photo by joeannenah
clothesline

Cut utility costs during the warm months by giving your dryer a break. Instead, line dry your laundry on a clothesline. There's sometimes a stigma attached to clotheslines, which are often viewed as a sign of poverty or as an eyesore, but the truth is that many people simply don't want to waste energy, actually enjoy hanging their clothes to dry and want to cut their expenses. Even if you can't line dry outside because of zoning laws or allergies, you can still air dry in your home or in an enclosed porch with retractable clotheslines and drying racks.

I have indoor and outdoor clotheslines. I hang most anything inside, but I won't hang underwear outside. I won't embarrass my family to save a buck. Some folks claim they don't like using outdoor clotheslines because their clothes get stiff, but most clothes soften if you given them a good snap when they come off the line, after an hour of wear, or from tossing them into the dryer for just a few minutes. Your clothing lasts longer, too. It takes only about 10 minutes to hang a load of laundry, and hanging them makes them almost wrinkle free.

I have fond memories of my mother and grandmother hanging laundry on their clotheslines. It was a ritual that was soothing and comforting to me as a child. My mother had T poles that I would use to swing around and around, and my grandmother had an umbrella-type structure with lattice-like cords. My mom would store her metal-spring clothespins in a clothespin bag, and my grandmother stored her vintage wooden pins with rounded heads in a plastic milk jug. I remember playing games with the clothespins and running around and in between the clothing as it fluttered in the breeze. Sheets were the most fun. I still remember the clothes had a fresh, natural, outdoor scent.

I went years without line drying my laundry. Convinced I didn't have time and that it was old-fashioned, I tossed my clothes into the dryer and didn't give it much thought until I started my frugal journey. That's when I came across Project Laundry List (www.laundrylist.org). It's a nonprofit organization that advocates simple lifestyle changes, such as the use of outdoor clotheslines, to educate people to be more self reliant and less dependent on energy sources. They view frugality as a virtue, as I do, and it hit home that even if I didn't have time every single day to hang-dry my laundry, I could make a conscious effort to line dry at least during the summer months and indoors when possible.

I discovered that hanging laundry was almost therapeutic. I could fit in a little more exercise, and it became a wonderful time for me to take in the fresh air and add a mindful moment to my day. What really sealed the deal was when I witnessed my own children playing with the clothespins and darting in between the flowing sheets. Now it's as much a part of summer as burgers on the grill and lemonade. It's a shame some communities ban clotheslines. Perhaps it's time for that to change.