Saturday, August 1, 2009

Drying sheets outside: A lost technology?

Recently I've been trying to dry our sheets outside after I wash them. This seems like the right thing to do environmentally, not to mention that it's 106 degrees here and the gas dryer would make the house even hotter. Heating up the house should be saved for important things like fresh blackberry pie-baking (we have a billion blackberries in our yard) and, well, things that are related to the sheets that I won't describe on this G-rated blog. :-)

It turns out that I'm inept at drying the sheets outside. Last time I did it, birds pooped on my beautiful, clean sheets. This time I dragged one of the clean sheets across the dirty deck by mistake. Plus, as you can see from the picture, I don't have a clothesline, just a rickety drying rack. Once, the wind blew it over! Would a clothesline work better? How would I get it high up enough so the sheets wouldn't drag on the deck? Even folded, our California King sheets are huge. (My husband is 6 ft, 3 inches. We have a big bed.) If the clothesline were high up enough, how would I reach it? Plus, is a clothesline really strong enough to hold wet sheets? Do you drape them over it or try to use clothes pins? Are the pins strong enough?

Well, as you can see, I'm at a loss. The technology for drying sheets outside is a lost technology. I said to my husband, too bad I can't ask my grandmother or great-grandmother. They certainly knew how to dry sheets outside. He suggested we ask his grandmother. She is still with us, at 103 years, and could indeed advise us. She has taught us many homemaking skills over the years, including how to make pie crust for our blackberry pies, split-second cookies, and chopped liver. Thank-goodness for grandmothers.


  1. While grandmothers are indeed the best, I often make do with the Reader's Digest Household Hints & Handy Tips, which seems to have gotten a lot of grandmothers to contribute, judging by the gazillion tips in it.

    It does cover the sheet issue, suggesting: "fold them in half and hang them by the hems. If you want them to dry faster, drape them from two parallel lines."

  2. We are considering setting up a laundry line in our backyard, too, Priscilla.

    Here in south Minneapolis, many city lots have laundry lines in the backyard. They look like two large capital Ts, 5-6 feet high, about 15-20 feet apart from each other, with 4- laundry lines running between the two Ts. Our 86-year-old neighbor was hanging sheets on the line until she was hospitalized a few weeks ago...

    Another contraption is a laundry line that looks like a skeleton of an inverted umbrella--and it can fold up like one, too! A neighborhood friend of mine swears by it!

    Take a look at this website for other ideas... Usually installing a clothes line in the ground, though, requires concrete footers to prevent your line from falling over. But the retractable lines and foldable racks might provide some help.

    As for us, we're wanting to combine a laundry line's T-pole (with retractable line attached to the house somehow) with some iron loops towards the lower half so it can double as a bike rack for when our friends bike to our place for a BBQ!

    Well, good luck with the laundry. I didn't realize it go so hot where you are, so stay cool, too.

    Liz Opp(enheimer), The Good Raised Up

  3. I grew up with laundry lines, and they work for sheets (and do hold wet sheets--lots of them).