Top Priority for the Next Home We Buy

This post is part of Blog Action Day, a day of environmental discussion and participation by bloggers around the world.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?


Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

No, it’s our laundry. Our humble jeans, shirts and towels hanging on a $9.99 clothes horse, saving us a bit of money and helping to fight global warming.

Did you know that dryers use five to ten percent of residential electricity in the United States? That cutting the number of times you use your dryer by just one load a week reduces CO2 emissions by 200 pounds a year? Hard to know what that means in the global scheme of things but every little bit helps, right?

Dave and I were both raised in South Africa, where the hot, mostly dry climate means that the vast majority of people dry ALL their laundry outdoors in the sunshine on washing lines. Our childhood memories are of folding crisp, bone-dry towels, of chasing our siblings through lines of flapping bedsheets and of learning to hang t-shirts so that they didn’t dry all pulled at the peg marks.

Living on the west coast of Canada for twelve years, we had no option but to dry our clothes in the dryer. Yeah, they come out soft and easy to fold, but they always smelled a bit stale to me. We bought our first clothes horse shortly after we got married, mostly for delicates. But when we returned to college in our late twenties, we started using it to save money on the coin-op laundries in the string of apartment buildings we lived in. We always had a load of laundry hanging in our bedroom or sunning next to the living room window.

When we moved to San Diego, we looked forward to getting an outdoor washing line. Pretty naive on our part! We had no idea how important appearances are here. That having a neighborhood free of the blemish of underwear hanging on a line is more important that using the drying power that nature intended.

In our current townhouse complex, there are no communal wash lines and our courtyard, while big enough, is not conducive to stringing up a wash line. It would have to run right across the area where we entertain, though I have toyed with the idea of a retractable line.

So we are back to using a clothes horse. Which I must say works really well. We use it for most loads, only using the dryer for our kingsize sheets or when we have many loads that we need done in a hurry. We also use the dryer to soften up towels and t-shirts before folding.

And yes, the next home we buy will have a REAL washing line — with crisp sheets hanging, a peg bag and lines of undies flapping in the breeze! I can dream, can’t I?

Note: For great information and resources on hanging your laundry out to dry in the US, see Project Laundry List’s website. Also, read this great article recently published in the NY Times on the challenges one woman faced trying to string a washing line in her very proper neighborhood.

Our Clothes Horse


9 responses to “Top Priority for the Next Home We Buy

  1. Pingback: Blog Action Day: Africa | White African

  2. LOL, I must admit I’d miss it if we moved from SA. But then you can get washing lines now that you can take out of the ground when they’re not being used ;).

  3. Is there any way to help the clothes soften up? I’m game but it’s a huge switch t go from soft clothes to sandpaper. I think I’d rather balance by never turning on my lights… (only kind of kidding)

  4. Dawn, you can always throw them in for a quick tumble after they are mostly dry!

    Great post Sue! We are lucky because here in dry Denver, we have this happening WITHIN THE WASHER! If we just take our time doing laundry (um somehow that happens naturally, ha ha) the clothes are almost dry when we stick them in the dryer. But your point is well taken. We should use our clothes horse and even outside more often!

  5. Hi there! I’m in San Diego too, and having come from Australia, land of the Hill’s Hoist (a fantastic umbrella-like structure for drying washing), I couldn’t believe we weren’t allowed to hang out the washing in the sunshine here. I’m with you – I cannot in all conscience use my dryer in this climate. We bought three racks/horses from Ikea and I hang everything out with pegs. I turn them all inside out so nothing fades, and I even manage to get the king-size sheets folded and draped to dry (one rack each). If people don’t like the view of my knickers drying in my backyard: DON’T LOOK!

  6. Great post! I line dry my laundry in my yard and only use the dryer on wet days when i need the clothes to be dry (i have 2 toddlers that like to get messy). I loved the article from the NY times, i always remember watching a tv program with Billy Connolly. He told us that his mother looked out over the California hills, tutted and said it was such a shame. He looked at her in shock and said “a shame? what do you mean, it’s beautiful”, she replied that it was a shame there was not one washing line in site on such a beautiful sunny day.

  7. Pingback: Global Voices amin’ ny teny malagasy » Blog Archive » Blog Action Day: Feon’i Afrika sy ny diaspaora

  8. What about one of those”Windydry” contraptions, Sue?? You could have a permanent hole in the courtyard paving and pop it in whenever you needed it.

  9. Even in not-quite-so-sunny-as-San Diego-Victoria we only use our dryer when there is absolutely no chance of getting the washing dry on our outside clothesline.
    Can’t believe others don’t do the same but agree its a lot easier to just toss the clothes from the washer to the dryer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s