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Green Your Life: The Benefits of a Clothesline

9/16/2010 3:56:56 PM

Tags: clothesline, clotheslines, air drying, line drying, energy efficient drying, save energy, save money, laundry, green your life

I really enjoy doing laundry; it’s one of those necessary evils that I find both relaxing and satisfying. Surveying the many piles of clean clothes after a long day of laundry gives me a sense of accomplishment, but recently I’ve also been considering how much energy it takes to make those piles possible, especially during the drying process. The smell and feel of clothes fresh from the dryer has become a comfort to me through the years, but I’m finally making the switch from dryer to clothesline.

clothesline
Because the sun is a natural antibacterial and deodorizer, hanging your clothes on a clothesline saves energy while ensuring your clothes are clean and smell great. It’s also gentler on your clothes than a dryer, so you can enjoy your clothes longer. Photo By Dani Hurst. 

One of the many benefits of using a clothesline instead of a dryer is the money you’ll save. First of all, erecting a clothesline is simply cheaper than buying a dryer. Once you have it in place, operating a clothesline costs nothing; the two essential elements—sun and wind—are free and in large supply, and unlike the monthly electric or gas bill that accompanies any dryer, beyond the initial investment for a clothesline, you’ll never have to pay to air dry your clothes. A clothesline is also much gentler on your clothes than a dryer, which saves you from having to replace shrunken shirts or worn-out jeans. Plus, you’ll save money you would otherwise be spending on dryer sheets.

Another advantage of using a clothesline is that it’s a lot less taxing on the environment. Creating heat for the dryer is an energy-intensive process, especially if you never change the settings to accommodate smaller loads. A clothesline, however, requires no energy to operate, so it makes sense that using one would greatly reduce your overall carbon footprint. Dryers also emit heat into your home, which in the hot summer months means forcing you to either suffer or turn up the AC. This means that using a dryer—which already consumes a lot of energy—may also require you to use even more energy just to offset the heat it produces.

clothesline close-up
You can cut down on the time you spend handling your clothes by hanging them on their hangers. This is especially convenient for nicer shirts and pants that you don’t want to wrinkle. Photo By Dani Hurst. 

Beyond the money and energy you’ll save, clotheslines provide even more benefits. The sun acts as a natural deodorizer, antibacterial and bleach for your clothes and sheets, meaning you can run more cold-water loads without worrying if your clothes are clean enough. Hanging clothes can also be a substantial calorie-burner, especially on the days you’re hanging towels or heavy blankets. In the summer it can also get you out into the sun, which can significantly improve your mood, and in winter hanging clothes on racks inside will help humidify dry winter air.

Fortunately for me, my next door neighbor has allowed me to use the clothesline she built. However, if you have to start from scratch, you can simply tie a rope between two trees and go from there. With use the line will begin to sag though, so you will have to keep tightening it at both ends. If you’re up for a little more work, follow the instructions in this Mother Earth News article about how to build your own clothesline.



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