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Clothesline Hut--making life easier for those doing the laundry (a clothespin-less clothesline setup

 
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Clothesline hut—a clothespin-less clothesline setup

I’ve been thinking about why people love their clothes dryers so much, and one thing is the clothespins, an added step in hanging on a clothesline.  There was an article in Communities Magazine recently advocating for having one, almost apologetically, after years of living without, and it was by a woman.  Women have historically born the brunt of laundry (I blame Richard Wilbur, that’s right!), so sometimes "death to dryers!" has felt like a step backward for women's freedom.  The main intent of this idea is to consider needs of women in the work of laundering, without using the dryer and all of its attendant problems (huge energy cost, extreme wear and tear on the clothes, annoying noise, high embodied energy to build).  If it makes doing laundry more convenient, thereby getting more men to do the laundry, that's also a desired outcome.

For shirts and pants, I just hang on a hanger, so it’s all ready to go in my closet after already, no extra steps; but for underwear and socks it might be nice to have an option that doesn’t involve going to chase them down in the landscape.

Here’s my thought:

                             *
/ \                               *
/   \                                      
                                       *

|  |
|  |


This is two walls, with air space above them, and above that a small roof.  The * is the sun, shining at an angle (at different points throughout the day...).  This is afternoon sun; the morning sun would also get in from the other side but I didn't illustrate it.  The clothesline as a whole is oriented north-south.

The laundry goes under the /\  roof thingy, dangling down between the walls, and the whole upside-down-V-shaped thing I’ve drawn plus two walls is extended along the whole length of the clothesline, covering it from rain and sheltering from wind.  The sun can shine down at an angle through the gap and give you some direct sun, which makes that super-nice fresh-sun-dried smell and feel, and knocks out any mold that may have grown in your clothes (I had a super-smeller housemate once who found it oppressive—I couldn’t smell anything).

The walls are to baffle the wind so stuff doesn’t blow off, and you put your underwear and socks on a wooden rack lower down than the laundry so it’s %100 baffled from the wind, vs. the shirts whose hangers may be getting wind but the bottoms are still enough to prevent escapees.

Socks and undies can just hang over the rack, draped, and they’ll get sun from both sides over the course of the day.  

Put laundry out overnight, wait 24 hours, take it down again, any sunny day will completely dry your clothes from both sides, from the morning sun and the afternoon sun, winter or summer.

This works in rain or wind or snow, just takes longer if it’s really cloudy for a few days, and you might not get the sunny-fresh scent every time, in that case, but you never need to worry about rain re-wetting the clothes.

Now, the one flaw I see is moisture condensing on the underside of the ^ peak, and venting that might let in rain, but I guess there could be a bottom to the roof, making a triangle.

Now, you might want to make the roof or the tops of the sides out of grass and have this double a a semi-greenhouse, open-to-the air.  Careful about getting to fancy with that and having the secondary function overtake the need for drying clothes.

You could stack functions with the roof of this thing and put photovoltaic solar panels or heat-accumulating panels there (keeping in mind if the latter that you want to transfer the heat but not use that water…legionella bacteria warning!).

You could make a green roof too, I suppose, but the eves are a problem.

Maybe the relatively dry area of soil under the roof would have other uses, I don’t know.

Thoughts?
 
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Maybe what you/we are lacking in modern architecture is a covered porch on our homes? Rather than an outbuilding, which would require a trek in the weather to reach, just go out a door and you are there.
Hang your laundry, keep some dry firewood dry, it's a place to sit on nice days, a shelter from the weather while you find your keys, a place for the dog to shake off that's not inside...
Maybe it has screens (or storm windows)?
 
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Fantastic thread Joshua. I grew up using the sun to dry clothes almost exclusively. There was a tumble dryer in the house but was only to be used in emergencies. As in you better be able to explain yourself if you turned that thing on. In my experience most clothing will dry in an hour or two on a sunny day anyway so why not use the sun?

Chasing garments around the yard on a windy day and the extra effort required to pin everything to the line are definitely the biggest drawbacks. I did once live in a house that had a clothesline in a funny alcove in the garden that had walls on three sides. Not much sun made it's way back there and clothes took a while to dry. Wind also swirled into the alcove so in addition to knocking un-secured things off the line it also swept all the random detritus in the garden into the alcove. So effected garments would be covered in assorted vegetation and the odds and ends lying around in the yard of a university students' house. Not ideal.

Your design with the excellent illustration looks like the beginnings of something I would quite like to implement in my impending homestead. I might choose to orientate my clothesline for maximum wind blockage instead of strictly north-south. The walls would be a transparent material too in order to maximize heat and drying time in there. I think the roof would be a smart place to put some extra solar panels as the roof of my house will most likely be slanted towards the south (shady side in my latitude). Either way, a roof is always an excellent resource gatherer for various applications.  

I have considered constructing a sort of solar dehydrator that was customized for drying clothes. So instead of the clothes being dried, and consequently degraded, by direct UV rays there is a collector that feeds sun warmed air via convection through the column filled with wet clothes. This might be more appropriate in my climate where we have plenty of sun and not so appropriate in yours where it sounds like you get snow.

Either way, 'death to dryers' will be a mantra I chant until the end while clad in my sun dried kit!
 
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I was thinking that it sounded a lot like my covered porch!
I live in a place where we dry our clothes on a line (dryers are exceedingly rare) but we have lots of wet weather. Many houses have either a covered porch or even a glassed-in sunroom to dry their clothes.
I personally have a "party space" on my covered back deck with a barbecue area and pretty basic outdoor kitchen (where my laundry machine is located), and we have clotheslines attached to the underside of the roof. A pulley system drops the lines down to attach clothes to and pulls them back up again so they can flap in the breeze up high, so the space can be used for laundry or for partying, but generally not both at the same time.
We still do have an outdoor pulley line for good weather, and we still do use clothespins (but we have some hanger-carousel-type things for socks and underwear).

When I lived in asia we used the no-clothespins-drying-on-bamboo-poles method, which was interesting, but generally the poles got dirty from the air and it was not an efficient use of space, even though you didn't use clothespins. Dr Google tells me the bamboo poles are no longer sold, which makes me sad (they came on a truck that played a little song, which was one of those only-in-Japan experiences). Now the poles are made of metal, and you can see that you hang the clothes through the holes.
 
Kenneth Elwell
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Mike Harris wrote:
I have considered constructing a sort of solar dehydrator that was customized for drying clothes. So instead of the clothes being dried, and consequently degraded, by direct UV rays there is a collector that feeds sun warmed air via convection through the column filled with wet clothes. This might be more appropriate in my climate where we have plenty of sun and not so appropriate in yours where it sounds like you get snow.



I love this idea, of using a solar dehydrator for clothes drying, on it's "days off" from food preservation.
Possibly a nifty way to scent your clothing by drying herbs at the same time!  Dry your pajamas and lavender at the same time, what?!?! sleep tight! Zzzz...
And being closed in, you spare yourself and others the embarrassment of seeing your undergarments, keep them from being blown away, and the shelves/racks would also be good for blocking delicate/knit things to dry in the correct shape.
 
Tereza Okava
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:scent your clothing by drying herbs at the same time!  Dry your pajamas and lavender at the same time, what?!?! sleep tight! Zzzz...


I would buy that! A million-dollar idea!
 
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As I was reading this, I immediately thought that if clothespins are that much of a chore for you, the Japanese pole system which Tereza Okava found a picture of and posted, would be an option. I agree that garments generally take more space using that system.

The little frames with plastic clothespins can be handy for socks, but a) they're plastic and b) there's often not enough airspace for things to dry. I use stainless clothespins which have a hole in the handle end. If I found the right spot, I would make up a decent frame and attach the pins permanently, so you'd have something like what's pictured at the left side of the picture above, but a "large, heavy-duty version". The only time I've had the SS pins fail is for something *really* heavy like hubby's lined jeans or my kitchen rug.

I do *really* like the idea of a dedicated clothes hanging spot with a roof over it - we have too many iffy days and the clothes end up with an extra rinse cycle. We just can't leave anything out overnight as our dew tends to be very heavy. I'm not sure a roof would solve that problem. Unfortunately, we have so little sun at times, that we use portable racks and move them around as the sun moves. In the winter, we hang indoors on racks and a line, set up near the wood stove.
 
Mike Harris
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I love this idea, of using a solar dehydrator for clothes drying, on it's "days off" from food preservation.
Possibly a nifty way to scent your clothing by drying herbs at the same time!  Dry your pajamas and lavender at the same time, what?!?! sleep tight! Zzzz...
And being closed in, you spare yourself and others the embarrassment of seeing your undergarments, keep them from being blown away, and the shelves/racks would also be good for blocking delicate/knit things to dry in the correct shape.



Absof**kinglutely. These are the ideas I'm here for.

'Wow your clothes smell amazing. What detergent is that?'
'Sun-dried with a collaboration with some strangers from the internet.'
'...is it organic?'  
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Cool, thanks for all the ideas and responses!

Regarding the photovoltaic idea, I hadn't really thought that through.  People generally want them oriented to the south, not the east and west.  I don't know enough about them to know if it works well to give them sub-optimal light, in the hopes that they'll last longer even if they give less energy in the meantime.  

There's a separate question: you have the photovoltaics, and then there's the question of what to do with a bunch of shaded ground under them.

Dew could be a real problem in some regions, here . I have forgotten/been too lazy to take in my laundry overnight many times with no ill effects.

As for the stainless steel clothespins, they seem like a great solution.  

I like the solar dehydrator idea!  Here's the link to Paul's plan: https://permies.com/forums/shingle/redirect/1029 I hope.  I just copied and pasted from the page I'm on now.

Here's another question--if you want that sunny smell on a shirt, say, how much time out in direct sunlight does that take? maybe just a few minutes? you could put a few shirts out on the porch and skip the socks.  Or give everything a sunning once a month, once a quarter.  Then use the dehydrator (or a sun room) the rest of the time.

 
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We call them clothes lines in Australia and every house would have one. Dryers[ electric are rare]
They may be circular, rectangular or jut wires strung between poles or trees.
 
Tereza Okava
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Jay Angler wrote:The little frames with plastic clothespins can be handy for socks, but a) they're plastic and b) there's often not enough airspace for things to dry.


I brought back several LARGE frames with pins from Japan and used them for.... 20 years! One had two tiers, another folded. They were no match for the Brazilian sun when we moved here and as the plastic pins broke I replaced them with wooden ones (attaching with wire). But then frames themselves started to go, so you can imagine how happy I was to find a METAL version this year!! Metal frames, metal pins. It's small, and only one tier, but I immediately thought that I could get some chain/wire and connect two together. Of course I can't tell you where to look for them, because I bought it in the Brazilian equivalent of a dollar store, but it looks like the one here https://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Home-Laundry-Socks-Towels-Clotheshorse-20-Pegs-Hanger-Clip-Metal-Round-Rack/18343279/product.html (i can guarantee you I didn't pay USD 15 for that, which would be INSANE).
 
Tereza Okava
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:
Here's another question--if you want that sunny smell on a shirt, say, how much time out in direct sunlight does that take? maybe just a few minutes? you could put a few shirts out on the porch and skip the socks.  Or give everything a sunning once a month, once a quarter.  Then use the dehydrator (or a sun room) the rest of the time.


Our winters are wet, with lots of mist, crummy drizzle, and no sun for a good long time. Lots of mold problems. Not on the same level as Asian rainy season, where anything left on the counter overnight will have a mushroom growing out of it in the morning, but close. We hit a certain point where you get on a public bus and all you can smell is Eau de Mildew because everyone has been desperately trying to dry their clothes in any dry area, however they can (hanging on the back of refrigerator, inside their car, etc), with little success. On the rare day that the sun comes out, EVERYTHING appears on balconies, lawns, on top of cars, etc, from shoes to clothes to bedding. To refresh clothes, I would say at least an hour, but I think having a nice breeze helps.
 
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I'm going to say you'll STILL need pegs with that system, we don't have a dryer so everything is dried on lines, we have inside lines and outside lines and lines in the carport (never used for a car) the carport is a lean-to with two walls and two open sides and a solid roof things still blow off without being pegged on securely.
Also wind is an important part of drying, it speeds things up hugely, if I were to go out today and hang something in the barn, it would take 2-3 days to dry if I hang it in wind it will be dry in 10 hours or so. Right now we're at 85% humidity with the temp just over freezing, so there's not much room in the air for extra water!
 
Mike Harris
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Regarding the photovoltaic idea, I hadn't really thought that through.  People generally want them oriented to the south, not the east and west.  I don't know enough about them to know if it works well to give them sub-optimal light, in the hopes that they'll last longer even if they give less energy in the meantime.



My wording was misleading. I meant the roof of the main building would be unsuitable for solar due to orientation and has been problematic in the design. The roof of the drying hut could be oriented favourably for solar collection and therefore a solution as well as a function stack.  Running lines underground is the next quandary.
 
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 I like to dry my clothes in some wind.
It leaves them soft instead of stiff.
 
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Interesting how everybody has different solutions and preferences.

I live in a humid climate. For the past five years it has rained in some fashion almost every day. Sometimes it's just a mist, or a light night rain, or even a heavy daytime downpour. But the end result is that the clothes hung outdoors simply don't get much of a chance to dry. Even if there is no obvious rain, the clothes still feel dampish. As much as I hated doing it, I've had to dry my clothes in a propane clothes dryer.

My solution up until recently was to hang the clothes under my solar panels. We have the panels on a ground rack. The spot is airy, and it's a bit warmer right under the panels. But about a month ago the Costco tent set up next to the sonar panels ripped apart in the heavy wind. The metal frame was fine but the covering shredded. So I purchased a greenhouse tarp to cover the frame. I can now use this for drying the clothes, storing the tools that need to be kept dry, and drying my macadamia nut harvest. I'm sure I'll find other uses for it in the future.

So for now I dry my clothes is a "greenhouse" with open air flow at both ends. The clothes are getting the driest they've ever gotten. Instead of using clothesline, I use pipe resting atop the metal frame sides. Instead of clothes pins, I use hangers. The only things that start out on the outdoor clothesline are sheets. Once they are reasonably dry, I move them into this "greenhouse" for final drying. I have a couple clothes lines strung across for just sheets.
image.jpeg
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The greenhouse tent. Photo taken at dusk, so it's a bit dark.
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Wet laundry hanging via hangers.
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Macadamia nuts drying.
 
Seriously? That's what you're going with? I prefer this tiny ad:
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https://permies.com/goodies/7/rmhplans
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