Hang Drying

I've spent many a long Wisconsin winter in forty below zero with windchill. Curled up in an old farmhouse, besieged by ice, snow, and the bitter cold. We didn't have a dryer, and driving into town to use the laundromat wasn't always an option when the roads were covered in black ice and snow.

Our house was built by Amish, which meant no electricity. I lived for a year without it, and many more without plumbing - there's nothing like having to use the outhouse in the dead of winter....The cold either makes you or breaks you. It made me stronger. 

I'd make a fire in our Russian fireplace. It would take several hours until you really felt the heat; the coals had to warm up the stones of the fireplace, which would radiate warmth through the entire house. I can build a fire like no other. It's a lifeskill I value. 

We had a washing machine, jerry-rigged with electricity running into the basement. I'd do a load, then bundle up against the winter cold and hang my clothes outside on the line. They'd freeze, and the fibers would break. After they were good and frozen, I'd hang them near the fire on the staircase railing to thaw them out-- believe it or not, they would dry. 

I still line dry my clothes, but since moving back to California in 2009,  the cold hasn't been an issue. 

Why Hang Dry?

  • Saves electricity! 
  • Saves water. Yep. Power plants use thousands of gallons of water for cooling, so when we decrease electricity use, we save water!
  • Saves money. It costs me $1.50 per load to dry my clothes. That adds ups!
  • Increases the lifespan of our clothes. The dryer can shrink clothes and compromise fiber integrity.  
  • Reduces chemical use. I don't personally use dryer sheets, but many are filled with carcinogenic chemicals and are one more single use item going to the landfill. 
  • It brightens those whites! The sun is pretty incredible. 
  • It's a great task to do with children. You can spend time with them, while teaching a valuable life skill.
  • Less laundry. I've found that I only put clothes that actually need to be washed in the hamper. 
  • It's wrinkle and static free!
  • It's meditative. I find joy in this simple task. 

You don't need anything expensive or fancy to line dry your clothes. Hang up some twine or rope as a clothes line. If you prefer a rack, they're affordable!  When I lived in Spain, we would hang dry all our clothes on a rack in the basement. When I lived in India, we would line dry our clothes on the roof! It can be done anywhere, really. I hang dry my clothes even when it's overcast outside.

Hot Tip: There are plastic free lint brushes if your reason for not hang drying is because fibers are stuck to your clothes.

 Do you think you'll give it a try?