Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's Crunchtastic!

And by that, I mean my laundry. There is lots to wash for a family of six and it seems vacation (especially those filled with sandy beaches, tree houses and swimming) really generate lots of extra work in the laundry room. Now that our clothes are dried outdoors on the drying rack...

It takes FOREVER.

1 rack.

8 loads of laundry.

3 days of drying time.

By the time I am caught up with the vacation laundry I am back-logged with the every day stuff. Now I have convinced my boys and the eco 'burban dad that crunchtastic, wind dried clothes are doable, I need to speed up my game.

Here in suburbia there is a strict "no clotheslines allowed" policy. So, you know I like to cheat on the compost, how can I get around the lovely HOA? Retractable line? Super-secret clothesline poles? Hang my PJs from the spines of the market umbrella?

Help a fellow laundress out here and tell me how you get it done! And quickly, the boxer shorts are piling up as we speak!!!


Burbanmom said...

I have the same HOA rules issue! I dry my stuff:

On the deck railing
On the backs of the kitchen chairs
Over the shower curtain rod
On a 5-string retractable line that's installed in the laundry room
On the stair railing
Anywhere else where the dog fur won't get on it or the kids won't wipe their hands on it!

Joyce said...

I have a retractable line outside, but I wonder if you could put one up over your deck, or in your laundry room or garage (though our garage is such a crowded mess, I personally wouldn't do it there!) Or course, the shower rod and a rack in the tub works for some apartment dwellers, but they may not do for a family of six.

fearlesschef said...

How about the garage? My neighborhood isn't too keen on my laundry hanging all over the place, but I have a 6 foot fence around my yard... so they can't really see it. But, if you were able to leave the side door to your garage open, you would get some air through. Or if it faces away from the road, leave the garage door open.

Ellen said...

Us too! Dumb HOA. I have a retractable line in my backyard as well as a folding rack. The deck serves as a towel dryer. I'm in Colorado and drying only takes about 2 hours in the hot sun, so I can get 4 loads done if need be. Hang in there!

jennconspiracy said...

Do you have a garage or basement? Put up lines in those spaces. Growing up, we had lines in the basement and were able to line dry clothing year round in a cold, snowy climate.

Eliane said...

It is so depressing that you aren't allowed to hang your washing outside or have a compost heap, and that judging by the comments, this appears to be common in suburban USA. Is there anyway in these supposedly more-enlightened times, you can change these local rules? Who makes the rules? I've heard in the UK of local authorities enforcing rules on council tenants in flats re: washing, but no one can tell a homeowner they can't have a washing line. And there was me thinking you lived in the land of the free...

On the solutions front, you can get some quite nifty rails that when not in use are pulled up to the ceiling out of the way. I have folding racks that I put outside when it's dry and unfortunately as I live in wet Wales, lug back in again shortly afterwards. But they do take one load of washing on each.

JAM said...

I have an outdoor clothesline which I love - we live in an old neighborhood with no HOA - our first house had one and I'd never buy in one again - but I also have some lines in my laundry room, but not enough for winter or rainy days. So I strung some more lines across the big part of the basement - they're high enough not to catch heads when there's no laundry hanging, so the kids can still use the basement, but if I need the space I can hang lots more down there, and there's better airflow and more dry heat from the furnace than in the back part with the laundry. But the fresh air dries so much faster - anything you can rig up on your deck that might not be seen would be a good way to go. And retractables that were only out when they were being used might work - how many people are driving around during the day looking for clotheslines? You might be able to use one quite often and not get caught!

eco 'burban mom said...

burbs: My hubby is so freaked out by the dog fur too! He won't let them out in the backyard if the clothes are out there. Poor doggies need to pee!

joyce - where did you find a sturdy retractable one? The ones I looked at were the wimpy kind you might use in your bathroom, they weren't very long either.

fearless: My garage faces the road and is such a mess! My hubby is also freaked out about people breaking in, so we keep it shut at all times. Sigh.

Ellen: I agree, HOAs are so ridiculous. I need to find a nice retractable one like everyone seems to have!

Jenn - in the winter, the rack works well in the basement, and I could easily run a line down there too. That's a good idea, but I feel like clothes don't smell as nice and are more crunchy than when dried outdoors. Maybe it's all in my head... ;o)

Elaine: It's very humid here, and we live on a lake, so we often have foggy, damp mornings and lots of rain, so it takes forever to get things to dry. And, I too take clothes out, only to rush them back in again. I agree, though, maybe I will put up a line and then fight the HOA. With the high energy costs these days, I'm surprised more people aren't ready to put up lines!

jam: You wouldn't believe how often the black township code enforcement car drives around just looking for bad, bad homeowners. And, I have a neighbor who would call the second I put up a line. Seriously, she called on my flag pole already. Which was allowed as it's not permanently cemented in the ground and can be removed. Imagine her horror of having to look at my sheets and tshirts!!! Oh, my eyes. MY EYES!

ib mommy said...

I have a line that can be retracted. Hubby just put hooks on the end of a regular clothesline and screwed eye bolts to the post. We call this a "trellis" since our HOA rules prohibit clotheslines but not hanging clothes on your garden accessories! I have cucumbers twining up one end and wisteria on the other. Thankfully, though, our back yard is fenced and very private.

Cassandra said...


Have you heard about the 'Right to Dry'?

Couple articles here to get you started:



And see how I do it with a family of 8 and lots of laundry:


I take it you can't install a removeable umbrella clothes line? Just painful. I'd have to move.

Cassandra said...

Ooops should have included this link:


Helen said...

My HOA banned clotheslines also, but I draped my clothes on my patio furniture and hung a clothesline in my basement for bad weather days. But Colorado passed a law in April that says HOA's cannot ban energy saving devices such as clotheslines. Yeah! Should be a world where such laws were not necessary

Greener Grass Notes, Inc. said...

Why o why would they ban a clothesline. I've never heard of that. That's nutty.

Jeanne R.

Jena said...

Have you ever thought about using one of the "portable closets" on wheels? I have one without the zip cover over it. That way you could put clothes on hangers and just give them enough space in between to let them dry. I know what you mean about not being as nice inside, maybe because there is no breeze? It might work better if you could find a spot over a heat vent or in front of a big window. Then you could just wheel the whole thing away when company comes, etc. Hope this helps!

Jena said...

Oh, I just thought of this too: usually when I hang clothes on my line I save the socks, underwear, etc., and lay them over the edge of the laundry basket. I just leave that sit on the ground. Sometimes I have to flip the socks over so they dry better but it does work pretty well.

Joyce said...

I found my clothes line at Do It Best Hardware. It's singe line, attached at the back of the sunporch and pulled out across the whle dpth of the yard (maybe 25 ft.) and attached to a hook in a tree. I also use an aluminum clothesline prop about halfway out so it doesn't sag too much. We retract it when it's not being used.

Wendy said...

I wonder if one of those deck umbrellas could be refashioned into a clothesline - maybe by adding to the support system? Take off the umbrella covering (aren't these removable anyway for cleaning?), hang up the clothes, and then, when everything is dry, put the cover back on, and voila, umbrella! They may be too flimsy, but I wonder if an innovative person could make one ... :).

I have a retractable clothesline attached to my house. It's 40 ft long, and I attach it to a hook on a tree across the yard. I found it on Gaia.com. The plastic piece that attached to my house broke in a strong wind when I was drying sheets, though, but the line is still good. So, I drilled shome holes in the housing and screwed it to my house that way. Only problem is that now the retracting mechanism no longer works :). I leave it up all of the time now (my subdivision predates HOAs :), but I could take it down and wind it around one of those blind cord thingy's.

I also use a heavy-duty wooden drying rack for rainy or snowy days.

eco 'burban mom said...

ib mommy - I love it! A "trellis"!!

Cassandra - Thanks for all the links, maybe I should just go for it and install the line now I have the ammunition to fight the HOA.

Helen & Greener Grass - Yes, it's crazy that anyone could ban something that saves both money and energy. What if you couldn't afford the gas or electricity to dry the clothes?? Seems wrong!

Jena - thanks for the basket tip, my hubby ain't so thrilled with his undies hanging for all to see. This is a little more secretive, I can just put the basket behind some patio furniture!

Joyce - thanks, I will try my local ACE, I bet that's the right place to look!

Wendy - I was wondering about my umbrella, I have two market umbrellas with sturdy wood frames, I don't even know if I would have to take the cover off if I just hung the laundry on hangers and hung those from the spines. I am going to try this one before spending any more $$! The umbrellas cost enough as it is, and I am sure I could dry heavy items, like jeans on my rack and light items like tshirts and PJs on the umbrella! I love it, both frugal and green!

Condo Blues said...

My HOA bans clotheslines too because they don't want the lawn care guys to run into the poles when they mow our lawns - knowing the people they hire each season, they'd probabbly do it too. :)

Many of us still line dry clothes thought. I put stuff on hangers and dry it on the shower rod in my bathroom. Unfortunately, it takes a good 24 hours to dry and I only have room to hang 1 load of laundry at a time. My neighbor hangs her laundry on hangers on her open garage door. I understand your security issue - maybe you could hang your laundry to dry on hangers off of the beans in your closed garage?

This month's issue of Readymade tested a bunch of clothes drying racks and rods. You might want to check them out for some ideas on what worked and what didn't for small space laundry ideas.

Lehmans.com has some pretty cool drying lines and racks for sale but most of them are pretty expensive.