Summer is ... Lessons learned over a summer "on the line"

Our clothes dryer broke at the end of April, and although my husband has had the best of intentions to repair it all summer, there hasn't been a whole lot of motivation because we've been drying on the line. This has been my first "real" line-drying experience. Most of my adult life has been spent in apartment/condo situations, so I've always used either my own machines or laundromats, but never a line. This summer we finally got around to putting up a line (we got an umbrella clothesline, which wasn't the handcrafted wooden clothesline that I've fantasized about for 10 years, but has been quite serviceable). {be sure to follow those links, they're photos of a 10-year-old issue of MSL that had the most amazing clothesline ever! unfortunately it's not up on their website}

And here is some of what I learned, as a line-drying novice.

little clothes on the line

I really love hanging clothes out early in the morning. It's a refreshing ritual, a time to be alone with my thoughts while my children are otherwise engaged, and the days' squabbles haven't yet heated up.

(Sometimes it can get tedious. And sometimes I don't manage to get things out as early as I should. But mostly, I don't mind too much.)

It's not that hard to get used to crunchy towels, bathroom rugs, or even diapers. Even though it can be funny to hold up a hand towel that is as stiff as cardboard.

It's nice to feel environmentally virtuous.

Clothes dry just as fast on the line as they do in the dryer (at least in my climate).


The aesthetics of a clothesline are just as priceless as everyone keeps saying.

So, there are lots of "pros" to drying on the line. There is pretty much only one significant "con" that I've discovered:

It's not an economic savings. Let me explain that.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine did a summer of line-drying. She said that she saw a $10 savings on her energy bill per month. I thought that this was pretty significant, because it's about 10% of a monthly energy bill. My friend said that she felt that her experiment had not been a success on an economic level because of the work involved.

Now that I've spent my own summer line-drying, I'd have to say I agree with my friend on the economy of it. We've seen our monthly savings to be about $10, as well. At the beginning of the summer, there was the purchase of the clothesline, and clothespins are surprisingly expensive. With breakage and loss, we've actually had to replace them a couple of times, as well. Between these costs and the work involved, it's already not a "savings".

But the other factor that I wouldn't have considered before was the overall wear that our clothing took this summer. I noticed a really significant amount of fading to all of our clothing, as well as thinning. Because I've always dried in a dryer before this, I was really able to tell the difference in a way I might not have been able to if I'd always done a combination of line-drying and using a dryer. Given the hard wear on our clothing, I would say that overall, it was a financial loss to dry exclusively on the line.

We'll need to finally commit to repairing our dryer before the colder months set in anyway, so by next summer, drying on the line will be a choice and not a necessity. I will definitely do it again, but I think I'll appreciate having access to my dryer for things that I don't want to wear out as quickly. In all, I really enjoyed this summer on the line, and I would say that I'm mostly a clothesline convert, though I now believe that judicious use of the dryer isn't all that bad!


early morning line


Do you use a line? What are your experiences?