How To Hang Clothes OnThe Line
By Jill Cooper
Many people want to learn how to hang clothes on the line - whether itis to save money, protect the environment, or just because line-driedclothes smell so nice. An often overlooked benefit is how much linedrying will save on wear and tear on clothing. Unfortunately, due tolack of knowledge, after the first try or two of hanging things on theline, people usually get frustrated and quit.
It seems like hanging clothes on the line should be simple, right? Howhard can it be to stick a clothespin on the fabric and put it on aline? But, as many have discovered, the results can be stiff andwrinkled clothes.
Like so many other homemaking skills, there is an art to hangingclothes on the line. Like other skills, it will take practice. Don'tgive up if it takes time or is hard the first time around. Withpractice, you will be able to hang an average load of laundry in about5 minutes and take them down in that amount of time. They'll be aswrinkle-free and soft as if you did them in the dryer.
Here are a few things you will need to know before you start.
This is what I do to keep mylaundry dryer soft. You can do one or all of these if you want. First,when I have a dryer, I always fluff my clothes in it for about 5minutes. This uses almost no electricity and makes the clothes just assoft as if you had run them full cycle in the dryer.
When I don't have a dryer, I try to hang my clothes on a windy day. Itdoes the same thing as a dryer. In Kansas, a windy day can be almosteveryday, but for those of you who live where a 5-mile an hour breezeis considered a gale-force wind, don't despair! There are other thingsyou can do.
As I begin to hang each piece of clothing, I give it a sharpsnap, or shake, holding from the bottom of a shirt or pant legs. Thisdoesn't take long. I just do it as I am going from the clothesbasket tothe line, making it done and ready to hang when I get it up to theline. You don't need to do this with everything; for example, you don'tneed to do it with socks or undies. I do it to items I don't wantwrinkled or things I want soft, like towels.
I always use fabric softener; if you prefer, you can use vinegar.
Fading is not a problem for me here in Kansas. It is hazy anddefusesthe sun's rays slightly. When we lived in the northwest, though, it wasa real problem. If you find fading to be an issue, just turn thingslike jeans or dark t-shirts inside out.
It also helps to slow fading if you bring items in as soon as they aredry. In the opposite way, I leave my whites out as long as I canbecause it bleaches and brightens them.
You will need clothespins and a clothespin bag or apron. You cangetclothes pins and bags at Wal-Mart or Dollar stores. They are usuallywith the things like ironing board covers. I prefer a clothespin apron.I made mine; it is about 10 inches long with just 2 large pockets onthe front for the clothes pins. It ties around my waist like an apron.Either a bag or an apron is just fine.
Before You Start
Hanging out the clothes properly starts before you even leave thehouse. The next few steps may make me sound like Martha, but there is areason for the method. Most of these steps not only speed the hangingof the clothes, but they also make taking them in quicker. The stepseven help in folding and putting away.
If you are brand new to hanging clothes on a line, you may want to justpractice hanging things the way I will show you. After you get thatdown, you#146;ll want to speed things along by practicing the next steps.
Before I put the clothes in the basket to take outside, I sort themquickly on top of the washer or dryer. This doesn't need to be doneperfectly and will get easier the more you do it. I pull out the bigitems like the sheets or tablecloths. I fold the sheets in half andgently lay them in the basket. This way, when I am ready to hang them,I just pick them up out of the basket by their four corners and quicklyhang them because they are already folded and ready to go.
Next I do pants and jeans. The legs get folded with the seams together(see a picture below) and then folded in half and laid on top of thesheets.
Any large towels go next. I just lay them in the basket.
On the washeror dryer I lay piles of t-shirts all together, shirts together, handtowels together and all like things together in their own piles. I thenstack them into the basket beginning with largest items and working myway to the smallest. The next items in the basket are washrags,dishrags, and underwear. I lay them in flat piles, corners together,like laying a stack of papers. I do this because I can pick up thewhole pile (or half, depending how big it is), and take it to the line.Because the corners are together, I can pin one corner after the othervery quickly without having to go back and forth to the basket eachtime to get another item and I don't have to stop to straighten eachone.
Last in the basket are the socks. I straighten them out and flattenthem, laying one on top of the other, toes together. Again, I can pickup a stack of them and quickly go along the line, hanging them withouthaving to return to the basket each time.
Pinning Clothes on the Line
Hang by the legs. Water wicks down to the heaviest part of the jean(the waistband). The weight of that water combines with the weight ofthe waistband, pulling on the pant legs and so pulling out thewrinkles. The same idea applies when steaming a garment. Gently pullingon it will remove wrinkles.
You can pull the pockets out if you want. I don't usually do thatbecause they seem to dry fine, even here in humid Kansas.
Shirts and Blouses
Hang upside down by the side seams. This puts the heaviest part of thegarment at the bottom, as explained before. It also prevents puckersfrom the clothespins (as you would have if you hung them by theshoulders).
If you don't straighten out t-shirts, the corners at the seams can havepoints from the clothespins. To prevent this, bring the side seamstogether then the center of it and gently pull, then hang by thebottom. You don't need to pull all your t-shirts. I have a couple thatdon#146;t seem to hang right, so in order to prevent the pointy sides youcan get on some t-shirts, I do this. I normally don't pull the kid'sitems because they aren#146;t as much of a problem.
To hang a fitted sheet, I tuck one corner into another, fold it in halfand hang by each end with the pockets (or corners) hanging down.For a flat sheet, I just fold it in half.
Towels are simply hung by one edge.
You will want to note that for items like towels, dishrags, underwearand t-shirts that you can pin the corner of one item with the corner ofthe next item. This will cut down the number of clothespins that youneed to use.
Undies and Socks
If you don't want the whole world to see your undies (or "smalls" asour English friends call them), then you can hang them on the back lineor the 2 lines in the middle. Socks are hung by the toes and I usuallyhang a pair together. This saves on pins and time.
It is nice to have a stand on which to set your basket. It saves youfrom bending over each time you pull an item from the basket. Even asmall table or chair would help. Tawra has a metal table she uses (seepicture below). It has metal legs from an old TV tray. Legs like thiswork better if there is a board attached across the top.
Years ago I got a shopping cart from a grocery store auction and it wasjust perfect as my "laundry cart." It was the right height and I couldroll it to where I needed it. I made the mistake of getting rid of itwhen I moved. Now I use a thing from the 50's I found at a garage sale.It has TV-tray type legs with a canvas bag across the top. It is theperfect height and has a place for the clothespins on the side.
Taking Things Down
I fold my clothes as I take them off the line and most everything isfolded by the time I take it into the house. It takes so little timethat I was folding faster than Tawra could take the pictures. Less than30 seconds.
A couple of last tips:
See which way the wind is blowing and hang your clothes so that thesmaller things are in the front. That way the wind can pass through tothe large things at the back. If you put the large things in front itblocks the wind from getting to the smaller items behind them. Unlessyou need to hide your undies like I mentioned above.
Always bring your clothes pins in at the end of the day. It helps themto last longer and prevents black marks on your clothes that can happenwhen the clothespins are left out.
It you haven't used your clothesline in a while run a rag along it toclean it off before hanging the clothes. This doesn't have to be doneoften only like in the spring if you haven't used it all winter or havegone a couple of weeks without using it.
Don't let yourself get overwhelmed. This is a lot of information. Takeit slow. Maybe start with just hanging sheets out for a while and drythe rest of your things in the dryer. Before you go outside look at thepicture of the jeans and how I hung them and practice putting the legstogether by the seams. Maybe one day you could practice with justsocks.
Do baby steps so you don't get frustrated and give up.
Jill Cooper is a frugal living expert and the co-editorof
.As a divorced mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own businesswithout any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 amonth income. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.