drying laundry on clothesline

miscindyJune 28, 2011

Tired of our high electric bill, we have decided to take steps toward lowering it. One thing we did on Sunday was create a spot for a clothesline. So, yesterday I did a load of whites and hung them out to dry. They attracted quite a few insects of various types: wasps, beetles, little tiny black bugs . . . What are your tips for keeping the bugs off the clothes? Are there herbs you can hang on the clothesline to deter insects? I asked on the laundry forum, but they seems to be mostly clothes dryer users. Thanks! I'm waiting for load #2 to finish washing and then I'll be back out at the line again.

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When you give up the dryer for an "outdoor solar unit" ;-), you exchange one set of problems for another. The down side of drying clothes outdoors:
-sun-faded colors
-unseen allergens collecting on fabrics
-bird poop
-wind whipping fabrics
-sun destroying elastic and fabrics
-uncooperative weather
-extreme heat and cold
-we just finished cottonwood flying season from cottonwood trees, which clings to wet clothes; only to be replaced by burn debris falling out of the sky from farmers burning the stubble in wheat fields

We eliminated all these challenges by placing 6 lines in the basement in a small unfinished storage room and put a ceiling fan overhead to help with drying. On one wall we have a 6-foot clothes rod. Total - this is enough space for 2 loads of laundry - occasionally I'll add a drying rack to the mix.

Everything we normally hang on a hanger are placed on a hanger wet and put on the clothes rod to dry, which frees up a lot of space on the lines. Now they go from the basement to the closet.

Helpful hint: Set your washer to spin at the slowest speed to help eliminate wrinkles. My Fisher & Paykel washer actually has a spin cycle - "Spin Hold" - designed for hand washables or to line dry. The extra wetness also works FOR you. Gravity pulls on that extra weight which aids in pulling the wrinkles out of your clothes while they dry. We hang pants by the cuffs - one leg on one line, and the other on the line behind it. They dry with a nice crease in them and the crotch dries quickly because it's exposed to the air from the ceiling fan.

I dried clothes on hangers on our outdoor umbrella clothesline by slipping the hanger through the loop on line on the side of the aluminum pole - so I've always dried as much on hangers as possible.

I use TIDE plastic hangers for line-drying - especially for some of hubby's heavy knit shirts. The TIDE hangers are wide at the shoulder so your shirts don't get "bunny ears" (sharp points from the hangers) on the shoulders. There are slots for ventilation on the TIDE hangers. Before I found them I would slip an old shoulder pad between the garment and the hanger to support the shoulder. I use wooden hangers, not wire hangers, for everything. Wire hangers and wet clothes = rust stains.

We line-dry our clothes all year long and have used the basement for 4-1/2 years now. It's been amazing how much longer our clothes are lasting by eliminating the dryer AND outdoor drying.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 8:25AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I have a clothesline in my yard but I can't physically carry a bunch of heavy, wet laundry.

I use a half & half approach. I put the clothes in the dryer for about 10 minutes to remove wrinkles and most of the moisture. Then I take out a few shirts and hang them up, turn the dryer back on while I work. After all of the shirts have been hung, I start hanging the pants, turning the dryer back on after I remove a few items. By removing the shirts and turning the dryer back on for as long as it takes to hang the shirts, the increased air flow for just a couple more minutes dries the pants significantly more (and little pieces like socks & undies by the time the shirts are hung.)

Anything still moist at this time, like towels, gets hung. Socks & undies that are still damp get laid around the top of the laundry basket. Damp (not wet) sheets get spread on the beds to finish drying (untucked.)

I use plastic hangers for everything and don't get bunny ears. For something heavy like a sweater, folding it across the bottom of the hanger can help to avoid stretching. The plastic hangers happen to fit on the top door jamb next to the washer/dryer.

I end-up running the dryer about 75% less (20 mins. max for any load) but still get the benefits of a dryer sheet and most of the drying action from the dryer. Even the clothes that will be folded are a lot easier to take to the proper room on the hangers and fold them there.

I have many articles of clothing that are 20+ years old. I never use the high heat setting.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 2:19PM
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I've never had too much trouble with insects. Can you just give the clothing a good shake when you take it down? My biggest problem is bird poop. You can't shake that out. Drying outside is a good money saver. I don't take little stuff out (socks, underwear), but some of it I dry on a bed, inside rack or edge of laundry basket.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 9:05PM
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After using a dryer for the first 35+ years of my marriage, I've started hanging clothes for the past year or two. Saving money is a big reason (we're supporting 2 houses at the moment). Also, the 'new' house has a 1st floor laundry room, right next to the back door, so it's a lot easier to hang wash than at the other house where the W & D were in the basement. Then, too, the old house was in the suburbs, where the air was filthy. New house is in the country, not nearly as much pollution there.

SO.... I don't have a lot of problems with insects, sun damage or bird poop. Nor do I have to run and grab them off the line if an unexpected shower crops up. We have a large covered deck. I just hang my clothes there. I've noticed, when we drive through Amish country, a lot of the families hang their clothes on their porches. Any chance you could do that?

The other suggestion I'd make re: the insects... is that there must be some scent attracting them to your clothes. I only use scent-free/dye-free detergent and NO fabric softener, and I've never seen a single bug on any of my wash on the line. Perhaps give that a try?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 9:12PM
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I hand my clothes on hangers and then put them onto a clothes rack that I have on my covered deck. This way I can roll it where I want and can even roll the rack back into the house if I want to. Clothes smell so fresh.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 3:39PM
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I seldom use the dryer, and then usually on "fluff" to take out wrinkles, no heat. Use inside line in basement in winter. When the snow goes ... I use an outside line, even though I have to carry the basket from the basement, which doesn't trouble me, as I'm in good health. I try to wash on a day when it's not too windy, and the air is quite clean here on a farm upwind of a city 14 miles away.

No insects to be found on clothes when they've dried and I bring them in - use regular detergent but no softener: (afraid I might trip and my head go into the washer, then they could accuse me of having a soft head, possibly).

Don't think I've ever seen bird poop on anything - considerate birds around here, I guess.

ole joyfuelled

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 7:55PM
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I have a few drying racks setup in the spare bedroom. I carry the wet clothes from the basement to the 2nd floor and hang shirts, pants, undies and socks on the racks. A ceiling fan helps to dry. I've only used the dryer for towels and sheets for a few years. My clothes last longer.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 12:37AM
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In several years of drying sheets and towels on the line, I have had only one incident of bird poop ... but the line is not under any branches or power lines that could be used as perches. This was a fly-by pooping.

WET towels attract wasps. It looks like they are sucking moisture from the fabric. They also chew wood off the clothespins for their nests, so I have to be careful when I grab a clothespin. The wasps aren't aggressive, they are just 'there'.

I don't hang clothing on windy days, so dust and pollen aren't a problem.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 1:12PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

This was a fly-by pooping.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 11:42AM
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The neighbors let barn swallows build nests on their covered patio, which is next to my clothes line. The birds dive my clothes on the line, probably just protecting their nests, so I must have been getting fly-by poop, too ;-). That's when we put the clothes line in the basement....

If we waited for a windless day in Kansas, we would only do laundry 3-days per year (LOL). And pollen counts are over the top!!!


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 5:36PM
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I've been hanging outside in summer months for years. Main reason is my washer/dryer are in the kitchen alcove and make the house too hot. For the person that can't carry the heavy wet laundry, that was a problem for me too. I got a two wheeled cart and bought a tall plastic waste paper can that fits in it. Hang my bag of pins off the handle. This way I "wheel" my laundry from washer to the outside. For the tiny items, socks, etc I use a wooden drying rack. On a hot day light clothing dries in 1/2 hour, heavier things in an hour. A good shake keeps some of the wrinkles out.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 11:10PM
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I just put the shirts in the dryer for a few minutes to get the wrinkles out and hang them on the hanger. Same with work pants. Undies and socks go on a wooden folding rack. towels and sheets go in the dryer, though. I have the front loading washer (from CL) and the fast spin really does take most of the water out.

For the small items, like socks, if you are not pinning them to the clothes line, I suggest you hang them on the clothes basket in the basement. The neighbor used to drape all the socks over the edge of the clothes basket until the day a raccoon decided her wool sock would be tasty and ran off with it!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:27PM
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How to help reduce wrinkles:

When line-drying clothes, set your washer to the slowest spin cycle and you will eliminate most of the wrinkles in your clothes, and may not need to stick them in the dryer for even a few minutes. The faster the spin cycle, the more wrinkles there are set in your fabrics.

My washer has a special spin cycle for line-drying that has a very slow spin and as a result, a LOT fewer wrinkles than the 1000 rpm spin. Yes, there is more moisture left in your clothes and they take a little longer to dry, but that extra moisture actually works for you. Gravity will pull most of the remaining wrinkles out of the wetter things during drying.

Drying your pants/slacks/jeans by the cuff, with the heavier waist at the bottom will also help pull out wrinkles. I place one leg on one line, and the other leg on the next line allowing the exposed crotch to dry much quicker, PLUS, you get a nice crease in the legs.

Another thing that will help eliminate wrinkles is to smooth the items as you take them out of the washer. I pull like-items out of the washer, smooth them flat (or fold once to fit the basket) and stack like-kinds of things together before placing them in the laundry basket.

This also means like-kinds go on the line together. All the kitchen towels are hung together, washcloths, my undies, his undies, etc.... So when I take things off the line I fold them as I take them off, and stack them in the basket. I have a bench for folding outside (I can put up an umbrella to cover my folding bench to provide shade), and a table inside next to my lines.

If you dump a jumble of wet clothes into the basket, you only increase the wrinkles. If you dump a jumble of dry clothes into the basket, you cause wrinkles.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 7:51AM
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I would never go back to line drying and when I was I never had problems described here, never. The wind made my clothes softer, less wrinkled. The sun will not fade your clothes unless you leave them hanging longer than necessary. I don't know how your weather is there, but if it is as hot as it is here they may be seeking something cool.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 6:50PM
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Sorry to have posted and then disappeared for 2 weeks. Life got busy, we went out of town . . . I'm still using the clothesline. I figured out a few things about the insects on the clothes. As one of the other posters said, they are attracted to the moisture on the clothes. The day I posted my question was cloudy and cool and the clothes weren't drying very well, hence the insects stayed on them. When I put my clothes out on hot dry breezy days they dry quickly and the insects leave once the clothes are dry. It's not likely a scent on my clothes that attract them since I am using the homemade laundry detergent, there's not really any scent.
I had a hard time trying to buy enough clothespins. When I first put up my line, I bought 2 dozen plastic pins for $1/dozen. I wasn't sure if they'd hold up so I didn't want to buy a bunch until I had tried them out. A few weeks laters, the stores in my area were SOLD OUT of clothespins! I actually bought some in a drugstore while vacationing in Frankenmuth MI-a tourist town. Other than a birthday gift for my father, it was my only purchase of the day.
So far I am still enjoying my clothesline!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 12:10PM
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UPDATE: I used the clothesline for virtually every load of laundry for the entire month of July---and it paid off! Our energy usuage was down 30% over last year's July, and it was really really hot this July! (We did also install 15 CFL lights and drop the temp on the hot water heater 1 notch.) We're pretty excited about our savings!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 5:25PM
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Plastic clothes pins eventual get brittle and break. Save your money and buy good wooden pins. They last much longer.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 6:39PM
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The clothespins I bought on vacation were the wooden ones and they have a stronger grip on the clothes. I have to use the wooden pins for the heavier clothes. I have been hanging everything outside, even socks which I have my son sort as I take them out of the water and clip together with a clothespin. When I take them outside, I just drape the socks with 1 on each side of the line and unless it's really windy, they don't blow off.

I found smaller loads are easier to manage, so I wash at least 1 load every day, hang it out and put it away. It doesn't take up too much of the day to just do a small load from start to finish.

Next week I go back to teaching and haven't figured out how this will work with the teaching schedule. I might only be able to hang out laundry on the weekends and it will be more of a chore since the loads will be larger. We'll see what happens.

Does anyone else work full-time away from the house and still do clothes lines?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 10:10PM
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Hi there,
I wandered over to this forum from the Kitchen Table in search of a homemade fabric refresher. I've been using the homemade liquid laundry detergent for years, and vinegar in the rinse. I don't like heavily scented products (or any scent, really)

I live in an apt with a balcony. We immediately bought a metal drying rack and I haven't used the dryer in 4 years, winter or summer. We have a king-size bed and the bedding gets dried on that as well.

We moved this winter to a different apt, still with a balcony but also has a T-bar clothesline with 5 lines. Luckily I haven't had any insect and bird-poop problems, and we have trees here. Knock on wood.

The rack is very handy, in the event of a sudden turn of weather, it's easily brought inside. In the winter, it's the only thing I use, and everything comes in frozen stiff. It's amazing how it cools the room down. lol

Fading is an issue, unfortunately. I wash and dry dark clothes inside out.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 9:05AM
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For hanging clothes outside while having a full time job, I found it easier to wash two-three loads in the evening and hang them early the next morning.

On Friday night, while hubby and I watched TV, we washed the clothes and loaded the laundry baskets by flat-folding the wet clothes (don't toss them in in a jumble or they will have a lot of wrinkles), and keep like-kinds of things together. All my undies, all hubbies, all the kitchen towels, etc. They go on the line together and when I take them off the line they all get folded as I take them off and placed in the basket/s. The sorting has already been done so this doesn't take any time at all. Anything that normally gets hung on a hanger is also dried on a hanger, and they are placed on a hook on the back of the door. Sometimes they dry without taking them outside.

Hubby built a folding bench and put a patio umbrella over the bench to keep the sun off while folding laundry.

After washing the clothes the night before, I hang them the next morning (I normally get up at 3:30 a.m., so anytime after that they got put on the line) and they are dried before lunchtime (sometimes by 9 or 10 a.m.). Then I would do the same thing Saturday night and hang the clothes Sunday morning.

Anything that normally hangs on a hanger is also dried on a hanger so they go from the line to the closet. The hangers are placed on the end of my outdoor umbrella clothes line in the loops of clothesline going through it, which keeps them from flying off and to free-up more space on the lines.

But the best answer was to put lines up in the basement so now I can do laundry anytime - although we still do laundry in the evening while watching TV - it's a team effort at our house.

Hubby and I do two loads of laundry on Tuesday night and hang it up, and take it down Wednesday morning after we work-out in the basement. And again on Saturday morning we do the sheets and bath towels, which dry in the basement by the afternoon. Saturday evening we do two more loads and hang them in the basement and take them down early Sunday morning. The clothes aren't getting sun-bleached all day long and beat to shreds in the wind. It's amazing how much longer our clothes are lasting and looking much better, since we quit hanging them outside three years ago.

While still using the outdoor line, I also put two lines up in our garage - between the cars bays - so I could hang clothes there if the weather was ify, and put a large fan on them to aid drying.

We have a pull-out accordion drying rack (see link below) in our laundry room. This is where I hang socks and bras to dry (just toss them over the bar), instead of messing with them outside (or in the basement). It's also where I hang wet dish rags/dish towels and wet washcloths/towels to dry after use so they dry completely before I toss them in the laundry basket.


Here is a link that might be useful: Accordian Drying Rack

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 9:22AM
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90% of my clothes do not go into the dryer. i hang them to dry on clothing racks made for drying. i usually put them to dry in the garage or upstairs, i don't know if you would consider going with that option

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 8:20PM
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I would like to look for those wide shouldered TIDE hangers. Target carries some heavy duty, wide shouldered plastic hangers, but I'd like to see what else is available.

May I suggest a few hours of airing your towels outdoors is good even if you do not wash them after each use. Mine are dark colored, so I do not put them in direct sun, but air them under the back porch roof. I like to do this with blankets a couple times a week, too.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 6:21PM
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I use the a similar method as Purpleinopp... I dry to remove the wrinkles and then hang (right in my unfinished basement) when the items are 'warm but still wet' I hang on plastic hangers. what I like about this is everything stays organized and goes right to the closet. Another benefit is that the Downey that i like to use stays as a nice scent in the clothing... This whole method seems to cut the laundry time by 60-70%

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 9:34AM
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At our old house, we had a drying rack that hung from the ceiling. We got it at Ikea. It would hold one load plus, so between that and the accordion rack, we were set. Having clothes drying in the house help keep the air from being so dry too. We're going to get a couple of the racks for the house we're building. The laundry room will be bigger. :)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 3:38PM
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