During the warmer months I dry all my laundry by hanging it on our clothesline, unless we have had days of rain and the laundry has became a daunting pile. Otherwise, it is the "solar clothes dryer" all the way. I don't use the clothesline only to save money, I rather like the task of hauling my laundry outdoors and pinning it on the line so it can dry nice and crisp in the warm spring air. Some people complain of the stiff feeling that clothes and towels may get when hung outdoors but that can be remedied by throwing them in the dryer for a few minutes to fluff them back up again. Or, you they could go the same route that we do and just get used to it. Any clothing item that I put on becomes soft again after a few minutes of wearing it. And the stiff towels? We actually prefer line dried towels because they absorb more water...and get soft midway through drying yourself off. Sheets and blankets dried outdoors are the best; they truly are a little piece of heaven.
Clotheslines also save money. They save the wear and tear on your clothes that a dryer can do. You know all that lint that you extract from the dryer everyday? A lot of that is fibers from your clothing. The sun can do a little damage itself by fading certain dyes and fabric, so if you are concerned turn all your clothing items inside out when hanging them out to dry.
Whether your dryer is electric or gas you will notice a difference in your bills when you start using the clothesline. Our electric bill drops by at least $20 a month in the warmer months when I discontinue using the dryer.
There are actually communities that have banned hanging clothes outside. Home owner alliances feel it looks trashy or makes the neighborhood look poor. I've even heard people say before "We don't need to hang clothes outside, we aren't poor." I don't hang clothing up because I can't afford to use the dryer, I hang it up because I like the way it smells and feels, like to save money, and think it is better for the environment. And quite honestly, I like getting back to the basics of doing something for myself (such as dry my clothes on a clothesline) rather than depend on a machine to do it for me that takes money and resources that we just shouldn't waste. I think it is sad when clotheslines in neighborhoods are frowned upon. Think about it though, hanging clothes outdoors is a dying trend. In a several block radius of my home I can count on one hand the houses that have a clothesline. It makes me feel good when I do see our one neighbor hang out her snowy white sheets or a row of blue jeans. It makes me feel not so alone.
As a family of five we do have a lot of laundry but I find that by doing two to three loads on each nice weather day I am able to keep up with it and not have to use the dryer. We have a long clothesline with five different strings. I will be the first to admit that I am a bit anal about how I hang out laundry. Last year I got into the system of assigning a string to each family member...so that all their clothing is hanging on their string. That way in the evening when I go to take them down and fold them right off the line they are all in one pile that I can take directly to their dresser and put away. It seems to save me time and is a system that works for me. I also have to have all my towels lined up neatly with the big towels, hand towels, and wash cloths all separated and clustered in their own group. I know, it is a bit obsessive compulsive but our clothesline faces the street and sidewalk so anyone walking/driving by and looking in our backyard will see how I hang up my clothes...and I think they look nice this way! Underwear is always hidden in the middle rows so that they can't be seen from those in the front of the house or those in our neighbor's back yard.
I especially enjoy hanging the cloth diapers outside. The sun works wonders on bleaching out any stains.
Speaking of stains and clothing...with the last several days being warm and the kids stripping off their coats and playing hard outside I remembered all the stains that happen during spring and summer. Today I washed a brand new shirt of Becca's that had just been worn for the first time yesterday and I realized that there were grass and dirt stains that just wouldn't come out. This happens a lot in the summer around here and so many clothes are ruined that way. Does anyone have a tried and true tip on keeping kid's clothing in nice condition, even when they are messy little slobs?