April 18, 2008

Airing Your Laundry

My mother always warned me about airing my dirty laundry in public, but that's not what this post is about. (You knew that, didn't you?) It's about the cost of natural gas or electricity that we use to dry our clothes when there's perfectly good air and sunshine outside our back doors, and it smells better too. Well, I guess that depends on where you live. That might not be the case in Los Angeles or Detroit, but you know what I mean.

When I was first married I lived in a quaint little neighborhood with a fenced-in backyard where I could actually hang our laundry on a clothesline to air dry. What's a clothesline, you ask? It's this really nifty gadget - a string or wire - heavy duty of course, and you use clothespins (another nifty gadget) to secure your t-shirts, jeans and unmentionables out in the sunshine to dry - for free. Oh, and not one of our neighbors called us to angrily complain or report our unsightly mess to the neighborhood association.

There are actually restrictions in many places, including the city I live in, that make it illegal to hang your clean laundry outside to dry. You can get fined for this horrible wanton act! Now I'm not talking about hanging your undies in the front yard for all to see or tossing your towels and jeans over your porch railings for days on end. I mean a discreet little clothesline strung between trees or poles behind your house where no one can see it unless they're spying on you. What would that hurt? Does it actually bring the level of the neighborhood down because you want to save a few bucks? Isn't this the age of "going green"?

If you happen to live in the country or outside of the suburbs you could probably get away with at least hanging out your towels and sheets. I realize it's not terribly convenient but once you dry off with a fluffy towel or plop face down into a pillow that smells of sunshine and fresh air you might find it addictive and worth the effort. If you like the additional fragrance that you get with laundry additives you could use a linen spray with lavender to add a calming floral scent.

Back in my grandmother's day they used drawer sachets, not only for keeping their laundry fresh but also to help ward off moths and other undesirable critters. A sachet is simply a small bag or pouch filled with dried herbs or flowers. You can fill a small muslin drawstring bag with cedar chips and hang it in your closet to keep moths away from woolens and keep clothes smelling fresh. I keep a little satin pouch with dried lavender and rose buds in my lingerie drawer. Shhhh... don't tell my husband, he thinks I smell that good naturally.

The naysayers would complain that if you let one person do it then everyone would do it and it could get out of control. Maybe, but I highly doubt it would lead to anarchy.

Sources for Clotheslines and Supplies:
Whitney Design Outdoor Dryers
The Clothesline Shop

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