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Hanging Clothes With Green Moms

Posted Sep 11 2009 10:57pm

I am writing this post for this month’s Green Moms Carnival which is about conserving energy. This is my second month to post with Green Moms and I already see the benefit to me. I learn so much - even about a topic I thought I already knew! Plus, writing this post got this simple girl re-motivated about hanging the laundry.

One of the best ways to conserve energy is to hang your laundry to dry. Dryers use 10 to 15 % of the domestic energy in the US. If you hang your laundry to dry, you can instantly reduce that energy usage to zero. Let the sun and air do your drying for you.

I am sure that anyone from my mother-in-law's generation would find it amusing that I am encouraging readers to hang the laundry outside. The clothes dryer was intended to be a time saver and it really is convenient. In her younger years, at least two entire days of the week were dedicated to laundry. Monday was wash and hang day. Tuesday was sprinkle and iron day. (I think I have it right.) These were two long and labor-intensive days. Modern washers and dryers have really evolved a lot, but they use a lot energy. With global warming, the energy usage is something to be concerned about. Be green and consider hanging your laundry.

To be a successful laundry “hanger outer”:
  • Keep an eye on the weather. If the weather is not going to cooperate with outdoor clothes drying, be willing to change laundry days.
  • Hang shirts by the hem rather than by the shoulders to avoid a bump on the shoulder. I hang shirts on a hanger, then on the line. They go directly from the line to the closet. This is the rare occasion when I admit that a plastic item is fine. Plastic coat hangers are best for this.
  • Hang jeans and trousers with a crease down the front, if you like a leg crease.
  • Dark clothes can fade unevenly when dried in the sun. Dry them wrong side out, or in the shade, or indoors.
  • Do not put your clothes line under a tree and avoid bird droppings.
  • If you like your towels soft, line dry them until they are almost dry. Then pop them into the dryer for only a few minutes. You can do the same with clothes that you do not want to iron, And who WANTS to iron?
  • If the weather is not cooperative, hang your clothes in a basement or on a porch. Apartment dwellers should do this anyway. I once lived in an apartment in Texas that had clothes lines. I think that is fairly rare.
  • You can dry clothes outdoors when the temperature is below freezing. Wet clothes will freeze, then the ice will evaporate. It will take more time, but they will dry.

If you cannot hang clothes to dry and must use a dryer:
  • Dry similar fabric types together in a load. Do not dry synthetics with cotton towels, for example.
  • Take clothes out of the dryer when they are slightly damp, Try to not over dry.
  • Save energy by drying 2 loads in a row so that the remaining heat from the first load helps with the second load.
  • Do not dry small loads or overly large loads. As in Goldilocks, the medium size is best. There should be room for heated air to circulate around the clothes.
  • Clean the filter often.
  • Keep the exhaust vent clean and unclogged.

The benefits of hanging your laundry rather than using a dryer:
  • It is much cheaper.
  • Clothes last longer. The lint in your dryer filter is clothes particles.
  • It is outdoors and slightly meditative. There is a Zen aspect to it.
  • It benefits the environment since you are not using a machine to do it.
  • Dryer fires account for 17,700 fires per year. You do not need to worry if you do not use one.
  • Your clothes have a great fresh smell without the addition of an artificial fragrance.

If you live in a community that does not allow outdoor clothes lines, there is a movement called "Right to Dry” that originated in Vermont. They have a website with videos, books, paraphernalia, almost anything you need. Check out their video of CBS’s 60 Minutes on this issue. Maybe you will become a clothesline activist.
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