Monday, January 5, 2009

On Hangin' Clothes

Drying time.
I was asked about how we dry clothes in the basement.  I'm definitely no expert but we've been line drying year round for a long time. Clothes seem to last longer this way.  The elastic doesn't go bad as fast and things definitely don't shrink.  On the other hand, line drying can leave you with wrinkly, stiff clothes if you're not careful.  
We have probably about 70 feet of line space in our basement.  When the lines are full it gets a bit difficult to walk around in the laundry/utility room but there is a path through.  We have a partially finished basement.  Most of it is carpeted (on a raised platform floor) and nicely finished with built in shelves and all.  But the laundry is way in the back of the unfinished portion, along with the freezer, water heater and furnace.  My pantry shelves are also nestled in there near the dryer along with V's trains and most of the power tools, etc.  From a point near the middle, by the water heater, 5 separate lines go to the back wall, 3 straight and 2 at an angle leaving a triangular work space in front of the washer.  A sixth line runs the opposite direction from the water heater to over the freezer.  Sounds very complicated doesn't it.  We have a 2x4 fixed to the floor joists above that serves as the anchor, with a cross piece holding the ends of the lines.  The far ends are tied into eye bolts in another 2x4 that is anchored into the cinder block wall.  It isn't pretty but it works. Near the washer I have a large box fan (I think V got it from a dumpster) that we turn on to speed drying.
After washing I generally tumble things in the dryer for a few minutes so I'm not totally line drying everything.  The clothes don't have to be dry, just warmed up a bit. Tumbling things briefly (5 min or so) does several things: It removes most of the dog fur (important in our house); It softens things up so you don't have cardboard stiff, scratchy towels; and, most importantly for my work clothes- it takes out the wrinkles- or at least most of them. 
Usually by the time I take a load out of the washer, put it in to tumble and start a new load, I can start hanging things from the dryer.  I'm pretty OCD about how I hang things and V tends to make fun of me.  Depending on the thickness and type of fabric things will take from a few hours to a day to dry.  I can generally get 3 loads of laundry on the lines, depending on size of load and what is in it.  I mostly do my laundry on weekends. My usual MO is to wash and hang in the morning til the lines are full- then let it go until the next day.  The next day I can wash and hang 3 more loads. That usually does it for us.  There are occasional mid-week loads but not often.  
I had a co-worker who discovered that I line dried my clothes a while ago.  She seemed to think that it would be so much more time consuming than doing them in the dryer.  I don't know- I've done both and I think line drying is much more convenient.  I don't have to worry about getting to the dryer before things get wrinkled after it stops.  I can fold as I take things off the lines and then they just need put away.
I'll confess, I occasionally run things all the way through the dryer- usually if it is a load of mostly socks or if I'm washing the blankets off the couch- (those tend to need longer to get the dog fur off of them) and blankets take up LOTS of line space.  
This has been pretty rambling- I hope it makes sense.  I know you probably don't really care how I have my lines set up but I thought it was important to let you know that it can really work on a permanent basis.  


  1. Makes me wish I had a basement. I love to line-dry my clothes, but this time of year it's either too cold or raining and we just don't have room inside the house.

  2. I use our dryer for HD's work shirts, but we dry all our clothes on racks over our heat registers. I agree, I think the clothes last a lot longer, when you see how much lint is in a dryer screen, you can just imagine that formerly was part of your clothes or towels.

    Unless it was the dog hair :) I never see our black dog's hair, but our gray dog gets blames for all the hair on everything because we can see it.

    When I do use the dryer I can never remember to go get the clothes out in time and usually have to run them for a few minutes to get rid of the wrinkles. Sigh.

  3. I wondered how to prevent the stiff as a board bath towels. This gives me food for thought. Thank you for sharing this! Kris

  4. Our basement is very narrow, quite full, and we only have two 12' lines. It's also cold and damp down there, since we stopped using the oil furnace. I hung bamboo pole across an alcove in our bedroom, and we hang things on hangers there, which has also been adding some much-needed humidity to the room. But there is not enough room for everything to dry fast enough to keep up with laundry.

    We still use the dryer for sheets, towels, and loads of socks and underwear. But the girls, who do most of the laundry are starting to use the dryer more. We need to find more places to hand poles for hanging laundry.

  5. Jen- when we lived in Virginia we didn't have a basement- I thought I would go crazy. I didn't line dry as much then- but we didn't have children so didn't have as much laundry either ;)
    Throwback- I can never remember to go back down again either- another reason I line dry. If I don't get back down to the basement for a day or two- no problem- LOVE IT!!
    Hickchick- Until we came up with the tumbling for a few minutes trick line drying was a hard sell for my hubby. But if you can get your clothes nearly as soft as dryer dried for LOTS less money- who's to complain!!
    Matriarchy- Our laundry/utility room is also quite narrow and cramped- in fact when there are clothes hanging it's hard to walk through- I think that's the motivation for taking them off the lines- you don't have to fight your way to the pantry.


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