My Grandmother’s Old Fashioned Clothesline
As a child, I have fond memories of running between the lines of clothes drying on my Grandmothers clothesline. She was a homemaker and lived on a busy street, so we often were confined to the side yard while my mother visited with her in the kitchen that overlooked the yard. To this day when I drive past the place where her house once stood, I still have vivid memories of her clothes poles and playing hide-n-seek between her sheets.
As I got older wash day became a chore, and my memories switch to a wringer washer and clothes baskets full of wet clothes waiting to be hung. I remember thinking how badly I wished my parents would buy one of those fancy automatic washer and dryers like I saw at my friend’s house. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that my mother finally got a shiny new washing machine.
It amazes me how sixty years ago it wasn’t uncommon to see clothes line-drying in every backyard, but since 1940 when clothes dryers became available that nostalgia symbol has slowly died. Today many subdivisions and communities prohibit the use of clotheslines. The organization Laundry List is lobbying for the “Right to Dry” with the hope that no matter where you live you can line dry your clothes if you choose. Those of us that are able to use clotheslines are opting to conserve energy by bringing this old-fashion household chore back outside.
As the old-fashioned clothesline revolution makes a comeback, people are now connecting that household chore to simpler times. I look forward to the few minutes I get to connect with nature and breathe in the smell of freshly laundered clothes while taking in the sounds of the nature around me. I look at line drying as my way of helping the environment while it keeps me connected to a simpler way of life.
I finally found heavy duty clothespins.
I’ve been line drying clothes for years, and have gone through many different styles of clothespins. From plastic to peg, to cheaply made China pins, and no matter which ones I bought, I never could find any heavy duty clothespins that would hold up to the wind we get here on the farm. My clothes would always end up on the ground. Since I was introduced to these hand-made heavy duty clothes pins I don’t have to worry about anything ending up on the ground!
I was surprised to read that most households clothes dryers account for 5% of their energy cost and if they’d switch to line drying clothes and washing in cold water the savings could be remarkable. Do you want to see how much you can save by line drying your clothes? Check out laundrylist.org. I’m saving almost $500 a year by line drying and washing in cold water.
How much can you save?
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Did you know that it’s actually illegal to prohibit clotheslines (or any other method of using natural resources). We live in a deed-restricted HOA development, and we are the proud owners of a clothesline. We are the only household in our neighborhood that I know of that has one and I relish the times of year when I can employ it. It’s definitely one of my favorite household activities.
I have to check out that organization! I’m planning on writing a book about clotheslines and the memories that go with them.
Enjoy your laundry day!
I to love the smell of freshly clothes from the line I grew up in Mich. and my mom hung everything out on the clothes line . As a kid my sister & I would run between the sheets and play hide& seek though them . I live in Colorado a HOA and can’t hang clothes out so my wonderful husband came up with a line in the garage which works it’s from a shower rod so I can put up & take down easily. My dil was amazed & loved it.
I found your website through beingfrugalbychoice.com. I’ve loved the articles. I live in the city, but grew up in the swamps of Louisiana. I’m using my little .25 acres to bring the country back to me. I’m 26 years old and I line dry all of my clothes (weather permitting). A lot of my friends think it’s strange, but it saves me $10-$15 a month.
Cecee many of my friends thought I was crazy as well, but now they are trying to live simple themselves. You may be starting a great trend!
I’ve been asking my hubby for a few weeks now if he would help me string up a clothesline. He is worried about another obstacle to mow around in the yard, but I think he’s going to cave soon. Especially if I mention the savings from using the dryer!
Once you show him the saving you will have him in your back pocket. What man wouldn’t want his wife finding him ways to stretch his paycheck!
I still hang much of my laundry outside! Love the smell of line dried clothes … and that smell cannot be replaced by any fragrance from dryer sheets! thanks for sharing your post.
This sounds like a really stupid question ,to you, I am sure. But here goes:Say I am inspired to use a clothes line. How practically do I do that? I know, you probably did not expect anyone to ask this, but I am a city girl and although I have come a long way I have no memories of clothes flapping in the breeze. So practically speaking, do you tie a rope to two trees? Do you install some sort of pole with cement? What do you attach the rope to?
I sound like a newbie. I have butchered chickens, raise rabbits, have a front yard garden but have never really been close up and personal with a clothes line! LOL
Not a silly question at all. Line drying your clothes can be done in so many ways. My hubby built mine out of treated 4×4’s cemented in the ground, but you can buy clothes line umbrella’s at any hardware store. They are easy to put up and work great. You can also use a drying rack on a porch or deck and it works just as well. All that matters is that you save yourself some money and let the sun do the work for you.
If you have trees in a great spot (close enough together to string line between them, but also in an area where people won’t get “clotheslined” when they walk through), just tie your line between them! My Mom always hung her clothes that way and still does. I was baffled about how to put one up when I got my house, because I had grown up that way. 🙂
I grew up where using a clothes line was the norm. It honestly blows my mind that some neighborhoods had rules against that. What a strange thing to have a rule about. (visiting from Monday’s Musings)
I started line drying my clothes this month and love it. I was remembering my grandma’s clothes line similar to your story. She had her line on a wheel from the back door connected to the house and it ran out to the corner of her property which over looked the garden. Wish I had pictures, anyways it was cool and my mom always hung the clothes outdoors too when I was a kid. They smell fresh and clean, it’s been a great change of pace. Thanks for the clothespin link, that has been my complaint – finding good clothes pins that don’t bust out the wire spring. You’re awesome!
Carole those clothespins are wonderful. They are so worth the price. My hubby works in dirt and mud everyday and his work clothes are heavy. Those handmade pins are the only ones that will keep his heavy work clothes on the line.
What a great idea -to dry on a clothesline. My grandparents used one because they didn’t own a dryer.
As a city girl, I’ve not ever given it much thought, but your article entices me~
Came over on Wonderful Wednesday, and I’m glad to find your site.
I hope you have a blessed day~
So funny reading this I just posted yesterday about my frustration with my clothes pins breaking. Thanks so much for the link to some quality ones! I love the smell of laundry dried on the clothesline too! Have a great day!
I, too, look so forward to my laundry day and hanging our clothes out on the line. We are very blessed to live in the country where we have a huge, triple clothesline. I never dreamed that 5% of an electric bill was comprised of the dryer. I love your idea of washing in cold water. I switched over to using warm several years ago, but I think I will now graduate to cold. Anything to save and make our lives less stressful, due to high bills! Thanks so much for the wealth of information you have here. I dearly love your blog. 🙂
I love this! I would love to have a clothesline out back, but we have tons of trees, which equals tons of birds, which equals my fear of poop all over my clean clothes. Plus, we will be adding chickens to the yard next year, which will take up more space.
If anyone has any ideas on how to input a clothesline into our space, they would certainly be welcomed!
Jennifer do you have a back porch or deck you could set up a clothes drying rack?
I too have an HOA stating that we cannot hang a clothesline unless it is not seen from the street. We solved that problem by hanging my retractable clothesline on my fence, then putting a hook on the adjacent side of my house. It works perfectly! When I am done, I can unhook it from the side of the house, and it retracts back to the fence. No one can see it unless they’re in our backyard, and there is nothing to mow around so it’s out of the way!! I love it!! I bought the retractable line online from Lehman’s.
In Europe nobody is using cloth dryers – i cried while laughing when i saw “revolution” 🙂
you can dry clothes in winter too – indoors
there are portable line dryers which you can put in any room – and leave it for the night
this way you cut 100% of energy cost for dryers
Ever since the clothes dryer died,I have been hanging our clothes out on the clothesline, that’s about 5 years ago. If I can’t hang outside, I have a line setup down one of the halls for that purpose. You are right, there is no better smell than the fresh smell of line dried clothes. The washing machine just finished spinning and I’m going out to hang the clothes now.
Have a good day.
Oh, I love the clothesline and use it for as long as possible. The clothes always smell so sweet and fresh after being outside 🙂
Thanks for sharing with Roses of Inspiration. Blessings!
I’m so glad you shared this at the Summer Family Fun party! I LOVE my clothesline and share some similar memories with you. I cannot ever remember a time when Momma didn’t have a clothesline! If we moved, putting up a clothesline was a first order of business in the new home.
Nothing is better than line dried sheets!
I love line drying my clothes. Even in the winter, I have a clothes horse inside. Though I do have a dryer, I prefer ‘real air.’
Me too! There is always a drying rack full on our sun porch in the winter.
I love to slip under sheets that have been dried outside. I can smell the fresh outdoors. I’m with you in your quest to bring back line drying. Thanks for sharing.
That is my favorite thing about drying sheets on the line. I love to take a bath and then crawl into those fresh sheets…its like heaven to me!
We line dry almost all the laundry from spring to fall. Clothes freeze in the winter here in Canada! Our line is very simple, just a rope tied to a brick post at the edge of our patio across the yard to the fence. I also put towels on the backs of lawn chairs to dry outdoors when the line is full. In the winter, I often put damp clothes on the backs of our kitchen chairs to dry overnight. Saves energy and provides a bit of humidity which is welcome in our dry but cold winter climate.
I grew up in PA and remember my moms clothes freezing on the line. I live in SC and don’t have that problem, but what a great memory you gave me this morning.
Tracy, I do love this idea, and we are fortunate to live in a perpetual sunshine state here. I agree. There is NOTHING like clothing and linens, dried in the fresh air! I love your blog and will try to visit more often.
Fresh air and sunshine are two of my favorite things! We live in SC and get plenty of sunshine as well….makes my clothes very happy!
Good morning! Just a little note to let you know we have *featured* this post today on the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth 🙂 Thank you for linking up with us!
Thanks so much Jes!
Your post brings back memories. When we lived in a small town I had a big back yard with a clothes line. Laundry seemed less of a chore then. Now that my husband’s work has brought us to the suburbs I miss my clothes line!
Have you thought about investing in a clothes rack that you can use indoors? It might be an option for you and will help keep those memories alive even in the suburbs.
Thank you, I do have a clothes rack and I use it when I can, but it’s just not the same. There’s nothing like the smell of line-dried clothes and sheets!
Hello…I just came upon your blog for the first time and really enjoyed this article. My dryer died last month and I decided not to replace it….am using an indoor rack or hanging them outdoors. I thought I was a bit odd making this decision, but after reading this I feel it was a good choice.
Have a blessed day,
Thank you so much for sharing that with us. Those of us who choose not to use our dryers are making a statement and keeping money in our own pockets. Thanks for joining the revolution!
We just moved from a suburb in AZ to our farm in SC. Our HOA in AZ didn’t allow clotheslines. So frustrating, as things dry in about 2 minutes in the dry AZ heat! I told my husband one of the first things I want to do here is put up a clothesline. I’m just trying to find the best spot to put it…. I’ve saved the pins you recommended so I’m ready when I get it put up this year. Thanks. I really enjoy your blog!! 🙂
I love this!!! I hang out our clean laundry as often as I can in nicer weather! I love fresh, line-dried clothes (and towels too…I admit, I like scratchy towels that smell like the outdoors!). I love that it saves money and honestly, just love the look of the clothes hanging out there in the sunshine and breeze!! 🙂
I always loved to dry my clothes outside on the line. I always tried to make sure that no matter where we moved to it had to have a clothesline. However, within the last few years we built a house on our property and the clothesline that we had on the other lot, was just too far gone to use. I have been harping to my husband for the last 8 years that I really missed it. Well we just got lucky a few weeks ago and one of the employees that work with him was selling his. We snapped them up and now I am using them. I hate when it is raining because I have to dry inside. Love the smell of fresh clothes and sheets.
There is nothing like the smell of fresh laundry off the line. So happy to hear you finally got your line back!
When we cloth diapered my son I line dried his diapers, especially in the summer time. I had to wash them every other day and just saw no need to heat up the house when I could just let the sun take care of it. Thanks for sharing on #FridayFrivolity
Just wanted to say I love your blog but as a Brit I find the idea that drying your clothes on the clothesline is unusual really funny (I really do mean that in a friendly way), we are a family of six and have never had a tumble dryer, I will never buy one now, apart from environmental and financial considerations line-dried clothes just smell too lovely! Keep up the good work, I look forward to your posts so thanks very much.
I think dryers must be much less common in the UK (or at least my part of it), which when you consider the weather is quite weird! Maybe it’s the space issue? We couldn’t get one in our kitchen, though I’d quite like one of those combined washer dryers for the winter. I’m so with you on the pegs too! We go through so many – they just seem to fall apart after a while.
Thanks so much for sharing over at #FridayFrivolity! 🙂
Hey, GREAT article!!! I found you on Our Simple Homestead Hop, and so glad I read this! I’ve been line drying during the summers and fall, here on our little property. Here’s a question about snowy winters: Do you line dry then? I’m a little afraid of frozen clothes! lol But I LOVE line drying!
I do hang my clothes out in the winter and they have been frozen. I call them freeze-dried clothes:) Mostly if it is sunny and windy I will hang them out, but if not then I have a sunroom and a ex-large drying rack I use inside.
Hello from New Zealand.
Drying clothes outside is the norm over here. I did get a drier when my third child was born, but have hardly ever used it. I used cloth nappies for all three children who are now adults. Many people now use disposable nappies, but some people still use cloth nappies.
(Nappies = diapers.)
My husband built a clothesline for me on a deck which is downstairs and under another deck. This means I can hang out washing to dry even if it is raining. (It rains a lot in Auckland, but no snow.)
I like bringing in the washing off the clothesline. The smell and feel of freshly dried clothes is special.
My favorite part of hanging clothes outside is bringing them inside and walking through my closet…which always smells fresh and clean just like the outdoors!
It’s hard to believe that some people are having to fight for the right to line-dry their clothes. That’s sad! I wrote about my clothesline, too. I have to admit that I don’t always use it, sometimes it’s just more practical to use my dryer, but I’m so grateful that I have it, and I use it as much as I can.