Line Drying Clothes

A couple weeks ago, Carey wrote to me and asked:

I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about line drying your clothes. I am just beginning to do this and I'm sure there are more efficient ways than I am using. Do you line dry through the winter as well?

Hanging my laundry outside to dry is something I really enjoy doing! It's such a great "excuse" for me to take the children outside for some fresh air, even when the weather is chilly. Sometimes when I am busy with all the work in the house, I think, "Oh, I should just throw the laundry in the dryer; I don't have time to take the children out and hang it up."

Frugality almost always wins, and I find myself out at the clothesline, breathing fresh air and hearing Yehoshua (2) laugh and play. Somehow, being outside, peacefully hanging up clothes, helps me forget about all the work that waits back in the house. And quite often Yehoshua and I stay out there playing, even after the clothes is all hung. ;)

How I got started line-drying our laundry

When I was small, my father added an extra line to my mom's outdoor clothesline: one that was a child's height, and could be used for hanging up smaller/shorter things. So since before I can remember, I was helping my mom by hanging socks! During all of my years at home, my mom never owned a clothes dryer, so there was always plenty of laundry to hang. (There were 8 in my family.)

When Joshua and I got married, there was a small clothesline at our apartment. It only held about half a load of laundry, so we added another line that tripled my hanging space. I learned how to squeeze lots of clothes on it in such a way that they would still dry quickly. I did own a clothes dryer, but given the climate (we lived in southern Missouri) and my diligence at watching the weather and hanging laundry outside, I only used the dryer a handful of times each winter.

Now, we live at a house that has a nice little backyard and a perfectly lovely clothesline! My clothesline has 3 lines and can hold two large loads of laundry, or 3 medium-sized loads, quite comfortably.

Why I like line-drying my laundry

1. It's financially beneficial. I don't know exactly how much it costs in electricity or gas to dry clothes in a dryer, but hanging them outside is free!

2. The clothes has fewer wrinkles than dryer-dried clothing. This, of course, does depend on one's hanging techniques. But my line-dried clothes is virtually wrinkle-free, and my denim and khaki skirts don't get those annoying rolled hems like they do in the dryer.

3. I get fresh air and the children love to play or help hand me pieces of clothes to hang. It's therapeutic to me. Okay, maybe I'm crazy! There's just something soothing about hanging up all our shirts in a nice neat row and watching them flap in the breeze!

4. In the winter, I hang laundry indoors on a wooden clothes rack. We have natural gas heating in our house, and the air indoors can get quite dry in the winter. Hanging laundry to dry indoors boosts the humidity noticeably, and is cheaper than running a humidifier.

Also keep in mind that in the winter, your clothes dryer is taking warm air from your house to dry your clothes and then venting it outside. So not only do you pay to run your dryer, you're paying for more indoor heating!

My personal method for hanging laundry

This is my personal preferred way of hanging up laundry. I feel as though it gives good results and/or satisfies my perfectionist tendencies. ;)

Shirts: I hang shirts from the bottom. If hanging a dress shirt, I use a clothespin on each side and one in the middle where the shirt buttons, which holds the shirt neatly together. T-shirts just get one clothespin on each side. Baby "onesies" are hung upside down, folded slightly over the line, with a clothespin on each side.


Pants or skirts: I hang these using two clothespins, one on each side, hanging right-side-up (from the waistline). Jeans can be hung upside down, with a clothespin on each leg, but they dry more slowly that way. Skirts can be hung upside down and spread out, using multiple clothespins for full skirts, and will dry more quickly that way, but take up a lot more clothesline space.

Dresses: I hang dresses from the top, using 2-4 clothespins near the neckline and shoulers, and try to get them to hang without sagging or bunching (to prevent wrinkles -- can you tell I hate ironing? ;D).

Socks: I hang socks from the toes, and I try not to fold the sock over the clothesline at all (so it will dry more quickly).

Underwear: Undergarments can be hung from one clothespin if short on clothesline space; I hang with two clothespins, one on each side, so they dry quickly, unless I'm out of room. By the way, if you're worried about people seeing your undergarments out on your clothesline, they can be hung on a line that is between other full lines of clothes. Personally, I never worry about it. :)

Bed sheets: I fold sheets in half over the clothesline and secure with 2-3 clothespins. If I need more space, I fold the sheet in half and then drape over the line (4 layers total) and secure with 2 clothespins.

Towels, washcloths, dishrags, pillowcases, etc.: I hang all of these with one clothespin on each side. Small items can be hung from just one corner if needed.

Rugs: I hang rugs horizontally so that they dry more quickly, securing with as many pins as needed. Rugs can be hung vertically, but take longer to dry that way.

"Stuff" I use

1. My clothesline, of course. You can make a clothesline by buying some line (it's inexpensive) and stringing it between posts, poles, trees, etc.

2. Clothespins. I like the wooden spring clothespins that have a few grooves at the top so my fingers don't slip on them.

3. A clothespin bag. Mine is a cloth homemade bag that has a hanger that slips in the top. That way I can hang it on the clothesline while I hang laundry, and clothespins are within easy reach. I never leave my clothespins on the line indefinitely, or leave my clothespin bag outside permanantly. Rain and weather will make your clothespins dark and moldy and just plain gross! I've been using my clothespins for years and they still look like new because I store them indoors.

  4. A plastic "spinner" hanger. This isn't a necessity, it's just something I found at a garage sale once. It's kind of handy, though, and gives me even more hanging space outdoors.
How long does it take to hang out laundry?

This depends on several things. First, it depends on how large your clothing items are. Small items, of which there could be 50+ in one load, will make it take longer for you to hang one load. However, a load of 10-12 large items (like jeans or large t-shirts) will only take a few minutes to hang the entire load. A load of bed sheets could take as little as 5 minutes to hang outside on the line.

Time spent hanging also depends on how quickly you work (and how much practice you've had at it). If I am hurrying, and not having to chase after disobedient children, I can hang a load in a short amount of time. If I am leisurely hanging laundry, and stopping to play or care for children, it will take a lot longer. :)

How long does it take for your laundry to dry outside?

How quickly laundry dries outside is dependent on the temperature, sunshine, and wind. On a hot summer day, with lot of sun, and a little breeze, laundry could be dry in just a couple hours (or less!). On a warm but breezy day, laundry will dry just as quickly. On a cooler, cloudy day, laundry could take 8 or more hours to dry. I have had thin items (like sheets) dry in as little as 20-30 minutes on the clothesline. My usual procedure is to just start the laundry early in the day so it has plenty of time to dry and I can take it down at my convenience. (Although too much sun can fade clothing.)

Do you hang laundry outside in the winter, too?

Winter line-drying depends on the climate and weather where you live. My main "rule of thumb" is that on sunny to partly-sunny days, I will hang laundry outside if the temperature (high for that day) is 40 degrees or above. For cloudy/overcast days, I will hang laundry out if the temperature (high for that day) is 50 degrees or above.

However, even if I can't hang laundry outside all winter, I can still line dry our laundry using a wooden indoor clothes rack. My rack holds about one load of clothes.

How long does it take clothes to dry on an indoor clothesrack/clothesline?

Depending on how warm you keep your house and how dry the air is inside, as well as how loosely your laundry is hung, it could take 6-24 hours for clothes to dry.

A lot of times in the winter, I wash one load each day, and hang it up inside. By the time I'm washing the next load, the first is dry (from the day before). So I have a constantly-filled clothesrack. I keep the clothesrack in the warmest room of the house, near a heat-vent.

If your house is cooler or more damp, and your laundry takes longer than 24 hours to be completely dry, then you need to either spread it out more, or not line-dry indoors, because you don't want mold to start growing on your clothes or in your house!

Tammy's Tips for Successful Laundry Line-Drying

1. Watch the weather forecast so you know when a good laundry day is approaching.

For example, if I have 3 loads of laundry to do, and the forecast for today is hot and sunny, but rain is predicted for tomorrow, I make sure I get the laundry all caught up today, so it can be all dried outdoors.

On the reverse, if today is rainy but tomorrow (or the next day) is supposed to be sunny and nice, I wait (if at all possible) and wash on the nice day.

This is easier to do in the summer than in the spring, fall, or winter, simply because there are so many nice washdays to choose from. :)

2. Start your laundry early in the day. On cooler days, this will give your laundry ample drying time. On hot summer days, it will allow you flexibility on when you hang clothes up and take it down. I find it's best to get things hung out early no matter what! :)

3. Shake each piece of laundry briskly before hanging it up. This removes any lint and wrinkles, and results in softer laundry when it's dry. It makes it easier to hang pieces neatly, too.

4. Take the children along. If they aren't old enough to hang some themselves, have them shake pieces and hand them to you to hang. If they aren't old enough for that, let them run around and play. For babies, take out a car seat or swing, or just throw a blanket on the grass so they can watch!

5. Use fewer clothespins (and save a little time and line space, too!) by connecting the sides of t-shirts, towels, or sheets.

6. If you find yourself running out of space on your clothesline, consider doubling up thinner things (thin towels, cloth napkins, sheets, thin baby diapers, etc.). You can also save space by "squeezing" things, as shown in this photo. The thin diapers in this picture are also doubled. 

This photo was taken 3-30-06, the day that Yehoshua broke his leg! 

I only hang this way if I really need the space, since it tends to produce more wrinkles.

7. If you're short on time, hang out the loads that have a lot of larger, heavier items. Those loads are quick to hang, but would cost a lot to dry in the dryer.

8. If you use cloth diapers, make sure they get plenty of sun! Sunlight will whiten your cloth diapers and kill germs naturally. Sunlight not only whitens cloth diapers, but will help keep away diaper rash, too. I was utterly amazed when I hung out a diaper that had a bright yellow stain on it and found that a few hours of bright yellow sunlight had completely erased the stain!

9. If the weather is chilly outside (but you know it will be warmer later, or you have some diapers that really need the sun, etc.), wearing rubber gloves while hanging the laundry helps keep one's hands warm.

And now you know more than you ever thought there was to know about line-drying your laundry! :) This is just some of the things that work for me, and what I've learned in my years of hanging laundry. It remains one of my favorite tasks, especially in the summer.



We live in Southern California in a townhome, and are trying to move closer to my husband's job so that he does not have to commute an hour and a half EACH WAY, two hours on Friday afternoons. It would take a miracle for us to get an actual house, and I am not waxing poetic here, the area my husband works in has starter homes for about $750K, nope, not kidding, nope, not a typo. So I continue to pine for and pray for a house, where I can garden and hang my laundry outside.

It is a big dream of ours, a long way off to be sure, but a dream none the less.

Thank you for letting me live a little bit vicariously through your yard in this posting, it was just what I needed on a very discouraging day.


Phil 2:9-11

Hi, Kristy!

Thanks for reminding me to be thankful for the blessings we have where we live. I cannot imagine dealing with such a long commute or the impossibility of ever affording to live somewhere besides an apartment or place with no yard! I'm sorry you had a discouraging day! Thanks for your comment. :)


I really appreciate all you wrote from your experience to help others. I copied and pasted this entire article to save for my daughters for whenever they marry and might need to pinch pennies. I've used a dryer for our entire married life, so I am thankful you wrote this post to give some really great "how-to's." Deb

Glad you enjoyed it, Deb! I know it got rather lengthy and I was wondering if anyone would actually make it through the whole thing! ;)

Tammy is there any way to not have hard clthes, esp. towels and wash clothes? I love line drying,a sence of peace, no phones or computers just fresh air.

You can tumble the already dried towels in the drier for a few minutes to soften them.

Hi, Tammy! First of all, I just LOVE your site. It has encouraged me in ways I cannot even describe.

I was without a dryer for several months and line-dried. No matter what I did- using liquid fabric softener, vinegar, and brisk shaking, my towels especially were like cardboard. (I even had someone laugh about them.) Do you have any suggestions? Also, my clothes didn't smell good- I guess the outdoors does not smell good here!


Hi, Janet!

Thanks for your comment! We don't think our laundry smells "good" after it's been line-dried. (Except for diapers.) I hear people saying that all the time (even our next-door neighbor!) and wonder what they're talking about!! ;) I don't think the laundry smells "bad", but not exactly "wonderful"! Just clean and dry, I guess. :)

Maybe some people have good memories or thoughts associated with the smell of line-dried clothes, I don't know! :)

About stiff towels. Mine are stiff unless there has been a strong wind that day. Joshua hates stiff towels, so I usually use his once first before giving it to him. (We use our towels several times between washings.)

Another option is throwing the line-dried towels in the dryer on the air-dry setting for about 10 minutes or so. This uses less electricity or gas, because it isn't using heat. If you have a full load, 10 minutes of air-fluff should make them a lot softer. I was raised on stiff laundry, so I hardly notice, but Joshua likes soft socks and towels and such. So about once every week or two, I have a load that I fluff in the dryer. (After I've line-dried it, of course.)

In the past this was a major problem that my children complained about. I started shaking the towels well before and after drying. However, recently, I have begun using WAY less detergent. My latest load of towels came out soft, just like the dryer would have, if I had a clothes dryer. Ideally, the vinegar is to remove the excess detergent left in the fabric. Using less eliminates the need.

While I no longer have a baby in diapers, I do have the diapers from my oldest who is now 26 years old. They work wonders for cleaning, wipe up, and general tending to my four year old grand-daughter. I am thankful to be free of hanging four dozen, though it was great while it lasted.

Thank you for posting such extensive and useful information.

I just linked here from a google search on "winter clothesline" as I recently started hanging my clothes on the line (that was always out back, I just never thought to use it!) this year. Summer was awesome as the clothes dried SO fast, but we got our first frost here yesterday (Canada) and the clothes this morning were stiff as boards!!! Luckily by this afternoon, the weather warmed to about 5 deg Celsius, and the clothes thawed. :) So I was looking for information about hanging clothes outdoors in subzero temps. I just need to dry them outdoors until they are not dripping wet, then I can bring them inside to hang on my indoor rack. Usually overnight outdoors does the trick... until the frost hit, of course! I was wondering if freezing the clothes damages them, thus the google search.

I use this gadget: -- as I live in the upstairs portion of a house and I don't have a washer. Perhaps why I never used the line before. I was laundromat-woman all my life. This this is AMAZING and forces me to handle each item and treat clothes like they are special instead of cramming dozens of things into a triple loader and letting colours run and things get damaged.

I'm so enjoying my clothesline. It's positively ZEN!!! I agree with your opinion that it's therapeutic!

Thanks for the great site!

Thanks for your comment!

I agree, I much prefer hanging laundry outside when it's warm. Today I think it was about 38 degrees, but sunny, so I hung diapers out and they got completely dry! Yay! I don't know if freezing hurts the clothes. My clothes in never dripping wet, since I use a regular washer.

I had never heard of the small washer you linked to! I imagine if you weren't doing laundry for a large family, it might be a nice little gadget!

What a great blog you have! I want to look around for some more ideas. We built a new house this year and I made sure I had a door just off my laundry room so I could easily take clothes out to hang dry. I have a great indoor drying rack that I've had for years. It works great and stays out of the way. We even moved it to our new house!

Thanks for the comment! I actually got to hang laundry out today (before it got cold and rainy), which, for December in Ohio, is a nice perk! :) I've never seen a wall-hanging drying rack like that before! How much clothes does it hold? :)

A professional like you could probably get one load on it! It holds up to 50 pounds.

Although I must confess I've never weighed my wet loads of laundry before hanging them, I don't believe I've been carting 50-pound baskets of wet clothes up from the basement. :D

A professional like you

That's too funny!! LOL :D

First time here, from the sparrow's nest blog. She linked to your "Keeping a clean house" posts and I've been looking around after reading those. I'm saving your blog-love it. :)
Anyway, I wanted to comment on stiff clothes. What I do is, I dry heavy items like jeans and towels in the dryer for 10 minutes, as you mentioned above, but I do this BEFORE I hang them outside. This keeps them from getting stiff.
Works like a charm.
Happy Hanging!

p.s. Here's the blog where I found you from-

First time here, from the sparrow's nest blog. She linked to your "Keeping a clean house" posts and I've been looking around after reading those. I'm saving your blog-love it. :)
Anyway, I wanted to comment on stiff clothes. What I do is, I dry heavy items like jeans and towels in the dryer for 10 minutes, as you mentioned above, but I do this BEFORE I hang them outside. This keeps them from getting stiff.
Works like a charm.
Happy Hanging!

p.s. Here's the blog where I found you from-

First time here, from the sparrow's nest blog. She linked to your "Keeping a clean house" posts and I've been looking around after reading those. I'm saving your blog-love it. :)
Anyway, I wanted to comment on stiff clothes. What I do is, I dry heavy items like jeans and towels in the dryer for 10 minutes, as you mentioned above, but I do this BEFORE I hang them outside. This keeps them from getting stiff.
Works like a charm.
Happy Hanging!
Joanna in Ca.

p.s. Here's the blog where I found you from-

Hi, Joanna! Thanks for leaving a comment! I didn't know that Mrs. Wilt had linked to me, so thanks for telling me that, too! :D

I am an Aussie who has always line-dried clothes. Here a dryer is considered an extravagance to only be used if absolutely necessary. Even quite wealthy women dry clothes on 'clothes-horses' indoors over winter.

Some tips:

1. A number of you have commented that your clothes are stiff after line drying. If you spin them on your washing machines fastest cycle they should dry less stiff. Dripping washing always dries stiffest.

2. Rough towels exfoliate the entire body ;)

3. If you hang things through one rather than two thickness of cloth thay dry faster. Also, hang by the thinnest part eg hang jeans upside down with the pegs through the ankle part, rather than right way up through the waist where the fabric is thick.

4. Always put the pegs on a seam to stop things getting out of shape eg hang men's shirts upside down with the pegs on the bottom seams.

5. Don't place pegs where they will make visible marks eg hang T-shirts upside down so the shoulders don't get indentations.

Thanks for sharing!

Very interesting, since sometimes I think line-drying clothes is seen as something a poor(er) person (or else, someone really old-fashioned!) does here. A lot of "wealthy" neighborhoods don't even allow outdoor clotheslines!

Thanks for including your line-drying tips!! :)

I think there are a number of reasons that Australian's traditionally dry outdoors. Firstly, we have a tradition of houses with backyards, so there is mostly room for a clothesline. Most places in Australia don't have snowy or even particularly cold winters, so we can dry outdoors year round. Moreover, our summers are generally hot, and who wants a dryer making the house even hotter? Here in Melbourne, which is a 'cold' (LOL) part of the country, many of us dry our clothes indoors over heating vents in winter.

I guess people in flats (apartments) would be more likely to use a dryer; also couples working fulltime. My cousin in Bondi in Sydney dries her washing on the balcony of her apartment. I even know of a working mum who hangs out the washing after the kids are in bed at night and brings it in the same time the next night!

Thanks for your blog, by the way, I discovered it the other day and am really enjoying it.

Kate in Melbourne

Thanks for commenting, Kate! :) 

Oh, I love it when the nights are warm enough to dry leave things out all night! Usually here (in Ohio) there's too much dew; the clothes starts getting wet again, so I take everything down by sunset. :)

My friend Ruth (who is the featured guest chef right now) lives in Australia and she is always hanging out her laundry, too. :) If we have heat on in the winter, I like drying clothes inside because we need the extra moisture in the air. :)

However, my mom, who lived most of her life without a clothes dryer, got one when she moved into a brand new house. The house is so air-tight that they don't have to use much heat in the winter, and she can't get all the clothes (for 7 people) dried indoors. She still hangs outside, weather permitting though. :)

For a number of years I dried all the clothes for a family of 8 in an extra room in our basement during the winter. It wasn't very big though so I used hangers for everything and then hung the hangers on the clothesline. I just had to make sure there was room for airflow between the hangars. Sometimes I used clothespins to fasten undies to the hanger first. When we had to covert the room into a bedroom before baby #7 arrived, we bought a dryer. I hang clothes outside every possible day of the year and use a wooden drying rack for towels and jeans otherwise. Yesterday was my first "outdoor day" of the season here in Michigan! :)

Also, if you throw a load of laundry in the washer just before going to bed, it will be ready to hang out when you get up in the morning. It's a nice way to start the day.

My mother (raised in a family of 9 kids) tells of her mother hanging clothes outside all winter long on lines my grandpa put up on the porch. After the clothes had freeze-dried she'd bring them in by the cookstove to finish. Her hands were chapped, cracked, and sometimes bleeding all winter long. In those days before permanent press the ironing basket was always stacked shoulder high with things which needed ironing. The girls just pulled out what they wanted to wear and ironed it before school.

When I used to get tired of drying indoors all winter (I LOVE drying outdoors), I used to remember Grandma's laundry and quit complaining about mine.

Thanks for sharing!! :)

Our basement is so humid/damp... I don't think clothes would ever dry down there! :) Every house is different... my mom lives in a newer, air-tight house, and if she tries to dry too much laundry indoors (even in winter!) it won't dry and the house gets too humid. If you're rack-drying your clothes but have to run a de-humidifier, well, that kind of defeats the purpose! ;) Everyone's situation is probably a little different. :)

I have done that before-- started laundry before bed. :) It helps me get an earlier start! A lot of times, then, I start another load while I'm hanging out the first, and then by the time I'm finished (if it's a load with lots of little pieces!) I have another load ready to hang... the children get a nice long while out there that way. :)

Ack, I hate ironing! :)

I love line-drying outdoors. I don't mind it indoors, but occasionally I wish that the laundry could just be over and done with -- no clothes rack taking up space in the house, for once. :)

Hi Tammy!

I typically don't use fabric softener in the wash, just dryer sheets if I use the dryer. Would softener help with the little bit of stiffness I encounter when line drying? I've heard of using a quarter cup of vinegar per wash load, but who knows...


Hi, Brenda!

Yes, fabric softener would make line-dried clothes softer... vinegar will work, though not quite as "well" as commercial fabric softeners. Another thing to try is putting the wet clothes in the dryer for about 10 minutes before hanging. That seems to help a lot (though I don't do this regularly myself). :)

Depending on the amount of breeze, my line-dried clothes is anywhere from fairly stiff to very soft. :) We live on the edge of town and there's quite a breeze many days though. :) That helps a lot! :) I don't use commercial fabric softener, and only rarely use vinegar, because we're used to stiffer clothing. :)

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who has stiff clothes from the line. We moved to a little duplex and are trying to save money. It came with the posts in the back so we bought some line.

We usually only hang towels and bedsheets out there, because I'm scared our clothes may actually disappear if hung up. But we don't like how stiff the towels are when they are dried. I just threw a dried set in the dryer for about 10 minutes (while I do a little research) hoping that will make them a little softer for us. (we have been pampered!!)

Thanks for your post... I have started a blog at and will have to remember your blog when I start writing more about this!!


houston, texas
humm..I have some barriers...condo living..high humidity..high rainfall. But working on a system. What do you recommend for high humidity? Pre dry 10 minutes then hang? or just hang indoors (where indoors?? in bathroom with towels underneath?) llk

Hmn... high humidity... I guess we don't get too many days of extremely high humidity here in Ohio. Usually after it rains, especially when it's warm outside, everything outside is just really damp and muggy, and I usually don't hang clothes out then! But often a couple hours of sunshine, and then it doesn't feel so damp outside and I can hang laundry. When it's really humid outside (and I mean REALLY humid) it's very difficult to dry laundry, unless you have a LOT of sunshine. Here in our part of Ohio, I can't really think of any/many days where it was sunny but too humid to dry clothes.

Now, in the Seattle area (where Joshua's family lives), where there are many days that are overcast, with light drizzle off and on, it's pretty pointless to try to get clothes dry outside on cloudy, damp days. However, there are still sunny days in the summer that are great for drying laundry! :)

As for inside drying, I very rarely dry laundry indoors in the summer. I suppose with our air conditioner, it would dry inside. You can always hang the clothes on a wooden clothes rack indoors and put a fan blowing on the clothes; that helps them dry a lot more quickly, and I have done that when, say, it started raining on my clothes, so I brought them in and hung them up with a fan to finish. In the winter, I put the rack over a heat vent, so no fan is needed.

So, those are just some thoughts... let me know if you find a workable solution for your area! :)

I also live in Melbourne Australia, and I don't know anyone that uses a drier on a regular basis. EVERYONE hangs their clothes outside to dry. In winter (and our family does own a dryer), I wash a couple of loads at night and hang it out first thing in the morning. In the evening I take it down before the dampness sets in and hang it around the house. By the morning, everything is dry!!!!
Dryers are SO expensive to run. When you consider that a refrigerator or any other average appliance costs about 4-6 cents per hour to run, a dryer takes about 60-80 cents an hour to run, so an average load will take about $1.20 to dry. TOO EXPENSIVE. By the way, I love your bog. Keep up the great work.

Thanks for sharing! :) It gets too cold to dry clothes outside in the winter here, but usually by then, the air inside is so dry, I can just dry things on a rack inside. :) Better than running a humidifier AND a clothes dryer! :)

Hi Tammy and Everyone,

I have some summer cottons that I have always drip-dried on hangars over the shower curtain. In warm and evenly mildly cool weather I always have a window fan going in the bathroom. In the winter the radiator is hot and the air dry. Unless the weather is very rainy I usually don't have trouble drying my clothes.

However, this summer a couple of my neighbors convinced me to try line drying my clothes outside. My next-door neighbor let me use his clothes line which sits in full sun all day.

Recently, I tried drying two loads of clothes on a nice, hot, sunny day. They stayed outside for nearly 10 hours. I have noticed that my outdoor line-dried clothes never feel truly dry to me and they don't smell good, either. These felt okay, but not really dry, although my neighbors said they were completely dry.

Anyway, I put them all into a laundry basket and left them overnight. The next morning I started ironing them -- I love ironing my clothes and use starch on most items. Anyway, I noticed that most of the items had a very bad smell. I have noticed that before on line-dried clothes and on clothes that have sat in an airtight container too long.

I can't stand that smell. It is a sweetish, flowery smell, but it smells more like an artificial scent, then a true flower scent. I was afraid that the smell might be due to mildew or something and that it would spead to my other clothes if I put these in my closet. I tried spraying these clothes with Smells Be Gone and with Febreeze. Neither worked. I tried rewashing them,. Since they are colored cottons, I cannot use bleach, but I added Oxyclean. That didn't work. I then soaked them in an odor remover designed to remove pet odors and mildew odors. I had to let them air dry completely to remove the odor. I thought I still smelled it a little bit, but it was so faint, I thought it might be my imagination. I then rewashe3d the clothes this time adding baking soda to the wash. After that I dried them on very low heat in the drying until they were just lightly damp. They smelled nice. But then I hung them to let them finish drying and THE SMELL RETURNED!!!

I am desparate. I cannot stand that smell and I am afraid to put those clothes with my others. It is two loads of some of my favorite summer clothes. Please help. Can anyone offer any suggestions on how top get rid of the odor. I cannot believe that mildew could have set in that fast (overnight) to such an extent.

Someone else commented on your blog that she doesn't like the smell of clothes on dried on the line. I don't either, but this is the worst. It is two sweet and too artificially flowery. My neighbors keep saying they love the smell of line-dried clothes and I am wondering if that is the smell they like.

If anyone can tell me what that smell is and how to get rid of it, I would really appreciate it.

I hate to be a party pooper, but I love the feel and smell of clothes from the dryer and I will never be fond of line drying. The only reason for doing these on the line is because they are 100% cotton and I didn't want to risk them shrinking.

Detroit, Michigan

Catherine, after reading your comments, I'm not sure I have any ideas about this!

While our line-dried laundry doesn't smell "perfumed" (like laundry detergent, fabric softener, etc.) it also doesn't smell "sweet-ish" or "flowery"... And I always think my indoor-dried clothes doesn't feel as "dry" as my line-dried clothes from outsode!

You said it was a hot sunny day when you dried your clothes, and so I don't think being outdoors on the clothesline in the sun would cause any mildew. It has been rather rainy here in the NW-Ohio and SE-Michigan area lately, so unless it was an extremely humid day...?? We have had some of those sort of days but I haven't noticed any adverse effects on my laundry... Sorry I can't be of more help!! :)

The odor coming from the fabric could derive from a number of factors.

What laundry detergent do you use? Some detergents if they have perfume can actually smell kind of nasty if line dried.

Did you use fabric softener when you line dried? Some fab softeners can actually help with odor control and some can make it worse. Examples, Downy and Gain are great for helping with odors, but cheaper ones like Cuddle Soft can make clothes smell similiar to the odor of hamburgar grease that lingers after cooking hamburgers inside.

What is your water hardness? Hard water, can in some circumstances, not only make clothes stiffer when line dried, but make then smell nasty too.

What is the air quality where you are? Pollutants in the air you are use to smelling may be unnoticable to you on a daily basis. However, when line drying clothes, foul odors in the air can actually end up concentrated on clothes drying outside. For example, in the summer when I line dry, my clothes will sometimes have the odor of road dust on them. You know the smell when you pass construction. That dusty smell. It is due to maybe heavy traffic on a particular day or actual road construction as I live right by a highway and the entrance to a toll road is about a mile a way.

Where was the cotton made? I have noticed that some cottons that come from India can smell at times pretty nasty but the smell is usally covered up by whatever it is a person uses to wash their clothes. It may not be noticable until that garment is aired out really well.

You said that when you brought the clothes in, they were still damp. You also said it was a hot sunny day and that you had them out for 10 hours. Here's the thing, even if you have a really hot day the temp can drop towards evening which causes dew. The dew will not only form on grass but on anything else outside, even clothes. Usually on a hot day, it only takes a few hours to dry, even if it is humid. You may have had them out too long and dew may have started to develope on them.

All my suggestions are based on personal experience with my own laundry. It took me a little while to figure things out here, but I got it eventually. I hope I was of some help.

Homewood, Illinois

Greetings! I stumbled upon this blog while searching out alternative fabric softeners (just can't take the vinegar). Any recipes that won't cause too much flammability would be appreciated!

Anyway, I always loved the smell and feel of laundry from the dryer. But I really enjoy hanging clothes on the line and watching them blow in the wind-- it's relaxing. It's like summer's version of stoking the fire, and watching the fire flicker and dance in the woodburning stove in winter. And, like to save energy when I can.

My compromise is, in summer, hang the clothes out on the line until they are completely dry, and then put them in the dryer on HIGH heat for about 5 minutes after I bring them inside. I find that the clothes soften up a lot in that short amount of time, and the stale-air smell goes away as well (well, almost!). I don't use dryer sheets or anything. I use up *some* energy this way, but not nearly as much as putting laundry in the dryer from wet. I do have to say, my Speed Queen washer here at home spins so well that the clothes dry really fast outside. They're half dried already, right out of the washer-- so that helps.

In winter, I have a collapsible indoor clothesline and also a fold-up clothes rack (for items needing to be hung on a hanger). I put them in the living room where the woodburning stove is, and the stove and the ceiling fan on high dries everything in an hour or two. Makes the house smell nice, and humidifies it too!

(We had to train our Weimaraner to leave the clothes alone!)


I really enjoy hanging clothes on the line and watching them blow in the wind-- it's relaxing. It's like summer's version of stoking the fire, and watching the fire flicker and dance in the woodburning stove in winter.

Oh, so true!! :D

Thanks for the comments -- I've never tried the high-efficiency detergent (didn't even know it existed -- I guess that shows how much time I spend in the laundry aisle at the store! ;D) but will have to check it out. :)

I love drying clothes indoors in the winter -- like you said, if you use scented detergent, it does make the house smell lovely! :)

Forgot to mention that high efficiency "He" detergents are supposed to rinse out of your clothes a lot better than regular detergents, making them a lot softer. Even though I no longer have a front load washer, I still use the He. Cleans better too, I think.

Our appliance repairman said that using He detergents, whether you have a high efficiency washer or not, will help your washer last longer, since the suds in regular detergents wear out your washer faster, as well as the clothes themselves.

I use Cheer He, which is cheaper than Tide He, and works very well. Consumer Reports said that either Sam's or Costco's brand works the best and is cheapest, but I can't remember which one it was. I am not a member of either club so I wouldn't know.

That's my $.02!


Hi Tammy and others,

Us Kiwis (New Zealanders) always dry our clothes outside on the clothesline too. Like the Aussie girls have said, owning a dryer is a luxury and even though many people do own them we only use them if absolutely necessary.

I often hang my clothes on drying racks outside during the winter, that way if they are not dry after a day outside (I put the clothes out in all weather except rain) I can easily bring the racks inside overnight.
Also if it begins to rain it is easy to run outside for the racks - much easier than unpegging all the clothes from the line.

I have 3 drying-racks but find I pretty much only use 2 of them

You will find that clothes dried on the line are much stiffer and more rough than clothes dried in the dryer. Giving the clothes a fluff up in the dryer will soften them up nicely but I never bother.

I find that giving each item of clothing a few hard shakes as you take it off the line will soften it up considerably.

Also taking the items down and putting them all into a laundry basket (or even in a big pile on the couch lol)and leaving them for a day or so will soften them up (this time frame shortens if you let your children roll and jump all over them - truly this does work!!)

I prefer to fold my laundry as I take it down from the line - it has helped me eliminate the huge pile on my couch which just seemed to build up all week and then take ages to fold.

Another tip to help your clothes dry crease-free is to give each item a few shakes to get rid of any wrinkles before you hang them up on the line.

Also, sometimes with my husband's shirts, I hang them straight onto clothes hangers and hang them off the drying rack (takes up less room) and that way I can get away without ironing them - I hate ironing!

As for the problem of smelly laundry - I really don't know how this could be helped. It must just be the smell from the air. Laundry will smell like smoke if there are fires being burned and will pick up pollution smells if these are in the air too.

It can also smell really yucky if it is left in the machine overnight during humid or hot weather. I can easily leave my laundry in the machine after it has been washed in the winter but if I leave it overnight during the heat of summer it can smell really bad, even after hanging on the line. The only thing that helps is to wash it again.

I find that clothes dried in the dryer don't smell as "fresh" as clothes dried on the line so I suspect it must be just what you are used to.
Perhaps adding a few drops of essential oils to your wash might help?

I love seeing clothes drying on the line, so satisfying! What a great article Tammy!

Have you been to my house??!!

I, too like to fold the laundry outside as I take it down (unless it's scorching HOT out... then I hurry back to the a/c!) and it gives the children extra time to run around and play while I do it. :)

Also, I think the clothes is basically wrinkle-free when I fold it right off the line (I do shake things out well as I hang them, to get the lint off and get wrinkles out).

I do the pile-on-the-couch allll the time... Joshua used to tell me that the only reason we had the couch was for it to be a big laundry basket!! :P I have gotten better about that, especially since now when I put the laundry on the couch, it ends up all over the living room floor within an hour or two, thanks to my two little boys. ;) And while it does soften the clothes, I don't want my dish towels on the floor!! :D

Dear Tammy,
My husband is in the Army and we recently moved to South Korea. In the nieghborhood we live in no one uses dryers! There is a drying rack in the bathroom above the washer but it's taking days to get clothes to dry. There are certian items we always hung up to dry in the states but even those are taking days here. I'm afraid my clothes are going to mold!! Korea is a damp and rainy country this time of year so I don't know if opening the window in the bathroom will help or hinder. Please help!!!!!!!!

Use a fan to direct airflow over the clothes AND open the window. The air in the room can only hold so much moisure.

Hi, Michelle!

Damp weather does make drying difficult! I kow the times when it is rainy outside and not cold enough to require heat in the house, it's a challenge to get the clolthes dry fast enough!

Someone already suggested what I was going to say: Try using a fan to blow air on the clothes. And definitely keep the door of the room open , and window (unless it's raining, since that would mean the air out there really can't hold any more moisture!!). :)

The fan should help a lot, though! :)

Thanks alot for your suggestions and everyone elses too. I have found that opening the window even if it's been raining is a huge help. I still have to have patience on rainy days but I'm so excited that the clothes are drying in about one day. It still takes a while for the heavier things but (as much as possible) I put those on hangers so there's more room for the quicker drying items. Thanks again.

P.S. If it's not to personal Tammy I'd like to know what kind of church you attend.

You might also want to try moving the clothes, if you have room, out of the bathroom. I am sure the steam from showers and such is not helping in the drying process. Maybe move them to a drying rack if you have one.,.. to a "warmer" room, kitchen dining room?
Just an idea.

Hi Tammy!

I bought some new jeans - some pairs of black and some denim. I washed them separately in detergent and vinegar. I hung them up to dry as I did not want them to shrink. When I checked on them days later, the black jeans looked fine and I was going to iron them. I looked at my blue jeans and they are streaked - like the dye ran! Is there any laundy remedy or should I take them back to the store? OR am I out of luck and how should I have treated these blue jeans? I have bought inexpensive jeans before and never had this happen!!

Thank you!
PS I just found your site and am looking forward to diving into your column!

Hi Sheryl...

When I get new jeans, I always wash them the first time all by them selves in warm or tepid water with a pound a salt...non-iodized. It helps set the dyes and helps keep them blue/blue for a lot longer time. I know a lot of people like the 'faded' or 'washed' look, but I like the 'dark blue' look myself. I have done it to black jeans too, but black jeans just never stay black enough for my taste. They always seem to fade out to a dark, dark gray. (I like how dress pants stay really black.)

As for your jeans that streaked....if it were me....I'd take them back. Since they did that, it probably means that the dyes weren't 'set' right in the first place. Try getting another pair and washing them with salt.

Have you done the vinegar thing before? I haven't ever heard of it, and was wondering if maybe it could have been what caused them to streak. Vinegar is a weak acid. Maybe the chemical agent they used when they dyed the denim didn't like the acid wash you gave them. Just think....some people probably would pay good money for that look! LOL.

I can't believe the way my nieces and nephews bye jeans with holes, tattered cuffs, worn out seats, and really just ugly looking jeans. Kills me.

Hope you can get some new ones!

Debbie J.

Thank YOU, Debbie J. AND Tammy for your responses to my question! I apologize for the delayed response as I was looking in the wrong spot for an answer! oops!

I read somewhere so long ago that adding a cup of vinegar to each jeans rinse (especially black!) would help keep the color. Works as a mordant to set the dye. And it does seem to keep the color longer but would slowly fade. I never did try the salt. But will next time! Also, I did wash the new ones together - No outside fabric to contaminate them. And Black with black, blue with blue.

Debbie, I never did think that vinegar would be an acid to attack the indigo but that makes sense. I never had that problem before but maybe the indigo dyes are different now and more reactant to acid as the GRUNGE look is still IN!! I like lived-in jeans that I wear out over time but NOT "shop-worn" jeans! haha I pay money for them to LAST and not to be mechanically beat up and, therefore, shorten their jean-life with ME!

I will try to take them back and / or contact the mfg. which I am sure will be tossed at me. I will let you all know if you are interested!

THANK YOU AGAIN! What a VERY interesting site, Tammy!

Have a GREAT 2008!

Hi, Sheryl!

I have no clue about caring for new jeans... Thanks, Debbie, for your input! I will remember the salt wash next time Joshua needs new jeans for work. :)

Just another reason to love garage sales, I guess... my clothes stays how it was when I bought it! ;)

I have wanted to hang clothes outside for several months now. Our dryer is 10 years old and is taking forever to dry. We live in a rent house with a small backyard and have no trees. Any ideas on how to put up a clothesline that is not permanent? I thought about attaching a line to the fence but wasn't sure if that would support the clothes. What kind of line do I need to use to support the clothes when I find a spot? Any ideas would be great. Thanks!

Well, you can get clothesline fairly inexpensively at a hardware store or even a place like Wal-mart. There are plastic-coated metal lines, plain metal lines, or a white plastic line.

When Joshua and I were first married we lived in a rental house that only had a very short clothesline. One end was attached to a tree, and the other was knotted to a hook that was screwed into the siding of the house. We purchased some white plastic clothesline at Wal-mart (it was $2-3 for quite a long line) and added more line from another section of the house. If you have anything that you can attach a large hook or something to (fence, house, garage, porch, deck, etc.) you should be able to rig up a clothesline really cheaply. :)

The white plastic line does stretch as it's used, and I remember having to un-knot one end and tighten it several times before it stopped stretching as it was used. But it's very sturdy and very cheap. And since it was just plastic, we could cut it with a scissors... or just un-knot it. :)

Hope that gives you some ideas! :)

Such good ideas Tammy!! I just might start using my clothes line!

I used to have the problem of smelly laundry, like sort of a mildewy smell. However, I live in Arizona and it is very dry here and there is not much mold. I would use the baking soda or washing soda along with vinegar in the rinse to no avail - the clothes would still smell musty even out of the dryer. I thought it was because I was washing with cold water - and using hot water for some items did help a little bit.

But then I realized that the smell was actually coming from inside my washer. So I ran a cycle with just hot water and one cup of bleach - no clothes in it. And lo and behold - no more odor. I have an older washer and I'm guessing that all of the water does not always drain out completely causing some mold inside.

I don't usually use bleach in my laundry, but I do keep it on hand for certain tasks, like cleaning mildew off of the shower mat. But especially if you live in a damp climate, disinfecting your washer from time to time with bleach will kill the mildew/mold and keep your laundry smelling fresh.

Thank you for sharing! I should try this. Our washer is very old!! :)

The clothes line....a dead give away.

Do the kids today even know what a clothes line is? I am sure a lot of you are too young to remember the clothes line, but for all of us who are older, this will bring back the memories. . . . At least it did for me.


1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes. Walk the length of each line with a damp cloth around the line.

2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order and always hang whites with whites and hang them first.

3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail. What would the neighbors think?

4. Wash day on a Monday...........never hang clothes on the weekend or Sunday for heaven's sake!

5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide your 'unmentionables' in the middle.

6. It didn't matter if it was sub zero weather.............clothes would 'freeze dry.'

7. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes. Pins left on the line was 'tacky'.

8. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

9. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket and ready to be ironed.

10. IRONED?????????? Well, that's a whole other subject.

A clothes line was a news forecast

To neighbors passing by.
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the 'fancy sheets'
And towels upon the line;
You'd see the 'company table cloths'
With intricate design.

The line announced a baby's birth
To folks who lived inside
As brand new infant clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.

The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed. You'd know how much they'd grown.
It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung

It said, 'Gone on vacation now'
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, 'We're back!' when full lines Sagged With not an inch to spare.

New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their
And looked the other way..

But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess.

I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung on the line!

That poem was so awesome, it really make me think about life and how it has changed so much. I really miss that life.

I'm a student at Pomona College in Claremont, California and recently spent a good amount of time looking into the various clothesline and drying rack options since Pomona is going to purchase some for student use and I wanted to get the best available racks for us.

In my research, I was shocked to find that there is NO good website explaining all the different clotheslines and drying rack options, so I made my own! It's a wiki page on the Tip the Planet sustainable living wiki that ANYONE CAN EDIT. You can check it out here:

I'm trying to spread the word so that the site becomes a clearing house for drying rack information, and people have to spend less time scouring the web for the best products. Have a look, share it with your friends, and by all means add your wisdom!

Take care,

Hi, I have been putting my clothes out on a rack and my t-shirts always have wrinkles. I saw your tip about shaking which I will try. Any other tips to keep clothes wrinkle free?

For those of you who have smelly clothes, it may not be the clothes rack or drying process that is making the smell; it may be the washer.

For around a year now I have a had clothes that smelled rotten, mildewey, or moldy. I tried bleach, baking soda, vinegar and various types of laundry detergents, but nothing worked. It seemed to be particularly bad in the spring / summer. After cleaning the bathroom tub one day with soap scum remover, the proverbial light bulb went off over my head. If the tub collects soap scum, why doesn't my 11 year old washing machine?

I disassembled my washing machine one Saturday morning (it took hours because I did not have a service manual; I could do it now in 10 minutes). The insides of the auger, auger base, and tub were all coated with a disgusting black soap scum residue that took quite a bit of soap scum remover and elbow grease to remove. Just remember to remove the 'inner' tub of the washing machine (the thing the clothes sit in) and clean the outside of that tub, since it will be BLACK with soap scum. The 'outer tub' (which is basically a giant bucket that holds the water) had a 4 or 5 millimeters of soap scum collected on the bottom!!! Truly revolting.

With all the parts are now gleaming white, and my clothes smell fresh and clean, no special chemicals needed. I know it's not the quick and easy answer that you want to hear, but it is the ONLY way to get at the root cause of the problem.

First off, let me say I love your site! I was looking for some hints for my clothes and stumbled your site.
I had lived it a old house in southern Iowa with lots of 100 year old oaks. I had nylon clothesline I wove in and out of the trees to hang out my laundry. I would carry our baby out and set her in a basket while I hung the laundry. It was so lovely and relaxing.
Recently, my husband and I moved into a small apartment on the Dakota plains. There is no shade and the grass goes dormant for several months in the summer. The communal yard has an old 'T' clothesline with five lines of steel wire. The neighbours all say they can't remember the last time it was used before I moved in (one lady has been here 12 years).
At first I was not excited about standing in the parched grass with no shade hanging laundry. But amazingly, I have started to love how this place dries our clothes. It is so dry here and so windy, that by the time I hang the last item, the first one I hung has dried. Our diapers positively glow, totally stainless! The power of the sun.
I even have gotten some of the neighbours into the act, they come out and hang laundry sometimes as well. My only complaint is the wire sometimes leaves tiny rust stains where I clip items to the line.
I have asked the housing authority about re stringing with nylon or at least a vinyl coated wire, I even volunteered to do the work if the maintainance man would cut the old wire for me, but so far no answer.
It's nice to see so many people still hang out wash and just generally enjoy being frugal!

how far apart should poles be?

My in-laws in Southern England dry 99% of their laundry on the outdoor lines. Their dryer is used only in emergency! I think this is typical of the Brits. Since most days are cloudy, they finish off their drying in an "airing cupboard" which is a closet where their water heater is. The water heater gives off a small amount of heat, which is enough to finish drying the clothes. They have a bar for hangers, and several wooden shelves that are made of slats for open air flow. I'm in New Jersey, and don't have a proper airing cupboard, but could create one if necessary.

Thanks for all the tips on hanging. There are two opinions here on how to hang jeans (right side up or by the ankles). Any comments?

Thanks for all the tips on hanging.

You're welcome! :) 

There are two opinions here on how to hang jeans (right side up or by the ankles). Any comments?

Try both and do whatever works for you. :) 

Just curious to how you get your clothes to be not as stiff when line drying? I love to line dry but don't like how stiff my clothes are when I take them down.

My sister hangs her clothes, and when they are dry, she puts them in the dryer for no longer than five just fine..and she's picky

I really enjoyed your site. Lots of helpful information. When my husband and I were first married (17 years ago) we lived close to my family. Mom would always hang clothes on the line. I would take our clothes (mine, husband and 2 babies) over to mom's to wash and dry on her clothes line. Later on we moved closer to the in-laws and bought a house. Our housewarming gift from the in-laws was a washer and electric dryer. Over the next 17 years that dryer was a great convenience. I was working as a manager in the service industry which is a 24/7 job and would often get home late, be called in on days off, or not even have days off. I would often think that if I had to line dry clothes we would just wear dirty. About a year ago I was laid off from my job. Of course we still had the same bills and were looking for ways to cut costs when my sister suggested a clothes line. The initial cost was about $60 (poles, line, cement, and clothes pins). When our first electric bill came after using the clothesline for about 15 days of the billing period. I only used the dryer for unmentionables. I was happy to see that the bill had gone down about $25 dollars. The following month was nearly $35. Not to mention that the house stayed cooler from the dryer not running. I'm not sure if it will save everyone this amount of money but it will save money.

I just found your sight, Tammy, and I love it! Great tips and entertaining as well. I didn't think as many people clotheslined as I did. Not many here in rural TN do, at least not my few neighbors.
I would like to know if you have any different tips on keeping dark colored t-shirts more lint/pet hair free. I wash them in warm water with detergent and fabric softener and shake them before and after I put them on the line. I still have to use a lint brush on them and that doesn't even work all the way. Is there something else to put in the wash that might help? At this time, I don't even own a dryer so rolling them briefly is out. Kind of ironic when you figure my husband is a home appliance and lawn equipment mechanic:) Thanks again!

I've had this problem, too--I find that if I lint brush while it's still wet, that works a lot better than waiting until it's dry. Hope that's helpful!

I just wanted to also add that, yes, I do wash "lint-giving" clothes (ie towels) seperately.

Someone gave me a tip about a great clothesline drying tip, so, i thought I would share. We hang all of our clothes in the closet, except for pajamas, socks and underwear. When the clothes are taken out of the dryer, they are hung on clothes hangers and then I hang those on the clothesline outside. I seperate those with a single clothespin. This stops the clothes hangers from sliding into each other and thus speeds the drying process. When they are dry, I take those straight in and hang in the closet. Of course, PJ's, socks and underwear are hung with clothespins in the traditional fashion. I find that doing this helps with time spent folding and they are all put up as soon as they come inside. Thanks for your site. I really enjoy it!!!

I have just recently moved and there was a clothing line, but I didnt think I would use it. After reading your post I really think I will use it! Thanks

I am doing some product rearch on clothes drying, and since most of you already have expriences on clothes drying. I am curious as to what you don't like or think of areas that could be improved on to make it easier/more efficient for you to dry clothes, such as clothes lines that do not sag, hangers sliding down the clothes line, ect...ect. And of course what you do currrently like.

Basically I am looking to create a list of likes and dislike on the current products/methods. Your suggestions, inputs, experiences are welcomed and most appreciated. If you wish you could email me at linedryingclothes at yahoo.

Many thanks,


I am not spam...Just a student pushing for "Going Green" and doing reseach on the feasibility of line drying clothes.

My family moved from South Dakota 15 years ago. Back home I had always hung the laundry to dry, winter or summer. There was always a breeze, hardly ever went above 100 degrees (we were in the Black HIlls), and even in the winter we usually had a "good" day for line drying once a week. I completely understand about freeze drying the laundry...though I suspect I am the only one to do it in years. I wore rubber gloves over cotton gloves to keep my hands warmer. I also had a VERY large laundry room in which I hung 5 short lines from wall to wall for winter drying.

We moved to the desert and I was so lost! Every home had a clothesline, but nobody used them. The one at our house didn't even have lines! I bought the line, fought with the wasps to hang them, and began line drying our laundry. Following are a few things I have noticed over the years:

1.) EVERY day in the summer is over 95 degrees...jeans take 30 minutes to go from soggy to starch stiff no matter what softener you use. Sometimes they are so stiff they feel they might break! Same goes for towels. I throw them in the dryer to fluff for 10 minutes. However, IF there is a breeze, they are already soft.

2.) Most afternoons it is EXTREMELY windy...jeans must be hung by the ankles with 2 pins on each leg. Don't give the wind a chance to go into the pant via the waistband and blow them off the line. Wind is never as strong at the ground.

3.) You can easily line dry almost every day of the year. Winters are mild, hardly ever dropping below freezing except for nights. Jeans still only take a couple of hours.

4.) DON'T leave laundry out any longer than what it takes to dry. The sun here will "streak" them quickly. However, heavily stained items or dingy whites brighten up wonderfully with a little exra sun.

5.) Pins simply don't last here. Every year I have to buy at least one new package...and that's with taking them inside! I think the moist laundry and the intense sun really wear them out.

6.) DON'T leave laundry out overnight, the cicadas will cling to them to molt. Then you will have crispy insect shedding about 2 inches long stuck to your laundry and have to knock them off and rewash. it's pretty freaky the first time you see it!

7.) Finally, the act of hanging laundry really does seem to cool the yard as the hot air is forced to go through the fabric creating a "swamp cooler" effect. My kids , the pets, and I actually enjoy the backyard for the few minutes it takes the laundry to dry.

A tip for those who have pets and are fighting pet hair on the laundry...I use a little extra fabric softener, and hang out during the windiest time of day. Seems to knock it off quite efficiently. We are a rehabilitation home for dogs and cats...plenty of pet hair around here! I have had to teach dogs not to jump at the laundry on the line, we had a little terrier for a while who thought it was particularly grand to grab hold of the corner of a blanket when it was good and windy and "go for a ride!"

Something I have noticed, too, is that although the neighbor men laugh at my "laundry shinanigans," their wives, while the men are at work, have begun using their chain link fences to dry laundry on!

I still am the only person within a 5 block radius using my clothesline, but it seems the idea of line drying is becoming a bit more popular as everyone tries to save a little money.

My husband also created for me a "shirt rack" that maneuvers indoors or out. It's about 4 feet tall, made of pipe that is welded together like a box, and had feet on the bottom. I can hang many shirt on hangers then hang them on there and they dry quickly and it's just a matter of hanging them in the closet.

What I enjoy the most about hanging laundry on the line in the desert...and this might sound silly...early in morning, before the sun really starts to blaze, the dragonlies come out by the dozen to swoop around my damp laundry letting the sun dazzle on their beautiful green and blue bodies.

Last year my mom sent me the $4o it cost for a tripod portable clothesline. Once the weather got warm I decided to hang everything out on my back porch and track the difference in my bill. Making only that change I dropped my bill $50 in one month! I tried drying on my clothesline indoors but the only available room is too cold and the clothes started to sour before they least I tried. My neighbor hangs her clothing in the bathroom on hangers from the curtain rod and leaves the door closed to trap in the heat. I may have to try that with a small load.

I just received my new portable clothes rack and am excited to start using it. I grew up in the country where we hung our clothes out to dry in the summer. Now that I live in Baltimore City, I have a much smaller yard, so I decided to buy a portable stand umbrella hanger and it's going to be in the 60's and sunny today so I think I'll get started hanging out my clothes. Thanks for the great advice and the inspiration!

Thanks for the tips. I used to help my Mom hang laundry for years. When we were forced to move to an apartment it went to the wayside. Now that I am married and we live in a house I have been longing for a regular clothesline. Right now, due to a broken dryer, I just have plastic rope strung from a PVC fence that surrounds a very small patio. I can barely dry 1 load at a time. With the warm weather here, my search for a better line will continue. Thanks again for the advice.

I have been hanging out clothes all of my life! Well, since I could reach a line.
We have a basement with a small gas heater and I even have lines down there for the winter months.
I hang all of my clothes on hangers to dry, then take down while barely damp, and place in the dryer for 10 minutes (damp dry) this removes lint and wrinkles.
Back on the hanger they go and to the closet.
In the winter, it takes the clothes 24 hours to dry indoors, I can hang 2 loads downstairs.
You can also use a little extra fabric softener to aid in even more softness and a nice scent.

I like to hang myclothes out side during the summer because it always smell so fresh but i not to happy about hanging it outside during the winter months because it is to cold so i have a line down in the basement for the winter months and it works out just fine. I like hanging my clothes on a line because i think it is gentler to the material and the clothes seem to last longer

I hang my cloth diapers and currently regular laundry (my dryer is temporarily out of order) but I am not enjoying the product. My clothes are very starchy and wrinkly. What do I do to get soft clothes? I do use homemade laundry detergent made up of ivory soap, borax, & baking soda. Thanks so much for your help... My email address is for a reply!

I never line dry in winter, only ever if it is a warm and sunny day, clothes will not dry in one day otherwise.

I stumbled across your site looking for advice. Having always lived in the city, a tumble dryer is all I've ever known. We have recently moved out to the country. I never knew what I was missing. The peace! The beauty! The blessings!
I purchased some clothes line poles from Amazon, and am giving it a try. Thank you for all the great tips! I will probably be back. :)

Me and my partner live in a 2200Sq townhouse, and you want to talk about extreme regulations on what you can and can not do. I have always liked the thought of hanging clothes to dry because i know the drier ruins clothes over time and i am a cheap person by nature lol. Well here in the woodlands, texas we have had over the past month only a hand full of days where the temp is below 100 degrees. with this our AC never NEVER stops running, resulting in a 400$ electric bill, i normally would use the dryer and shut the door with the exhaust fan on to prevent it from heating the house(taking desperate measures to keep it cool) when my partners oldest came to live with us permanently i noticed a MASSIVE increase in my laundry normally between the two of us we would have approx. 7 to 12 loads a week, then his youngest wanted to live with us 50 percent of the time so that has almost more than doubled. I couldn't take it anymore lol so i got rope ties (the kind you use to wind up the string from blinds and mounted 8, 4 or either wall of the youngest bed room. since he is only here 50% of the time when he isnt here i close the AC vent to his room and seal under his door leaving his room at times getting to an access of 90 degrees. After mounting the rope ties I zig-zaged clothes line leaving me 5 i believe lines to pin up clothes, with the use of two fans (the blizzard mountable table fans bought at walmart they are able to sit on the floor and direct air at almost a 75 degree angle) and the ceiling fan i started pinning up clothes in his bedroom. during the day i just open his window and put a fan in it to pull in hot air. I have had two loads dry in approx. 45 minutes and am making it a goal to use the dryer very little if not at all this month to see if it makes a difference but I LOVE IT! so for those of you like me with no yard, it can be done. when he is here to stay with us i just unwind the clothes line and hang hats on the hooks and its put away! the only issue i have with this is the clothes come out stiff and i have to run a steam iron over them. How do you prevent this from happening?

Thank you

The Woodlands, Texas

I wash my clothes in a new front loader washer with Purex det. he, and purex fabric softner he. Take out of washer outside to hang on the clothesline and when they are dry they have a smell to them, no longer the nice smell that they have when I took them out of the washer. It stinks pretty bad doesnt even smell like they were washed! Then they are stiff ecspecially the towels they are the stiffest! I dont like my towels to be stiff or feel rough, I like my towels to be soft and smell clean like they were actually washed. I have always dried all my laundry in the dryer which comes out soft and smelling good but due to the high prices of the recent electric bill I am trying to save money by using the clothes line to cut down on this cost of the electric bill. But I feel like my laundry isnt clean after hanging them out due to the smell and stiffness. So I dont know what to do? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I even bought some fabreeze spray and tried to bring them in after drying on clothesline and sprayed them down good and put into dryer for a few mins and it didnt work either, just kinda covered it up for a min. Still had that stink to it. and stiffness. Im in Indiana in the country if anyone has any suggestions please!!!!!!!!

When I first started trying clothes on the line outside....I noticed a peculiar smell on my nice fresh clothes too. I didn't dislike it exactly, but it wasn't what I thought they should smell like. Then I tried drying clothes inside in a spare bedroom .....those clothes smelled better than the outside ones. But towels were stiff as boards, and very scratchy. So now, I put towels in the dryer on high for 10 - 15 fluff the fibers up, and then I hang them in the spare bedroom on a dryer line that pops up like an umbrella. I also have a tiny little fan that I turn on and it blows straight up keeping the air circulating, so the clothes dry very quickly. I do like *stiff* jeans and shirts for me though....and if you work at it just a little bit when you hange them up....they look almost ironed. I can actually stand my jeans up with out a hanger when they get done! I don't use any fabric softener in my laundry....

I really don't care for the smell of line dried clothes.......but somethings are just too big to hang inside, like sheets and comforters. For the things that I have to hang outside, I let them dry, they pop them in the dryer for about 5 minutes on high with a sheet of smelly fabric softner. I also tuck a fabric softner sheet between the layers of cloth when I fold sheets and put them away. If I put them on a bed directly, I sprinkle a little bit of powder down around the feet while I'm making the bed. It helps them feel softer and smell better.

Sorry if that didn't really help much....but at least you know you're not alone on this!

You have an excellent site Tammy. I recently gave my dryer to the re-cycle shop and started hanging my laundry outside on a line. Thanks to your hints I am now doing it much more efficiently. And hey, I really like the way my clothing smells when it drys outside in the sun.

I started line drying my clothes out of "no choice". My dryer went out and I didn't want to buy a new one. The plan was to wait and find a used one at a garage sale or on craigslist. But after 4 months of line drying I have found I perfer it to a dryer. I don't mind the stiffness of the towels. In fact I think they are more absorbent line dried. It has taught my 2 teenage girls how to iron clothes since the dryer use to take the wrinkles out. I like the way our clothes smell line dried and I like that I am doing something eco friendly for the enviroment. I have been making my own laundry detergent for about 5 years now and I use vinegar in the rinse cycle, so I figure I wash and dry my clothes for alot less than than the average family. I have a family of five and we have found as long as we do one load a day during the week and 3 loads on the weekend, it actually takes less time than a electric dryer. Here in Texas during the summer my line dried clothes take about 30 minutes to dry verses an hour in the dryer.

One tip on getting wrinkles out of pants and jeans is to hang them at the waist and frequently smooth the legs out by runinng your hands firmly over them. By the time they dry we rarely have to iron them. My clothes always smell good after line drying so I am not sure why some of you say yours smell bad.

Hi Tammy. Thank-you and all your contributors for the generous, entertaining advice here. I was googling around last night, found this discussion site, and read the works. Cool !

A coupla years ago I rigged one clothesline with pulleys off my back deck (to a wood post I planted down the yard) and use this (lower feed line) as often as conditions permit. Well, as a slack single guy, whenever I feel like running a wash, regardless of weird weather.

So, I have a question that, perhaps, some of you wise people can help me with (It's why I was googling to begin) and today is a perfect example:

I washed one load and hung a full line of clothes outside after work yesterday. I knew it could not possibly dry in 1 hour before nightfall at 40 degrees and also that scattered showers were expected today. Yup, drizzle and rain all morning. My ex-girlfriend's mother and other older ladies insist that, not only is this habit of mine less than desirable (disgusting), but if you (me) leave clothes on the line and it rains, you (I) must wash them again. Why ? I consider it an additional rinse. Sometimes my clothes are out there blowing around for days = many *rinses*.

Other than esthetics, neighbours' preferences and general shame, is there any problem I am unaware of with respect to rainwater on clothes ? I realize it's slack procedure, but ... is there anything inherently wrong with leaving a line of clothes outdoors for, say, a few days (or a week) and through a few rain events until the weather finally clears ?

Thanks for any advice you can offer..


there are so many great ideas on here! I just wanted to comment on a few things.

bar soap shouldn't be used for laundry. it leaves scum in the machine and also on the clothes, making them dingy and in the case of towels or diapers, not as absorbent. to save money, either use way less detergent than the bottle suggests, or use some combination of borax, baking soda, washing soda, oxy cleaner, and vinegar (rinse). in my area, baking and washing sodas are both quite expensive, so I use borax and oxy cleaner, but when large bottles of detergent are on sale they are actually cheaper than those other non-detergent methods, especially when using less than the suggested amount.

leaving items out overnight - if you're in an area where relative humidity increases noticeably overnight - can make them smell musty. and if they stink, the only option is to rewash. I left a damp blanket out one night, and even after baking in the sun the next day, it still stunk. I even tossed it in the dryer for a bit, hoping the heat would kill whatever was there, but no luck. not really any downsides I can think of other than that.

it seems to me that the bathroom would be the least efficient place to hang clothes. it's hard enough keeping mold out of the shower, even with wiping it dry with a rag after each use. why on earth would I want to keep the air in there humid??

I can't wait until I'm out of an apartment and actually have somewhere to put a line outside!

While hanging cloths out to dry outside, does anyone have a problem with wrinkles? If so, what are the remedies for this? I am new to all this and have an idea for geeting rid of wrinles, well almost eliminating the wrinkles from windy conditions. If you would like to converse on this idea, please feel free to email me, I would love the feedback and anyones' thoughts....thank you

Hi David,

Yes, it definitely helps wrinkles if there is a breeze that day! :) Other things I can think of that would help with wrinkles: give the clothing a good shake (or two or more) before hanging up (and after taking down), and try to hang things so that they are hanging flat/wrinkle-free. Hang shirts from the bottoms (for button-up shirts, I use 3 clothespins -- one on each side and one in the middle, with the buttons/button holes folded into the middle, so it's drying "flat" like), and use two clothespins instead of just one (so things don't dry "droopy"). Some people also say that adding a little white vinegar to the rinse cycle helps with wrinkles. (I haven't noticed it helping substantially, personally.) :)

I hope this helps! :)

Tammy one I line dry in addition to yours is longevity.
Just look at a lint filter as it takes months of of the life of your clothes.

I had to hand wash a carpet bath mat and hung it out to dry yesterday, as I didn't want to waste the time and money at the washateria for one small item and I don't have a washer/dryer at home (no hook-ups for anything, even-- and there's just no room in this tiny duplex for a washer or dryer. We have the smallest unit in the community, the only one without a laundry room, and there is no room to even add anything onto the house because of the property size and the way we're laid out. Thus, our only options are to either hand wash and line-dry everything, or waste time and money at the washateria.).

It was sunny and breezy, with temps in the upper 40's (cool for this time of year). At bedtime, the mat was still dripping wet even though I had shook it out and squeezed it well before hanging, and I had shook it several times during the day. I let it hang out overnight. This morning... still drippy. Shook it out again. Let it drip dry a few more hours. Still drippy. Shook it again and rolled it in a towel to soak up more moisture. STILL dripping. And it's supposed to be cloudy and cold all day! I brought it inside. If it's still wet this afternoon, I'm just going to have to machine dry it. I guess there are just some things that can't be line-dried successfully without going to mildew... this must be one of those things!

i go swimming every day after midnight with my brothers and sisters and afterwards my clothes are wet! its a serious problem and i need help on how to not make them wet. i am clueless and i am too poor to buy a swimsuit and my family lives in card board boxes near the bottom of the sea. I am currentlly typing on my telepathic monkey and i realllllly realllllly need some clothes lining skillls pweeeeeeze!!!!

My hubby set up a clothes line on a pulley for me last summer, I realy found it helped me and relaxed me to hang the laundry on the line. I even have a shower curtain pole hung above my washer in the house and hange shirts and pants on clothes hangers and hange the hangers on it. It is easy for me to just pass them to the kids to hang in their closets! I realy want to do more to help with living expenses in our home, we have 5 children (9,7,6,2,and 6 months) Do you have any tips on how I can set things up so the kids can help with the line drying, and so that I can hange the laundry up every day? We have put up a 8 hook set in each room for each person so they can wear clothes more than once to cut down on the laundry, but there is still so much to do! Any tips on how to make it safe for the smallest ones out there while I hange up the wash? We live on a farm with no "domestic" fencing.

Growing up, my mom had a lower clothesline (about 2 feet above the ground) for children to hang the small things (socks, wash cloths, etc.).

One of my clotheslines in strung across part of the deck, so the kids can easily reach it and they love to hang things there for me!

As far as the little ones outside while you hang, that is a challenge with a yard with no fence. I remember putting the baby in the stroller to watch me hang, or wearing the baby in a carrier on me. Another thing I've done is put a blanket on the grass with some toys and let the smallest ones play/lay on it. But 2-year-olds like to run off! Maybe have some yard toys they can play with (cars, balls, etc.) and just train them to stay within sight... :)

What a cute blog. I have been hanging clothes out for 30 years now, just like my mother did before me. I too enjoy the ritual of it all, the chance to be outdooors, and my "artwork" blowing in the wind on a sunny day. There issomething really rewarding about it all.

Wow. I commented on here in 2007 and it's 2012 now -- how time flies.

As for the mildew/stinky clothes problem, it helps a GREAT deal to have a water softener. Your hot water heater, dishwasher, and washing machine will last a lot longer, to boot. But anyway, running an empty washer of bleach water, and a second empty washing with vinegar water, helps a ton. Just don't mix bleach and vinegar in one washing.

I've gotten to where I line dry the clothes until they are almost dry, and then throw them in the dryer for ten minutes to finish. I still save energy and get to watch the clothes blow in the breeze, but also get the soft, unscratchy clothes (and towels!) I so love.

I didn't learn about line-drying until I moved to Japan...we do pretty much everything you listed here, but we NEVER use the dryer. The cost in electricity is too much. It is actually really peaceful to dry clothes this way. If you have the space or time, one thing you can do is "open" thick pants like jeans. I usually use two hangers for one pair of jeans and clip it so that the top is wide open. It cleans much faster on those humid/cold days that way. I am going to start trying to hang the shirts upside down ^_^ I haven't heard that one before!

I wanted to thank you for your awesome information! Just recently I started drying our laundry outside and was looking for specific information about it--yours was the best I have found. I use a folding rack and believe that it is not the most efficient method (I think a clothesline would be better), but it works for the two of us.
I am getting tons of enjoyment of hanging laundry to dry outside--they smell fresh and laundry does not seem to be nearly the chore it used to be (well as long as we have good weather--we live in the Pacific NW).
I hope you don't mind but I put a link on my blog to this page for others that want more information on drying laundry outside--if you do then just leave a reply here and I will remove it.
Thanks again for your information!

Thanks, Aimee! We're in the PNW too, and I find that line drying success depends a bit on where a person lives. I do okay even with the trees/shade around our house/yard, but our apartment actually got more sun. I see some houses in woods/hills where there isn't much sunshine that reaches them! :)

I dont know what happens but My clothes smell great out of the washer but after being on the line they smell funky? help please

Thanks for this entertaining blog. I honestly never for a moment thought that there was anything special about hanging my clothes on the line. Here in New Zealand its just what we do and only the very smallest of apartments in the very centre of our 3 larger cities would not have a clothes line. Even living in Dunedin which is the wettest and coldest city in New Zealand, I maximise my opportunities for getting my clothes dry by paying close attention to the weather forecast and planning when I will wash and when I will wait. In the depths of winter, even on the sunniest and warmest of days there is only 3-4 hours drying time, so I hang my clothes out in the morning before work then first in the family to get home brings the clothes inside and we hang them up on a clothes horse to "finish off" . I use a dryer in emergencies only.

I have always felt hanging the clothes out and the routines associated with this was a pleasure even on the busiest and craziest of mornings. It was really nice to read this blog and share this simple pleasure and to be reminded that sometimes we take our lifestyles for granted. I am lucky to be able to hang my washing on the line and even luckier that I never had to think about it. I can't believe there is a generation of kids who have to ask how to do this everyday thing. I am 46 yrs old have 2 teenage children and did not own a dryer until we moved to Dunedin 10 years ago and everyone warned me I would need one. My kids wore cloth nappies and grew up helping me hang laundry and now know the drill when they get the text - please bring the washing in its going to rain !!!!!

Line drying - a privilege not a right huh ?!

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