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Clothesline Protocol - How to Save Money Drying Your Clothes Using a Clothesline

Don is a Writer and a Storyteller. He has published over 9 books on varied subjects along with many articles and commentary on his blogs.

Drying Clothes on an old fashioned Clothesline

When i travel out into rural America, I still see homes with that unique antique household tool of yesteryear still in use in many of the backyards.

I'm talking about that simple household tool, the Clothesline.

You know that FREE to USE device, usually hidden away in a corner of your backyard where you can hang your freshly washed clothes. There they can hang and allow the wind and sun slowly dry them without your spending one extra penny for energy consumption.

That's Right, this is a tool you can use for FREE!

No Electric Clothes Dryer is needed to get this household job done!

And, you get the one thing that Dryer and detergent manufacturers have not figured out how to duplicate.

Regardless of the level of research applied to date, or what chemicals they use, they cannot give you that FRESH SMELL clothes get when dried in the open air on a clothesline.

A Typical Clothesline

The backyard clothesline is a simple and cost effective way to save money.

The backyard clothesline is a simple and cost effective way to save money.

Clothesline Protocol for Beginners

So, i was going through my email this morning and a friend of mine, from out west, had sent me a funny list of the do's and don'ts of drying your clothes from how he remembered it in his youth.

Looking his email over, I realized that with a little cleanup and some serious additions here, and a deletion or two there, I could document the proper protocol for people who want to save money by drying their clothes outside, themselves.

Here are what I will call the TEN RULES FOR USING a CLOTHESLINE:

Ten Common Sense Rules for Using a Clothesline

Believe it or not, here are ten common sense rules for using a clothesline. They are simple things, but they should be mentioned.

Wash the Clothesline

Always wash the clothesline before hanging your clean clothes on it.

Besides the accumulated dust and debris that might have collected, remember that birds love to sit on things like clotheslines and do their business.

If nothing else, just hold a wet cloth on the line and walk down the clothesline from one end to the other.


Hang your Socks by the toes and never by the Top, especially thise without any elastic in them.

You want the tops to stay even and un-stretched, so always hang socks by the toes.

And always match your wet socks and hang them in Pairs on your Clothesline.

Pants and Slacks

Always hang your pants by the Cuffs and never by the Waist.

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Place the Cuff of the two pant legs together and hang the pant to dry with the waist hanging down.

This allows the wind to access the larget waist area and the pockets and dry them faster than if they are bunched up.


Always hang shirts by their tails and never by the shoulders.

Nobody wants to wear a shirt that has the shoulder area so distorted that it looks like you have strange bulges on your shoulders.

Hang your Clothes in Groups

Always hang your clothes in Groupings, "whites' with "whites", "colors" with "colors", sheets with sheets, socks with socks and so on.

This will obviously help you with your sorting and folding later.

Hang your Sheets on the Outside.

For propriety's sake you should hang your items like Sheets and such on the outside line and allow these drying clothes to hide your "unmentionables" that you should in turn, hang on your inside line.

The temperature doesn't matter

When you hang your clothes outside, the temperature should be of no concern.

They can Dry normally or they an "Freeze Dry". Either way, your clothes will still dry properly and not be harmed.

Gather your Clothes Pins

Always gather your clothes pins as you take down your clothes from the clothesline.

Besides looking a bit tacky, they are great toys for the neighborhood kids if they are left there dangling from your clothesline.

Overlap clothes to save Pins

Always try to overlap your clothes when hanging them to save on Clothes Pins.

If you hang two shirts next to each other then overlap the shirttails and use one clothespin for the two adjacent shirttails then you have reduced your clothespin need by one, each timeyou do this.

Clothes Off of the Line before Dinner

Always have all of your sun dried clothes off of the clothesline and neatly folded in a basket, ready for ironing, before dinner time.

This shows that you knew when to hang your clothes to dry.

Besides by dinner time the sun will not be a very efficient drying source at this time of day, and you really do not want to leave them out overnight and have the night's dew falling on them.

Good Rules and Saving Money too.

If you look at these rules, they really are just common sense, but they still apply if you want to dry your clothes outside efficiently.

And, for you back-to-nature people out there, you probably already know that your clothes dryer is one of the biggest energy consuming appliances in your home.

So, every day that you take the time to go outside and hang your clothes to dry instead of using that power consuming monster in your laundry room, you are not only saving some significant money, you are getting your body and mind outdoors for a few minutes where you can be performing a simple task and soaking up a little sunshine yourself.

Think about it!

How to Hang Clothes on a Clothesline

Going outside and using an old clothesline

How to Build a Clothesline Yourself

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 02, 2018:

Sharon Wood - I understand. it seems there are more and more developments and neighborhoods that have very strict restrictions on the residents. Sorry to hear this.


Sharon Wood from Greeley, CO on March 01, 2018:

I have a problem with that, I'd love to hang clothes on a line only the land developer says NO! Claiming to degrade the property, an eyesore that can be seen from the street. Clothesline was environmentally safe, all wood and cotton rope. Mobile home protocols.

Huntgoddess from Midwest U.S.A. on November 21, 2014:

No problem, Don. :-)

Yes, we actually did leave soon enough, only to run into Hurricane Agnes on the road home again. Then, when we got back, all of our pets were on the second floor. The first had completely filled with water!

I'd love to see those old-fashioned solar dryers again, like they used to have in the city.

The ones where they hang the line between buildings, and you would pull it back through a pulley system. (They show it in the movie, West Side Story, remember?)

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 18, 2014:

Huntgoddess- Thanks for the read and kind comments.

And, a Hurricane? I would have been long gone, clothes or no clothes. LOL!

Thanks again,


Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 18, 2014:

NanLT- See! The creative "wash goddess" (or god?) has so many options when "air drying" cloths as you say. Where, with one of those big electro-mechanical monsters, you are limited to one location. And the noise and excess heat? Nature always provides the most efficient drying method, we just need more people to join in.

Thanks for the read and your comment,


Huntgoddess from Midwest U.S.A. on November 18, 2014:

The solar clothes dryer is my favorite kind!!

I wish there were a way for homeless folks in the city to use a solar dryer --- at least in the summer, here in Wisconsin.

I've never hard of washing the clothes line. I always figured the rain and sunlight would do the trick. It does make sense, though, now that I think about it. I've seen some weird marks here and there.

In 1972, we lived in Mt. Rainier Md., and were fortunate enough to have a yard with a clothesline.

I remember the prelude to Hurricane Agnes, when my clothes did not get dry in about a week. I didn't want to remove them from the line, because I was afraid they'd get even moldier sitting in a pile somewhere.

Of course, I should have set up an indoor line for them, I realize now.

Lots of great information. Up, +++

Nan from London, UK on November 18, 2014:

Since I don't have a tumble dryer, my clothes hang on the line each week. Unless it's still raining, then they go on an air dryer in the kitchen.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on January 05, 2013:

tlpoague- Thanks for the creat comment.

I am so glad that my Hub brought back so many good memories for you and I hope you have a great day.

Watch those fingers, though. LOL!

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 28, 2012:

amandaines- Thanks for the read. And actually, there are no right or wrong ways to hang your loathes for drying. These suggestions each have a reason for being in my list so that your clothesline dried clothes are handled more efficiently.


amandaines on November 28, 2012:

Very useful, although I now have to change all my old habits as I was doing everything wrong - you know hanging socks from the tops, hanging trousers from the waists ...... anyway, it's never too late to learn new and better ways. I agree also with many comments, that nothing compares to the smell that clothes get when dried out in the fresh air.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on November 22, 2012:

My turkey-fogged brain can only come up with one more at the moment: fill an ice cube tray. I can't believe how many youngsters think ice is made inside the door of the fridge and the world is surely ending if the ice dispenser quits working! ;D

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 22, 2012:

JamaGenie- What a great idea. The list could turn out to be pretty long. Here are some suggestion you might like; 1-sharpen a pencil with a knife, 2-actually write a story or poem in a notebook using a pencil and in proper script handwriting instead of typing, 3-add, subtract, multiply and divide in your head, 4-give proper hand signals when driving a car, 5- sit on the hole in an outhouse properly and wipe with pages from a magazine.

Oh Well some skills are just lost arts I guess! LOL!

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on November 22, 2012:

Call me a snob, but when I see the current generation with thumbs glued to iPhones and iPads with apps for everything imaginable, I can't help but feel smug that I may be nearing fossil status but *I* can not only rig up some way to air dry clothes anywhere from whatever's available, I still remember how to use a hard-wired dial phone. (It's the little things that make getting older FUN...)

Having said that, there's a topic for a hub: What gray hairs can do that would stymie teens and twenty-somethings... ;D

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 14, 2012:

JamaGenee- So good to hear from you again. I hope all is well out there with you and yours. As a matter of fact, I got the idea for this Hub from just such skeletal sightings around here in Florida. And, then, when I mentioned what I was going to write this to one of my kids( who had their Dryer die on them), they admitted that they didn't even know what were the best ways and reasons for "Hnnging clothes" I just had to write something for their generation.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on November 13, 2012:

Just thought I'd pop in to mention the irony of living in a cul-de-sac of duplexes where there are four clotheslines for every two buildings, with the T-poles set in the concrete pad under all, but are rarely used. "Oklahoma! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains" is not just a catchy phrase from a Broadway lyricist, but a fact of life. It's a rare day when the wind isn't blowing hard enough to wrap sheets and such around a line, or worse, unhinge spring-type clothespins and send one's laundry to the ground.

I'm certain the place was built after electric clothes dryers became common, so whoever built it deserves a gold star for thinking "green" long before the energy crunch. In fact, each unit has the standard hook-up for a washer, but none for a dryer. Myself, I don't have all that much laundry, and central OK being bone-dry, I can dry a load of clothes in a matter of hours inside on hangers or draped over the shower rod. But my computer desk is right under the window that looks out on those rarely-used clotheslines, and the phrase "Right idea, wrong place" comes to mind every time I see them. ;D

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 13, 2012:

Hyphenbird, What can be wrong with; saving energy, saving money on energy, getting a little exercise, and bring back great memories. Sounds like a preferred thing to me! LOL!

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on November 13, 2012:

Hello Don. I am imagining my Mama and Granny's faces if they knew people had to be taught to use a clothesline. Our society of convenience has caused us to lose many customs. Drying clothes outside is such a common sense factor and has gone on for thousands of years. Ah, how quickly we forget. Your tips are wonderful and I hope they are instrumental in drawing people back to line drying. We could save so much money while helping the planet. Here is one more clothesline tip. Mama would place a galvanized tub in between the clothesline, fill it with water and let it sit in the sun for hours. She would hang her sheets on each side of it. When the water was nice and warm, I got a bath in the tub. The sheets created privacy. It was like my own personal spa. Of course back then I had never heard the word spa. Thanks for the memories Don.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on October 17, 2012:

healthwealthmusic- thanks again for commnting. I can appreciate your background and as you said, everyone loves the fresh smell of clothes dried in the sun!

Ruth R. Martin from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York on October 15, 2012:

Yes, I understand - I forgot to mention in my comment above that I grew up as a Mennonite, which is one of the main reasons we had a clothesline. All Mennonites use clotheslines, and many do not have or use dryers. If you don't know what Mennonites are, read my hub about growing up as a Mennonite ;) I have a dryer now, but still use my outside line for drying on nice days. More energy efficient :)

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on October 14, 2012:

healthwealthmusic- you would be surprised at how many people there are out her who have never used a clothesline in their lives.

Ruth R. Martin from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York on October 14, 2012:

LOL, so this list is serious?!? I've been using a clothesline to hang clothes out on ever since I was tall enough to reach the line. I never knew there was any specific rules to follow ;) I always thought it was personal preference and the way your mother taught you to do it. LOL, I only follow about 3 of your rules.... my laundry dries fine :) Each to their own way of doing things :D

Caren White on September 02, 2012:

Back in the day, hanging laundry was an art. Telling someone that they hung a nice line was a huge compliment.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on September 02, 2012:

OldRoses- "Aint things Strange, How they Change!"

Now, though, people are cluttering the web with requests on the proper way to put up a clothesline. LOL!

Caren White on September 02, 2012:

Ahem, the politically correct term is "solar dryer". This brings back memories of my childhood when few people could afford a clothes dryer. The lack of a clothesline in the backyard was considered a status symbol. Now I live in a community where clotheslines are banned and I am forced to use a clothes dryer.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on August 21, 2012:

OMG! pollo bowl, why a great memory for me. awhen we used diapers that were cleaned and reused rather than be one of the top polluters of our garbage management systems.

Kudos to you, Lady!

pollobowl from North Carolina on August 21, 2012:

I use a clothes line to dry cloth diapers. The sun is an excellent way to get out stains. Maybe it's time for me to start hanging the rest of my laundry! Thanks for the info!

Ciel Clark from USA on August 20, 2012:

I rarely see clotheslines where I live -- I often dry clothes on a rack, but inside. Your hub reminded me of when I lived in New Zealand and had nightgowns and lingerie stolen from the line.. When I commented on this to friends they agreed it was a problem in the area. Never had this in any other country!! Good reminder to use solar and cut back on the dryer, thanks.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on August 20, 2012:

jamageenie- so good to hear from you. And I am really glad that you liked my Hub. And one of the things that I am noticing is the realization by so many people that a convenience appliance is not always a convenience, once the cost reaches a certain point. Sometimes you don't have to go Green, just take little steps in that direction.

moonlake from America on August 20, 2012:

I love the smell of sheets from the line. I agree with all except I hang pants by the waist. I always hung most of our clothes just the way it is in your list. I still have a clothes line and I hang many things on it yet. For sure always clean it first. Voted Up and more.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on August 20, 2012:

I was about to log off when the notification for this hub popped up. What a surprise! Fantastic! Great topic in this day of green energy! I'm always amazed at how many young people (girls and guys) don't have a clue what those wires strung between two metal T-poles are for! And I'm glad to know clotheslines are making a comeback. I've lived in several places where they were considered "unsightly" and therefore banned. How times are a changin'!

Yes, there's an art to hanging clothes properly on a clothesline. Thank you for reminding us!

btw, detergent manufacturers may not have mastered the "sun-dried clothes" smell, but for a time a drugstore chain (Walgreen's?) sold small bottles of what they called "sample fragrances" for $1 or so at the perfume counter. One was "Line Dried Linen" (or something like that) and it did indeed smell EXACTLY like sun-dried sheets and towels. Problem was, nobody wanted it as a perfume, only to spray a little in the air and remember growing up in the Fifties or summers at Grandma's farm. Hence, the scent didn't make it beyond "sample" status. (sigh...)

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