March 28, 2013

Illegal Solar Laundry Drying Apparatus

"If we all did things like hang out our clothes, we could shut down the nuclear industry."
- Helen Caldicott

Since when was using a clothes line to dry your clothes considered a radical move? Since you had to engage in civil disobedience and contravene local bylaws in order to enjoy your free laundry drying apparatus.

Such anti-clothes line laws are coming up against the fact that you just can't beat the cost and simplicity of using abundant sunshine and fresh air to gently coax the moisture out of our clothes.

Clothes get beaten in the harsh artificial heat of a machine, and age prematurely. Line dried clothes will last longer, and smell divinely fresh without chemical additives. Plus, the UV rays of the sun are antiseptic, and will burn all the micro-yuckies left after washing, right out of your clothes and bedding.

Line dried clothes both feel and smell better, and hanging the laundry can be an enjoyable, meditative activity. Comparing sunshine dried clothes to those dried in a machine is like comparing a lovingly prepared home cooked meal with fast food.

An energy-hungry dryer may be faster, but it consumes 6% or more of the energy used in an average household. This is not an insignificant amount as energy prices continue to rise. So what is not to like about the free, elegant efficiency of the lowly clothes line?

"It is unsightly and has a negative effect on property values." What? Apparently my righteous clothes line can lower my neighbours house price by up to a whopping 15%.

Since when does having smart, responsible citizens trying to do the right thing in your neighbourhood detract from "the kerb appeal of the community"? If that sounds lame to you, it is because it is lame.

But people know this, and the desire to save money and lower carbon footprints means that line drying types are fighting back against the insanity.

They are engaging in civil disobedience and refusing to lower the undies, the sheets, and all the other colourful protest flags flying proudly from their backyard lines.

The clothes line may represent a life North Americans left behind in the 1950s, but it is a life to which we seem destined to return.

So go ahead - be a rebel with a cause and engage in the radical use of your free laundry drying apparatus.

Fight the power, and have sweet smelling clothes while you do it.


  1. I find it unbelivable that visable washing outdoors is viewed in this way- in the UK, hanging washing on the line is completely normal (at least where I live!). We had a tumble dryer when we moved in, as it came with the house, but it broke last year and as we only used it a few times per year, we didn't replace it. It looks like spring might finally be showing its face here, so I am looking forward to hanging washing outside, rather than drying it on a clothes horse indoors. It smells so much nicer!

    1. Most N. Americans have tumble dryers (about 76%), but less than half (about 46%) of people in the UK have them. In Italy, only 2% own the machines.

      Bring on the spring weather!

    2. agreed that tumble dryers are totally unnecessary. i grew up in Italy and then lived in France and hanging clothes outside is normal for everyone. now here in the US, i sometimes see a few sneaky urban eco-ninjas with clothes lines on their balconies or rooftop decks and i love it because it reminds me of my homes. :-)

  2. Here in Tasmania,we always clothes dry.I feel physically cross in winter when I have to use the drier. Everyone should hang clothes out, it's fun and meditative.


    1. I find my daily routine can be like moving meditation. Dishes? Hoovering? Cooking? Bring it on!

      However, I do not have access to a clothes line, and it is against building rules to put any laundry out in the sun on our porch. If laundry is hung inside, it must not be visible from outside.

      When did doing laundry become such a subversive activity?

  3. Anonymous3/28/2013

    We are not permitted to hang clothes here in the mobile home park where I live. I get around the problem by using a drying rack on the screened in porch. Up until I moved in here with my mom, I always used a line to dry clothes.

    Apparently our houses must look as though no one actually lives there, both inside and out.

    1. Same rules here. Good for you for persevering and doing what you can where you are at.

  4. I heard about this some time ago and just couldn't believe that it is forbidden to line dry! In Germany everyone is hanging out their clothes on a line, on the balcony, in the garden... When I lived for some months in California in a appartment and didn't have a garden or balcony (I don't know, maybe it was forbidden to line dry anyway...) I had to use the dryer. All my clothes shrinked and looked awful after just some months and they really smelled bad. Nothing beats the fresh smell of line drying. I think in whole Europe there is no law that forbids line drying...

    1. Using a tumble dryer for every wash emits about 140kg of CO2 a year, and could cost more than $170 dollars a year. You save money and reduce CO2 emissions, your clothes last longer, and like you say, clothes smell fresher when line dried.

      But then again, the selling of appliances and power adds to the GDP of a country, and that is how we currently define success. For this we have discarded the timeless usefulness of the sustainable outdoor laundry line.

  5. Anonymous3/28/2013

    We are not allowed to hang our clothes out to dry in the neighborhood (covenants of the subdivision) but since we are planning to put in "illegal" gardens and have "illegal" chickens...what the hell! the clothes will be the least of the complaints!

    1. I like your attitude! If it is good, moral, and doesn't hurt anyone (REALLY hurt anyone), how can it be "illegal"?

      We should make greed and waste illegal.

    2. I'd be totally banned in your neighbourhood- washing on the line and chickens in the garden! Oh, and a veg plot..

  6. Great post! It's hard to believe that hanging clothes on a clothes line can be outlawed in a "free" country!


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