Saturday, 18 June 2011

Line drying in the winter (what's the big deal?)

by Eilleen

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all well. I can't help but smile at recent posts lately about summer. I think its wonderful that we have so many writers here from all over the world and I get to enjoy their excitement of a warmer season.

As I sit here in the middle of the day, its currently 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Farenheit). Yep its winter here at my nation's capital. :) I don't mind winter. I actually prefer it to heat but winter does have its challenges - exercise being one of them. Its so tempting to just curl up under a warm blanket with a good book rather than go outside for a bike ride or run.

But I digress...

I thought I'd use this post to add to Chiot Run's post and Sadge's post (below)about line drying. I'm lucky enough to live in a place where line drying is still quite common. While most people do have dryers, it is rare to find someone who doesn't at some point during the year, line dry their laundry. And this goes for winter.

Line drying in the winter is something I have taken for granted - something that you just *do*. In the winter, I tend to dry the clothes on drying racks. If its sunny (like today), I put it outside during the day, under my porch, where it is cold but the sun and wind can get to it, then bring it in at night. If its totally miserable outside, I just place the rack inside the house. It only takes about 24 hours for clothes to dry.

Today's laundry under my porch

I am lucky enough that its not unusual here for people to see each other's laundry drying in racks or on a clothes line. I didn't even realise it was such a big no no until I visited my relatives in the United States and I realised there was some sort of stigma over seeing each other's clothes drying on a line. I'm not exactly sure why there is that stigma. After all, we do see those clothes on their person, so why the shyness with it on a line?? As for underwear - well again, everyone wears them and its not like we're seeing dirty underwear. But, for those who can't quite get their head around others potentially seeing their underwear on a line, my mother has always hung hers in the middle of the line or middle of the drying rack so you can't see the underwear (unless if one is sorting through one's line, in which case, they must be a close enough friend or family to do so!).

The other thing I have been asked by those living overseas is: "What about mold?" Well, in the 20 odd years of line drying in the winter, I've never had that problem. From my understanding, mold needs two things to grow - damp and warmth. Here in Australia's capital, winter is definitely not warm! For those who are really worried, you can presoak in cold water and vinegar then wash clothes on hot, with another vinegar rinse as a fabric softener before line drying. That apparently protect clothes against mold.

Actually the only time I got mold in my clothes was in the tropics - and that was for clothes just hanging in the wardrobe! The high humidity and warmth got to the clothes....hmm....maybe I should try the vinegar/cold water trick then!

Anyway, I'm off to cook a roast lamb now in the slow cooker (love winter food!) then curl up under a blanket and read a good book.

I wish you all a good weekend!


dixiebelle said...

I just about freeze my hands off trying to get the clothes on the line in the weather we've been having, and because of ridiculous placement of our Hills Hoist, the clothes don't dry fully anyways (except the odd piece of polar fleece we have), so most days, things just go straight onto the racks.

With having been unwell, and having had surgery recently, I confess I have used my dryer a bit more this Winter (we do have solar power now though), just to finish things off... I need to get them off the racks, to make way for the next lot! We have 2 of the larger racks, and 2 smaller, and lately, they've been pretty much out all the time (I seem to have alot of washing, but then, it is Winter, we are wearing heavier clothing & more of it!) If it's not windy, we put them around on the north-facing side of our house, where the most heat is!

One of the thrills of Spring arriving is being able to line dry everything, and in Summer, knowing it will all be dry by the time it comes off (sometimes within 1/2 hour of being on there)! Such are the 'highs' of being a domestic goddess, LOL...

Frogdancer said...

I've just come in from hanging another load of washing on the line. In winter, I figure that I hang it out one day and take it in the next. Works a treat.

Killiecrankie Farm said...

We've never owned a drier and we live in wild n wet Tassie.
Its out on the hoist ASAP and then finished off above the woodfire.
We've never had mold either, even on cloth nappies or tea towels. We use a little white vinegar and lavender oil in the finish cycle, maybe that helps ?
And I've heard that lined dried clothes also absorb Vitamin D, even in Winter, which can't be a bad thing.

Nan Sheppard said...

My hands get cold too :( but if you're organized enough to get the laundry out during daylight hours, clothes do dry in the winter here in Dorset, UK.

But when I lived in Trinidad and Tobago, NO way. Instant mildew. Even if something was slightly damp, it would go black and ruin everything that touched it. My friend who still lives in the rainforest does hang her laundry up, but she realises that nice clothes are just not going to happen.

Kristy said...

another line dryer here from way back, through all seasons, and however many children in nappies. The house we're in now we have almost all our hanging line undercover. It works well as it still gets the wind and some heat, but not the rain.

mountainwildlife said...

I'm a line hanger too -in all seasons. I'm in the mountains where we rarely get above 6 degrees during the day in winter, but like frogdancer if its not dry, I'll get it in the next day, or it finishes off on a rack inside near the fire.
(and everyones undies go outside on the line - really no problem to us!!)

I've never heard of mold on line-dried clothes, always use cold water, no vinegar or special tricks. I would have thought the clothes would have to stay wet for maybe a week before that would happen (except for the tropics, where everything is always damp, but that has nothing to do with line-drying)

Nothing beats fresh air and sunshine for freshening up fabric and killing bacteria :-)

HAZEL said...

I have had clothes go mouldy IN the machine when I have forgotten to hang them out (well smelly, rather than mouldy) LOL. I have never had a drier...or will ever have a drier. If it doesn't go out on the line in the yard, it goes on the clothes rack in front of the fire. In my previous house we had racks permanently over heating ducts all winter. where my son lives in the USA the local neighbourhood rules ban clothes lines. Go figure...there is nothing nicer than clean clothes dried outside...they smell lovely.

K said...

Line-dried clothes are nice, but I must comment that I'm positive Australian winters are most likely a bit more mild than winters in most parts of Canada :)

I do remember hanging out clothes in the winter as a child, but I also remember my red, raw hands from dealing with frozen, wet laundry.

Three seasons of the year, I'm with you on line drying, but for winter, I'll stick with my dryer - besides, I wash all my bed linens (including blankets) regularly to help with allergies, and I simply do not have 24 hours to let them dry!

Jane said...

As a child I lived in Slovenia where winters were freezing cold and our backyard was covered in knee deep snow. One of my earliest memories is of my mother hanging nappies on the line during winter. The nappies would freeze like cardboard and icicles would hang from their edges. I don't understand how they dried but they must have because nappies were always at hand.

Like my mother, I hang washing out through all the seasons. In winter damp clothes are brought inside to dry off in front of the heater. The lounge always looks like a chinese laundry but what the heck.

When an 'upwardly mobile' friend commented that my very large Hills hoist in the middle of the yard was an eyesore and should be moved out of sight, I patiently explained that the thing is where it is because thats where it gets the best sun and wind in winter and thats where it needs to stay. Her face took on a look of unmistakable disgust as she calmly advised that I use a drier like everyone else!


Tree Huggin Momma said...

If my winters were 50 degrees I would line dry outside year round. Unfortunately our winters are below zero cold and regularly below freezing so putting laundry out isn't really an option. I do however hang laundry to dry year round in the basement. I don't have problems with mold or mildew unless my DH hangs the laundry as he fails to leave room for air circulation.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Oh how I love this blog ! So full of USEFUL ideas which I'll be putting to use soon after we sell our TOO BIG farm and head for a tiny place with a big garden and a big drying rack. Americans are so weird about saving money. They would rather hang themselves out to dry rather than their laundry !

The Younger Rachael said...

I aim to line dry, but, these days, with a new born, and having had a c-section, I often use the dryer for convenience. But here in central Texas, its good clothes drying weather.

I had clothes mold and mildew on the line when I lived in SW China and had to line dry (no dryer). The winter temps hovered just above freezing by a few degrees and it was generally 90- 100% humidity -- which meant everything was wet, all the time anyways. When I had access to a dryer for a time, I totally used it, just to be able to use a dry towel or put on dry socks. Of course, everything molded and mildewed there, from the walls, to furniture, to your own feet. Not nice.

Kate said...

I dry laundry outside in the spring summer and fall. I live in Western Washington and our winters are mild but very rainy and grey. I've tried drying laundry inside but found that it really increased the humidity of the house. Black mold and such are big problems here, not so much on the clothes but on the walls etc from having high humidity and lack of air flow in the winter. Has any one else solved there problems in a climate like mine?

Liz said...

What a great post! I just spent 8 months in New Zealand and loved that everyone there line dries clothes. I grew up with it, but few people in the city hang-dry clothes. Now that I'm back in the states, I'm bound and determined to have a clothesline in the backyard, as well as one in the basement. It rains a lot where I live, particularly in the winter, and in our basement laundry area there is a lot of space, so I'm going to string up a line for wet days, in addition to the drying rack.

Patty said...

I'm an American, and love to line dry my clothes in all seasons. Here in Northern MN it is much colder in the winter than Australia, often below zero, and sometimes at or below -20 degrees F. If I wasn't so tired, I'd figure out what that is in celsius.
When you hang clothes in this kind of cold, they freeze dry on the line. You then have to take them inside to thaw before folding to put away. However, when they thaw out they're dry. Of course our air is very dry when it's that cold out.
You can protect your hands by wearing some type of water proof glove, like those cotton gloves with silicone covered palms and fingers or heavy duty cleaning gloves. I have to confess that I don't like to hang laundry outside as much when it's under 20 degrees F. I'm not that tough, I guess.

Eilleen said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

I admit, I'm a bit of a wuss too when it comes to having freezing hands. That's why my drying racks are essential to me - just pick up the whole rack and take it inside and leave it to warm a little bit before I take the clothes off. The times when I've had to take washing in from the main line in winter, I tend to wear my leather gloves. :P

Patty - that is so interesting about it being frozen but when they thaw they're dry!

Today, it was -2 degrees celsius for much of the day. So not as nice as when I posted yesterday! So glad that I got the washing done then rather than today!

CallieK said...

I'm in Toronto Canada and we line dry all year too. Outside whenever possible and inside in the winter or if it's raining. We use a drying rack and have a retractable clothesline installed in the sunporch for indoor drying. You see lots of clothes drying outside here in good weather- I acually did a series of 'laundry' photos which I should post on my blog some day- they look like art to me!

Teresa said...

How do line dryers deal with pollen? Anything left outdoors in my area from roughly April through September winds up coated with pollen to the point that cars and grills end up green tinted. Seems like that would be poor for fabric care and not so great for my breathing--but perhaps it's not as big a problem as I fear? (We have no room inside for drying more than a few items at a time, certainly not towels and sheet for four people.)

Fiona said...

Interesting to hear different experiences of line drying from around the world, who knew it was so different for everyone? And it shows that we just can't judge what other people do with their washing! Here in Sydney I hang out clothes in winter and sometimes bring them in and hang again the following day, also in late summer I find that the weather is sometimes too humid for the clothes to dry properly after 2 days on the line. they go "sour" quickly if I am not careful, sometimes in winter and even in summer I use the dryer to finish my drying properly and avoid mould and that sour smell! I have to watch my husband though ... His idea of "dry" is different to mine! But I appreciate his help :-)

Fiona said...

Interesting to hear different experiences of line drying from around the world, who knew it was so different for everyone? And it shows that we just can't judge what other people do with their washing! Here in Sydney I hang out clothes in winter and sometimes bring them in and hang again the following day, also in late summer I find that the weather is sometimes too humid for the clothes to dry properly after 2 days on the line. they go "sour" quickly if I am not careful, sometimes in winter and even in summer I use the dryer to finish my drying properly and avoid mould and that sour smell! I have to watch my husband though ... His idea of "dry" is different to mine! But I appreciate his help :-)

heartland frugalista said...

Well, I had to laugh, because I live in the Midwest where we have had some days (during this summer) that have been about 50 degrees. I loved this blog post! I live in an apartment building, so if I line dry, I have to do it indoors. But I have a friend who does it all the time. Why not? Very inspirational!

Mary Q Contrarie said...

I am a wimp I always hang my things inside on my rack when it is cold outside. I just got this really nice outdoor umbrella clothesline that is really nice. It is even removable so I can store it in the winter so it will be all ready for me to put out again in the spring. PS I don't have a dryer and I find air drying really isn't a big deal.