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Wife, Mother, Mimi, lover of all things creative... sewing, embroidery, painting, collage... God and family are the most important things in my life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Clothes Line

I have a young friend who told me recently that she would love to learn to hang out clothes on a clothes line.  I said,  "oh, there is nothing to it,  you just put the clothes on the line with the clothes pins and that's about it."  I was sharing this with my mom and she quickly corrected me.  "Mindy, there really is a proper way to hang out clothes."  Okay, so  I've never truly had to depend on a clothes line for a long period of time,  and while I have begged my husband for one ever since we moved here, (18 years ago,) he won't put one up because he doesn't want to mow around it.  There was a short time when we were newly weds that I had a clothes line, and I loved it!  I loved sleeping on sheets that had been hung on the line.  

Anyway, the next time I saw my mom she had whipped up my friend a clothespin apron and one for my daughter as well, and wrote up a few directions to go with it.  
I thought I could find a picture of my mom with a clothes line in the background, but I couldn't. I still believe there is one somewhere at her house, and if I find it I will post it later.  In the meanwhile, here is one of our family in the early years.  I'm the little tyke in the middle, this was before the addition of my four brothers.
Here is what she wrote:


My early days of marriage, and also when our children were young, the clothes line was one of my favorite places of service to my family.  So when a young married lady told my daughter that she wanted to learn to hang out clothes, my daughter's reply was you don't have to learn to hang out clothes, you just do it.  I began to think about what she said, and realized that to hang out clothes correctly you do need to follow some guidelines.  Mindy, my daughter, has always had a dryer and I had one for most of the years she would have helped me with the laundry.

You need a good sturdy line to hang clothes on, a clothes pin apron filled with clothes pins and a clothes basket to take clothes to the line and back inside when they dry.

It is important to get up early and wash so the cloths will have the full day to dry.  In my early married days we had a ringer type washer and you used the same water to wash all of the clothes.  You had two tubs against the washer so you could ring the clothes and they would fall into the first rinse water.  The second was placed next to the washer and tub.  The old fashioned ringer could be turned to work from tub to tub.  When you ringed the last rinse water out you caught the cloths in a basket.  That basket worked well for taking the clothes to the clothes line.

There was order to the washing, the first load was white clothes, the second light colors, and finally the heavy dirty work clothes.  Whites first because you didn't want them to get dingy from the water from the other loads.  

All clothes should be hung inside out, this keeps them from fading as bad, and the sun would draw the stains in the white clothes to the inside.    Give each article a good firm shake to help the wrinkles to fall out.  The clothes should be hung in order, handkerchiefs, tee shirts, under shorts, pants, bras, slips and so on.  Tee shirts are to be hung by the bottom hem, one clothes pin on each corner.  Clothes can be hung using the same pin to hold the corners that touch.  Under shorts and panties should be hung by the top placing the pins over the elastic.  Never stretch the elastic. Shirts and blouses are hung by the bottom balancing the pins on the sideseams.  Pants should be hung by the bottom of the legs.

I always wash my sheets and pillow cases with the towels if the towels don't fade.  With the sheets I usually put the corners together hanging them with the long side going with the wire, using a pin at each corner and one in the middle.  I hang the pillow cases by the inside corners.  The towels I hang by the corners on the small side.  I like clothes of one kind hung together it makes them look more orderly, also sorting clothes helps when you put them away.  

I always carried my clothes basket to the line when the clothes were dry and folded them as I took them off the line.  If they have been sorted it is easy to take the basket to each room and put the things that don't need ironing away.

It is very rewarding to smell the fresh air on your clothes when you bring them in.  It is worth the extra effort to hang them out.  

Watch for rain clouds and remember to get them in before the dew in the evening dampens them.

While you hang out clothes is a good time to think or do what I always did, sing.  I love to sing but don't have a good voice, so the clothes line was a good place to sing where no one heard me.

I am not sure how much it saves on the electric bill not to use the dryer, but every little bit we save helps.  

Happy wash day to everyone!


  1. I remember helping my grandmother wash clothes with a ringer washer! I have to admit that I am a bit like your mother when I hang clothes. I have to hang like things together. It does make it easier when you fold the laundry and bring it in. I have adopted to having a line for each family member. That way I can fold the clothes and sort them as I go. But on each line all the shirts are together and the socks etc.

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  3. I thought about this blog post the other day when Jacob put up our line at the farm house. It is a neat feeling to sleep on sheets that have been dried out on a line and to watch those diaper stains disapear in the sun. This is such a special place' thank you for sharing it with us.