Out to Dry
I’ve been waging war against my astronomical electric bill for a looooong time. More on that later. In my quest for saving both money and saving the planet, I briefly considered joining the Amish, but instead turned to the internet for ideas. Though I personally believe I would slay in a bonnet.
Some of the ideas were better than others, (I’d drive myself nuts if I was constantly plugging and unplugging all my appliances trying to conserve “vampire power”), and one that came up repeatedly was line drying clothes.
This seemed the most charming of the ideas and so I embarked on my journey of eco-friendly laundry after looking up some statistics (and running across one woman's anti-line drying blog post that was alarmingly fixated on potential bird poop). Turns out this here’s how this small change will yield big results:
Tumble driers are the second or third largest energy-consuming appliance in the home.
Line drying clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds a year.
Air drying laundry can save up to $200 a year on electricity.
It was more complicated than expected. I hated the idea of a dorm room style indoor rack, and wanted to take advantage of the fact that Charleston summers are sort of like living in a Southern circle of hell. My house is brick, however, limiting the ready-made retractable options which need to screw into a surface, and I’m not exactly what you’d call “handy” so putting in a post of some sort was also out. And they’re ugly. The people at Lowes were absolutely dumbfounded that I was serious about line drying, and I do in fact own a new and very functional drier. “I’m trying to save the planet,” I finally said. The look I received in return led me to believe they were going to suggest a lobotomy instead of a clothes line.
Given my peculiarities and lack of practical skills as a homeowner, I went with the least permanent/time intensive/obtrusive option: clothing line tied between the two wooden posts in my carport. It was shockingly easy and that part of the yard gets a lot of scorching afternoon sunlight.
Is it going to make the West Elm cover?
No, but it's also barely noticeable unless my under-dunders are wafting in the breeze.
After three weeks of line drying, I have this to report:
- The smell of line dried clothing is amazing. It smells like summer, instead of cloying chemicals pretending to smell like summer.
- Always check the weather. Getting home to discover rain-drenched undies is a huge bummer.
- Nature is wildly effective at drying clothing. So far, it’s taken the exact same amount of time on days that are both sunny and windy to line dry as to mechanically dry my clothes. It can take a bit longer on days with less ideal conditions, but let’s be honest, you’re not exactly going to be sitting around watching and waiting for each load to dry.
- There is something really therapeutic and nostalgic about pulling freshly laundered garments off a clothes line on a summer afternoon. If only it came with freshly squeezed lemonade!
- If that “crunchy” feeling of line dried clothes bothers you (I love it), toss the load in the drier for a couple minutes to soften things up.
Verdict: It is absolutely worth it to make the shift.