Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

Clothes-Drying – What to do when you don’t have a dryer

Dry clothes - save energy!

Dry clothes - save energy!

When we moved in, we chose not to purchase a dryer. in our energy star research, it turned out that dryers, no matter how old they were, were about equally efficient – it was more a matter of keeping them lint free than the newness. So we went all winter hangdrying our clothes – and are quite happy it is now hot outside, and our clothes tend to get all the way dry, instead of mostly dry (Sonoma County is WET in the winter, even inside where we were hanging our clothes.

Our happy handiman sent us a little email about hangdrying clothes that I thought I would share:

1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes-walk the
entire lengths of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

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 (perverts & busybodies, y’know!)

6. It didn’t matter if it was sub zero weather . . . Clothes would

7. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left
on the lines were “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 clothesline 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 designs.
The line announced a baby’s birth
From 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 also 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 and gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way . . ..

But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make work much 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!

Thanks, Jay!

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3 comments to Clothes-Drying – What to do when you don’t have a dryer

  • Cerrin

    I love the idea of this. If I only had the time and yard…and knew noone would steal my clothes 😉

  • jay

    I was amazed when I read in some energy publication that a very high percentage of our energy usage was consumed by the use of a dryer. I think it was twenty percent but I am not positive that I have it right.

  • Veena

    Yup, hang-drying is great. We’ve been living dryer-free since we moved to Holland. Every apartment we’ve had here came with a washer but no dryer. Now we’re in a place that has no deck or outside space, but hang-drying inside still works fine. Another drying rule: Don’t hang-dry laundry inside in a small apartment when frying or sauteing food! The smell does get into the clothes.

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