The best way to dry laundry on clotheslines

  • Mon Aug 13th, 2012 8:26pm
  • Life

By Cedar Burnett Associated Press

Think clotheslines are a relic of a bygone era, a time when our grandmothers air-dried their dainties with stiff wooden pins?

Think again. Hanging clothes is hot, due in no small part to the rising costs of, well, everything.

Abigail Gehring, author and editor of a number of books on green living skills, including “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Living” and “The Homesteading Handbook,” has this advice:

Shaking and space: Avoid stiff and wrinkled laundry by giving your clothes a good shake, then hanging them with a little space between each item for maximum air circulation.

No softener: Use ½ to 1 cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle to make clothes lighter and fluffier.

Stretchy knits: Lay them flat so they don’t lost their shape. An elevated drying screen (or a clean piece of window screen and a couple of bricks) works well.

Shirts: Hang them upside down with pins on the bottom side seams to reduce clip marks.

Pants: Hang draped at the knees and clipped on the sides to keep their shape.

Fading: Hang in the shade, as direct sun can bleach fabrics and leave clothes stiff.

Emily McClements, a blogger at, prefers direct sun-drying for her army’s worth of laundry. “My kids are hard on their clothes,” McClements says.

“The sun helps bleach out the stains, but doesn’t set them the way a dryer would.” She hangs colorful knits inside out.

Double up: For small items, such as children’s clothes, McClements suggests doubling up clothes and overlapping pins.

A drying rack for undergarments and socks can be moved into the sun or the shade.

Allergies: Clothes hung outside can pick up pollen, a problem for anyone with seasonal allergies. Dr. Kraig Jacobson, an allergist with Oregon Allergy Associates in Eugene, says allergy sufferers should be mindful of the season when hanging clothes outdoors.

You can check the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology’s website at to check pollen counts for your region.

Rain: A little unexpected rain shower arrives? Gehring says, “Just leave your clothes out and they’ll dry again.”