Clothes Line

Clothes Line (Photo credit: Mathew Knott)

There is no way around the fact that commercial washers and dryers have made laundry much easier and more convenient. Just pop the clothes in, and take them back out when they are done! Most of us truly live in a world of convenience. But have you ever asked yourself what this extra convenience is costing you? Also, what do people do if they do not have an automatic dryer?

Many foreign households do not even own a dryer. They either hang their clothes outside, or have a line in their laundry room. Since dryers do not usually exist in their country, I don’t think that they feel like they are lacking in any way. My family did not have an automatic dryer when I was young. I have many fond memories of dancing with the sheets in the wind!

You may wonder what the benefits of line drying are, and we are glad to offer our findings.

Line drying helps preserve the textiles of your diapering items…

Drying with high heat damages textile fibers and components. Diapers and covers with components must be kept out of high heat, or the items will quickly break down. You will see evidence of wear as fading color, tears, weakened seams, stretched out elastic, and hook and loop that no longer grips. Components containing spandex or other elastic materials can become permanently stretched out or warped by regular full-heat drying cycles over time.

Fact: Lint is actually fibers that come out of the fabric in the washer and dryer!

Saves on energy expenses…

Appliances take up the better part of your energy bills. Every time that you choose to line dry your diapers or clothing, you will be saving money. Besides the cost of the drying line or rack, line drying is FREE! LaundryList.org estimates the cost savings at $25 a month. I also found a cost chart on How Much Electricity do Appliances Use at Energy.gov, but it is not certain what size household it correlates to. According to the California Energy Commission, “the average clothes dryer will cost you approximately $1,530 to operate” in its lifetime.

Reduces pollution…

The energy we use creates pollution. In regards to a clothes dryer, you will have CO2 emissions stemming from the energy production, and also the production of the clothes dryer. According to Green Living Tips, “the energy consumed by a clothes dryer can be anywhere from 1800 to 5000 watts per hour, or 1.8 to 5KwHr. Given that 1.5 pounds of carbon emissions per kilowatt hour are generated in the production of electricity by a coal fired power station (give or take a bit), over a year this comes to a considerable amount.”

Disinfects…

Sunshine will help to disinfect your laundry. UV rays are said to kill mold, and bacteria such as E-coli, Influenza, Norovirus, Rotovirus, Samonella, and Staph.

The sun fades stains naturally. You simply lay the laundry in the sun, and the stains will fade away!

The wind will blow fresh air into your laundry, which will remove odors.

You can use any of the following to line dry your diapering items:

-Clothes line and clothes pins outside
-Clothes line and clothes pins inside
-A drying rack outside
-A drying rack inside
Wall dryer inside
-Ceiling dryer inside

There is a plethora of options here: http://www.tiptheplanet.com/index.php?title=Air_dry_washing

I personally live in a community with a Homeowner’s Association, but luckily (in this case) there is no one on the board to enforce the rules. I use a drying rack outside for my laundry. I can use the rack outside when it is nice, or in the laundry room when it is not.

Tips:

  • If you are buying a clothes line, make sure it is sturdy and keep it taught.
  • If you are buying a drying rack, you will need a large one for a full load of diapers.
  • You will want to wipe down the clothes line or rack periodically to keep it clean.
  • To add a light perfume to your line dried items, plant some aromatic plants such as lavender, thyme, lilac, and lemon verbena near an outside clothes line.  You can find other suggestions for plantings here and here. If you want to dry at night, you can plant a nighttime bloomer such as jasmine, gardenia, and evening primrose. You can find other night blooming options here.

Cautions:

  • If drying outside, do not put your line under trees, or the birds will dirty your laundry again!
  • If drying in the sun, dry the diapers with the inside facing up. Try to keep covers out of the direct sunlight to avoid fading colors and harming components.
  • If you live within a homeowner’s association, they may have regulations restricting a clothesline or drying clothes outside.
  • We do not recommend to line dry items outside in freezing weather. Freezing can cause the fibers to break or weaken.
  • If drying outside and the temperature is more than 85 degrees Fahrenheit, make sure that the items have good ventilation. On extremely hot days, you may want to line dry in the morning or evening.

To help soften natural fibers when line drying:

  • Wind helps to soften fabric and aids in drying. It also keeps your items from “overheating”. Try to place your rack or line where there will be good ventilation.
  • Fluff out the fabric before and after hanging by “snapping” them in the air a couple of times.
  • To soften natural fiber diapers after line drying, you can throw them in the dryer for 5 minutes with some wool dryer balls.
  • For natural fiber diapering items, add ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  • Avoid hanging during the hottest part of the day. The longer the diapers take to dry, the softer they will be.

Searching for websites about line drying? These may be of interest to you:
Project Laundry List
Tip the Planet

As you can see, the benefits of line drying go beyond cost savings. I do not mind the extra 5-10 minutes it takes to hang the laundry to dry. I actually enjoy it! If you are line drying outside, it is a great way to get your recommended 15 minutes of fresh air each day.

If you have any questions, please send them to me at support@thirstiesbaby.com.

Happy Cloth Diapering!

~Sonya

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