed any bugs and removed them from the clothes. I think I would like to put shirts right on the hangers from the washer and hang on the line that way, but what about the insects? Has anyone hung herbs on the clothes line to deter bugs? How do you solve this problem?

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By not line-drying. :-) At least, not outside. A few shirts or slacks that I may want to hang-dry, I place on hangers and hang them on various doorknobs inside.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 8:25PM
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When you shook the laundry upon removing it from the clothesline, did that not shake the little bugs off?

We don't have a bug problem here. Though we have plenty of insects, they rarely get on laundry drying outside. Some people tell me they don't hang out laundry for fear of birds pooping on it, but that has not happened to me in 30+ years of hanging out laundry.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 9:44PM
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    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 10:58PM
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What 'dadoes' said.

This is why dryers are so popular. :o)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 8:43AM
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I am not sure I want bugs in my dryer. I hope they are dead.

I grew up with parents that didn't believe in a dryer. Clothes were hung outside in a pollen, bug and bird-poop filled yard in the summer and a cold, damp, stinky basement in the winter. Very gross. I was delighted when I went to college and discovered dryers! What an invention.

I do hang the rare garment to dry inside but everything else goes in the dryer. This forum has had some dedicated line-dryer people in the past, including some in northern New York and Vermont. They are hardier than I am. Frozen sheets are not my thing.

Good luck with your drying, however you decide to do it.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 5:46PM
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I line dry 12 months of the year - in northern NY. The advantage of winter is that there are no bugs, except snow fleas (not real fleas, and not on clothes unless you set your laundry basket on the snow whilst taking the clothes off!)

There will be bugs on your stuff from time to time on with line-dried laundry, but in my expereince almost invariably they will shake off easily, so no real problem. Just shake them off outside. You will learn which times of day and which climate conditions are the least likely to have bugs. I would be very surprised if it is really a big problem; it just looms large because if this was the first time you tried it, then 100% of the the time (in your experience, so far) there were bugs. Don't give up.

As for bird poop, well, that happens occasionally, too. It can be a problem if they have been gorging on red berries - those marks are sometimes hard to get out. I find that in some seasons if I leave the clothes out overnight bird poop is more likely to happen (never certain, or even likely, just more likely than at other times). I have tried whirligigs afixed to my T-bars during migration periods when the bird poop issue is more common - they work as long as tey are not there all the time

However, I often do leave laundry out overnight - heck I often hang it out in the dark if I do laundry in the evening. Overnight to early morning is great if you have something that you are concerned about fading in full sun (curtains are the main things in this category for me).

Line drying is very satisfying, very economical and just takes a little experience to put in place confidently. Please don't give up!

Plus, freshly line-dried clothes smell divine!


    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 6:18PM
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Another line dryer here. So dedicated I gave my perfectly good dryer to Goodwill. I like line drying for numerous reasons. The first is time. I hang one load as the other is agitating in the washer. Fifteen minutes after the last load is done (and my average number of loads per week are four) they're all hung and I can forget about them for the day and do something else. No running back and forth to the dryer each hour to fold a load and put the next load in. Ergo.........since I use a wringer hour and fifteen minutes after I start filling the machine with water they're done and on the line. Another fifteen minutes at the end of the day to fold them up as I take them off the line and it's a wrap.

Sunlight is a great sanitiser and stain bleacher. Since my clothes are wetter than an automatic washer leaves them after the final rinse, I find that none of them need pressing, even the cottons.

They smell heavenly! without the need of adding perfumes. The towels are so much more absorbent when line dried, as well without using fabric softeners.

On a breezy, sunny day, often four loads of wash will dry in a couple hours and I have calculated my average monthly savings from not using a dryer at about forty five dollars. No carbon footprint either. My expense is about three dollars once every two years to replace a line or buy a new card of clothes pegs.

I find it much more enjoyable to be outside with the birds and the sunlight than stuck in my laundry room and I love to see a line full of neatly hung, clean clothing flapping in the breeze.

No......I seldom find bugs on the clothing. The exception is about one week some summers when asian lady beatles are attracted to white sheets. LOL. They shake off when I'm folding them.

Yes, I've had them caught in rain, but boy you should smell them when they dry a second time. No perfume in the world can match that. Ditto if they've been left out overnight and dry when the the sun starts burning off the dew.

In winter, I have four long lines hung in a g'house I'm not using. Any sun at all and they dry rapidly. Works for me. I think I've had a bird poop on an item once in many years. But then again I had a bird poop on me walking down a street in town....directly on a brand new straw purse I'd just bought. Ya just never know when a bird is gonna poop.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 12:41AM
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I am so envious - I want a wringer washer. I am constantly stalking my local Craig's list to find one.

Just this past week I rewashed several 15-18 yard bolts of cotton that I snagged at an auction late last fall. I gave them a preliminary wash then, but as it was bird migrating season I did get several bird poops. Since it was nearly winter - and then snowed like crazy all winter afterward - I didn't get around to rewashing them to get the bird poops off. These are headed for longer-term storage (they are destined to be curtain lining), so I didn't want the stains to stay on too long. Over the last week I rewashed it all (more than a hundred yards of 45" fabric). And wouldn't you know it on the last day, the last two pieces got pooped on again. Grrh!

So, yeah, it does happen, but it's rarely a big problem.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:44AM
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Yeah.........I donated my washing machine to Goodwill too when I took my stash I was going to buy a front loader with and went looking. I am a professional gardener and my husband who is retired, also gets plenty filthy and I needed something with muscle to take those butt and knee stains out from when we are on the ground grubbing. The American front loaders don't seem to do the job European models do and all this talk about monkeying with programming, and extra rinsing just turned me off. Up until I decided to get one, used ones were everywhere. When I made the was not to be found. So I sprung for a new one and they......are ..........not None are made in the U.S. anymore and they have to be shipped in. I am ready to start year three with it and I have no regrets. They slap filthy clothes within an inch of their life and if you don't think something is quite clean when you lift the lid to look. No problemo. Just turn the little knob to agitate and continue washing until they are. LOL. All the ground in neck stains are gone. All the dingy looking hand towels are white again. My work jeans are as clean as my dress jeans. No.........since I wear mostly natural materials like cotton, they don't look old and worn out any quicker than they did when I had a conventional machine. If I want to....I can even roll the unit out the door and wash outside. My laundry room is now a fifth bedroom and the only one downstairs. I am just fine with it.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 7:09PM
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I live in Florida, where there are lots of bugs, and I do not have a problem with bugs in my clothes after line drying. I much prefer line dried clothing to drying them in the dryer. They smell divine and end up completely sanitized from the sun.

If they are left out until early evening I might have to shake some no see ums off before tossing them in my basket, but I have yet to find bugs in my home or in my clothes from line drying.

I also find it peaceful to be outdoors. Sometimes I enjoy the sun, fresh air, watching butterfies flitting by, and hearing the birds, that I fold the laundry as it comes off the line rather than being cooped up inside doing it.

If I'm extra tired, not feeling well, or the weather is bad, I use my dryer.

Line drying saves substantially on the electric bill.

Calliope,I am so intrigued with wringer washers. I remember helping my mom as a youngster and having such fun using it. As an adult I don't find doing laundry particularly "fun", but I didn't mind the old fashioned wringer washer.

Lehman's sells wringer washers, and though not inexpensive, they are about the same price as a modest priced front loader. After reading an article by Jackie Clay in Backwoods Home Magazine, I am seriously considering getting one. I am sick and tired of automatic washers not getting clothing truly clean....and I don't buy cheap ones either.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 1:26AM
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$45/mo for 4 loads of laundry a week. Wow! Nearly $3 per load. You must have some HORRENDOUS utility rates! By chance did you misplace a decimal point? $50-$60 per year would be much closer I think. Even using an electric dryer which most people (though sometimes erroneously) presume is more expensive to run than gas, let's see...
Electric dryers use about 4400 watts, that's 4.4kw.
For the sake of discussion let's say each load is 3/4 hour, that's 3.3 kwh per load. At 1/2 hr per load, it's 2.2 kwh
4 loads @ 3.3kwh = 13.2 kwh per week @ 45 min, 8.8 kwh @ 1/2 hr.
13.2x4=52.8 kwh per month, give or take @ 45 min, 35.2 kwh @ 1/2 hr
$45 divided by 52.8 kwh used = $.85 per kwh at 45 min per load average. $45 divided by 35.2 kwh is $1.28 per kwh at 1/2 hr per load average.

Holy cow! Nationwide electric rates vary but are around 12â/kwh average. Mine, depending on additional fees and taxes average from 12â-17â/kwh including all the non-electric related add-ons.

FWIW, 52.8 kwh @ 15â/kwh would be $7.92/mo and 35.2 kwh @ 15â is $5.20 per month. Even running the dryer TWO HOURS per load would be less than $21 per month at average rates.

And if you're talking a gas dryer... I don't even want to think about the cost per therm!

Here is a link that might be useful: I couldn't even get the calculator to go high enough to be $45/mo!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 7:42AM
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Our electric supplier offered all their customers a free energy audit several years before their proposed rate increases, to help soften the blow. After a full day of inspecting and testing, he advised us if we ever had a gas main run by our rural home to hook on and never look back. I just am thankful we made the decision then it was time to bite the bullet and spent the money retrofitting our two hundred year old house. That included replacing our electric heat with a gas-fired and zoned boiler system, and going to gas for cooking. We went militant and installed a solarium for solar gain against the windward ell of the house, a ceramic clad water heater to fire once a day on off hours, blinds to the windows to open and close letting in or blocking solar gain, windbreak plantings, closing off most of the fireplace stacks, and replacing original two hundred year old window systems. Our investments were paid back in very short order and we noticed a forty to sixty percent drop in our bills.

Prior to the audit I had kept logs for ten years on KWH consumption, rate per KWH and degree days so that I could compare like dates from year to year to see what our trends were and what appliances we had added or lost. I had better data than the electric company provided. I worked in both engineering or QC at a fan company, a furnace manufacturer and an appliance manufacturer, so yes I can calculate how much energy a dryer is 'supposed' to use. I can also say quite honestly that when I quit using mine......the savings were substantial, apparent, consistent and obvious enough my husband was stymied and wondered what had changed. He even suggested our meter might be off. LOL.

The only change to our usage was I waited until he was out of town, bought a bag of concrete and dragged out a post hole digger and installed clotheslines. He had been hostile to the suggestion because he didn't want them in the way of his mowing. He likes my clotheslines now. He'll even take clothes down if it looks like rain. The initial savings were more like in the thirty five dollar range. I am just assuming with the rate hike they're likely higher now. I don't keep logs anymore. I could afford to quit keeping logs when we cut our bill in half.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 4:05AM
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I noticed that we are saving about $40 per month ourselves, but I do more than 4 loads per week. We are with a co-op power company. My husband is an electrical engineer, has installed solar power to help with our electric needs, and have meters to tell us the exact usage of power. This is not part of the power company meters, but personal meters not much larger than a cell phone you can purchase yourself to see exactly what power you are consuming. When the electric dryer is running, it is mind boggling to see the usage jump. This is a Whirlpool Duet dryer that is a bit over 6 years old, so not an old one.

I'm not sure how the appliance companies get away with their power consumption data, but we've never found it to be what they claim.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 5:58PM
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Gas is less expensive than electricity in many places, not so where I live. Because the gas utility companies here were deregulated a couple of decades ago, electricity is now cheaper.

When I only hung out clothes and rarely used the dryer, especially during the warm/hot weather months, our electric bill was noticeably lower. We typically saved at least $25 per month, usually at least $50 in the summertime. I would like to do that again, and am very glad I live in a neighborhood where I can.

sandy808, my DH has a number of relatives in different areas of Florida. Every one of them has a clothesline and uses it regularly. On top of that, they're not adding heat to their homes by running clothes dryers, thus making the a/c run more. Drying clothes outside saves them a LOT of money on utilities.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 9:40PM
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Unlike washing machines, I read that dryers don't even go for energy star ratings because the new models aren't really much changed from the old ones. There isn't really that much you can to do make them more efficient.

Lots of variables can impact the energy consumption of a dryer. One of them is how wet your clothing is when you load them. Another is what materials you normally wear. Permapress has a cool down cycle, but as a person who works in dirt, I don't wear synthetics.....I wear denim and twills, and almost exclusively cottons, right down to the skivies. They don't dry as quickly as a polyester blouse. The temperature you keep your laundry room at makes a difference as well.........cold laundry rooms mean longer drying time and I turned off the heat in mine when I had automatic units because I wasn't in there with them and comfort wasn't an issue. Whether you have a good vent design and how accurate your stats are, whether you have sensors and automatic shut off. Not all dryers are operating under optimal conditions and some times that can't be helped.

I think you'll find some states are beginning to overide restrictions on the use of clotheslines regardless of how a municipality or HOA feels about it. I believe Florida is one of them. It's a little foolish to mandate things like CFLs and give tax credits for energy star appliances when a major energy drain can be completely avoided by an activity with an absolutely zero carbon footprint. Is clean laundry flapping in the breeze really that visually offensive compared to other sights one might see in a residential community?

We have a large low-income housing development in a nearby town and up until the last decade, each unit had a set of clothes poles and lines behind it. Not anymore. Now they come with washer/dryer hook ups. They can hope to afford a dryer, or spend their money on the quarter for ten minute machines at the laundromats. That's progress?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 12:48AM
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It's a little foolish to mandate things like CFLs and give tax credits for energy star appliances when a major energy drain can be completely avoided by an activity with an absolutely zero carbon footprint. Is clean laundry flapping in the breeze really that visually offensive compared to other sights one might see in a residential community?

I couldn't possibly agree more. IMHO, this is political correctness gone amok.

We have a large low-income housing development in a nearby town and up until the last decade, each unit had a set of clothes poles and lines behind it. Not anymore. Now they come with washer/dryer hook ups. They can hope to afford a dryer, or spend their money on the quarter for ten minute machines at the laundromats. That's progress?

Ditto my reply above.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 2:21PM
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Maybe it's the water here, or something, but I've never had any towel or cotton clothes hung on the line not dry rough, stiff, and unabsorbent.

Must be a secret I don't know?

And then there is the sun fading.

I'm glad that line-drying works well for others, but it hasn't for us. So it goes.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 8:32PM
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sierrahh, a 1/2 cup of baking soda in the wash softens towels (also boosts the cleaning power of detergent).

Using white vinegar in the final rinse strips out any remaining detergent. Residual detergent can make towels stiff and rough.

However, in my experience, line-dried towels -- even if rough and stiff -- are much more absorbent than those dried in a dryer.

If wind is blowing, that helps to soften them.

My towels are mostly white, so fading is not an issue. If I were hanging out dark towels, I would hang them in the shade.

One easy way to soften line-dried towels is to put them in the dryer on low heat for 5-10 minutes. This is much more energy-efficient than drying them in the dryer.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 4:33AM
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Yes.......line dried towels are a little more stiff than those done in a dryer. My dh complained about that, but as Mara says, if the wind is blowing and the towels get some movement as they dry, they're much softer. Line dried towels are ever so much more absorbent, especially if no fabric softener is used. Those soft sweet smelling towels with fabric softener in the dryer I have found mostly just push the water around on your skin. I really sort of like the gentle abrasion of a line-dried towel on my skin as I find it invigorating and also defoliating. What I find is amusing is the same people who would complain about the abrasion on a line-dried towel may very well be using one of those scratchy bath sponges or a loofah specifically to get that exfoliating effect.

I do use vinegar in the rinse with no fears of machine damage since my rinsing is done in a 1935 galvanized rinse tub my mother picked up at an auction. Good grief, it's seventy five years old and still going strong. LOL.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 10:36AM
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I live in south east England but I am aware of the same problem in other parts of the UK but can't seem to find any info. Lately when I have hung my washing outside to dry it gets covered in little maggot type things wrapped up in what look like webs. It has only started in the past few weeks and has stopped me from drying outside. I have no idea what they are but there are lots and they get in all the little corners of t-shirts, underwear, bedding etc. It's driving me mad as I keep finding them! Any ideas?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 5:37AM
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You might enquire at your local environmental health authority - takes in examples.

It sounds, from what your describing, like the larval stage of some insect. But it would be a very fast pupating one to create, from scratch, an occupied coccoon in the few hours clothes are outside. I wonder if the insects are laying eggs beforehand and the larva are simply coming to your attention after the wash.

Several human ecto-parasites go through a proto-larval stage: lice, for instance. You haven't recently traveled anywhere rough have you? You might have brought something back with you.

Hope you can resolve this and that it's just a temporary, local, change in the environment that will sort itself w/o any fuss. Good luck!


    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 2:57AM
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What I find is amusing is the same people who would complain about the abrasion on a line-dried towel may very well be using one of those scratchy bath sponges or a loofah specifically to get that exfoliating effect.

Good point, calliope! :)

Personally, after using line-dried towels for a number of years (my preference though I owned a dryer), it took me a while to get used to towels dried in a dryer -- they definitely don't dry like those dried on a clothesline.

A good breeze seems to help keep insects off line-drying laundry, but I'm not familiar with the type described in luke1983's post (nor do I live in England).

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 9:50PM
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I have horrible allergies, so the thought of exposing all of my clothing and linens to pollen (on top of the bugs and bird poo!) isn't appealing. Neither is the extra work. My mother told me about hanging up my baby clothes and cloth diapers in the dead of winter, and then chipping off the clothespins and thawing the clothes as she ironed (everything was ironed back then).

She got a dryer in 1967 and never looked back.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 3:21PM
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My mom got a dryer in 1964 and never looked back either. :) She had a great clothesline in the basement in the next house (though she used it rarely), which completely prevented any problem with insects, bird poo, or pollen (all of which, AFAIK, had never been a problem). She did have an outdoor line there too, but only used it for drying comforters and quilts.

The main reason I like to air-dry laundry is because dryers are energy hogs. All 220v appliances use a LOT of energy. If I never had to use any of them, our electricity bill would be decimated.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 4:28AM
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