How to Get the Most out of Your Clothesline

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How to Get the Most out of Your Clothesline

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A clothesline is a fundamental item in any off-grid situation, whether you are in your backyard or bugging out in the wilderness.  Yet, it’s something that rarely gets talked about, arguably because setting up and using a clothesline is pretty straightforward, right?  While it may be true that using a clothesline is not rocket science, there are a few tips that can make it less of a hassle.  Let’s take a look at how you can tweak your clothesline in order to make drying and folding clothes easier while also reducing the amount of wear and tear that occurs over time.

Use Cotton Rope

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Using cotton-based rope has advantages over nylon or other synthetic materials in a couple of areas.  First, they don’t discolor clothing.  The dyes in synthetic lines can rub off and cause streaks to form across wide swaths of clothing.  The material is also susceptible to collecting dust, grime and gunk over time which can also be transferred to clothes.  If you have the choice, go with a rope instead of wax-coated or synthetic alternatives.

Opposites Attract

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A good rule of thumb to prevent water stains from forming on fabric, wrinkles, fading or uneven drying, hang your clothes upside down with respect to how they are worn.  For shirts, don’t hang them by the collar, rather the tail.  For pants, hang them by the legs instead of the waist.  This may not seem like a big deal, but try it for yourself and see if you notice a difference.  Chances are that you will be much happier and your clothes will last a lot longer.

Hide Colors From Direct Sunlight

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One of the biggest surprises that people encounter when starting to use a clothesline is how deep colors fade unevenly in the sun.  Try to arrange your clothes so the whites and lighter colors are facing the sun whereas the darker ones are a row or two behind.  This will help to minimize fading which will prevent a lot of items from being ruined after spending the day soaking up the bleaching power of the sun.

Use an Apron Instead of a Bag

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Another nice trick is to use an apron or wear a pouch instead of placing your clothespins in a bag attached to the line.  Carrying the pins with you will prevent a lot of running back and forth, allow you to work faster and more efficiently, and it’s a sure-fire way to avoid forgetting to bring them inside after use.  Remember that you don’t want to leave clothespins outside as they will be susceptible to the elements and collect grime as well, and this can cause damage to clothing.

Softening Clothes Naturally

One of the biggest disadvantages to using a clothesline is that clothes can become as dry as a board and have an uncomfortable feel to them.  As an alternative to liquid fabric softener, consider adding a little bit of white vinegar to the water while washing.  This will help the fabric to retain that “pressed” look while being much softer, and you get to avoid using products that contain chemicals that may cause irritation.

You also want to try and hang items by type instead of just randomly placing them on the line.  While this may not seem like a big deal, particularly when washing just a few items, those who do large loads of laundry at a time will be glad they did.  Grouping items together will help them to dry evenly, and at the same rate.  You can also save time by grabbing and folding the items by going down the line and tackling them one by one in sequence instead of spending a lot of time moving back and forth or rearranging clothes that end up in your basket.

These are just a few ideas to consider the next time you plan on hanging your clothes outside, and feel free to share any tips that you’ve picked up along the way to make the process more efficient.  Chances are that you’ll be surprised with how the clothes or linens look and feel when you’re finished, and the items will be less-prone to premature wear as well.