Celebrate Your Right to Dry

Peg those pants

Celebrate Your Right to Dry

Air-drying clothing can bring back the smell of sun-dried sheets from our childhood. Air dry your laundry on April 19, Hang Out Your Laundry Day.

This month I’m putting it all on the line. The clothes line, that is.

Frocks and socks will be flying proudly in my backyard in support of Hang Out Your Laundry Day on April 19. It’s a small but satisfying way of reliving one of my oldest childhood memories–and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

When I was still in diapers, I “helped” Mom do laundry. In and out, in and out, the pulley-rigged clothesline off our back porch got a good workout. I remember the irreplaceable smell of sun-dried sheets, the hunt around the yard for errant items that we hadn’t secured well enough, and the occasional rush to unpeg clothes before the rain started.

Satisfyingly simplistic rituals, yet at some point, the clothesline came down in favour of its convenient cousin, the clothes dryer. Our family wasn’t alone. Eighty percent of Canadian households now have one of these energy guzzlers.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore my clothes dryer. During university, I spent the bulk of study time sitting on top of the dryer, our laundry room being the quietest place in the house. If I can’t sleep, nothing knocks me out faster than the white noise of “tumble dry.”

Still, people in most countries and cultures don’t think twice about stringing a line. Backyard drying racks were a common sight when I lived in Japan. For three years I joined the ranks of outdoor drying with relative ease.

The habit got me thinking. Do we really need to rely on dryers?

Not according to Project Laundry List (laundrylist.org), a North American nonprofit group that promotes natural clothes handling and Hang Out Your Laundry Day–on April 19.

These days, I’m re-gathering old wooden clothes pegs that lurk in the back of dark drawers to resuscitate our “green” family tradition. Check with your community bylaws and strata rules or homeowners’ association to ensure there’s not a conflict. Then join me in letting it all hang out on April 19.

Automatic Versus Air-Drying: It’s No Clothes Call

When comparing automatic clothes dryers to the fresh, natural scent of hang-dried laundry, it’s no contest.

Gas and electric clothes dryers

  • release about 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually
  • account for 10 percent of residential energy use

Air-drying (for six months)

  • saves 700 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere
  • is easier on clothes, so they last longer
  • saves $75 to $100 dollars of energy
  • smells better; no fabric softener in the world can beat that natural sunshine smell

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