Friday, April 30, 2010

Hanging the Laundry

Today is a perfect laundry day: sunny, dry, windy. I think you already know about my love of clotheslines and hanging my family's clothes outside. I like the whole process, from the pins to the colors to the way everything smells when I take it in at the end of the day. I especially love it when I round the corner on the road and see the clothes on my line flapping there, colorful and cheery. Here's a painting that I love by the artist Edith Vonnegut (yes, daughter of Kurt) called Hanging the Laundry. My mom owns it so I get to admire it when I visit her!

What I really hate is folding a big pile of clothes from the dryer, like this mountain of clothes.
This is unless I have an audio book to listen to on the iPod, which I don't at the moment. Right now I have been listening to this wonderful foodie podcast by Molly Wizenberg, the author of a Homemade Life. It's called Spilled Milk and you can subscribe to it for free! (I am partial to the episode they did on Junk Food. Which is OK, since I am not eating it, just enjoying it vicariously.) The two hosts, Molly and Matthew, are funny, quirky and I feel like I am hanging out with friends in the kitchen, cooking.

Here's another thing I love: Making my own laundry detergent. Sure, as a cost-saving measure, but also to know exactly what goes into cleaning my clothes. I got the recipe from the magazine Mary Jane's Farm, and it is made from a 76 oz. box of Borax, a 55 oz. box of washing soda, 2 lb. box of baking soda, and a 12 oz. bar of soap (grated, I used Tom's of Maine lavender). It makes about 1/3 of a 5-gallon bucket (total cost about $10), which is what I mixed mine in, and get this: you use 2 TABLESPOONS per regular load. Seriously. And when I put it to the test (sweaty work-out clothes, grass stains) the results were fab: clean clothes, no weird chemicals or additives. ***The one thing to note is that this is for cold water washing only, as there is some sort of potential for Borax being partially converted to hydrogen peroxide at warm/hot temps.***
Do you have a clothesline? Do you have a method to your clothes-hanging madness? (Organized by type of clothing, the person who wears it, whatever the heck your hand touches next in the basket, etc.) Do you fold your clothes outside or bring them in to fold? Readers in foreign lands, do please tell us about your clothesline experiences! I would love to know.


  1. can't find laundry soap recipe! help!

  2. Hey Anonymous!
    I posted that recipe and also a little tip about the best results for using it.
    Thanks for catching that,
    Have fun,

  3. I like to hang my clothes in rainbows,
    love, M

  4. What a primo post- lots of lovely photos and some things for me to take away (recipe, podcast links). I like to hang household linens (towels, sheets) on the back row, the bigger clothes (jeans, shirts) in the middle rows, and the smalls on the front row. That's because the peg basket is on the front row and the smalls use the most pegs. I think its kind of cute and quirky that you call them "pins". Another interesting contrast in Maine vs NZ dialects!

  5. I'll give your laundry mix more thought.
    Birchwood Motel is always looking for ways to be more environmentally responsible. Getting rid of commercial detergent would be a great step.
    Thanks, Iris!

  6. I for one would love some picks of Ella's clothesline, Jenny. It would make a beautiful photo...

  7. Using hot water and having it turn into hydrogen peroxide would be a plus for the white loads in this house! Also, my repairman says to use 1T of laundry soap if you have a front loader. I wonder if your magazine might have a recipe for dishwasher detergent?

  8. iris-
    just mixed up a batch and putting it to the test tonight! will let you know how it goes...and many thanks for the inspiration!!!

  9. I haven't had a clothesline since we built this house 9 years ago. All this land and I haven't found the right place to put it. Time to shift my intention and find a place. Sleep IS better on air/sun dried sheets.

  10. I actually pour hydrogen peroxide as an additive into a white load (or a super-stinky one.) Isn't that one of the ingredients in Oxiclean? Nothing bad has happened to me or my clothes so far.

    Love your blog!

  11. In Australia most people have clotheslines. I love my clothesline (it is a huge 6 line rotary Hills Hoist)and I don't have a dryer. I like to watch all the colourful clothes dancing one the line in the breeze. I normally hang randomly, each bit as I lay my hands on it, though I try and put socks in a row (though not in pairs)- fussy about where the pegs go sometimes. I think each person has their own special way of hanging washing up, my sister hangs hers in groups of who they belong to. I have a small kids clothesline which I prefer to hang socks and undies on - little washing on the little line and my kids used to hang things up on it when they were little. We have mostly good drying weather - so little need for a dryer - fences around most of our yards though - unlike most places I saw in the US.

  12. Just ran out of my O-nature-L, I'll be trying this tomorrow!