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Tips for Hanging Clothes

This is the perfect time of year to hang clothes on a clothesline!  You can save on your electric bill, disinfect your laundry with the sun, and there’s no ironing necessary.  I think that I have hung everything imaginable under the sun (pun intended)!  I hang year round.  Yes, even in the winter.  As long is it isn’t raining or snowing, you will usually find my family’s laundry hanging on the line.  If you plan on using this money saving tip, I have a few suggestions that can help you get your clothes dry faster and make sure they stay in good shape while on the line.

  1. Find a good spot for your clothesline.  You want it to be in direct sun for most of the day, so try to keep it out of the way of trees.  We have ours on the south facing side of our house.
  2. clothesline2Fold as little of the garment as possible over the clothesline when attaching your clothespins.  You want most of the clothing to being hanging down and blowing in the breeze.  You don’t want lots of layers bunched together.  For example, when hanging socks, pin them by the tip of the toe.  Don’t fold it over the line.  Socks often take the longest to dry anyway.  You want to limit the amount of layers you have folded over the line as much as possible.
  3. Hang pants upside down by pinning the bottom of the legs to the line.  Not only is it easier to grip with your clothespins, but it helps get them dry quicker.  The waist is usually the thickest part of a pair of pants, meaning more layers of material.
  4. Turn garments inside out before pinning them to the clothesline.  This will help keep your colors true.  Even though I say this, you will see my family running around with some pretty faded t-shirts.  We spend so much time outside that our clothes get faded just by wearing them.  However, I do make sure to turn things inside out when I really care about a garment (clothes that we wear when going to town)!
  5. Hang white things right side out and in the direct sum as much as possible.  It can brighten your whites.  It will not take out all your stains, but it can help with keeping things bright without bleach.
  6. clothesline1T-shirts have been difficult for me.  I have a hard time with the necks getting stretched out.  My clothes wringer is partly to blame, but I’ve found that hanging on the line stretches them out too.  The picture to the right shows how I hang them now (after trying several different ways).  I fold the shoulders over the line and use four clothespins, being careful not to stretch the neck.
  7. Be careful when pinning garments with elastic or stretchy materials.  Never stretch the garment and pin it in a stretched position.  Make sure the clothing has no stretch and then attach it to the line.  This will ensure that your stretchy garments stay in good shape.
  8. Sweaters can also be stretched out very easily, depending on the fiber content.  When hanging on the line, they are best hung on padded hangers and pinned in place to the hanger with clothespins.  Then hang the hanger from the end of your clothesline (not the line).
  9. If you’ve done your best and at the end of the day, some of your clothes are still not completely dry, there is no shame in bringing them inside to dry.  Maybe the weather didn’t really cooperate.  Maybe you got the clothes on the line too late in the day.  You could stick them in the dryer, but if you’re like me, I just hang them around the house.  I use the shower rod a lot for this.  I have also left my laundry on the line to try again the next day.  This happens a lot in the winter when clothes get frozen to the line.  There is no point in bringing them inside because I figure that they will be there waiting to get dry as soon as the sun comes up!

Do you hang your clothes on a clothesline?  It excites me when I hear about women choosing to line dry over the convenience of their dryer.  I have met so many who are making this change!

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About JaimieB

Jaimie lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead known online as An American Homestead. They live with their two sons and her parents Tim and Joann on 50 acres located deep in the American Ozark Mountains.

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30 comments

  1. Hey Jaimie!
    I line dry all of our clothes except socks and underware. After hanging clothes for almost a year, I have found that these are the same tips I find useful. I haven’t had issues with the necks on our t-shirts, but I hang them upside down and that seems to work for us. I really don’t mind hanging clothes at all!

  2. Hey Jamie,
    We line dry our clothes during the summer months. I hang our shirts upside down to avoid any stretching in the neck area. My husband has also put up a line on our porch that I can use. I tend to hang all of our colored clothing (good going out clothes) on this line to avoid bleaching the true color due to sun exposure.
    Your blog post are very encouraging! Thank you for sharing parts of your style of living with us!
    Shalom! 🙂

    • I used to hang my t-shirts upside too. But I found that the bottom of the shirt got stretched out. I love hearing about what works for everyone!

  3. Jamie, we have been hanging our clothes for several years now, and gave away our washer and dryer over a year ago. We now wash by hand and hang all our laundry on the line. Winters are fine, because we can finish them inside by the wood stove if they don’t completely dry. And of course summer and fall are great for drying clothes outside. But, we have had some challenges keeping our towels fresh in the damp spring months. Sometimes, no matter what we do, they turn musty by the time they finally dry and have to be rewashed…not fun by hand. We have tried thinner towels, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. Any tips for damp towels would be much appreciated.
    Thanks

    • Oh, I know about that too! I have one towel rack devoted to each towel so I can spread them out and even then they sometimes start to smell with mildew. Do you always keep your bathroom door open? I find that this helps. If I have to, I will take them out to the clothesline every morning. I haven’t washed them, I just hang them out in the sun. For an extended period without sun, sometimes clothing and towels get pretty stinky with mildew. Earlier this spring, I decided to just wash everything and hang in on the line. With the forecast, I knew it probably wouldn’t get dry, but I just had to get it out of the house. It got another rinse by the rain, but then dried the following day. I felt like that was better than letting mold start to grow.

    • I too have one rack for each towel but even then the mildew smell takes over. I learned a trick from a friend. She uses the hangers made for pants and hangs her towels from them over the shower rod. It allows more air flow than the towel rack. I also use this technique for all my laundry when it is raining or snowing but hang them on the enclosed porch on a rack my husband mounted to the wall. So helpful for drying when the weather is not cooperating.

    • Trying putting white vinegar in when your washing them. It doesn’t take much. It works to use in washing machines so it should work for hand washing as well. Anyway, doesn’t cost much to try it! 🙂

  4. We have hung wash for the last 19 years or so. Grew up doing it also. Although I do have a dryer for backup. I remember hanging in snow frozen solid making the lines over 1 foot lower. Towels are a challenge. We have at times gone to half towels to decrease the amount of laundry. Also thinner towels help. I have also hung knowing it would be rained on, but the mildew issue is greatly decreased by getting the wash done and the extra rinse can be a good thing. Right now I am slowly losing my clothesline to the grapevine, but since our family is slowly shrinking at the same time (three sons moved out and ten children still at home) the large clothesline is rarely full. I have enjoyed your new website tremendously. Hoping to go off grid in as many ways as possible in our home.

    Lois

    • So you know what we mean about mildew! It’s nice to just get in on the line. I often think about the extra rinse too.

      • Vinegar and essential oils in the rinse help with mildew. I find I don’t need to do a 2nd rinse with just a dab of vinegar and a couple drops of EO’s.

  5. I hang our laundry as much as possible…prefer line drying to running the dryer.
    To help with mildew smells we add a little bleach to our towels to wash and with everything else we use a couple Tablespoons of vinegar. The vinegar does the job of fabric softener….just add it to the rinse cycle and they will be softer.
    Excellent tips…thanks Jamie!

  6. I hang my pants by pinning the inside of the back waistband over the line and leaving some slack so they hang open. If I can I try to hang them so the wind/breeze blows into the open top and then down the legs. I hang my clothes outside when I can in the warmer months. This house came with a nice thick bar in the large doorway to the living room. I hang shirts, skirts, dresses and sometimes, pants, on hangers on the bar. I usually give the shirts a 5 or 10 minute tumble in the dryer with the underwear first. In the winter the clothes dry quickly and add much needed moisture to the house.

  7. I highly recommend line drying outdoors for diapers. The sun does a great job of whitening and sterilizing the diapers. I rarely used bleach on the diapers because the sun did the dirty work for me for free.

  8. Were we live it rains 6 months of the year, but now in the summer I put jeans out to dry . I do the same with our towels, after we shower I put them out to dry all day, jeans and towels, are the worst dryer hogs.

  9. We finally got a pulley line put up this spring. I hang t-shirts by folding the shoulders over the line and pinning the shoulder seams. If the shoulders aren’t dry but all else is, I flip them around and hang from the bottom. This way neither end stretches. I put socks on a chaise lawn chair and they dry twice as quick as line hanging.
    The only thing my husband doesn’t like is stiff towels.
    I have to gush a little and say that I LOVE putting my clothes on the line. I do laundry on Wednesday mornings and mow the lawn. It’s my favorite day of the week. Looking at a line full of clothes as I mow makes my heart swell.
    Pam

  10. Like Pam, I too enjoy hanging out laundry. I moved to a farm in the Arkansas Ozarks a little over a year ago and have not used a dryer since moving as there was a large clothesline already in place.

    My husband didn’t like line dried laundry at first but has gotten used to it.

    I generally only do laundry one day per week. I do not have any issues with mildewed towels in between washes. We usually use towels twice before washing. I wash all categories separately – towels, kitchen towels, sheets, jeans, etc.

    I also make my laundry soap homemade and rarely use bleach (usually my husbands socks only).

    I watch the Weather Channel to plan my wash day so that drying is not an issue. Occasionally it will rain for a week and in that case I will wash a load or two and dry them inside on folding racks that I picked up Goodwill.

    I hang out laundry in the snow and in freezing temps.

    I dry pants the way Jamie described. I do t-shirts by folding over about 3 inches of the bottom hem over the line and using two clips. Less wrinkles and no stretching. For socks I clip one side of the top/cuff only.

    We bought this place from an Amish family and when we looked at it, they had laundry on the line. The wife had socks hanging from a circular wire and Chain contraption with clothespins that the husband had made for her. I am sure it saved a lot of time.

    To those that don’t like the stiff laundry – try to hang clothes when there’s a breeze. This makes laundry nice and soft.

  11. Hi Jaimie! I’ve been hanging my clothes out for over 50 years! Many years ago, my husband built me a table at the end of my clothes line that works great for resting the clothes basket on. It keeps the dirt off the bottom of the basket and and also makes a great folding table. As I take them off the line I fold and place the clothes in the basket. When I take them inside, they are ready to put away! We love the videos from the homestead!

  12. Jaimie, I’ve found that if you hang t-shirts upside down and clip just the bottom 1/2-1 inch over the line with two or three clips they don’t get as stretched and you don’t get the bumps on the shoulders from the clips!

  13. How do you handle lint in the laundry? My washer will leave lots of lint on everything ,i do not see any place that “catches lint ” to remove it from my washer. SO how do you get rid of lint in your washer so it is not left on your clothes?? Lint left all over clothing and towels are a huge issue with me .

    • I don’t have a washing machine. I wash everything the old fashioned way with tub and wringer. I never get lint on my clothes. Sorry I can’t help.

  14. Some of my best memories are hanging laundry with my grandma. I now live in a neighborhood that prohibits clothes lines. Although our backyard is fairly private and I may try and sneak a line in this summer. Always enjoy your sweet voice on your videos.

  15. I try too, my hubby doesn’t like the way it feels and refuses to put up a few lines, I do my best to put up temporary lines, but I want a permanent line but since everything is equal like in most homes, Hubby has to agree to it too.

  16. To prevent sun-bleaching of polo shirts, I turn them inside out, then hang them with the collar at the clothes line, with the label facing up. This puts the part of the outer-back that would otherwise be exposed into the “shade” of the shirt. Works like a charm.

  17. I hang my towels over my deck railing so they have more area to dry and they usually dry in no time. My back deck gets a ton of sunshine. I don’t have a mildew issue if I do it that way. I also hang good clothes over the railing too because that way they look better and I don’t get any stretching.. I learned to do this when we lived in a fancy, stuck up neighbor hood with an HOA that said NO clotheslines. So glad to not live there anymore. We still own it as rental though and the renters could care less if they saved any money on anything so they don’t hang anything out..

  18. Hi. I’m a guy, living most my life in feminist San Francisco, who never found a sane partner, so have always laundered myself. I started line drying in the ’90s, but relied on an apartment washer. Folding drying racks, and all the ceilings are high with picture molding. I drilled pilots for secure hooks on which I hung my laundry. As an electrical lineman I learned a sliding knot that allowed me to change the length. I would slip the line longer so I could slip the cord off the hooks for guest”s arrival. I dry sweaters on a towel covered table, lain flat.

    I wanted you to hear about my Grandmother”s long clothes lines. Without any support, the center of the line would let the clothes drag on the ground, but each line had a long stick of wood with a groove cut in the top to secure it to the line. The sticks, (boards), we’re long, so they pushed the line to the side, and would angle from the ground at about 45°. That way, the line was not hoisted higher, but remained lower for a lady”s easier reach. I have questions I will post in the washing blog, as they are washing, as opposed to drying, questions. I just bought a wringer and plunger-style washer.

  19. I hang clothes as much as possible. We are in a shared 5 acres in a duplex, and have to share the clothes line, plus I don’t like other men seeing my underclothes. I have an old wooden wringer, but no where besides the tub to wash if I started to wash by hand. We are in Wisconsin so drying outside is problematic this time of year. I don’t know that I have enough space inside to rig up an indoor drying area. Our washer and dryer are in a closet in the smallest bedroom. Where is your indoor clothes line?

  20. I have been hanging my clothes to dry for years. It saves on electricity not using a dryer and the material lasts longer too. I hang all my clothes on hangers year round. I hang them on the shower curtain rod.

  21. After years of hanging out laundry with five children one of the most time saving tricks I learned was to hang the shirts directly onto hangers, and then the hangers onto the clothes line. This saves space on the line and reduces the steps to getting laundry put away. I would do this for t-shirts, button down shirts, tank tops, everything. Hanging most of our shirts allows me to reduce the number of dressers we need, saving valuable floor space in our bedrooms. Much of my folding is eliminated and shirts keep their shape on the hangers. If the hangers tend to slide together on a drooping line, I space clothes pins several inches apart to space out the shirts. I love the smell of sun-dried laundry, especially sheets and towels. But like someone else commented, I still machine dry underwear (too personal) and socks (too tedious).

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