Question: What's Missing From This Picture?


Answer: your clothes.

EcoSalon wants you to air your laundry. In some parts of the world, people routinely hang their laundry out to dry instead of using electric or gas dryers. And I’m not talking about the developing world. It is common not to even own a dryer in Europe.

Here in the U.S., where clothes dryers are one of the biggest energy hogs, “airing your laundry” is a very easy lifestyle change to save money and energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Unfortunately, in some communities this is deemed culturally unacceptable – laundry lines are seen as a mark of poverty and detrimental to property values. Many homeowners associations and activist groups even work to make outdoor clotheslines illegal.

Thankfully, my community has no such laws, and I made the switch last summer. I’m finding that hanging the laundry is a pleasant chore. It forces me to slow down and stretch my limbs, while giving me a nice little mental break and an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air, and trilling birds. It also noticeably lowers my monthly bill, makes my clothes smell better and last longer, and, according to Terra Pass, reduces my carbon output by around 1,000 pounds a year (and that’s just for using the line half of the year).

If you’d like to try this simple step to green your life – and hopefully not annoy your neighbors – there are many different clotheslines available for every type of home and pocketbook. If you do live in a community where “letting it all hang out” is not an option, there are good indoor options.

If you weren’t able to get your hands on the ultra-chic Italian clotheshorses Larkyn discovered, here are some smart alternatives:

-Umbrella Clothesline: Compact and old-fashioned, these have a small, though permanent, yard footprint. Usually priced under $100.

-Pulley System: Great if you live in a tall apartment with a deck and a big yard. You can stand in one place and manipulate the line. These run $79-200.

-Freestanding T-post: This was the one in grandma’s backyard. Old-fashioned and sturdy, but takes up a lot of space and runs around $200.

-Retractable Multi-line: Good for decks, balconies, indoors, and small yards. These can be expensive, depending on the quality – $70-200.

-Retractable Single-line: A cheap and easy-to-install and use option. This is what I have and it cost me about $30.

- Indoor Options: Many options here. Some are simple racks; some are retractable multi-line styles good for the laundry room, bathroom, basement, or garage. Some hang from ceilings, and some are smaller, lighter variations of the umbrella line. Indoor options run anywhere from $30-$200.

Feeling hung out to dry? Project Laundry List does advocacy for line drying if you want to get involved. Happy Hanging!

Further reading: Everything You Need to Know to Green Your Laundry

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Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.