Monday, 11 October 2010

Unsightly smalls

You'd think a humble clothes line in someone's back garden would be pretty uncontro-versial. Well, think again, because in the States it's becoming a serious bone of contention.

Many householders hate the things. They think they're ugly, vulgar, over-intimate and spoil the look of the neighbourhood. They want to get rid of them completely.

But other people are all in favour. They see them as a natural and sensible way of drying clothes that's also environmentally-friendly. They want everyone to use them.

Temperatures are rising, and not just in the tumble-driers. Line-lovers are deliberately flouting their landlords and neighbours and hanging out their clothes to dry anyway. So take us to court, they say. It won't stop us.

They point out that tumble-driers use about 10 per cent of household electricity, second only to fridges and freezers. This is a colossal waste of energy when energy consumption is going through the roof. And what's so ugly about a clothes line anyway?

Jenny and I always use a clothes line in good weather. Or drying racks inside when it isn't. We've never used a tumble-drier and don't intend to start now. We know that clothes dried outside always smell fresher and cleaner when we bring them in.

Nobody gets steamed up about clothes lines round our way. You can see them in every other garden, even draped with lacy underwear. Nobody thinks they're unsightly or unseemly.

Okay, so our clothes line doesn't sport many fashionable designer labels. Some of the clothes may be past their best. Some may be ten years old. We don't care and nor do the neighbours. There are more serious things to get our knickers in a twist about.


  1. i use a clothes line and it's visible from the street!

    i cant agree with the use of dryers except in foul weather, they are wasteful of electricity and i have got along so far.
    when there is a run of bad weather i take the washing to the laundromat and pay about $12 to dry a weeks washing. the inconvenience factor in taking it up the shops makes certain i dont just get lazy.
    i'm really very self righteous on this one so i'm glad you see it my way :)

  2. Kylie - Hang on, though, aren't you just using the laundromat's driers instead of your own? Though I guess the commercial driers are more economical on electricity....

  3. I stretch my smalls across a large bush.

  4. yes, i am using the shop drier but instead of putting the stuff in the drier, say once a week at home where it's the easy solution, i go to the laundromat about once a year.
    also, i think they run on gas

  5. Scarlet - Ah yes, the ideal solution. As long as they don't get snagged on the shrubbery.

    Kylie - Oh, once a year, that's fair enough.

  6. How anybody can object to the sheer joyful experience of the smell of sun dried clothes, beats me. It is one of the joys that I miss during our monsoon.

  7. Ramana - My feelings entirely. The smell of naturally-dried clothes is unbeatable.

  8. I hate tumble driers and all the itchy scratchy static clothes that come out of them.
    Almost as much as I love the smell of laundry brought in from outdoors.

    PS I believe Scarlet's bush is a sight to behold most days...

  9. Macy - So we're all agreed then? I definitely don't want any itchy scratchy staticky clothes.

    Scarlet's bush is one of the wonders of the world....

  10. Oh LOL, I come here and realize we have posted about the same thing.....
    I think this has happened a few times in the past....

  11. There have been uppity subdivisions around here that have forbidden clothes lines in their CC&R's.
    I have a dryer, but seldom use it, the smell of sun dried clothes & linens can't be beat. Me, I've had a crazy assortment of clotheslines over the years from staked tumbleweeds to a broken hot walker for the horses...

  12. We always had clothes lines when I was growing up, nothing beat the tropical sun for drying.

    Where I live now, there are none, despite our hot climate. The neighbours complain if someone hangs stuff off the porch.

    It seems wasteful and a lack of commonsense.

  13. www - An interesting post about the whole laundry thing. I see you also favour hanging your clothes outdoors.

    Brighid - Ah, there's some opposition in your area then. How long before they change their tune?

    Glossary for English folk: CC&R, a homeowners' agreement. Tumbleweed, part of a plant that tumbles away in the wind. Hot walker, machine for exercising horses.

  14. e - You're right, it's wasteful and defies common sense. When you think of all the junk and rubbish people have on their porches, that nobody complains about....

  15. Some people, it seems, need something to complain about. And as they have everything they need and nothing to worry about they make it up. This particular complaint is bonkers. What is ugly about clothes hanging on a washing line?

    I was so thrilled yesterday to find it was warm enough still to get all the bed linen dried outside. For some weeks I've been thinking, as I pegged, 'this will be the last time I'll be able to do this until Easter.' I once had a tumble drier but used it only until the first electricity bill landed on my doormat.

  16. Ah but it's a weather thing. In our lovely warm countries, line drying is the only way although dryers are becoming more popular in Units and Flats. I'm actually contemplating one as we're about to come into a La Ninia summer which means wet, wet, wet but resisting the urge. I guess if you're in a cold wet country, a drier is the only option, or one of those indoors things that you hoik above the boiler.

  17. They smell better when dried in the sun.

  18. My mother hung out the clothes to dry when I was a child, and they smelled sweet and fresh. There are ordinances against doing so here, but I do hang up hand washables inside, in front of an open window, whenever possible.

  19. Eryl - Indeed, some people need something to complain about. They also have a very strange definition of ugly. Are fluttering flags on flagpoles equally ugly?

    The electricity consumption of tumble driers is massive. Probably the UK equivalent to the output of an entire power station!

    Baino - It's crazy that driers are being used more in Oz of all places! It's certainly a tempting option in a sun-deprived country like ours.

  20. Terra - They do. Clothes dried indoors just aren't the same.

    Heart - If you're tied by ordinances, you don't have much choice. A good job they don't also ban "visible washing"!

  21. Our landlord took away our clotheslines about six months ago and it's been horrible. We'd air dried clothes for years and especially with the boys, it was so economical. He's just greedy and wanted the money from the dryers in our laundry room. Now we've resorted to indoor drying racks but it really isn't the same.

  22. Liz - What a money-grabbing rat! I hope he gets his come-uppance somehow. Maybe he'll get robbed on the way to the bank....

  23. I have very romantic notions about clothes lines, if it is possible to have romantic notions about clothes lines. They remind me of Italian back streets. Or Portugal.

  24. Hi Annie, long time no see! Yes, I find clothes lines rather romantic too. Italian back streets, as you say. And something about the fragility of all those wispy clothes flapping in the wind.

  25. For goodness sake!

    Sometimes when I'm hanging clothes on the line I remind myself of my granny as I mutter to myself or George 'It's a lovely drying day today.'

  26. Liz - I do the same. "Ooh, lovely and sunny, everything will be dry in no time." I remember my mum pushing clothes through the mangle to get some of the water out before she hung them up.

  27. I know! I feel like a stranger in town.

  28. Heavens, what a lot of replies!
    I've not seen a clothes line in years, though they used to be all over the place. Mostly our clothes dry on a horrible flimsy excuse of a clothes horse, indoors. Outdoors, flapping clothes and sheets etc (even if there were anywhere to tie the line) would do both of these:
    Frighten the small birds.
    Be crapped on by buzzards.

    And, in strong gales (which we get) they'd blow away completely and land on:

    But... I do use a dryer (gasp! Shock! Horror!) if I have to. Not often though. (Come to that I don't do the washing all that often either, but we won't go into that...)

  29. Annie - Not a stranger to me, I've been following your blog for a very long time, as you know. How's the photographic career going?

    Val - Luckily there aren't any buzzards hereabouts. Not many birds or beasties either. Difficult to avoid driers completely in the British climate....

  30. I have a clothesline and the only time my knickers get in a twist is when the wind wraps them round and round on the line

  31. Grannymar - And not just knickers. My duvet covers get in an extraordinary tangle sometimes.