Friday, January 30, 2009

How to dry your clothes outside

I never wanted to dry my clothes on a line; it seemed like a lot of work. My first experience without a dryer was in Italy. My landlady didn't seem to know what a dryer was, or why I would possibly want one. "La machine..." I stuttered, "the machine that DRIES."

Then I married my husband and moved to London. When our son was born I developed a serious case of Dryer Panic. I didn't know how to raise a child without a clothes dryer. So I whipped out the Visa card and bought a dryer, costing us a whopping $800 in London. I loved watching it whiz the clothes around, that is until we received our first electricity bill. The electric company actually came to the house to see if there was something wrong with our meter. Sadly not. 

That was when I got religion and started hanging all my clothes up to dry, baby or no baby. 

It's easier to make the switch to sun-powered drying if you start with solid, well-designed equipment. One option is the classic "umbrella" rack, which gives you lots of space for clothes and won't blow down in a breeze. Try the Breezecatcher Umbrella Drying Rack for $169.00 from Gaiam, an eco- and fair trade product company. These racks work best if you sink the base into the ground and cement in place.

If it's difficult to find a permanent place for the umbrella dryer, try a retractable line - perfect for drying sheets. You need to position in between two trees, walls or posts. You can make your own with or without a pulley. Look for instructions on Martha Stewart's website.

Or purchase a 5-Line Retractable Outdoor Dryer for $74.00 ( Pull the line open when you need it; close it when the laundry's dry and it's time for a barbecue. If possible, choose a location for your rack or line that's close to the house so you won't have to carry your laundry basket very far. While you're outside in the sunshine, plant some herbs in pots to perfume your path.

Get some retro-chic with accessories. Clothespins will get you in the mood - try Target - and then you'll need a kitschy bag to hold them. You can make your own. Cath Kidston also offers an adorable collection of laundry accessories including a Spray Flowers Peg Bag for $14.00. So cute that you'll probably want the matching laundry basket and ironing board cover. 

Don't worry, you're saving heaps on electricity bills.

In our next post, we'll interview an Air Drying Expert.


Anonymous said...

I bought one of these clothes lines ( for myself and liked it so much I bought one for each of my family members.

AMJ said...

Hello VtMartha,
You are one step ahead of me - I'm recommending Mrs. Pegg's Handyline in my next post! Thank you for your comments.