Mother Earth Living

Fight for Your Right to Dry: Line-Drying Laundry

The battle over laundry and common-sense energy conservation.
By Roxanne Hawn
September/October 2009
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Freshen up fabrics by hanging them on a clothesline.

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Cost of convenience

Clothes dryers account for about 6 percent of your home electricity use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

On the line

You could keep about 1,000 pounds of CO2 a year out of the atmosphere if you air-dried half your laundry loads.

Anti-clothesline contingent

Legislators, homeowners associations and landlords often forbid clotheslines, arguing they’re injury liabilities, a visual scourge and can lower property values.

Right to dry

Some states have passed “right to dry” laws. In Florida, no one can ban clotheslines. Colorado law protects retractable, but not permanent, clotheslines. In 2008, Hawaii’s governor vetoed a “right to dry” bill.

Right to try

The nonprofit organization Project Laundry List fights to make air-drying laundry acceptable and desirable as a simple, effective way to save energy.

Hanging offense

Susan Taylor of Bend, Oregon, just wants a clothesline. Susan made the front page of The Wall Street Journal in 2007 when she went public with her fight to overturn her community’s clothesline ban. Her battle continues today. Recently, she sent President Obama a clothesline and clothespins. “I told him we need federal legislation because each state should not have to fight for the right to use sensible ways to conserve energy.” He hasn’t responded.

Did you know?

Laundry hung outside in winter will freeze, but it will also dry. That’s thanks to sublimation, the process in which a solid converts to vapor without going through the intermediate liquid phase.

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