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How to Hang Clothes on the Line!
By Jill Cooper
Many people want to learn how to hang clothes on the line - whether it is to save money, protect the environment, or just because line-dried clothes smell so nice. An often overlooked benefit is how much line drying will save on wear and tear on clothing. Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge, after the first try or two of hanging things on the line, people usually get frustrated and quit.
It seems like hanging clothes on the line should be simple, right? How hard can it be to stick a clothespin on the fabric and put it on a line? But, as many have discovered, the results can be stiff and wrinkled clothes.
Like so many other homemaking skills, there is an art to hanging clothes on the line. Like other skills, it will take practice. Don't give up if it takes time or is hard the first time around. With practice, you will be able to hang an average load of laundry in about 5 minutes and take them down in that amount of time. They'll be as wrinkle-free and soft as if you did them in the dryer.
Here are a few things you will need to know before you start.
1. This is what I do to keep my laundry dryer soft. You can do one or all of these if you want. First, when I have a dryer, I always fluff my clothes in it for about 5 minutes. This uses almost no electricity and makes the clothes just as soft as if you had run them full cycle in the dryer.
When I don't have a dryer, I try to hang my clothes on a windy day. It does the same thing as a dryer. In Kansas, a windy day can be almost everyday, but for those of you who live where a 5-mile an hour breeze is considered a gale-force wind, don't despair! There are other things you can do.
2. As I begin to hang each piece of clothing, I give it a sharp snap, or shake, holding from the bottom of a shirt or pant legs. This doesn't take long. I just do it as I am going from the clothesbasket to the line, making it done and ready to hang when I get it up to the line. You don't need to do this with everything; for example, you don't need to do it with socks or undies. I do it to items I don't want wrinkled or things I want soft, like towels.
3. I always use fabric softener; if you prefer, you can use vinegar.
4. Fading is not a problem for me here in Kansas. It is hazy and defuses the sun's rays slightly. When we lived in the northwest, though, it was a real problem. If you find fading to be an issue, just turn things like jeans or dark t-shirts inside out.
It also helps to slow fading if you bring items in as soon as they are dry. In the opposite way, I leave my whites out as long as I can because it bleaches and brightens them.
5. You will need clothespins and a clothespin bag or apron. You can get clothes pins and bags at Wal-Mart or Dollar stores. They are usually with the things like ironing board covers. I prefer a clothespin apron. I made mine; it is about 10 inches long with just 2 large pockets on the front for the clothes pins. It ties around my waist like an apron. Either a bag or an apron is just fine.
Before You Start
Hanging out the clothes properly starts before you even leave the house. The next few steps may make me sound like Martha, but there is a reason for the method. Most of these steps not only speed the hanging of the clothes, but they also make taking them in quicker. The steps even help in folding and putting away.
If you are brand new to hanging clothes on a line, you may want to just practice hanging things the way I will show you. After you get that down, you'll want to speed things along by practicing the next steps.
Before I put the clothes in the basket to take outside, I sort them quickly on top of the washer or dryer. This doesn't need to be done perfectly and will get easier the more you do it. I pull out the big items like the sheets or tablecloths. I fold the sheets in half and gently lay them in the basket. This way, when I am ready to hang them, I just pick them up out of the basket by their four corners and quickly hang them because they are already folded and ready to go.
Next I do pants and jeans. The legs get folded with the seams together (see a picture below) and then folded in half and laid on top of the sheets.
Any large towels go next. I just lay them in the basket.
On the washer or dryer I lay piles of t-shirts all together, shirts together, hand towels together and all like things together in their own piles. I then stack them into the basket beginning with largest items and working my way to the smallest.
The next items in the basket are washrags, dishrags, and underwear. I lay them in flat piles, corners together, like laying a stack of papers. I do this because I can pick up the whole pile (or half, depending how big it is), and take it to the line. Because the corners are together, I can pin one corner after the other very quickly without having to go back and forth to the basket each time to get another item and I don't have to stop to straighten each one.
Last in the basket are the socks. I straighten them out and flatten them, laying one on top of the other, toes together. Again, I can pick up a stack of them and quickly go along the line, hanging them without having to return to the basket each time.
Pinning Clothes on the Line
Hang by the legs. Water wicks down to the heaviest part of the jean (the waistband). The weight of that water combines with the weight of the waistband, pulling on the pant legs and so pulling out the wrinkles. The same idea applies when steaming a garment. Gently pulling on it will remove wrinkles.
You can pull the pockets out if you want. I don't usually do that because they seem to dry fine, even here in humid Kansas.
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