Green Living Money Savers

The Benefits of Using a Clothesline

The Benefits of Using a Clothesline

According to Project Laundry List, commercial, industrial and residential clothes dryers use a whopping 15-20% of domestic energy in the U.S. In 2007 alone, clothes dryers in U.S. homes emitted 54.72 million metric tons of greenhouse gas-producing CO2.

If all Americans used a clothesline or folding drying racks just once a week, the savings would be enough to close several power plants!

The Benefits of Using a Clothesline

According to Department of Energy statistics, about 5.8 percent of electricity use in your home goes towards the clothes dryer. It typically costs 30 to 40 cents to dry a load of laundry in a residential electric dryer and approximately 15 to 20 cents in a gas dryer.

Over its expected lifetime of 18 years, the average clothes dryer will cost you approximately $1,500 to operate. Using a clothesline will not only reduce the need for energy derived from fossil fuels, but also save you money.

If you live in a community that has restrictions on clotheslines, consider getting a large, folding drying rack and putting it outside. You can also hang your clothes to dry indoors using an indoor clothesline, folding rack or a rack that mounts over your tub. (Here’s the one I use.)

Hanging indoors can be a great way to provide added humidity in the winter for cold and arid climates (removing the need for an additional appliance, the humidifier); however, in the Pacific Northwest and other locations prone to indoor mold, you should be careful before erecting a clothesline or rack in the basement.

The Greenest Laundry

Sometimes when you dry your clothes outside they can get stiff. Adding 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine will save you from needing to buy a toxic chemical fabric softener.

Vinegar works naturally to soften your clothing and has the added benefit of breaking down laundry detergent very effectively. This means less detergent-sensitive allergies for families with sensitive skin. Don’t be put off by the fragrance of vinegar. The odor disappears when the vinegar dries.

To prevent wrinkles, “snap” your clothes. You want to shake them one time so hard that they make a cracking sound. Then hang the clothes carefully. You can even use a hanger on the clothesline to save yourself a step.

To make your laundry completely eco-friendly, wash full loads of clothes in cold water using a non-toxic, biodegradable laundry detergent with a vinegar rinse, then hang your clothes out to dry in the sun.

If everyone in the U.S. used a clothesline or a drying rack just once a week, we could make a huge difference in reducing the damage we are doing to our environment with our dependence on fossil fuels—which is not only important for the planet, but is absolutely vital for the health of our families and communities too.

Thanks for doing your part!

This article was excerpted from my book Sustainability Starts at Home – How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. For more money-saving, planet-friendly tips, pick up a copy today!

About the author

Dawn Gifford

Dawn is the creator of Small Footprint Family, and the author of the critically acclaimed Sustainability Starts at Home - How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. After a 20-year career in green building and environmental sustainability, chronic illness forced her to shift her expertise and passion from the public sphere to home and hearth. Get the whole story behind SFF here.

18 Comments

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  • Hanging your wash out is a time honored tradition. Let’s not be thinking we are on to something new when our mothers and grandmothers hung out their wash for decades! It’s catching on again with the green movement, a great thing to do but not in winter in Minnesota.

  • hello my name is Jonathan Anderson and I have invented a new clothesline idea that I believe benefits many people that use them now or would like to but feel they don’t have the room or they live in a community that doesn’t allow a permanent line in the yard. I’m trying to raise funding on the kickstarter fund raising site. I would appreciate if you all just take a look and tell me what you think. And if you like it I hope that you would help me get funded. I ask for $1 or more. Thanks and I hope you enjoy it.

    http://kck.st/1mHwpcy

  • We used to hang dry our clothes all the time and it saves so much money. I think I will have hubby restring a line for us. 🙂
    Thanks again for sharing your posts with Wildcrafting Wednesday.

  • I LOVE hanging things on the line! It saves us about 20 bucks a month. Here in FL, I’m not about to waste all that sunshine!

  • One of the joys of living in the country is being able to hang my clothes out on the line! We get a great breeze most of the time on the hill too which means that our laundry dries fairly quickly. I agree, nothing smells better than laundry hung out on the line!

    Thanks for sharing on A Humble Bumbles Healthy Tuesday Blog Hop- I hope you will join us again next week!
    Kerry from Country Living On A Hill

  • Hanging my clothes out to dry was one of the things that made me enjoy laundry the most. Sounds crazy, but it was a great time to just breathe in the fresh air, and be able to forget about my big to-do list for just a few moments.

  • I would love to have an outdoor clothes line. Unfortunately, our apartment’s management won’t allow it. I think we really need a change of attitude in regards to clothes lines. Many people feel that it’s low-class or somehow unsightly. I’ve even heard people to refer to those who use them as poor and uneducated. Go figure! I personally see it as smart and caring … it shows me that people want to live frugal and environmental. We, as a society, need to stop worrying about how things look and focus instead on doing the right thing. Thank you for this article!

  • I definitely hang out my washing whenever possible. The clothes are so much fresher that way. Tumbling around all together in a hot environment doesn’t make the clothes feel quite the same.

  • Found your blog from Sunny Simple Life Blog hop and just had to click on your link as I’ve been toying with the idea of adapting a clothes lines in my garage.

    Great blog!

    I’m Viola over at Along a Widowed road blogspot.com

  • I have a retractable clothesline that I place on a pole in our yard and stretch the double lines to two decorative plant hooks anchored into the brick on our home. I use my clothesline all year long, only drying inside when it’s freezing outside or long durations of wet weather. During those times I bring out the folding clothes rack & dry inside instead. Thanks for sharing this post. (Visiting from Small Footprint Friday)

    ~Tayor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

  • I started using a clothesline when my mom’s health began to fail. It brings her close to my heart! I had completely forgotten how she would snap each piece before pinning it to the line. I will have to add that step to my routine!

  • Not running your dryer or washing machine during peak times of the day (especially during the summer when the A/C is constantly on) will also help lower your electric bill. I don’t do laundry between noon and 3:00, and the house also stays cooler.

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