Line-drying clothes isn’t just easier on the environment, it’s easier on your clothes, too. You’ll save money on A/C costs in the summer as well, since you won’t be paying to cool the house after the dryer’s heated it up all afternoon. Hang your laundry the right way, and you can get out of ironing, too.
Decide where you want to hang your laundry. Will you run a line indoors, or do you have room for one in the yard? Some homeowner’s associations don’t permit permanent laundry lines (mine doesn’t), so check your HOA rules first. We got around our restriction by drilling a hole into a corner of the railing on my deck. Come laundry day, I haul out my umbrella-style laundry line and slip the base pole into the hole. As soon as I’m done, I fold the thing up and put it away, giving my neighbors nothing to complain about. (In fact, they’ve copied me and have their own umbrella line on their deck now, too!)
Buy good-quality clothes pins. The plastic ones like those in the picture are pretty, but I’ve never had good luck with them. I find the wooden ones clamp more tightly, and they don’t break when I drop them off the deck onto the cement patio below. (That happens more than I care to admit.)
Don’t put your line near a tree. Birds love trees. Birds poop. A lot. Get the picture?
Watch the weather. The best days to line dry are sunny with a slight breeze that will blow out any wrinkles. If it’s going to rain, it’s not a good day to do laundry. Or that’s what I tell my family, at least.
Flick your clothes before hanging, and smooth them as you hang. This will get rid of stray threads as well as snap wrinkles out of the fabric. Smoothing helps remove more wrinkles, so you shouldn’t have to iron if you hang them properly.
Clip the line to the clothes, not vice versa. This sounds strange, until you’re standing there with your clothes and the clip, but remember the point is to bring the line to the clothes and clip it there tightly. You don’t want your clothing bunching up as it dries, so make sure the clothes pins can’t slip.
Give it space. Clothes dry more quickly when there’s plenty of room for air to circulate. If you’re using an umbrella-style line like mine, try to stagger the clothes so there’s space between as well as in front of each item.
Shirts: Button the collars and cuffs, then hang from the hem, letting the sleeves dangle.
Pants and shorts: Fold so the crease runs down the leg and hang from the cuffs. Turn pockets out for faster drying.
Skirts Full skirts look best when spread out and hung by the hem, although this takes up a lot of space. Straight skirts can be hung by the waistband using two to three pins.
Socks: Hang individually by the toes.
Wash cloths and towels: Be sure to give them a very good snap before hanging and they’ll come out softer. (White vinegar in the rinse water will also reduce the crispy feel of line-dried towels.)
Sheets Fold in half and drape over the line, pinning in place.
Underwear, and other unmentionables: I run ours through the dryer, figuring that our neighbor just doesn’t need to know that I have huge pink granny panties with a black poodle on the rear end. Come to think of it, you probably didn’t need to know that, either.
Take clothes down when slightly dry and tumble them through the dryer for a few minutes. This will remove any pollen, lint and other airborne stuff, and will eliminate any crunchy feel to your clothes, too.
Remove it from the dryer properly. Don’t just haul everything out of the dryer and shove it in a basket. That will wrinkle clothes. Remove items one at a time, laying things that need to be hung (versus folded and put in drawers) on top of the closed washing machine. Put everything else in the basket. Immediately hang the clothes that require it, then move on to folding the rest.
And remember: the laundry isn’t “done” until it’s all been put away!