How to get Mother Nature to do your laundry- tips and tricks for line drying

  Now that the weather is warm and sunny, there’s little I dislike more than being forced to spend all day inside doing chores.  I want to be out, feeling the sun on my skin and soaking it up.  Wait…scratch that, I’m a pasty, pasty easily burned lady, so it’s more like “I want to be out, hiding in the shade, with SPF 100 on”, but I want to be outside none the less!

  One way I can get at least a little more time outdoors is to line dry my laundry.  It means I’m not stuck in the basement and it keeps my dryer from heating up the house.  Plus, on top of that, it saves money on our power bill.  Not too shabby for a glorified jump rope strung from my porch to a tree, huh?
  The basics of line drying are pretty straight forward of course, but I thought I’d share some of the more subtle tips I’ve learned.
  Check the radar, not just the weather.
  Oooh the weatherman lies.  I don’t know if it’s because they make an overarching prediction for large areas or what, but more than once “sunny all afternoon” has turned into a dryer full of clothing that got soaked by a passing storm.  Pull up the map, zoom in on your house and put that sucker in motion.  Sometimes “drizzling all day” is half a mile south of you and you can put a line out without fear.
  Find a rack to go with your line.
  Long, traditional clothes lines are fabulous for sheets, blankets and towels, but they aren’t practical for people who live in small spaces or if you don’t want to display everything you’re drying to your neighbors.  I have this rack from Ikea.  It adds a lot more space for me to pin small items (like G’s clothing) and is a lot more discrete way to air dry things like our underwear.  The rack is really light-weight, so it’s really easy to move into the garage or the house if I’m playing it dangerous on the weather and a storm crops up.  It also folds flat so it takes up almost as little space as the line does in the off season.
  The sun works like bleach.  Use it to your advantage.
  Do you remember how as a kid all your plastic beach toys would turn pastel after a summer in the sun?  If the sun can do that to plastic, imagine what it’s going to do to cotton.  Sunlight will fade stains as well as color and works as a disinfectant too.  I try to keep my darks in the shade of our trees or in the center of my rack (behind light colored garments) and reserve the “spotlight” for my whites.  I use the disinfecting qualities for G’s stuffed animals, who all get hung off the line at one point or another during the warm season.
  Avoid hanging bedding during your “hot” allergy seasons.
  Ok, this is actually a tip for when NOT to line dry, but allergies are bad enough without sleeping in a pile of pollen.  Stick to drying rag towels and other low-use items when your allergies flare up to keep from making yourself even more miserable.
  Take sunset into account.
  As the days get longer you have more time to get your clothing dried before the sun goes down.  In the dead of summer, starting a basket drying at 6pm may be more than enough time, but in these early, not so hot days, make sure you give yourself plenty of leeway for getting it inside before dark.  When the sun goes down, the temperature drops quickly and the bugs come out.  Nobody wants a laundry basket full of mosquitoes!
  Clip your “sails”.
  With most items you can get away with one or two clothes pins.  Socks and pants don’t catch a whole lot of wind, so they just need something to keep them hanging from the line.  Sheets however, especially fitted sheets, can take off on you if you don’t pin them down really well.  I suggest at least 3 or 4 clothes pins across the top to keep the breeze from stealing your bedding.
  That’s the bulk of it.  I find that I actually, strangely, do more laundry when I’m line drying than I do when I just toss it in the dryer.  There’s something very satisfying about it.  It’s a great way to get outside and still get chores done at the same time, and I always feel a little like I’m cheating “the man” by avoiding the whole mechanical, electrical approach (the Mr. may not appreciate that, seeing as he works for the power company).  I usually pair up my socks to dry together, so there’s no searching when I take them down, and I love being able to fold everything straight off the line.
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