Sunday, June 14, 2009

Line drying clothes

Is it me, or did many of the green ideas originate in Europe? Seriously—bicycling, walking, buying fresh and local—have long been a way of life in Europe. And to that list we should add air drying clothes.

In France, as in most European countries, space for a separate laundry room is sometimes not an option. In my personal experience, a front loading washing machine can occupy a space in the kitchen, under the kitchen counter, but never a dryer. I have stayed in two homes that had tumble dryers, but, usually clothes are taken outside, to line dry.

I enjoy the smell and feel of clothes that have been air dried, especially bed linens, tablecloths, tea towels, cotton shirts, and jeans. During the warmer months, I hang all of these items outside to dry; in the colder weather I used a collapsible drying rack. After drying on the line outside, the linens are wrinkle free, and have a stiff, crisp hand, almost as though they’ve been ironed. Cotton shirts and tees retain their color and size when regularly line dried, and jeans never shrink!

Not everyone has the space to dry laundry outside, but 2’ x 3’ space is all that is needed for a collapsible drying rack; I purchased mine at The Container Store a few years ago for less than $10, and I see they still carry the same one. I love it, and use it all the time, indoors and out. For large items, I use a clothesline, but I was surprised to see the variety of drying racks available today.

So whether you do it selflessly for the planet, or selfishly to please yourself, air drying laundry is a good thing, and inexpensively European!


  1. Now that font I like! The white is also easy to read.

    Yes, Europe is so far ahead of us in so many ways, and ironically it's by doing things the small, quiet, simple, old-fashioned way.

    We've had rain nearly every day for three weeks, and hail for the past week. I haven't had much chance, with all this humidity, to line dry my laundry this year.

    Great post!

  2. Some of my fondest memories from my youth are the times I got to help my great grandmother take down the laundry from the clothesline. She lived on a small farm in rural Georgia. I was in charge of the wooden pins. I got to wear a little apron with pockets to hold them. I can still remember the fresh smell of the sheets.

    I always drip dry my clothing. It saves energy and the clothes last longer. I never drip dry linens though, not enough space.

  3. You always manage to come up with something that really sums up living la dolce vita to me! I love line drying and do the same as you -- summer outside, winter on a drying rack. The only complaint I have is how to dry my big white towels so they don't feel like sandpaper. Oh well.

  4. Ladies, I have to qualify this post: I don't have time to line dry all my laundry (especially the towels, Kristi!) But there is something wonderfully domestic about the experience, n'est-ce pas? Mary, I think you captured it when you said it reminded you of your great-grandmother; it reminds us of a slower paced, gentler time.

  5. I couldn't agree more - line drying reminds me of my grandmother too....xv

  6. I read sometime this past winter that if you use the dryer for 10 minutes on towels and then finish drying them on the line, you can avoid having them feel so stiff and sandpapery. I haven't tried it yet, but just thought I'd mention it.

  7. I have recently had two Europeans staying at my house in Australia and I am on here wondering whether the norm was to use a clothes drier as the clothes line doesn't seem to be something they have tended to use. Our sun is very strong and takes no time to dry so curious as to why they don't use it.