Homemaking

Line Drying

If you remember back before my extended break, I did a series about the new 3 R’s: reduce, re-use and recycle. The highest, most desirable and hardest to achieve is reduce. But one of the things I pledged to do to reduce was to purchase a drying rack and line dry my clothes. Today I thought I would give you an update on that project.

Much smaller and easier than the clothesline of my childhood.
Much smaller and easier than the clothesline of my childhood.

We found a relatively sturdy and inexpensive clothes rack at Tesco (less than fifteen quid) back in April. Of course, the month of May was so rainy that I did not get to use it very much. But so far this month, it is working wonderfully. In the past week, I have washed about six loads of laundry. I have dried only one of those; all of the others were line dried.

Actually the whole thing reminds me a great deal of my youth.  I do not remember us ever actually having a dryer. Instead we had a clothesline that consisted of three poles almost six feet tall cemented into the ground. It was much longer than anything I have seen in the UK. Since our house was on about a half an acre of land, we had plenty of room for this thirty foot long contraption. If those dimensions are mind boggling enough, it actually had three lines on it. So we had almost a hundred feet of drying space for our clothes.

This was especially significant to me because it was my job to bring the laundry inside at the end of each day. After doing my homework and before dinner, I would grab a basket and traipse out to the clothesline. The huge bag of clothes pins always remained hanging from the centre pole. I would item by item from the pins, fold them and place them neatly in the basket. On a good day it might take me about ten minutes or less. But if my mother or Nanny had washed the sheets or towels it could take almost half an hour to fold everything that dried in the warm South Carolina sun on those hundred feet of clothes line. It might sound romantic or nostalgic now, but at the time for a sixteen year old girl it was anything BUT.

Of course, there are a couple of challenges to line drying. First of all, my husband has extreme allergies. Since line dried clothes will pick up pollen outside, much of the gas drying that we still do is his clothes. The other major draw back is that almost everything now has to be ironed. But the energy used to run the iron for a couple of minutes is still significantly less than running a gas dryer for almost two hours. The estimated cost of drying a load is between fifteen and forty pence. Of course that does not count the true cost to our environment. I guess in a way we are using solar and wind power to dry our clothes.

Of course, our simple drying rack is nothing compared to those hundred feet of clothesline. Thank goodness for that.

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