BY ROSANNA BAUMAN
It’s laundry day again, which means hanging out 237 linear feet of laundry on our clothes line. And we do this twice a week. I saw line drying promoted as a green practice to save on the energy bill, but there are personal rewards to hanging out your laundry as well. I don’t know why more folks don’t hang out their laundry, because it’s a really win-win situation. Sure, the lack of a clothesline does deter some people, but there are a lot of homes around with old, unused clotheslines in their backyards. Not only do you get clothes with a true “fresh air” scent, but you also get an excuse to hang around outside. Sure, it takes a few minutes more to hang up each article of clothing instead of tossing the whole load in the dryer. But look what I get in return: a chance to relax and reflect in the fresh air before returning to my household tasks. I can watch the chickens playing in the yard, notice the clouds floating across the sky, and…oops! How did I drop that sock on the ground?
I am not one of those super dedicated ladies who hangs the clothes on the line in the dead of winter, then brings the freeze-dried clothing inside to thaw. We do have a dryer that we use on occasion. We use it to dry the white clothes in the winter while we hang the heavier clothing, (towels, pants, dresses) around the woodstove to dry. We use the dryer some in the summer when it is storming on the day we need to wash. When we have a chance to do the laundry, we use it, even if the rain means we won’t be able to hang the clothes outside. If we wait on the weather to clear up, we would run out of clothes!
Our clothesline is 237 feet long, and we fill it up. Our clothesline runs east-to-west, so that we catch the nearly-constant south breezes. That’s the amusing thing about hanging out laundry-everyone hangs their laundry a different way. I have helped many of my friends hang their wet laundry on the line, and none of them were the same way. Especially the pants. Some hang them by the waist band, others by the legs, and some even by the rear pockets! Just when I thought I knew all the different ways to hang up towels and pants, we had a group of preteen girls visit our farm from the city. They saw our clothesline and wanted to hang up some laundry. At first, I could not imagine what could be so interesting about such a simple thing. But I was soon trying to hold my laughter as the girls struggled to work the clothespins. They found many new and creative ways to pin clothing articles to a wire clothesline. And they loved it.
Mom prefers to use the wooden spring clothes pins because those plastic ones don’t last any time at all. We keep them handy in a little clothespin bag that hangs on the line with a clothes hanger. We are spoiled and don’t have to place our laundry basket on the ground. An old shopping cart came with the farm when we purchased it, and we place our laundry basket in it. This eliminates a lot of bending over, not to mention that it’s kind of fun pushing a shopping cart in your back lawn!
While some people do a load of laundry each day, we prefer to have two large laundry days and get it over with. We wash 15-20 loads in a week, and these are giant loads from our front load washer. We cram our front-load washer to capacity, getting about 9-10 pairs of man-sized jeans in a load. If we had a regular washing machine with a smaller load capacity, I suspect we’d have another 5-7 loads of laundry to do. That’s practically another whole laundry day! For obvious reasons, I’m a fan of front-loading washing machines! Another thing front loading washing machines save is detergent. That detergent bill can really add up, but we have a recipe for homemade laundry soap that has gotten the stamp of approval for its cleaning power from hundreds of sisters in our church and I will share that tomorrow.