Confessions of a Clothesline Junkie

When we first moved to Nova Scotia, it didn’t take long to notice that people here are obsessive about their clothes lines. Oh, my mother hung her wash alright. But her love of the clothes line pales in comparison to the admirable women of Atlantic Canada.

Here, you will see neatly organized lines all year round. Even in the dead of winter, you could see a dozen or so lines of laundry hanging in the snow between our house and the grocery store. The Dr. and the Missus who formerly owned our previous house didn’t even have a dryer!  Nope. They moved the washing machine from the basement into a closet in the kitchen, so they could instead have easy access to the outdoors.  How’s that for clothes line commitment?

I remember a conversation with a girlfriend a number of years ago. I had commented about the clothes line situation, and she told me about her mother’s clothes line behaviour. You see, Mrs. McPhee would sort the laundry from the largest items to the smallest before putting them on the line.  Apparently, it makes for a ‘neat line’. 

What did I know? I was stunned that a woman with 9 children had the time (and desire, for that matter) to arrange the items based on size. I simply couldn’t believe it!  Then I noticed that many people around here did that very thing. Did these busy women know something I did not?

Slowly, and completely unbeknownst to me at the time, I started to do the same thing. Little by little, I was hanging neat lines too.  By the end of our first summer here, I had fully transformed my clothes line behaviour.  And I was proud of my neat lines too!

Now, I confess, I have taken it to a whole new level.  Oh yes!  Not only have I proudly converted to sorting by size, I now also sort by person and by whether the item is housed in the closet or drawer!  Amazingly, I have found that this actually saves me time.  I have to pull the wet items out of the basket anyhow, why not just pull them out it some sort of order as I hang them.  This also means that I can take it off the line in order of each person’s pile; no sorting after the fact.

As an additional time saver, I separate my laundry in a completely different manner during the spring/ summer/ fall months. At this time of year, I have a running basket of small whites and small darks/ colours. You see, there is one thing this clothes line junkie won’t do – I will not hang underwear, socks and dish cloths.  That, to me, is just a pure waste of precious minutes. It would take ages to hang a load of skivvies!  That’s time that I just don’t have, so into the dryer they go. (Besides, I’m not big on seeing other people’s “unmentionables”, so why should they see mine?)  By having a good quantity of socks and underwear, it really only means 2 loads in the dryer every 1-2 weeks.  Not too bad, but a serious time saver.  I have to draw the line somewhere.  🙂

A few other clothesline tips:

1)  Hang the tops from their bottoms and the bottoms from their tops.  This means that pants are hung upright, shirts are hung upside down (it makes the clip marks less noticeable and nicely straightens out any collars).

2)  Hang items so they sag in the middle.  In addition to giving you more space on the line, this seems to make the clothes softer as they have a better chance of blowing in the breeze.

3)  Solicit help.  My three-year old feels like a champ just by handing me the clothes pegs, smiling all the while. 

Yes, I’ve progressed greatly in the clothesline department, but I don’t think I’ll ever be one to take frozen jeans off the line in January.

Still, Mrs. McPhee would be proud. 

This post has been shared over at We Are That Family, because clothes lines really work for me.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shelley
    Apr 09, 2010 @ 03:31:51

    Thanks for sharing your hints! I’ve used a clothesline for 20+ years, but have never heard tip #2! Can’t wait to try it out! Also have never hung clothes in the winter… how do you keep your fingers from freezing? At 7400 feet, there are not many days above 20F between Oct-Apr. Can’t picture hanging wet cold clothes in below zero wind chills 🙂

    Reply

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