The reason why I ask is because limiting the use of the clothes dryer and relying on the good old sun seems like a low cost way of both a) saving money on electricity bills and b) saving energy. There are many parts of the US where clothes dryers are deemed a necessity because of the harsh winters, and/or ample year round rain, however AFAIK neither of these are an issue in that part of the world. I’m curious do many people use clothes lines in the more constantly warm parts of the US?
Can’t say for Southern California, but everyone I know in Arizona has dryers in their homes or otherwise uses the laundromat. Wouldn’t clothes dried in the sun get really stiff and unpleasant to wear?
Nah, our neighbor in Ventura, CA used only a line for decades, and her family never complained. I think it’s just a convenience and perception problem. If you hang your clothes it takes longer, and it’s seen as not being up-scale. I don’t know anyone in So. Cal who uses a line any more, except one house that rented rooms to church interns. They insisted because of the cost.
Not in my experience. I don’t think there’s a difference, although I’ve never done rigourous testing, just an anecdote. Full disclosure, we own a clothes dryer but it rains here a lot, but a non-rainy day we’ll always put our clothes on the line. I understand it is slightly different in the US in that many people don’t have enclosed backyards. We probably should make more of an effort to dry clothes indoors though.
There was an interesting interview some months back on Marketplace with the owners of an Australian firm that makes circular outdoor clothes drying racks. Apparently these things are ubiquitous down under, and indeed in many other parts of the world, but they’re having a devil of a time breaking the U.S. market.
According to the interview, the biggest hurdle they had to overcome was perception. Drying clothes outdoors is perceived as something only poorer families do. This, in turn, leads many neighborhood associations to outright ban outdoor drying from a fear that it will lower property values.
I would think this perception keeps clothes dryers ubiquitous in all but the most rural parts of the country.
I fully understand the convenience issue but then I think it only requires a modicum of forward planning for it not to be a problem drying them nature’s way.
Is it possible that the bigger issue is its association with poverty?
Clotheslines are banned in a number of cities in California. The neighbors complain that it lowers the property values.
Around here in Austin, the times I see clothes drying outside on a line, it’s always a poor Mexican neighborhood. There will be literally tens or hundreds of articles outside; never just a few shirts, but rather the family’s entire wardrobe. I’ve seen clothes remain out through inclement weather. It’s almost as if the clothes line serves as an outdoor closet.
I think it’s the opposite. I find that clothes dried on the line feel much fresher and more pleasant to wear than those that have been put into a dryer.
American life is based on freedom. If there was a magical machine that folded your clothes and put them away for you, we’d all have those too.
Energy concerns take a back seat to living like a civilized human being.
All this is assuming you have access to space to put a clothesline.
Many people do not and have no other option than the gas or electric dryer.
Using a clothes line takes more time, too. It requires each piece to be hung individually and be carried around. The money and gas/electricity saved comes at a high cost in time.
My first initial thought was that I wouldn’t want to use outdoor clothes lines because the clothes may get tampered with by kids or homeless folk.
I do not know if my fears are justified, and I assume that it would vary from location to location.
This is the real reason that more energy cannot be saved by just drying your clothes outside in areas where the weather permits.
Because people find it ‘unsightly’ or something. Clotheslines are banned in many cities and home owner associations across the country. Probably a majority, but I do not have a cite to back that up.
Park your Prius in the garage, and call the cops on the neighbor’s laundry hanging in the breeze next door. I am not an Eco-warrior in any sense of the word, but this makes no sense.
Some states are trying to repeal the bans.
Some people still do and it’s not just people who live in warm climates. In the winter you can hang the clothes in the basement (if you have snow then you probably have a basement) it takes longer but they still get dry.
My mom used to hang sheets in the basement in Buffalo when she was a SAHM on a budget. Now she is retired and living in AZ and I don’t think it’s ever occurred to her to put clothes outside! I’m sure there’s a HOA rule against but she’s broken every other rule so I doubt that would stop her.
When I was a kid, we dried all clothes on the line, in all weather except pouring rain. I think part of it was because my mother had these tremendous laundry aids to carry the laundry downstairs/outside, hang it, retrieve it, and carry it back inside/upstairs.
I agree that sometime in the last couple of decades, it’s somehow become incredibly low-class to use a clothesline. However, the economy and green movement seem to be making some changes there, slowly.
I’ve been trying to convince my family to put in a clothesline for at least 10 years. I like clothesline-dried stuff, especially sheets and towels. Mmmmmm. I would deviate from my mom’s system, in that I’d still toss socks & underwear in the dryer. They’re a serious pain to pin up, and really, I don’t need the neighborhood lookin’ at our undies.
I do dry a lot of stuff indoors on one of those folding racks. Anything heavy that’s going to take forever to dry, I tend to let air dry. And then I’ve got a lot of shirts that call for line-drying.
FWIW, if you don’t like the feel of line-dried clothes, toss 'em in the dryer for a few minutes. The tumbling will soften them right up.
I’m on the Westside, and the ban on clotheselines aside, these are the problems I’d face with it. I live in a 10-unit, two-story apartment and there’s inadequate space for clotheslines. We could only put lines on the roof, which would have accessibility and safety problems with it.
Also, it takes an hour to machine-dry clothes. Clothesline drying, IIRC, takes most of an afternoon. Having had clothes swiped from my building’s locked laundry room before (meaning the thief was a fellow resident), I’m reluctant to leave my property unattended any longer than necessary.
I own a washer and dryer. We have a line out back but we don’t use it because we’re lazy. Using it would require putting all of the wet clothes into a basket and carrying it outside and wait around for hours.
The dryer’s next to the washer. I open the washer, grab the clothes, and toss it in the dryer in one motion. Set the timer for about an hour and I’m done
Those old fashioned “pulley” things consisting of maybe half a down long wooden spars, which one raises and lowers by the attached rope really ought to make a comeback. Takes time to dry stuff, obviously, but no wasting of electricity.
Re. unsightly and lowering property values, I could also imagine a changed perception that it makes the household look frightfully organised and domesticated and respectable etc, sort of turning it in the thing that “nice” and proper people do. I fear imagination is where it will stay, though.
Yes, I also grew up with line-dried clothes.
I live in Northern CA, and very few people I know line dry. But a few do, & I do, in the summer. I wouldn’t buy into a neighborhood where I couldn’t dry.
Though I have to admit that I dried a lot more, when I was a stay at home mom. Now that I work fulltime I am more likely to chuck laundry into the dryer.
Right to dry is a whole movement: http://www.laundrylist.org/