Monday, May 23, 2011

Saving the Moola: clotheslines save money, help environment

Our monthly expenses do not vary greatly, and all of the articles we've read over the years that offer tips for saving money do not offer any tips that are relevant to us (ie. we do not buy beverages from Starbucks every morning (or any morning) so we cannot stop doing this to save money).

But one tip we read, even for those who live in apartments, was to hang dry laundry. In our new apartment, this was both feasible and smart. It costs $1.50 to wash a load of laundry and $1.50 to dry a load of laundry, which was a $0.50 increase each from our previous apartment. We did not up our laundry budget per week (we allot $10 a week to laundry machine use). We typically washed and dried four loads a week in our previous apartment, which cost about $8 a week. In our new place, the cost for that would be $12 a week so we would be overbudget, and we were every week until we bought a clothesline and a high-quality drying rack.

After a ton of research, we bought the Lehigh 20-foot retractable clothesline from This is also available in 8-foot and 40-foot lines. The 20-foot line cost $9.82 and the item came with free shipping if the order was more than $25 so we bought another item we had wanted/needed to get the free shipping. The line was extremely easy to install, and I would recommend the use of a stud finder to ensure the hook is placed in a stud since the line will be used for wet laundry.

We are only using about 10 feet of the line based on where we wanted to put the line and where it would be most conspicous. Pros of this clothesline would include that it's retractable, and the base of it can be moved so that it is flush with the wall when not in use. The cost of the line is cheap, but the reviews were generally good, and I don't have any real complaints.

We found after about a week that the line wasn't going to cut it as our only source to dry clothes. One load, particularly when that load contained towels or washcloths, was too big to fit on the clothesline. We did a bit more research to find a drying rack that would stand the test of time. It's extremely important to pick a metal drying rack, in my opinion. We have had a wooden drying rack, but that gave us splinters so I would really really not recommend this. Some concerns with metal maybe that it would rust over time - this may occur over a very long period of time - but we have had no rust issues with ours so far. Metal ones are often bigger and sturdier, and I found this is important when hanging big, wet towels on it. The drying rack we purchased cost $27.99 from and came with free shipping.

The clothesline has been in use for one month, and the drying rack has been in use for three weeks. In a year's time, we will have saved approximately $312. The drying materials cost approximately $37.81, so the real savings would be $274.19. This is quite impressive. Also, this is not taking into consideration the following factors that may result in additional savings: dryer sheets, cost to run a dryer, and the environmental benefits to hang drying clothes. We do use the dryer when washing blankets and sheets - you may find you prefer to use your clothesline for this, particularly if you have a large clothesline and have the space on it for this large of an item.

I am pretty picky about everything and was somewhat worried I wouldn't like the feel or hang-dried clothes - the feel is different, but the clothes do not feel hard or scratchy. Some of our towels do - but I have found I actually like this feeling. I feel I am dryer quicker out of the shower with a scratchy towel (and it feels quite good on the skin!). The higher the quality of the towel, the less scratchy it is - we have many kinds of towels and our highest-quality towel is not scratchy at all. The feel is the same whether dried in a dryer or on the line.

Anyone, truly anyone, can hang dry clothes. This is a fairly simple, easy way to save on money and help the environment, too. Hang drying clothes may also help in extending the life of clothes, particularly women's undergarments which as a rule should not typically be dried. Once you start hang drying clothes and making it part of your daily routine, I think you'll find, just as we did, that the time effort is minimal, the cost savings is large, and you walk away feeling good about yourself and the environment.

1 comment:

Aunt Laura said...

We have an inside clothesline, too. It's short, so I put clothes on plastic hangers, and then hang them on the line. We can hang 2 loads of clothes in 5 feet of space. The line has to be quite securely fastened to hold that much weight, like you mentioned. I use this for delicates, tumbling them for just a few minutes to get the wrinkles out, then hanging them. Good for you two that you're air drying all your clothes!