Sunday, August 10, 2008

Clothes Line

This picture was taken during the Great Depression, and shows a woman drying her clothes out on a clothes line. It is funny how much people talk about going green these days, yet I never see any of them drying their clothes on a clothes line. You see, using a dryer in your house not only uses lots of energy, it generates lots of heat in your house, which makes your air conditioner have to work all the harder, using even more energy. Using a clothes line wastes no energy.
As a kid, I can remember my mom drying clothes on a clothes line. The neat thing was it was near our back door. As the breeze blew through the wet clothes, it cooled the breeze, which then blew into the house, and helped cool the house. Today, I do not know of a single person who uses a clothes line.

21 comments:

  1. Ah yes. You can almost see that smile of inner satisfaction on her face, secure in the knowledge that what she is doing is slightly cooling the house while saving tons of energy. On the other hand, what she may be thinking is that she only has three more loads of devilishly heavy laundry to lug out, bend over to pick up, hang up and then to go fetch later. She's probably keeping an eye on the horizon for the storm that will soak all that laundry just as it gets dry, or wondering if the kid in the background is going to run in and out of the sheets with his hands up, turning the dust he kicks up and the dirt on his hands into mud on the clothes.

    Modern inventions are not by any means harmless, but sometimes they are a means of doing the same job more easily or marginally better. By the way, when your oven was broken, did you explain to your wife how much better it used to be when everyone cooked outside over a fire? If so, where did you end up sleeping?

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  2. I hang my clothes outside in the summer. I once read somewhere that hanging clothes on a line was a welcome chore many years ago, before we had the aid of electronics. I have found this to be true. And the benefits of falling asleep amid the smell of linen fresh off the line is indescribable. If you've done it you will remember, if not, it's a must try.

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  3. Don,
    Thanks for the post. Actually on my stove . . . I would not suggest going back to cooking over wood outside. I would suggest that stoves today have gone one step too far. The older model stoves with simple analog controls were very reliable. Up until a year or two ago, my parents had the same stove in their house that was there when I was groing up . . . something like 30 years with no problems. The stove in my old house was a simple analog stove, and I had it for 20 years with no problems. Then, the new digital stove I have went out almost immediately, and took the better part of two months to get fixed. I recently spoke to a person who has an appliance service center. He services appliances from various manufacturers. He told me that his business has "exploded" in the last few years, and he is getting 10X the number of service calls that he use to. He said that the new digital major kitchen appliances did in fact go out at an alarming rate. He said he thought part of the problem was the new appliances are very susceptible to small power surges blowing out the control board. He said most people have their computers hooked into surge suppressors, but modern stoves and refrigerators are very vulnerable to power surges. Anyway, I am unhappy that my top of the line appliances are going out with such regularity (my car is still stuck in the garage because of the malfunction of my new garage door openin system).

    On the Clothes Line . . . I actually have purchased a clothes line, and my wife and I plan to put it on the screened in porch. Our screened in porch is on the south side of the house, and there is a nice south to north breeze. I think by hanging the wet clothes on the porch, we should get an even cooler breeze through the house.
    PJM

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  4. Where do you come up with these pictures! This one is priceless. 'she ain't happy, she aint' gonna be happy all day and better no one get in her way.
    When I was growing up, a woman across the street took in washing for a living. She heated the water in a big cast iron wash pot over a wood fire.(with cut up lye soap she made from grease and ashes)
    She stirred the clothes with a stick to clean them. After she 'cooked' them, she drug them out of the boiling pot and put them in a tub of cold water to rinse. They had to be wrung out by hand. Once, someone came and stole the clothes off the line. Her name was Mrs Underwood and I have never forgotten her, she was a sweet lady. Her life was hard.
    Thank you for the memory today.

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  5. My mom hangs stuff out on the line. She has three huge parallel lines hung in the back right corner of her backyard. She is really good about doing bedding for anyone who asks (in the family, of course) on a nice day. There is nothing like going to bed in sun-dried sheets.

    J.

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  6. Something else you can try if you live in an area where the Homeowner Asshatiations have regulations against clotheslines...

    I have a nice large rolling clothes hanger (like you used to see rolling up and down NY streets only rickety-cheap from Wal-Mart) that I set in the upstairs sitting area under the ceiling fan.

    While not as fresh as outdoors and certainly not as soft once dry, for big heavy wet items like jeans and bedding, it saves /hours/ in the dryer. Then you can run just one dryer cycle of the rest.

    During the winter it also helps by adding a bit of humidity to the house.

    Dear lord, I seem to be channeling Heloise.

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  7. I live in a one-room apartment and hang about half of my clothes on a clothesline in front of the window--delicates or anything that takes too long to dry, like towels or jeans. I like doing it.

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  8. PJM: Sorry to have been on a rant. My main thrust was meant to be that we often romanticize tasks that were, in their time, pure drudgery. As to your point about digital electronic controls I couldn't agree more!

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  9. I hand my laundry on a retractable clothesline in summer. As a person with chronic fatigue syndrome, I can confirm that it is physical work, but these days most people need more exercise, not less. ;)

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  10. I have thought about putting a clothes line outside because I do really love the way the laundry smells when you hang it outdoors. Still haven't done it. Laundry takes time to hang and take it down. We did this in Europe when I was a kid. Some stuff has to be ironed and/or tumbled to soften it up. And if you hang it in the sun, it can really fade colors. I use my neighbor's lines when I wash my comforters. Still planning to put one of those cheapy ones in the house somewhere...I did buy a dryer with a dampness sensor and try not to run it more than necessary.

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  11. I Use to have one when I was first married in '72, but not anymore...I wonder why...lolol...night!hughugs

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  12. I love clotheslines. My mother and I are clothesline snobs. We are ever critical about others that just can't hang a decent line.

    I do hope clotheslines make a comeback. Thanks for the interesting photo and blog.

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  13. I am 65 years old and have hung clothes on the line since I was a little girl. I was taught precisely how to hang everything. I enjoy hanging clothes. I know it is extra work but I am very environmentally conscious and also very thrifty. I do own a dryer but don't enjoy using it. I live in OK so I can hang clothes almost year round. My daughter hangs her clothes on the line also.

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  14. I am 49 and until recently when I went to apartment living I hung clothes. I was also taught a specific way to hang all items. I loved hanging clothes for the experience and the clothes smell amazing after drying that way! My grandma hung year round, even in winter and we lived in the north. The clothes would freeze dry like coffee!

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  15. I'm 24, so I was born in the 80's...long after dryers were invented. Our dryer broke when I was 10, but rather than getting a new one, we just started hanging our clothes out on the line. Living in Texas with a big field behind the house, all I can remember is the smell of fresh grass and wild flowers being absorbed into the cotton. Nothing quite like it. My mom didn't break down and buy a new dryer until I left for college. -Donna Rivera from TX

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  16. To this day I still dry my cloths on hangers or out side on my porch I do not use a dry blankets towles, reg cothes and personal get hung up to dry not dryer for me.

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  17. It's hard to use clotheslines when many apartment managers or neighborhood associations forbid their use -- or if the air quality in your area is poor -- or if you live somewhere where you would fear for the safety of your hanging clothes!

    That said, if you lived in a rural area or temperate climate, I can see that a clothesline would be great to use.

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  18. Everyone I know has one. They're pretty popular in Australia, as far as I can tell.

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  19. I love the smell of clothes dried with the line than the machine. The combination of wind and sun...

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  20. I live in a large city in Western Canada where a by-law exist prohibiting clothes line. Wish it wasn't so.
    Love your photos. Thank you for sharing.

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  21. I have always hung my clothes out on a line. In winter, I still hang them on wooden racks in my living room. My one biggest fear, is losing everything, including lives, to a fire. I had heard that dryers can catch fire. (Another good reason to hang clothes.) :D
    We're pretty green here. We have a garden, we recycle, and compost. We are a family of four; and we carpool or take the bus whenever possible. One of the boys walks to breakfast at a local diner most mornings. Here's to keeping life simple in not so simple times.

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