Over the next few weeks, I’ll be running a short series on how you can save some money and live a bit greener this summer by taking some very simple steps. I enjoy the warmth of the spring and summer time, and all of the delicious foods that it brings along with it. There’s berries, summer squash, warm weather, longer days, more nighttime activities in the community (at least for me) and generally a great time for relaxation. Because there’s more time during the day, I figured I’d throw out a few tips to green up your summers. This is the second article in the series.
Growing up, there was almost always clothing, towels or something out on the clothesline during the summer. I used to go swimming a lot, and there was always a need for a dry towel (or two) and using the dryer would have cost quite a bit. Also, if I remember correctly, we had a relatively old and probably inefficient dryer until I was a teenager. Obviously, using this dryer was not all that great for saving energy, saving money or trying to be green (even though I didn’t really know/care about that stuff when I was 10).
When I started living on my own in college, my first house had clothesline poles, but no ropes/lines connecting them to hang clothes on, so my roommates and I went to pick up a pack of clothesline – if I remember right, it cost about 3 bucks. This, unfortunately wasn’t enough to get us to use the clothesline regularly, though it did get used for the occasional towel and a few loads of laundry here and there. While I’m not positive, I think we recovered our paltry investment just the same.
Forced into a new habit
What really got us to start using it was the time our dryer broke. Because we were a bunch of guys in college, the dryer broke and while we all knew about it, none of us really cared – we would just wear whatever clean (and clean-ish) clothing until we could figure out a way to solve the problem. Luckily for us, this happened in late march or early april, so I decided that we should go get some rope for the clothesline. We could still wash our laundry because the washer worked, and it was warm enough that our clothing would dry in a reasonable amount of time.
Once we started this, it really showed up on the electric bill – our energy use went way down because we got rid of our dryer, which was very old and inefficient. Being forced to this change slowed our energy use greatly during the summer and saved us quite a bit of money over the 5 or so months that we were able to use the clothesline. Eventually, we got a new dryer, but it didn’t get that much love when it was sunny out.
Even if you don’t have clothesline posts hung up or a hole dug that you can put your clothesline in, there are a few ways you can get around this on the cheap:
- Use the fence: Currently at my house, there’s no clothesline poles or a hole for one (which I find odd given that the house is over 100 years old). What I did was tied the clothesline to the fence posts. If you do this, make sure that you add some reinforcement (more screws) to the post – the clothes tend to get heavy and pull on the post a bit
- Use a Pail: You can always go to your local hardware store and pick up a pail and a section of pvc pipe. You’ll probably need something at least 1″ in diameter, and at least as long as the bucket. Grab a bag or 2 of quick dry cement, and set it up. Put the post into the bucket, fill with your premixed cement, and buy one of the 1 hole clotheslines that look like a spider web.
Also, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your clothesline.
- Find solid clothespins – This is probably the most important. They may cost a bit more than the other ones, but those other ones suck. They break apart at inopportune times and generally don’t last as long. Stay away from the made in china clothespins
- Hang towels/sheets up by draping a small part over the edge of the line and pin it up – this will expose more surface area and help them dry faster.
- Hang your shirts upside down – if you hang them by the shoulders, there will be a little “mountain” where the clothespin was holding on to it when it was on the line. It looks weird – trust me.
- Hang clothes in the shade – the sun will fade the clothing dye.
- Look at the pollen count – If someone in your home has allergies, then there could be a lot of pollen getting left on the clothing if the pollen is high that day. (I don’t have an issue with this, so if someone does, it’d be nice to hear if this is a factor or not)
Do any of you readers have any tips or hacks that I’ve left out? Do you use a clothesline, and if so, what’s your favorite part about it? Mine’s the smell that they have when you take them off the line. If you find them a little stiff, try my homemade fabric softener. It’s cheap and works well.