Eco-Saturday: Rainy-day clothesline


We’ve installed umbrella-style clotheslines in the backyards at our last two houses, and I’ve no doubt we’ll do the same here when the weather improves. In the meantime, I decided to take advantage of the open space in our basement to cut back on energy consumption even when it’s cold or rainy.

I just tied the ends the way I used to tie lead ropes when I rode horses. Google “how to tie a lead rope,” and you’ll find all kinds of instructions.

We haven’t been able to track down the exact year our house was built, but it’s a little Craftsman bungalow, and we’re guessing it’s a good 80 years old. It’s old enough to have undergone several wiring updates over the years, so the floor joists — which are exposed — have quite a few holes in them to accommodate long-gone wires. I took advantage of that by running nylon clothesline cord through the holes. It zigs and zags as it weaves in and out of the openings, but the tradeoff is that I don’t have hooks sticking down from the already-low basement ceiling. I’ll have to find a different place to install my clothesline when I insulate that part of the basement, but for the time being, it’s convenient and neat.

Be sure to use plastic hangers. The metal kind will rust if you put wet clothes on them.

If you don’t have a good place to install horizontal clotheslines,  a sturdy cup hook, a length of decorative chain and some plastic hangers will work in a pinch.

Hang the chain by the middle to double the number of available slots for hangers; just be aware that garments dry faster if they have a little breathing room.

I used to hang chains from the top of the window alcove next to the woodstove at our old house. The warmth from the stove helped dry the clothes faster, the wet clothes helped humidify the dry air, and we saved gas and electricity by running the dryer less. Bonus: By using hangers instead of clothespins, I saved a step when it was time to put away the dry clothes.

I had some pictures of my fabulous Dr. Who and ThinkGeek T-shirts hanging from the basement clotheslines, but I think they were on my old hard drive when it crashed. I trust your imagination can take it from here without visuals anyway.