When my husband and I  lived  in Mexico, in a little cabin that we bought, we had a 25-year-old washing machine which worked great and didn’t mind the vagaries of our electric current there. We dried our clothes on clotheslines. At the start of our second rainy season I muttered something about getting a clothes dryer and Kelly responded by putting a roof over a walkway behind the house and adding more clotheslines. Worked fine.

Now we are back in Colorado, and our house came with a relatively new washer and gas dryer. Kelly plans to continue drying his clothes on a line he will string in the solar greenhouse that is attached to the house. I think I will do my laundry both ways, sometimes clothesline sometimes dryer. Here’s why:

Things I like about using a clothesline:

  • It’s free, once you buy the line and the clothespins.
  • It uses no electricity or gas.
  • The clothes, sheets, and towels smell great.
  • It’s excellent stretching exercise, specially if the line is up quite high, as ours was.

Reasons I look forward to using a clothes dryer also:

  • It does a better job of getting lint off the clothes, specially when you leave a tissue in your jeans pocket but also if you wash a dark t-shirt with a bunch of light things.
  • T-shirts and turtlenecks come out more tightly shrunk.
  • It takes less time.
  • I can do it any time of day or evening.

I am always balancing living in the most ecological way possible with other factors, in this case with time and how my clothes look. Do I think the planet should suffer so I get the lint off my clothes? Indeed not. But I also think this is a world of tradeoffs. We only use gas clothes dryers, we only wash our clothes when they actually need it, and I make a donation to a carbon neutral place every year. UPDATE: Turns out I almost never use the dryer.

  • http://juliekinnear.com Julie the Green Realtor

    Nice summary. I try to use lines most of the time. If you have a good wash machine, spinning phase makes a very good job. With a gentle breeze, you need just a while to have your clothes dried. And you can’t fool the smell of countryside with some chemical scent :)
    On the other hand, here in Toronto one often just don’t have time, space and mood to hang clothes all around…

    Take care,
    Julie