Who’d have thought line drying clothing was such a subversive act?

Photo by: alexkess

In Australia, drying your clothing outdoors on a clothesline known as a Hills Hoist (pictured above) is an institution, an undeniable right and so much of an Aussie icon that the Hills Hoist was featured in the opening ceremony for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Nearly every house, no matter how small the yard, has one and they are so commonplace that the local wildlife (such as this kookaburra) use them regularly as a perch.

One thing I admit to finding really strange about living in the USA is how much debate there is over the right to line-dry your clothing. We haven’t had a problem since we erected our own line across the back of our rental property, but I’ve read that in other parts of the US, it’s a real issue.

There is a big movement afoot to “legalize” the line drying of your laundry. Shamefully, it is actually illegal in many places around the U.S. to hang your clothes out to dry. Some people complain that it lowers their property value or it makes them feel as though they live in a ghetto because they occasionally see a few t-shirts blowing in the wind. To those people I say – you need to reassess your priorities or take up a new hobby. ~ The Good Human

According to Project Laundry list about 5.8 percent of residential electricity use in the USA goes towards the clothes dryer. If everyone used the clothesline or wooden drying racks, the savings would be enough to close several power plants.

There are plenty of good reasons to air-dry your clothes.

1. It saves money.

This is the obvious one. Dryers use up a lot of electricity — almost more than any other household appliance. We really notice the difference when we look at the electricity bill during the months our house-sitter was using the dryer versus the months that we are home and using our clothesline.

2. It saves your clothes.

Dryers might make your clothes feel softer, but they also weaken the fabric’s fibers faster than if they had been air-dried. All that lint you find in the dryer is caused by the fabric slowly wearing off your clothes. Clothing doesn’t shrink when hung outside versus forced to dry in a heated tumbler. Using the dryer less will save you money on replacement clothes.

3. It uses less chemicals.

The sun is a natural whitener, so there is no need to use bleach. I also understand that people use dryer sheets to stop static cling. You might be shocked by the list of carcinogens found in these innocent looking items.


  1. Hello Mia,

    I’m glad I found your blog, especially as I am a fellow Australian trying to adopt sustainable practices into my lifestyle.

    I am astounded to find out that clothes lines are not the norm in western civilisation. It really is hard to comprehend why practically a whole nation would not make use of the natural resouces of sunshine and air to dry their clothes.

    I hope your message reaches far and wide, and thank you sincerely for sharing your stories and creating such awareness.


  2. I dry all my laundry on a couple clothes drying racks it is simply and it saves so much money and it is great for the environment. For the people who say their clothes come out to wrinkly or stiff just need to give them a couple good shakes before hanging them up. That will take out most of the wrinkles and will help to keep them from getting stiff. Another tip is buy clothes with polyester in them they dry fast, don’t wrinkle and never get stiff.

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