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Smells of Spring: Line-drying Laundry

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tips for line drying clothes

As a boy, I lived in Europe. Needless to say, I have many fond memories. Part of that time was spent living in a small seaside town in Italy. There are certain scents that instantly transport me to that time and place… salty ocean air, fresh-baked bread, and seafood with pasta. Even the smell of diesel often reminds me of the ferries and ships moving in and out of the harbor. However, the one scent that gets me every time is line-dried clothes.

It was the norm in our town, as it was in most towns I visited, to hang your laundry outside. Ours hung on a line strung from one end of our balcony to the other. Nobody minded the clotheslines and no HOA was sending out cease and desist letters. It was part of the landscape and quite charming.

Laundry product manufacturers have spent millions of dollars and decades trying to get that “fresh” scent into their products. There is no substitute for this fragrance. What is even more interesting to me is that it is exactly the same as it was half a world away. I cannot explain what creates the scent. I imagine it has something to do with the sun.

If the fragrance isn’t enough to lure you in, maybe the cost savings or low environmental impact will convince you. The dryer is on the top three list of energy users in your home. Not only will you not be heating up your home with the dryer just to have to cool it down with the air-conditioning, but also you can harness the power of the sun and wind to do the job for you… for free.

Here are some more reasons to try it:

  • Your clothes will last longer.All of that lint in your dryer is coming from your clothes.How much fiber can a garment lose before it is no longer wearable?
  • Laundry smells better without adding chemicals.
  • It gets you outside.
  • Sunlight bleaches and disinfects.
  • Indoor racks can humidify the air during the winter.
  • No static cling.No dryer sheets.

Clothes can be line-dried year-round, but springtime is the perfect time to get started. The tools are inexpensive and easily found at most discount stores or home improvement centers. Even with limited space, you can find a suitable solution. You may choose to use a retractable line that can be stored out of sight when not in use.

Tips and tricks:

  • Clothes can be turned inside out to dry pockets and seams more quickly and avoid fading.
  • Hang most shirts upside down.
  • Hang button shirts on a hanger so they can be taken inside and put directly in the closet.
  • Fine fabrics can be dried outside, but put them in the shade.
  • Giving each item a quick *snap before hanging it up will decrease wrinkles. Another *snap when removing will soften the item and remove any unwanted passengers.
  • Adding ½ cup of white vinegar to rinse water will prevent stiffness. The vinegar will remove soap residue. It will also act as a fabric softener eliminating the need for a separate liquid fabric softener. The odor disappears as the clothes dry.
  • Having an apron with pockets for clothespins will make this job so much more enjoyable.
  • If you are part of an HOA (Home Owners Association), be clear on any restrictions regarding line-drying clothes.
  • Do not hang your line under a tree. Birds like trees. I will let you figure out the rest.

I strongly encourage you to try this the next time you do laundry. At the very least, start with things that require the most dryer time such as towels and jeans. Once you have dried your face with a line-dried towel and get a whiff of the fresh outdoors, I think you will be hooked.

savoursummer scents


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