Although our washer and dryer are still operating, the time has come to begin hanging the wash out to dry. Our property came with the posts where a clothesline had been used by the prior owners. It seemed only logical to stock up on a few well woven synthetic lines and a few hundred clothespins last year. How difficult can it be to hang wet clothes out to dry on non-rainy days?

For the zillionth time in the past two years, simplicity handed me my hat and pointed me towards the door. Indeed, the more I know the more I find I do not know. Thank you sincerely to all the bloggers and YouTubers who took the time to put together instructions and amusing stories for us modern city folk who cannot make a string, a wood clip and a shirt work together.

It turns out drying clothes on a line is one of those tasks that you can goof up in ten thousand little ways. Not only are there good, bad and better ways to hang clothes to dry, but many people who use the clothesline regularly have strict traditions, etiquette and rules surrounding it.

Consistently I read it is very bad form to leave clothespins on the line after clothes have been gathered. Underwear should be hung on the middle line in between larger sheets, towels and billowing garments so as not to expose the family’s delicates to the world.

drying clothes

But alas, ‘hanging out’ has become a political hotbed issue as HOAs have illegally banned clotheslines in 19 states. It seems life has potentially disrupted the view. For more details with sources: Clothesline Bans Void in 19 States.

Not to be deterred, people are exerting their laundry liberties. In places where the practice is banned as an unsightly nuisance to neighbors, right-to-dry activists and blogging eco-moms are forming an alliance. Their cause: to reduce energy consumption and to call upon sunlight rather than bleach to get those whites even whiter. Read more...

Of course there are always those that have to ruin the party and come out against the simple things in life. I’m not certain taking a stand against drying clean clothes on a line is the best use of one’s time these days, but in fairness, everyone should have a voice. Here is another view: 6 Reasons to Not Dry Your Clothes Outside - The Perils of Hanging Clothes Outside to Dry.

Other people have come to consider hanging clothes out to dry an art. There are some pretty amazing examples out there, certainly enough to inspire me to view laundry a bit differently.

Friends don't let friends hang out alone. :-)
Friends don't let friends hang out alone. :-)


animal shenanigans

old school

Your Clothesline Tells It All

A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by,
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew,
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the "fancy sheets"
And towels upon the line;
You'd see the "company table cloths"
With intricate designs.

The line announced a baby's birth
From folks who lived inside -
As brand new infant clothes were hung,
So carefully with pride!

The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed,
You'd know how much they'd grown!

It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.

It also said, "Gone on vacation now"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged,
with not an inch to spare!

New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy and gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way.

But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make work much less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess!

I really miss that way of life. It was a friendly sign.
When neighbors knew each other best by what hung on the line.

Poem found at:


Have you hung your laundry out to dry? Any tips, cautionary tales or amusing stories to add, we’d love to hear them.


More information and interesting reading:

How To Dry Clothes Outside

The Backyard Clothesline

The Art of Hanging Laundry on a Line

How To Hang Clothes On A Clothesline (YouTube)

The unwritten rules of hanging laundry to dry outside: Cleveland Remembers

Tipnut: Hanging Laundry To Dry Outdoors: Clothesline Tip Sheet


To tie a special knot at the end of your clothesline which will allow you to tighten it as needed, see I Will Knot!

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