This week we got our outdoor clothesline up and running, and I’m looking forward to watching our propane use drop another notch because there is no doubt that:

Line Drying Saves Energy

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  estimates that all residential clothes dryers in the U.S. annually consume about

43 billion kilowatt hours of electricity


445 million therms of natural gas,

leading to

carbon dioxide emissions of 32 million metric tons.IMG_4733

Line Drying Saves Money

  1. The electricity and gas use mentioned above all costs money.  One estimate I found on line was $193 per year.  As energy costs rise, that figure will go up.  Who wouldn’t like to be handed $200?
  2. The more we use clothes dryers, the sooner these costly appliances wear out and must be replaced.
  3. Line drying means no softener sheets to buy.
  4. Line drying means needing to buy clothes less often.


How Line Drying Saves Clothes

Your dryer is really beating up your clothes – especially at high temperatures.

Tests on cotton fabrics have shown that they suffer serious abrasions and cracking damage from repeated drying.  The cracks that appear in cotton fibers after high-temperature drying can reduce the fabric’s strength by 25% or more.

Abrasion from the tumbling action of dryers also damages your clothes.

Not only cottons are vulnerable to dryer damage.  The heat and abrasion of the dryer is known to destroy or overstretch the rubber elastic in pants, socks and underwear.

Just think about all that fluff you clean out of the lint screen after every single use.  That “lint” is being rubbed off your clothes.  They are that much thinner than they were before tumbling dry.  You can’t see a difference from an individual session, but it is adding up.


The base set in concrete.


  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
  • Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
  • Don’t over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
  • Clean the lint screen in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation and prevent fire hazards.
  • Periodically, use the long nozzle tip on your vacuum cleaner to remove the lint that collects below the lint screen in the lint screen slot of your clothes dryer.
  • Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the heat remaining in the dryer.
  • Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material — not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.
  • Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks. Air drying is recommended by clothing manufacturers for some fabrics.



This line folds up and has a cover under which it waits for its next use.

We had to consider carefully where to put our line.  We decided not put place it on the south side of the house because we have a natural view out there.  It’s also the area where birds congregate for the feeder and bird bath and the many plants, shrubs and trees that create a bird-friendly habitat on that side.

The north side is more problematic because we don’t have very much level ground there, but we were able to place it so it will get sun most of the day without shading our hot water solar collectors.

It’s only a few steps off the porch, which is handy.

I like the umbrella style we chose.  It uses space efficiently and can be closed up when not in use.


We got a Breeze Catcher rotary umbrella line. Handsome, isn’t it?

Hanging out the clothes was one of my childhood chores.  I didn’t appreciate it every time as a kid, but now when I hang clothes out, and even more when I gather up clothes that smell like fresh air and sunshine, I feel like I’m a kid again.


What do you like about hanging clothes outside on a line?

2 replies

  1. Oh this brings back memories of the look on the man’s face, who delivered my washing machine in Colorado, when I told him that I was not buying a dryer. I could not understand why anyone in a semi-arid desert would want a dryer. Because we rented a house there was no line to dry them on, but since the humidity was so low, drying indoors helped to bring much needed humidity into the house and being warm for much of the year there was no problem drying them. When it wasn’t warm, I used to put the clothes horse that I used to dry clothes on over the vents of the heating ducts.

    We put up a line on our land between two trees, not ideal but until we have actually built the house then it is the most sensible place to put it. I have never had a tumble dryer, only a dehumidifier here in Latvia to use in autumn and spring when we don’t have any heating and it is too wet to hang out clothes. We had a problem one year when books started going mouldy and it was then we realised we were going to have to use something to dry our clothes, other than using the clothes horse.

    One issue I would have is the cleaning of clothes in a short, cold water cycle. We work in the garden and out on the land and not an office and therefore clothes get very dirty. A cold short wash would not be sufficient. Also there is a problem sometimes with picking up dreaded fleas and so we opt for 60C or 140F in those circumstances. For those with allergies too, that is the temperature for bedsheets to reduce mites in bedding.

    So line drying all the way for me, if the weather is right and if it isn’t there are ways and means of getting things dry without using a dryer. In Denmark I had a covered over area with a line underneath.

    • Hi Joanna,
      Yes, I lived in Arizona for a year in my 20s. Line drying there was so quick and easy.
      Here in Wisconsin, I hope to use my outside line spring, summer and fall and on certain winter days.
      It’s taken us far too long to get the pole for the clothesline installed. We had issues around deciding exactly where to put it, and there have been so many tasks that seemed more pressing on any given day.

      Our previous home in Madison was in one of the oldest parts of town that looks like solid woods from the aerial photos. We had a complete cover of oak trees for our whole yard, so I had a rack I could carry outside, but did so at risk of bird droppings. I was usually lucky.
      Here we have been using the horizontal wires of our porch railing for some of our drying, and that has worked well.

      I agree that there are some situations where cold water just won’t cut it. And I also learned when one of my daughter’s had to deal with bed bugs in her Chicago apartment 2 years ago that the reduction of hot water wash and hot tumble dry is one of the reasons bed bugs are starting to be a problem again after all these years. In fact, the only way to really kill the eggs in your bedding is to tumble it on hot for at least 20 minutes to desicate them. (It’s best to put them in the dryer when they are dry because they will get hotter quicker for bed bug eradication.)

      I’m very happy to have our clothes line up and operational at last. Although, the minute we poured the concrete base last week, our months of drought ended, and it has been cloudy and rainy every day since. Not ideal for line drying, but the plants are in heaven.

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