Clothesline Thoughts

Drying clothes in a gas or electric dryer is energy intensive.  An electric dryer uses about 2.3 KWH of electricity to dry one load.  In addition, as the dryer vents its exhaust out of the house, new air is pulled into the house to replace it, and in the winter, this new air must be heated.  If the temperature outside is (say) 30F, it takes about another 2 KWH to heat this incoming air.  In climates where AC is used in the summer, air pulled in by the dryer must be cooled.  So, drying one load can takes from 2.3 KWH to 4.3 KWH for each load -- a lot.  If you do a load a day, then you probably spend about 1000 KWH per year on drying energy. 


Drying clothes on a clothes line is another option that a lot of people are discovering (or rediscovering).  Here are some ideas on the the best clothesline schemes.  Most of these ideas were extracted from a thread on the Homesteading Today forum  -- a very good source of info for gardening, building, alternate energy, animals, ...





Where to Locate the Clothesline:

Near the door to minimize walking, or off the back porch using a pulley.


Away from gravel road dust.


Locations that get breeze and sun for faster drying. 

Most think breeze is more important than sun.



Tips for Line Drying Clothes

A good set of tips for drying clothes on a clothes line from Colleen Vanderlinden via Treehugger...




There are quite a few choices.


Pulley off the back porch:

This is popular type -- allows minimal hauling of clothes around.

The clothes line is mounted to pulleys at both ends, and the wash can be hung and retrieved from one end -- without going off the porch if you are lucky.




The umbrella style:

This style provides a lot of line in a minimal space.

The whole umbrella can be rotated as you hang the wash up, so you can stay in one place.

Quite a few styles, including some that can be used indoors.

Some people really like these.




"T" Posts:

The traditional T shaped posts with lines between.

Posts need to be well anchored.




Pullout Type:

With these systems, the clothes lines roll up into a holder when not in use. 

Mixed reviews, but some people liked them a lot.




These are a few random sources -- not necessarily the best ones, but a place to start.


The Clothesline Shop --


Lehman's Laundry Stuff...

They also sell some hand washers and other laundry accessories.


IKEA has several clothes drying racks...






Some Quotes:

"I have the Amish clothesline. Kind of pricey but well worth the cost. It is two pulleys attached to a tree and the house with a plastic coated cable. The pulley is at the edge of the deck just steps away from the door and I just stand on the deck and put the clothes on the line running it out across the yard. There are no posts to mow around or support poles to take care of. The line is about 10 feet off the ground so the dogs can't get a hold of anything. I can put six loads of clothes on the line. Run the line opposite to the direction of the prevailing wind - we have a west wind most of the time, clothesline runs north and south."

Can buy from: Lehman's Amish store



"Don't put it under a cherry tree- or any other tree that birds frequent!"




Other Solutions

There are some condensing dryers that recover some of the heat, and for some types of dryers.  These are more common in Europe, but are available in the US.  Drying times are longer, and there is a price premium, but we will certainly look into one of these next time we have to get a dryer.


In some climates its possible to vent the dryer inside in the winter -- we do this, and it works well in dry Montana.




Gary November 5, 2008