With the arrival of warmer weather we turn off the very-expensive-to-run electric dryer and exercise our arms by hanging our laundry outdoors.
I wore fresh, air-dried clothes as a kid. My mom never saw the shiny chrome of a dryer until about 1969, and even then it was used sparingly. Hanging laundry, as well as bringing it in, was a family chore. I learned early on how to prepare (wipe) the line, double up on clothes pins and the best way to shake out winkles. I also acquired a knack for hanging items in a specific order, so when taken down, folded and returned to the willow basket, there would be less effort once I was back in the house putting things away.
Today, those experiences continue to be of value. But now, there’s even more thought put into the task:
Line placement – Filtered sun is best as it lessens fading. Turning clothing inside out helps with this problem too.
Heavy loads – I don’t seem to remember my mom using these cool, little, dual-roller, plastic gizmos (the white thing in the photo) that you insert periodically to lift the bottom line to the upper one, thus preventing heavy, wet items from stretching to the the ground. I think we used wire coat hangers crafted in some weird manner to solve this.
Fabric Softener– I’ve never been a fan of anything more than eco-friendly laundry soap and some occasional beach, so I snub fabric softeners. However, if you’ve ever hung your clothes out, you know all too well the stiff and crisp nature laundry takes on. Usually, this can be removed with a quick snap of the item prior to folding, but towels seem to suffer the most. We cheat from time to time and gather the towels, before they turn into plywood, and throw them in the dryer for a couple of minutes. We’re experimenting with natural fabric softeners to reduce this issue and we'll report our findings in the future.
New learning aside, we still use wooden clothespins, a few of which have remained gainfully employed prior to 1969. Sunshine remains the same also, sort of, given all the climate change stuff going on. And, the smell of the finished product, well it’s still the same take-you-back-in-time scent that you just can’t find in a bottle…
(Photo: Drying work clothes)