Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | May 6, 2012

The Quilt on the Clothes Line

Master bed quilt drying on the clothes line

Have you figured out yet that I have this ‘thing’ about the clothes line? I’m in love with hanging out my clothes to dry. It’s crazy isn’t it.  Ya, I know it is. I actually have a folder on my desktop titled; ‘Clothes Line’ and multiple jpegs of various wash days to prove it. I view using the clothes line as a path to artful living.

Close up of the eight point star on our quilt

In fact putting up the clothes line was the first home project we did when we bought the “Small House Under the Big Sky.” The very first home improvement project. What does this tell you? Either I am a clean-aholic or I find clothes lines filled with freshly washed items ‘romantic.’

Actually it’s neither. Personally, it’s about the environment, my values and the small but important things I can do to do as my part in protecting it. I got to thinking the other day about why I bother using the clothes line. I realized it is about for multiple reasons; to save on our energy costs and to do my part to save the environment while eliminating some of the dioxins that indoor clothes dryer puts into the air. I am always looking for ways to improve my health and the health of the environment. It just slays me to realize that the air outside (as polluted as it can be) it healthier to breath than the air in our homes. That’s a shocker.

I have had some long-term health issues and am seeking a new way of living, one that is much less toxic than the one I lived before. This was one of my goals for moving to a rural community where I could grow my own food without chemicals, dry my clothes on the clothesline, driving less, capture rainwater in a barrel, slow the pace of life, adopt more wholistic ways of living and generally live a healthier more sustainable lifestyle.

In case you are not aware, laundry equipment consumes vast amounts of energy and water to clean a load of clothing. On average, washers are the second-largest water user in the home, consuming 40 gallons per load. According to the Energy Information Administration, dryers annually consume 1,079 kilowatt hours per household of energy, the production of which contributes up to 2,224 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that adds to global warming.

Laundry detergents unless organic/plant based, may contain harmful chemicals that leave residues on clothing which enters our bodies through our skin. Liquid bleach is also suprisingly toxic. It’s recommended to avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances as they can pollute the air you are breathing and of course organic laundry soaps.

I’m not suggestion we give up washing or drying our clothing but there are some simple steps we can take for everyone’s benefit; our family as well as the environment.

1)      Dry your clothes on a clothes line when you can, as the sun can kill dust mites, whiten clothing and deodorize it and takes no electricity.

2)      Use only organic plant-based laundry soap. (I like Seventh Generation or Citra Suds w/lavender bergamont.)

3)      Eliminate dryer softeners (they have toxic chemicals in them) and use air balls or an old clean sneaker to keep your clothing fluffed up instead.

4)      Limit using liquid bleach.

If you have a clothes line and haven’t used it in a while, why not give it a whirl, wave to your neighbor and pat yourself on the back for this simple gesture of personal responsibility.

If interested in knowing more you might like to Goggle ‘Guidelines for Non-Toxic Living’ or  ‘Eartheasy: Solutions for Sustainable Living’ to sign up for a free newsletter.

Small House / Big Sky Donna



  1. MUST install a clothes line {a pretty one, of course!}. You inspired me today, friend!

  2. MUST install a clothes line {a pretty one, of course}. You have inspired me, friend!

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