Do We Have a Right to Line Dry Our Clothes?

I don’t have many memories of my dad’s parents, because unfortunately they passed away when I was still young. However, one thing I distinctly remember was my grandmother hanging her laundry out to dry on her clothesline.

One day I asked my mom why we didn’t dry our clothes outside, too, and she said grumbled about the neighbors or the neighborhood or something. I didn’t really understand it all. I mean, who cares if you dry your clothes on a clothesline? Apparently, many people do.

Online by erix! on Flickr

Line Dryers vs HOAs

The latest issue of People magazine (September 13, 2010) has a small story featuring couples fighting for their right to line dry their clothes. The homeowners’ association in their area decided clotheslines were off-limits, forcing the couples to continue using their electric clothes dryer or indoor drying racks.

When one Oregon couple challenged the ruling by drying clothes outside despite the rules against it, they were hit with a $1,000 fine by their HOA.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of homeowners’ associations threatening legal action over clotheslines. Homeowners’ associations are notorious for setting some seemingly ridiculous rules for their members.

Naturally, HOA defenders will say a neighborhood needs rules to protect property values, etc. But I say we have enough rules – who wants yet another authority telling us what we can and can’t do within our own backyards?

How Much Does Line Drying Clothes Save?

It is difficult to estimate the energy efficiency of one particular drying method over the other because dryers are not rated similar to other appliances. Here’s the explanation from the Energy Star program website (

“ENERGY STAR does not label clothes dryers because there is little difference in energy use among models.”

However, the EnergyStar website does list a few tips for improved drying, should you decide to use an electric clothes dryer (or gas):

  • When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. Not only will this save energy, it will save the wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
  • Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked.

Even if Energy Star won’t rate how much energy my dryer is using, I know from experience that not running my dryer as often reduces my electric bill.

Alternatives to a Clothesline

Before considering a retractable clothes line, my wife and I used an indoor clothes drying rack similar to this one. It was a little smaller than the one shown, but still large enough to hold a load of towels or jeans (the two items that seemed to hold the most moisture after the final spin around the washer).

The downside to indoor clothes drying racks is that the evaporating moisture often increases the humidity in the room you are drying clothes, which makes air conditioning work a little harder in the summer months. For this reason, we often set up the drying rack in our master bathroom, because that’s a room that is expected to be a more humid than others.

Drying racks, and even outside clothes lines, are also thought to change the shape of clothes (as in clothes often get stretched out a bit rather than returning to their normal size). One remedy for this, and perhaps a good compromise for those still unsure about line drying, is to partially dry clothes outside and then toss them in a clothes dryer on a light, cooler setting with a dryer sheet for a few minutes.

Using this method, the  dryer does not have to produce much heat, and therefore drains less energy, while fluffing clothes, removing static and giving them the scent you are used to (although for me, nothing beats the scent of clothes dried outside).

Any readers personally use a clothes line to dry laundry? Anyone prohibited from using them, but would like to?


  1. I cannot even imagine drying all of my families clothes in a clothes dryer, don’t the clothes shrink and also what about the cost of electricity to dry them? We all have outdoor lines in Australia and I have to admit hanging out the clothes is one of my favourite chores. If it rains for days then I use a portable line in my dining room and dry only the undies and socks in the dryer.

  2. Our HOA states we cannot install permanent clothes lines/posts in our yard. I would love to hang our laundry outside, but due to allergies, I am hesitant to actually put our small drying rack on the patio. We do line dry the majority of our laundry in our basement year round. I usually put the laundry in the dryer for no more than 5 minutes before hanging it up. This takes care of wrinkles, and I’ve had no complaints of “crunchy” feeling clothes, so I think I’ll keep up this practice to save money and the dryer should easily last another 15 years.

  3. I grew up during the 1960s and momma always hung her clothes outside to dry. Some of the sweetest memories of my childhood are centered around her Monday laundry days. Neighbors chatting over fences, the smell of the clothes drying on the breeze, getting to help mom take them down and placing them in her little wheeled laundry cart. She continued to dry most of her clothes outside until about 2 years ago when she turned 79.

  4. I grew up with my mom always line drying our clothes. For a while, she didn’t even have a dryer. Gasp!!! I love the smell of line dried clothes. I now line dry at my home for the smell, and the frugalness of it. My girls love their sheets smelling like ‘heaven’. 🙂

    Hopefully enough people fight their HOA’s so that it becomes the norm to line dry instead of the exception. Good luck to them.

  5. We either line dry our clothes on do it inside. On way I’ve found to do it inside is because we have two bathrooms but really only use one, I hang our wet laundry on plastic clothes hangers on the shower rod. It works pretty well.

    I haven’t experienced any misshapen clothes by line drying. Since we have several cats, we only put the things in the dryer (on a light setting) that need to have the hair removed! We wait until we have a a loads worth of clothes, and presto. We probably run our dryer for about 15 minutes every two weeks, tops.

    Thanks for the post!

  6. I dry all my clothes on the line. My husband uses the dryer. All sheets and towels are on the line except when it rains (yes, even during the snow season). Mine are done faster in the summer! They also smell better. Sunlight is one of the largest killers of mold and mildew that lives in fabric.
    When we lived in No Va our association prohibited clothes lines. Our children were both in diapers. Everyone in the complex worked except me…so at 8:30 I would roll out my German moving clothes line and hang out diapers. At 3:00 I would take them in from my fenced back yard. I got caught once- by a neighbor home sick- and had to stand trial. I brought the babies (they were the only ones in the complex that I knew of). My kids charmed the socks off of them and it was agreed that as long as I kept to my routine- they would permit the line. Since we were renters, they knew I would be gone in a year.
    Hanging wash is therapeutic to me. I don’t know anyone who did it when I was a child.

  7. I use a clothesline almost exclusively all summer long and my electric bill thanks me. I would fight it too if my HOA banned me from it. It might even be enough for me to NOT buy a house where there was such a rule.

  8. I line dry my clothes from spring to end of fall season-Save money on energy -The best way is to have a clothes line in the laundry room for winter months, you can still dry light clothing without turning on the dryer

  9. We live in an apartment in NYC, so line drying is not an option. And frankly, given the pollution and filth in the air (the dust that accumulates every day is remarkable for its quantity and the dirt particles!) would make it undesirable even if we could.

    When the dryers were non-functioning in our basement shared laundry a few years ago, we did try drying some things in the apartment. It was a nightmare because it took a day or more to dry and it took up one whole room. We only did it under duress because we hate public laundromats.

    As for the suburbs with those restrictions, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Particularly as many folks backyards are not even visible. In your own home, you should have the right to hang clothes outside if you want. (OK. NOT in the front yard, because heck that’s an invitation for people to just take them.

    Given the air quality and allergies, however, even the folks we know who live in houses in suburbs don’t hang clothes out.

    Would it be great to have that line-fresh feeling on your clothes? You bet. But the air is no longer fresh even in the country. (Some of the worst air we’ve encountered was in the middle of nowhere, in farm country. Phew. The air stunk and any clothes left outside stunk as well.)

    What we really miss is old-fashioned interior drying racks that used to be in our basement laundry (a remnant of the 1920s when this building was built). They were very cool and energy-efficient. THey rolled out, you loaded the vertical racks, and they rolled back in where they absorbed heat. Really great, even if you had to vie with neighbors for their availability.

  10. My parents hung most of their clothes when I was young, but then never did when I was a teenager (we had moved, I guess that changed their habits). Our back yard is too full of trees that when I tried to hang them out, they got bird poop and bugs…so I stick to hanging all our clothes and towels inside (dry undies and socks, don’t have enough space to hang everything!) We put the clothes on their hangers and hang them on the door frames, works like a charm!

  11. I’m curious as to how much money people save when line drying – no need to be exact in the numbers, but even a rough guess. If your electricity bill is usually say $150.. would you save $25? $50?

    Be nice to figure out before you go out and buy or get something else to dry your clothes, I personally like the idea of a dry on line then finish off in the dryer.

  12. SarahA, we live in an apartment in western suburbs of Chicago (but previously were in the high-rise part of downtown), and we’ve been line drying for years. Some tricks for making it work in an apartment:

    1. Do all the drying inside. We have one rack outside now that we live in the burbs, but we have two indoor racks. One is a traditional rack and the other is a round rack from Ikea. We have several flat racks with mesh for heavy sweaters during the winter.
    2. If you have ceiling fans, turn them on as they help circulate the air.
    3. Run the clothes through an extra spin cycle in the washer to help squeeze out water.
    4. Shake the clothes before putting them on the rack (to smooth out wrinkles) and again after picking them up off the rack (to get rid of any “crunch” factor, though we find this is also prevented by using a good quality fabric softener).

    We’ve got a round rack hanging from our kitchen entry (an octopus with clothespins from Ikea), and a standard towel drying rack in our living room. It doesn’t take up that much space, and if done right, takes only a few hours for some things (like shirts, socks and underwear and light pants), and the jeans and towels rest overnight. If its a Saturday it takes even less time as we’re doing laundry in the morning and hanging it by 10 am, and its down by 10 pm.

    And I too miss those old drying racks that they had in the old buildings. We had one in a ca1900 built apartment building, and when we moved to a modern building, we were saddened to find they didn’t have such amenities.

    To Frugal Dad, I find it ridiculous that HOAs have clotheselines banned while they pretend to be “environmentally friendly”. Nothing’s more environmentally friendly than saving the energy and useless heat of a dryer!

  13. Ahh, the HOA nightmare. I won’t live in a neighborhood that’s run by a little lord Fauntleroy and a group of political wannabes who dictate my every move with the biggest investment I own. Courts have historically sided with them and if you take them to court (or they take YOU), chances are very good you will lose.

    • It’s a good thing you recognized your attitude and avoided buying anything with a homeowner’s association. My beef is not with your attitude, it’s with the folks who share your perspective and then buy a HOA property ANYWAY!
      I’m happy to live in a community with a well-run board, low-ish dues and fully funded reserves.
      It’s the people who move in without understanding what they are doing who drive me crazy. Yes, the rules do apply to you! If you don’t like them, why did you buy/rent a home here? Did you like the way the neighborhood looks or the value it represents? If so, thank your board and stop complaining!

  14. These people that are complaining about the HOA rules and not being able to dry their clothes are just complainers. The rules were in the HOA rules and regulations handbook and they knew that when they bought there. If they didn’t like the rules they shouldn’t have purchased a place there and if they don’t like them now that they are there, they should simply move. I live in a urban environment in an HOA complex with a park like setting and I don’t want to look at laundry hanging out and it looks trashy. The main reason I bought a nice place in an upper class neighborhood is because I want peace and quiet and there are rules to keep everything looking nice and uniform which maintain property values!


      • If I’d read ALL the comments before I replied to Ron’s, I could have just posted “What he said.” below “rob’s”.
        Now it’s Irv’s comment that really cracks me up. Is there an implication that the FD has so little to offer?
        I live in an HOA (gads, I’m on the board, too!). I use my energy efficient washer & dryer and occasionally hang things to dry (or finish drying) on a rack I built in my garage. My home is 1700 sf. Last month my Gas & Electric bill was 29.01, so in my case there’s not much to gain by line drying exclusively. Maybe my bill’s so low because of all the other things I learned via Frugal Dad and other like-minded sites.
        Ron’s answer might be different than mine, but I’m fairly sure he’s more open to FD’s message than your *snarky* comment implies.

        • Well, in an overall sense, Diane, you’re right, of course. My response to Rob (and yours to mine) merely demonstrates how variously our bases of outlook can differ. I’ve been on a frugal trail, now, for some 40 years, which is why I relate to the basic theme. And it was Rob’s “I don’t want to look at laundry hanging out and it looks trashy.” that seemed snarky, as you put it, to me.

          My whole idea of frugality is to approach life from a down-to-earth perspective that is quite the opposite of yours and Rob’s. Having fully developed that, I’ve lived an incredibly free life *without* the near-absorption with money, getting it,and all that it buys, that most ‘trapped’ people and many suffering these days seem to have.

          • Perhaps this thread is drifting too far off topic, Irv,
            I can’t speak for Rob’s perspectives, as I don’t know him.

            My point was primarily regarding the stupidity of buying a HOA governed property and then railing against the same HOA you just bought into (probably without doing any research or reading and understanding the mountain of documents provided during escrow).
            I’ve been a board member on two different associations for nearly fifteen years and have never met anyone who could be fairly characterized as “little lord Fauntleroy and a group of political wannabes”.
            Instead, both boards were populated by individuals who worked together for the common good. My current board has not raised dues in three years, has not deferred maintenance and has seen to it that our reserves are fully funded. Why? Because we’re all frugal types who care about our community.
            A general note to everyone governed by a HOA: go to a meeting! Learn what’s really going on in your community. If you don’t like it, attend more meetings, perhaps run for a seat on the board.
            Even if you’re a renter you can attend Board Meetings (except executive sessions) and ownership is generally not required to serve on a committee. Make a positive change. Who knows? It could prove to be a very frugal move!

  15. These people that are complaining about the HOA rules and not being able to dry their clothes are just complainers. The rules were in the HOA rules and regulations handbook and they knew that when they bought there. If they didn’t like the rules they shouldn’t have purchased a place there and if they don’t like them now that they are there, they should simply move. I live in a urban environment in an HOA complex with a park like setting and I don’t want to look at laundry hanging out because it looks trashy. The main reason I bought a nice place in an upper class neighborhood is because I want peace and quiet and there are rules to keep everything looking nice and uniform which maintain property values!


  16. I grew up in the UK and my mum always used an outside clothes line and then indoor racks when it was raining or in the winter, when it was cold outside the clothes might not be quite dry enough, so they were brought indoors to the heat.

    I gave up my dryer a couple of years ago. I live in Florida so have an advantage of a lot of sun. The benefits: 1. my electric bill is reduced a lot (maybe 25-30%) since I don’t use a lot of appliances this was probably the main draw. 2. Clothes do last longer and fade less. The heat and tossing in the machine really damages the fibers of your clothes. 3. The smell of air dried clothes is great. I love getting into bed just after putting on fresh sheets that still have that fresh outside scent.

    BTW, clothes don’t have to lose their shape if they are hung loosely – jsut don’t pull them out taut – and the pegs are put in the right spots. For example, for t-shirts, fold over the line and put the pegs at the armpits. If you hang it by the shoulders you often get peg marks which have to be ironed out, and if you hang by the bottom the t-shirt can stretch. Another tip, remove from the line when they are still a little damp and then iron. This helps prevent creases and makes it easier to iron, and stops towels, etc., becoming ‘crispy’.

  17. I hate HoAs. They remind me of everything that disgusts me about the stereotype of suburban America: conspicuous consumption, driving everywhere instead of taking the bus (There used to be a car line up from my hgih school to the subdivision across the street, even when it was nice out. Those parents/kids were driving a five minute walk and taking longer because of the lineup!)

    When I was in college, many of the students put up clotheslines to save money and energy. Although our dorm was on campus, it was across the street from a very wealthy subdivision who seemed to think they’re snooty rules pertained to us as well. We were able to relocate the clotheslines to an interior courtyard with the schools assistance, but that was far from the worst thing they did.

    One day, I got a call from Facilities. The homeowners were complaining about the student-run garden, an attempt to take a bite out of grocery expenses and experiment on better agricultural strategies for the small scale. The homeowners felt that gardens should be limited to flowers and decorative plants, and that our tomatoes and peas were “lowering their property value” by “making the neighborhood look middle class”.

    I cleaned up a bit (weeded and put away one or two tools), but in the end the school finally just told them what they could do with their lowered property values. The street they were across was a city limit anyway, so their options were very limited beyond complaining.

  18. Lynnae – call your local electric company …. they will give you an estimate of what it is costing, based on their experiences…. It might not be accurate according to what model you have, but it would give you a general idea.

    at least my electric company did when I wanted to know how much the stovetop was costing when I was figuring the cost of canning vs dehydrating or freezing 🙂 Friendly folks at my PUD.

  19. PS – with 300 days of rain a year, and me working , it is difficult to use a clothesline – but I do for the rugs and blankets regularly. Mine is strung on the 4×4 posts that support the covered patio – as that’s the easiest for me.

    I grew up with a clothesline – so it seems only common sense to me to use one when I can, around the work schedule and rain here on the NW OR coast 🙂

  20. Dear Bob,
    It looks trashy to hang clothes on the line? It is a sad day when something that is doing good for the environment and our clothes (dryer’s are hard on clothes.) Plus helping to save money (I got an estimate that my gas dryer takes .60 cents to dry a load. I do about 5 loads a week, that is $3.00 a week saved, or $12.00 a month. Over $120 a year.

    I am glad you are not my neighbor.

    -Becky R in NJ

  21. I plan to never own a home in a place with an HOA. To me, the presence of an HOA lowers the value of a property by more than their rules raise it.

    That said, I’m not a huge fan of line drying clothes. It’s all well and good if you can do it outside in the sunshine. But during the winter when you’re stuck inside, the clothes end up smelling weird if they take too long to dry, and you put a lot of moisture into your air which (in my area) can lead to mold problems.

    My wife grew up without a dryer so she’s a little wary of what one will do to her clothes. She is afraid everything she owns will shrink if it ends up in the dryer. I did shrink one of her wool socks once.

    Also, the biggest component of dryer performance is probably how much water your washing machine spins out of the clothes beforehand.

    • That last bit is definitely true. Seems like I’ve seen some washers that have a prolonged (or second) spin cycle at the end of the overall washing cycle. That would probably help further wring out moisture from heavy linens such as towels and jeans, helping them dry faster in the dryer.

  22. You can save lots of money by just keeping an eye on how long things take to dry. My dryer is pretty efficient and things are typically dry WELL before the cycle is over. Doing this saves hours, and time is money, right?

  23. I have an old dryer, so when I switched from dryer to outside drying, I saved around $75 a month. Ok, all of the savings isn’t totally the dryer, because I did install some power strips to turn off all power to tv, microwave, etc. at the same time. I also stopped using air conditioning as much too.

    Not using the dryer, and using some other electricity saving ideas, has made my electric bill go from $125+ to around $70 per month in the summer. It could be lower, but that would involve no movies, tv or video games. 🙂

    I grew up with parents and grand parents that used a clothes line all the time. I love the smell when clothes are hung outdoors. I moved into my house because it was cheaper than renting. Yes there is an HOA, but still cheaper than renting. I get around the no clothesline rule by hanging clothes on my deck during the weekend. I use hangers so I can fit everything on my deck. No one has complained and I only do it on Saturdays, when I know no one is around. I think some of my neighbors have started doing it to, and doubt anyone will care.

    Due to current allergies I am unable to put my clothes outside anymore and hanging them inside only makes them smell like mildew. I guess I will have to buy a newer, more efficient washer and dryer to save on my electricity bill now.

  24. I could never EVER imagine havign to justify me drying my clothes on the line. Here in England we do it all the time and to the best of my knowladge there is no rule preventing such an act. it it cleaner greener and energy efficiant to do so the sun bleaches your whites and kills any mould spores. in the summer months and any good days we get leading up to winter I put a load on at night and when I am up in the morning peg it out whilst my other load is doing. I LOATH beyond words having laundry draped about the house. Truly I would take the NAZI brigade to task, it is my human right to dry my cloes as I see fit, so long as there is nothing to “adult” on the line to offend people. my personal garments I place on an airer outside so the remain as private as posible. Who are they to dictate how I spend my hard earn cash and make me submit to polouting the planet even further.
    Phew ok rant over lol.
    Good post
    good blog
    love reading it
    Rachel plmouth devon

  25. I grew up with line dried clothes and I still hang my clothes out when the weather allows. I live in the country, now. I have lived where clothes lines were not allowed, unless they were collapsible and of a certain size. What a joke. I have lived in Okinawa, and everyone there hangs their clothes out. I would too when you pay as much as they do for Electric. That seems to be the driving factor. Most of Europe and Asia, line dry clothes due to the cost of electric. Here we have control freaks telling us we can’t. How many even know what fresh CLEAN clothes should smell like? Not as many as once did, that’s for sure.

  26. My house is 53 years old. Has never had, nor will ever have, a dryer. We hang clothes on the line outside when it is pretty or inside if it is too cold or, believe it or not, too hot (and Mosquitoes). I love it, wouldn’t have it any other way.

  27. I always line dry my clothes, my parents still do, and my grandparents did. it just makes sense to let Mother Nature’s free wind and sunshine to dry clothes rather than to pay money to heat up a machine inside your home (especially in the summer time!).

    I have a clothes dryer, but it’s used so infrequently it will probably last forever. In the winter, I hang clothes on plastic hangers on a pole I temporarily rig over the hot air vent. When the furnace kicks on, and the heat blows up, it fills the room with a fresh laundry smell. I will use the dryer once per week for a load of sheets and towels, but that’s about it.

    I’m surprised that HOA’s or neighborhoods try to ban this practice. With all the “green” initiatives to save energy, this seems like a natural way to save money and the planet at the same time.

  28. I haven’t used our dryer once in the last 4 years. It stores toilet paper, lol.

    Normally clothes go outside on the line but if weather prohibits they go on hangers in doorways (just like AManda Y. #10) and/or drying racks. It works perfectly!

    And SuzieQ, #17, is right too. Don’t pull clothes taut and there will be no clothespin marks. I’ve never had a problem as long as I follow that rule.

    To me it’s strange that someone would thing clothes on the line looks bad. Considering that the clothes dryer is a modern *convenience*, and for centuries all that people had to dry their clothes is the sun and wind it seems natural to me to forgo the dryer and use my back yard!

  29. We always line-dried our clothes in northern Saskatchewan and the south of France, but now being in an apartment in Montreal, it’s not possible (forbidden by HOA). I have a new washer/dryer combo that is very efficient, washer spins nearly all the water out so dryer doesn’t have to work so hard. I would love to hang my clothes out but you can only do that a few months out of the year due to the winters – in Saskatchewan we used to hang everything up in the basement during the really cold months.

  30. I love the idea of clothes lines. However, I live in one of the wetter American states so I don’t think it is very practical. But I do lay stuff out to dry during the summer months.

  31. I don’t have a clothes line, but do have a good drying rack that holds a full load. Mostly use the dryer for sheets.

    Only down sides are the amount of time it takes to dry some things. Also cottons come out a little stiff. But, these are minor.

    Perhaps in the next house I will put up a line.

  32. I dry my laundry outside all dry season (April to Nov), and most of the wet season as well, and I live in a crowded urban area. The restrictions you name above are one of the many, many reasons I would never live anywhere with an HOA. I do find it saves a lot on electricity. Plus it makes everything smell nice and is easy on the clothes.

  33. I am living in a hotel at the moment, but I only wash my laundry, and I let it airdry in the hotel..

    I don’t see the point of using a dryer when all it takes is just organization (getting up early to get it done), letting it dry, and having time to iron out the wrinkles later on in the day.

    I put them on clothes hangers and let them hang.

    Sweaters go flat on tables and flipped every hour on top of towels.

    Underwear and handkerchiefs are washed by hand in the sink if I am in a pinch and they dry within an hour.

  34. I believe I heard this story. I think it is ashame that these people were banned from hanging their clothes on the line. I hang clothes on the line that I don’t want to shrink or become worn from the dryer. There are other things in this world that need way more attention.

  35. @Len: I know my electricity bill goes down well over $100/mo during line-drying season (family of 4). Officially we aren’t supposed to in my suburb neighbourhood, but I have a retractable line and no one can see it unless they are right in my yard. When we have had a rainier than usual summer (we live on the west coast) I really notice it in the electricity bill!
    Indoor drying doesn’t work well here… too humid all year long!

  36. I live on a tropical island in the south of China, and dryers are practically unknown here. Everybody line dries, including us! Luckily our apartment has a couple of nice balconies that get sun and breeze, but we do hang inside during damp winter or typhoon weather. Fans are a huge help then!

  37. I grew up with air drying clothes on clotheslines in China where people still do so today. In cities where more and more people live in apartments, every family has clotheslines installed on the balcony.

    I don’t understand why people think using clotheslines is bad, why people in the US have the right to own guns and kill people, but they don’t have the right to air dry their clothes outdoors. People care so much about their property value, that they will stop others from using their backyard to air dry clothes in order to protect their property value.

    But what about protecting the environment and mother earth for the long term?

    I hope those HOA rules will be gone someday. If enough people stand up, do what we believe in, we can change the culture.

  38. I use my dryer maybe three or four times a year, and all the other times I line-dry either outside or in the basement. Hanging the laundry outside is one of my favourite chores. i also love the slight stiffnes of line-dried clothes. When I put on the soft clothes out of the dryer, I always have the feeling as if they have already been worn once.
    What is a Home Owners Association? Do they really have the right to fine you? I always thought Germany has the most rules and regulations in the world, but obviously the US aren´t better.

  39. I grew up helping my Mom put the clothes on the clothes line to dry in the wind. It was a lot of fun for us little ones. Mom had a lot more time than Moms these days. HOA’s are a special lot with having to please everyone. Its easier for us to use a clothes dryer. Its a matter of saving time for us.

  40. I live in Wisconsin so my outdoor clothes drying season is from
    April-October. A few neighbors also dry clothes outside, but not as often as me. For my family of 5, I hanging at least a load or more outside everyday. I dry everything outside and love all the benefits–wonderful smell, whites are whiter, stains are easier to get out if not dried in the dryer–the suns even fades some stains out. For hanging t-shirts, I fold over the line and put the clothes pins at the arm pits; this prevents any weird pin marks at the shoulders. In the winter, I use a laundry rack and hang other things in the doorways. I do keep an eye on heavier clothing– it will start to smell a little funky if it takes too long to dry indoors. For those items, it helps to run the dryer a few minutes. I grew up helping my mom hang clothes out and so to me it is just the norm—helping my budget and the environment make it even better!!

  41. I hang dry almost everything. There is too high of a cost of dryer-drying! The electricity costs, the shape of the clothing changes and it wears the clothn g out much faster!You can look at an article of clothing and tell if it has ever been in a dryer!! That costs me multiple times, electricity plus clothes more often!

    I dont understand how HOA have this power. You bought the house and the property and they don’t make laws, so who is going to enforce ‘rules’? Ontario actually passed a law a couple years ago preventing HOA from banning clothes lines.

  42. Living in the UK in a tiny flat I have no space for a dryer and replacing the perfectly functioning washer for a combo washer/dryer makes no sense.

    Plus, I live on the rooftop so when it’s not raining I get the superb benefit of sun and wind. Granted I’m only doing laundry for one though.

    I previously wrote about my line drying on my blog, including a photo of this line drying here:

    In the winter clothes are dried inside on racks that connect to the radiators. So far I’m pleased with not having a dryer after 18 months of living without it.

  43. I have fond memories of line drying as a child. We had a huge tree in the backyard and hung everything on hangers, then hung the hangers in the tree. We also had a small rack for other items.

    Now, I have one line in my suburban backyard (no HOA, thankfully) and two indoor trying racks. I also use my shower curtain rod.

    In California, using gas appliances, my gas bill went down $20 per month when I went from all-dryer to all-line-dry.

  44. My parents used to line dry when I was a kid. The HOA didn’t like it, but my parents and others in the neighborhood fought it. The compromise was that it should not be visible from the street, front side of the house. After it finally broke, it had been repaired many times, they couldn’t find a replacement, so they set up line drying in the basement.
    Definitely were some worries about the humidity it would generate in the summer, so they got a dehumidifier, which they needed anyways.

    When I went to college, there was no space for line drying in the dorm room. I was shocked how quickly my socks and undies deteriorated w/ the dryer!
    Now that I’ve got my own place, I line dry all over the house (a wimpy rack for smaller stuff, everything else on the banisters!, I don’t have a large basement like my parents do).
    While the humidity makes it take longer in the summer, in the winter, it’s great b/c it’s so dry inside… I notice a considerable difference on days I dry laundry vs days I haven’t; it’s so much easier to breathe when I’m drying laundry.

  45. I’ve been line drying our diapers ever since I found out how much better they smell and how much brighter they are. I am just using a folding rack that i put up in the back yard though. I would love install a clothes line. I don’t know if i’m “allowed” too or not though – we do have an HOA, but its not a very strong one. I tend to do all my laundry on one day though – washing and putting it away. That and there seem to be so few days that we can actually line dry around here.

    I will probably continue to dry the diapers on the rack though, because they are washed so much, and they take so long to dry. I will just put in the basement in the winter, and hopefully it will add some humidity to the dry air.

  46. I love line drying my clothes in the summer. I start near the end of April and go until the early fall, as long as the weather allows. I’m lucky that our HOA went defunct and we are responsible for maintaining our own property and other than having to paint our town houses earth tone colors they don’t make any other dictations regarding our yards. I think more people should line dry their clothes. It’s better for the wallet and the enviornment. Thanks for this post.


  47. I grew up in the fifties in Canada and I remember everybody put their clothes out on the line — even in winter! I live in an older area that allowed line drying so didn’t have to worry about it — the really expensive areas didn’t allow it. Now of course energy saving is a big thing and the rules were changed so that the whole city can line dry.

  48. Much to my amazement, my wife cringed when I brought up the prospect of installing a clothesline in our backyard. Not because she would loathe using it, but because she was embarrassed with what the neighbors would say/think. Yes we live in a HOA, and I’m currently unsure if this topic is in the rulebook, but I wouldn’t follow it if it was. Rules are good when they make sense, but senseless rules are made to be challenged and disregarded.

    We compromised by buying a retractable clothesline like the first Amazon link you posted in the article. I have not installed it yet because shortly after purchasing the line, we decided we would be putting our home up for sale.

    Everyone should know that the dryer sucks more energy than most any other household appliance by far – because of the heating element. I’m not positive, but would guess that the “air dry” cycle (without heat) would burn far less energy, even though it would take longer… a concept worth testing.

  49. I have not owned a dryer for over two years. I dry everything on a couple clothes drying racks. It is a great way to save money and be good to the environment. I think that we need to make many changes in this country and some of these HOA’s need to realize that climate change is real and that those of us with resources need to lead the movement to cleaner and reduced energy use.

    • I was quite pleased when they did exactly this in Ontario, Canada. The new law passed in 2008 overrules any of the HOA bans on clothes lines!

  50. Wow, it’s tough to avoid HOA’s these days. However, I’ve found my HOA is willing to work with people if some care is taken to be inconspicuous. Sometimes all it takes is some ‘soft skills’.

  51. We have a wooden privacy fence. Otherwise I’m 100% sure that our HOA would forbid us from line drying our clothes.

    I absolutely abhor HOAs. Certainly, keeping property values up is an important thing, but I am completely against someone forcing me to do something with my property. Then again, I’m one of those crazies who doesn’t believe in zoning laws should exist either. 😉

  52. As an alternative to the indoor drying rack, I have been able to dry some items on one of those gizmos that you put over a door upon which to hang clothes hangars. I am able to hang several items at a time, even if I leave an inch or so between items. This is especially useful if the door happens to be near a heat source..

  53. I am all for drying your clothes without using a dryer. We do this not only because it is cheap but clothes last a lot longer and in better condition. However I would not like to see clothes lines in my neighborhood. Instead, neighbors can use racks and other creative methods. I really don’t want to see my neighbors under garments nor do I want them seeing mine.

    While I like the low energy options, it really does not look very nice to have clothes lines. I guess that is my biggest drawback. Especially because I can just imagine neighbors who don’t cut their grass will most likely be the ones who won’t take their clothes down in a timely manner.