Updated on 08.26.14

Frugality Isn’t Poverty

Trent Hamm

Recently, my wife and I have kicked around the idea of installing clotheslines in our backyard. We both grew up in the country and we both had clotheslines in our backyards which our family used for drying clothes in the spring, summer, and fall.

A quick cost analysis

An average dryer load costs about 30 to 40 cents to dry, so we’ll give it an average of $0.35 a load. Given the installation cost of the clothesline we investigated (about $30, all told), we could recoup the cost of drying the clothes with about 89 loads and after that, it’s gravy. Not only that, air/wind drying in the fresh Iowa country air makes your clothes smell fantastic, something that’s not recaptured with anything one can do in a dryer. So, it’s definitely a frugal move – and not only that, it’s an environmentally friendly move over the long haul. Using a clothesline for twenty years is far more environmentally friendly than daily use of a clothes dryer – just because you don’t see the burning coal as a result of your dryer use doesn’t mean it’s not burning.

But there’s a drawback…

We currently live almost in the country. If you walk out our back door and look straight ahead, you see cornfields. However, if you look to your left and look to your right, you see other houses. We live on the very edge of a smaller town. As a result, there is some social pressure and limitations on what you can put in your yard. There’s a standard look and feel to things – a reasonably well-kept lawn, trees in the backyard, and things like that. A clothesline does not violate any sort of use policies, but it definitely would stick out like a very sore thumb in all of this.

“I don’t care about what other people think”

This philosophy tells us that we should just go ahead and install the clothesline and happily hang our clothes on it. Frankly, if we lived out in the country a bit more, we’d already have the clothesline and be hanging most of our clothes from them, even if we had some neighbors that were fairly close.

Respecting our neighbors

There is also a need to respect our neighbors. Clotheslines are one of those items that are often associated with poverty and the appearance of such items gives an impression of poverty in our neighborhood. It’s similar to the reasons you don’t see people with their cars on blocks in the backyard while people are working on them – it’s simply not considered appropriate yard decoration in an area where you have close neighbors.

Furthermore, it’s not exactly something that will help everyone’s property values (including our own). People visiting homes will use a general impression of the neighborhood as a tool in determining property prices, and if some homes are giving off signs of low prosperity – whether justified or not – it will adversely affect property prices in the area. Not exactly something that would foster a good relationship with the neighbors.

Thus, for the time being, we won’t be installing clotheslines in our back yard. The negatives here from a social perspective and a property value perspective are much higher than the positives from a money-saving perspective. A clothesline is something that will have to wait for us.

Still, there’s a bigger issue at work here.

I find it very interesting that the financially sensible choice, the frugal choice, is the one that’s seen as socially unacceptable today. Why did this change? During World War II, it was considered highly patriotic and a very socially good thing to use clotheslines, grow your own vegetables, wear clothes until they fell apart, and so on.

My only conclusion is that the perspective changed because of marketing. In each case, things that went from being viewed as patriotic and a social “good” to being signs of poverty and a social “bad” are all tied to buying more stuff. I reject that sentiment and try to practice frugality in that old-fashioned sense. We have a garden and we wear our clothes until they’re falling apart (and then use them as rags). The only thing keeping us from the clothesline is the idea of a net value loss.

Go back and read about the things people did for the social good on the homefront in World War II. You’ll be shocked how many of them were great frugal tactics and were also considered to be great things to do from a social perspective. Since then, the only thing that’s changed is the social perspective – the association of such tactics with low socioeconomic status because of marketing. Whenever you think a frugal tactic is beneath you, remember this: your prejudice is often largely tied to marketing.

Being frugal does not equate to being poor. It just equates with enough intelligence that you realize you don’t have to buy your way out of every problem.

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. You know, I think that clotheslines are gradually becoming trendy, because they are echo-friendly. It may take a little while longer, but I’m pretty sure that very soon, they will NOT be considered a sign of poverty.

  2. Foolzatch says:

    You should do a clothes line and if/when you neighbors complain, tell them in your best snooty voice, that you are doing your part for the environment and ask if you can climb over the fence to fetch your whitey-tighties that blew over last week.

  3. Robin says:

    We worried about the same issue, whether it seemed “ghetto” to hang out a clothesline in view of our (much more affluent) neighbors. We did. No one ever complained, and several people approached me and mentioned that they admire our green efforts; they themselves would hang laundry but they didn’t have time.

    Incidentally, our clothesline cost about $5 for two hooks and the line itself. We used a post we had left over from something else. This line services a family of five.

    Do it! How can we change people’s minds about the type of people who hang laundry, unless “normal” people do it?

  4. Sharyn says:

    Clotheslines are technically not allowed in my community, but we have one anyway. All the homes/yards have wooden “privacy fences” around the back yards. This is a very common practice in the town and surrounding communities. Our clothesline is shorter than the fence and in a somewhat inconspicuous place.

    Another option is to use the indoor drying racks outside or a retractable clothesline. If you are conscientious about not keeping your clothes out on the line longer than necessary, this may not be a problem.

    You can always say you have a solar clothes dryer. Solar energy is very chic these days. You’re just cutting out the middle man.

  5. Andy says:

    You make a good point that frugality has in some ways become synonymous with poor because of marketing, but the whole green movement is bringing it back in a lot of ways since green is (sometimes) cheaper than not.

  6. Bill J says:

    I think you’re making one error in your calculations, though. You’re assuming that the only value in the clothesline vs. dryer equation is the monetary cost-per-load. What about the amount of time and energy that you will spend attaching clothes to the line? You would be turning every attempt to do laundry into an ordeal (believe me, I’ve been there). And wasn’t your decision to buy a dryer based on the fact that you’d use it for a certain number of years?

    Even if you had complete privacy and no one cared about your backyard, I doubt if you would completely give up the dryer. I’m sure it’s kind of romantic and fun the first few times you did it, and maybe it’d be great for some of your clothes to have that fresh smell. But all of your laundry? Constantly? Forever?

    Also, it sounds to me that you’re experiencing some faux nostalgia for WWII frugality (I’m saying faux since I doubt you lived through it). The real reason that none of your neighbors use clotheslines is because it would be too much of a hassle to use one *if you can afford a dryer*. Which is the real reason you sense the social pressure to not use a clothesline — it’s a signifier that you can’t afford to dry your clothes.

    I think it’s easy to mock modern convenience items like dryers, and hanker after the “good old days”. We forget how difficult life was back then, and how every housewife living in WWII would have been enormously grateful to have a dryer in the house. See if you can watch the BBC series “The 1940’s House”, or one of the others in that series (“1900 House”, “Colonial House”, etc).

  7. When I lived in Europe, I had a multi-arm clothes dryer rack thing, the kind you can buy for $20 at Target. You could put one of those on your back porch, and no one would care or even notice. You also wouldn’t have to deal with the clothespins, which I can’t believe you didn’t even mention as a major con.

  8. Sylvain says:

    Hey, I’m French, and I gotta say that here clotheslines are not and never were considered a sign of poverty. I find this whole story extremely wrong and very sad.

  9. jb says:

    I can definitely relate. I grew up in the country, and we had a clothesline. But I would avoid using one here at my house for exactly the reasons you describe.

    It seems like a reasonable compromise, if you have the space, would be an inside clothes rack. On warm sunny days, clothing might dry more slowly. But it will dry.

  10. Maureen says:

    In Ontario, Canada, a law has recently passed that allows clothesline use even where previously prohibited by home owner’s associations. The only exception is apartment buildings. This is to encourage energy conservation. I have to admit I was quite surprised by your perception that using clotheslines were a sign of poverty. That thought had NEVER occurred to me! The only reason I would choose a dryer over a clothesline would be weather, high pollen counts or convenience. I don’t think a clothesline would lower your property value, I don’t find them offensive. I certainly wouldn’t let the neighbours’ attitude stop me!!!

  11. All of the cons listed were good and made sense… but none of them would ever, ever convince me to stop hanging my laundry! (For me) that’s like saying I’m going to stop eating healthy food because McDonalds is more socially acceptable.

  12. Steve says:

    Usually I find your website to offer some interesting reads, but this article I find to be off base. Maybe you are correct in your analysis of social pressure, but that shouldn’t mean that you base your actions on these pressures. You can always boast about your going green, which is becoming very trendy of late. Be the leader in your neighborhood.

    You should be less concerned with what your neighbors think than knowing that what you are doing is right for your finances AND the environment.

  13. marta says:

    Here in Europe, clotheslines are everywhere, and they are not seen as a sign of poverty. It’s better for the clothes and waaaay more eco-friendly than using the dryer.

    It’s amazing how people there care so much about image and social status. Isn’t that how people get into consumer debt?

  14. Diane says:

    I have three clotheslines hanging in the basement laundry area that together hold one large load of laundry. I use them all year round and spent $3 for the rope and $1 for the clothespins at the dollar store. I wash a load in the morning and then hang them until the next morning when I do it all again. I average 30 loads a month and my electric bill was $14 less the month after I first began hanging clothes to dry. If I have jeans to dry, I start them in the dryer for 15 minutes and then hang otherwise they wouldn’t dry by morning. Hanging clothes is rather a Zen thing!

  15. joyce says:

    I agree with others that the green movement is making this accetable again. It is so important that we find ways to lessen our impact on the earth, and this is such a simple one.
    One thought I had was to install a retractable set of lines, so that they can be out of sight when not in use, and free up yard space when you have friends over, etc. We also hang clothes indoors all winter in our laundry room. I wind up drying about one load a week, mostly socks and underwear. It is certainly making an impact on our electricity bill!

  16. Dee says:

    I think that your reasoning is very silly, frankly. Lead by example, and quit worrying about why the neighbors think. Just imagine if they embraced a greener lifestyle because you dared to set the tone…

  17. Suze says:

    I found today’s blog interesting as Toronto Hydro just had a Take a Load Off (and Let It All Hang Out) Campaign where they gave away free clotheslines to 75000 Toronto residents.

    There was also a “right to dry” campaign which led to the Ontario government lifting a clothesline ban in other Ontario communities.

    I think you should rethink your decision. I agree with the other comments…the green movement will lead to more people choosing environmentally friendly options. You could lead the way in your community.

  18. I was surprised to read that people (in Iowa?) think that hanging laundry outside is a sign of poverty. I have observed that few people hang their laundry outside, but I assumed they either decided it took too much time or did not have a place to hang it outside.

    My two hurdles to hanging laundry outside were having my undergarments exposed to the world and the small umbrella clothesline was not impressive. Once I got over myself and my impressions, I look forward to hanging laundry and hate rainy weather on the weekends, which forces me to dry my freshly laundered clothing indoors.

    I do not agree hanging laundry outside will decrease property values. While I have felt the pressure to keep up my lawn in my suburban surroundings, I do not have the impression that people disapprove of clothes hanging in the backyard.

  19. Cheryl says:

    I expect if you wait just a little bit, you will see more and more people using a clothes line in your neighborhood. With the focus on “green” living and the escalting cost of energy, it’s just a smart choice.

    Alternatively (supposing I’m wrong!) you can plant a screen of oh, lilacs or privet to hide your clothesline from your neighbors.

  20. “Being frugal does not equate to being poor. It just equates with enough intelligence that you realize you don’t have to buy your way out of every problem.”

    Forget the clothesline story; the above quote was the most sensible thing I have read in some time.
    Bravo Trent!
    Thanks for the kick in the pants.

  21. Sharon says:

    Frugal Pursuit, slightly ot, but we always hung our unmentionables under a towel that was also drying. :-)

  22. Jules says:

    Gotta agree with the Europeans. My parents (who still live in America) have neighbors who use clotheslines, and as far as I can tell, nobody’s ever bugged them about it–and they live in one of those McMansion neighborhoods.

    We line dry all of our laundry because we don’t own a dryer. I don’t want to think about how much money we’ve saved.

    And for what it’s worth, if it really bugs you that badly, you can just string up a few lines inside–get some eyelets and some good strong hooks, and you can take them down whenever there’s company.

  23. Thomas says:

    Nonsense! clothelines have nothing to do with being poor. You have become brainwashed into believing that more products makes you a better/richer person and socially accepted. A clothesline is simply a tool to dry and fragrance clothes. It is cheaper and more eco friendly than a clothes dryer.
    Banish this ridiculous concern of “looking poor” and start the energy saving move in your neighbourhood, be the trend setter.
    Buy some tacky bling type hood ornament with the money saved to “show how rich you are”…..:)
    After your long “born to buy” review I’m surprised you did not notice your own programming.

  24. gwen says:

    While it’s nice you’re trying to consider your neighbors, it is your land and there is no homeowner’s association. It’s not like it’s going to be up front in the front lawn, right? It’s a back yard, for crying out loud. I lived next to someone who had christmas lights up for three years straight—turned them on every day and our property value continued to go up. If it’s a good neighborhood as you say it is, then when a house does go on the market, use the dryer if you’re that concerned.

  25. durendale says:


    As a long-time fan of your blog I honestly am shocked that you are bowing to peer pressure and not installing a clothesline. Shocked and disappointed in you. For two reasons (1) given the info in the post it appears that you don’t *know* what your neighbors would think — have you asked them? and (2) honestly, who cares what your neighbors think!?!?!? Answer: you shouldn’t with respect to this issue, for two more reasons. First, superficially, if your neighbors are that shallow, no offense, but F them. More fundamentally, Trent, this is about your values. Frugality. Wisdom. The long view. You make a living writing about these things and showing many of us how to put them into practice, and you do it admirably. To not put them into practice in this instance is not right. Also, you have to take a stand sometimes. Moreover, this is a teaching moment for your children, Trent. And for your neighbors – wouldn’t you like your kid to remember you explaining to the neighbors that the clothesline is better for you, the environment, your wallet, and the clothes? You might convince them to install their own clothesline! What a neat lesson for your kiddos. It is so much better than, the lesson, “The negatives here from a social perspective and a property value perspective are much higher than the positives from a money-saving perspective.”

    Let the clothes fly!

  26. Kevin says:

    What about setting up a privacy screen with a fence or better yet, tall plants? My dream garden includes a stand of dwarf fruit trees around a secluded area for this kind of thing.

  27. Rob Madrid says:

    One reason why hanging your clothes is popular in Europe is that electricity is almost 4 times the cost. Hanging your clothes means less wear and tear as well.

    socks go better on a rack, you can lay them all out flat. Much quicker than using clothes pegs on a traditional line.

  28. Michelle says:

    You could try it for a little while and see what your neighbors reaction is. I think you’ll find taht they either don’t care or think you’re doing a very enviromentally friendly thing. I doubt anyone will complain. I have an umbrella style clothes line, that folds up when not in use, but my neighbors don’t care, so I leave it up all the time.

    I think you’re overthinking this. It’s a clothesline. If someone says something, you can take it down. It’s not like your painting a giant Greek flag on your garage door. (That’s a movie reference, not a slam on Greek people, don’t flame me!)

  29. Wendy says:

    We have an umbrella style clothesline that can be collapsed and stored in the shed when not in use. I find it a nice compromise.

  30. Sarah says:

    This issue has forced me to delurk. I am really surprised that putting up a clothesline is considered a sign of poverty. While I did grow up in the country, I have seen many many homes with clothes lines in the yard (in the side yard even) and have not thought, “wow, those people must be poor.” I think it is perfectly acceptable to put a clothes line in the yard. My husband and I don’t because it isn’t worth it for just the two of us. My parents do with nary a comment from the neighbors. My mom also hangs clothes in the basement on lines strung through the rafters. And trust me, they are not poverty stricken, just frugal!
    Other options include buying drying racks and putting them out on the deck when you need to dry some laundry. We do this with most of our clothes as the dryer can be harsh on clothing.
    I think it is time for people to stop worrying about what others think and do what is best for the environment, their wallet, and their family.

  31. nuveena says:

    You should rethink your decision. I either have to do my laundry in the apartment complex washer and dryer or trek out to the laundromat. I would kill to be able to have the option of having a clothesline and hanging out my laundry to dry. But since I don’t, have have no choice but to use the dryers and pay for it.

  32. Jean says:

    Hanging your clothes outside can also mean sun damage. It fades colors, so you have to be careful. Not saying don’t do it, but a leafy shady area is far better than bright sunshine — so stringing a line between two trees is way better. Although sunshine is great for sanitizing and keeping whites white.

    Airing your dirty laundry in public… that saying comes from leaving your laundry on the line. You’d be amazed at how quickly laundry can dry outside. When I used to hang sheets they’d be dry in 20 minutes. I’d love to hang clothing out now, but we have a ton of feral cats roaming around…. and tomcats spray to mark territory — and NOTHING gets that stink out.

    But what really gets me is your total anti-marketing thing. Dryers didn’t get popular because of marketing. Dryers got popular because they are pretty necessary. Dry your towels outside — you may want to switch back from the hardness. (Although if you have to arm strength to give them a good SNAP! they will be softer.) And how do you dry your clothing when it’s raining? Or freezing? Or snowing? Or when you three sick kids in diapers, and you are using cloth?

    After WWII there was an explosion of labor saving devices like dryers and automatic washers (I can do 5000 words on the wringer washer — we had one till the 70’s and we ALL had to help mom with laundry) because people WANTED them. We look back and what we see is the marketing of them — but don’t mistake that as the reason we all got them… that’s the cart pulling the horse.

    In my opinion, marketing is far less reason for everyone having to have something than the “keeping up with the Jones” phenomena. Because (and maybe I’ve missed it) I haven’t seen many ads for Coach bags and by golly, it seems every woman is walking around with one of them ugly suckers.

  33. Heidi says:

    I am genuinely surprised by your conclusions.

    I grew up a small town in central Iowa and I find it hard to believe that anyone in your town would find it offensive to have a clothesline in the back yard. My parents live on the edge of town, much as you describe, and they have had a clothesline for years. Several friends and relatives have them as well.

    Clotheslines are the cool new thing – even people in bigger towns and cities are installing them. I have never even considered this a sign of poverty, but proof of environmental concerns and plain common sense.

  34. Heather says:

    I never dry anything in a dryer anything except sheets, towels, jeans and old tshirts. Mainly because the dryer shrinks and fades all my clothes, even if they say on the label that you can dry them. But also, we live in an apartment and have to pay $1.25 for every load we dry. I would love to have a clothesline, but apparently that’s grounds for getting evicted (!!??). So I have a $12 drying rack from Target and get it out when I need to hang my clothes indoors. I even dry the baby’s cloth diapers on it. I don’t consider myself to be “green,” but I have been “accused” of it – it’s less popular in the south than other places I’ve lived.

  35. Chris in Portland, OR says:

    Put up the clothes line … and hang the neighbors

  36. John says:

    yo’re blowing my mind with this one. i just moved from the rich neighborhood where i line drip-dry to the poor neighborhood, and i hooked up a simple line here, too. perceptions blah blah property values blah blah marketing blah blah what about sensibility and leadership? of course my car is a junker that i try not to drive and my hunch is that i live a lot cheaper than you. i go to the ymca and do yoga in the sauna which entails a lot of sweating so i make a lot of very stinky clothes but i bucket soak them in hot water and gentle soap, then bucket soak them in clean water, then slop them on the line to drip dry. i don’t have a washer/dryer but at least in summer why would i bother?

    poverty, hmmm. let’s finance a shiney car and new house and washer-dryer so we don’t look impoverished. but uh oh then we actually are impoverished! (ok, just poor, and it doesn’t mean the same thing. poverty entails depravity.)

  37. Laura says:

    I also am confused by your logic here. Since when is hanging laundry a sign of poverty? Maybe if you’re only hanging up the clothes you’ve almost worn to bits. Otherwise I bet 90% of people won’t even look in your yard, and those that do will just see what you’re doing for what it is: taking advantage of some nice Iowa sunshine and a nice breeze.

  38. Phillip says:

    I, too, think you shouldn’t care about this issue. Put up a clothesline and enjoy! If it bothers your neighbors then you should get new neighbors.

    My bigger issue is with the way poverty is mentioned, as though it’s so bad. Mind you, I don’t wish to be poor, but all people should be accorded respect and dignity. It’s beyond me why imbecilic-acting heiresses are accorded so much social status and attention just because they have money which they didn’t even earn.

    A lot of Americans think they couldn’t be poor but the fact is that in the America of today it can happen to just about anyone. According to the documentary Frontline 700,000 Americans go bankrupt every year due to medical expenses alone, and here’s the kicker: substantial numbers of them had health insurance. In other words, they did nothing wrong and deserve our help rather than our scorn.

    I lived in Germany for a number of years and really like the European approach to social programs. Basically, the lower one is on the socioeconomic ladder the more help one gets! In America, on the other hand, we seem to treat poor people punitively, as though they did something wrong.

    I’m not meaning to attack anyone here, nor am I holding myself up as a paragon of social virtue, it’s just that I often wonder why people want to be rich – I just want to have enough (which I do) and enjoy life. Why isn’t that enough anymore?

  39. Ellie says:

    jebus – in Australia it is weird and inconvenient not to have a clothesline (unless you are in an apartment.) I have no conception that it could be associated with poverty. I guess our sun is a little stronger though!

  40. Debbie says:

    If, after all these comments, you still feel that you don’t want to use a clothesline, then try what we do: We put almost everything in the dryer for 10-15 minutes and then most shirts, pants, and skirts get hung up on hangers to dry (over the bathtub or on a special line we put up). This way, the intial creasing from the washing machine comes out and then the clothes line dry. Things like towels stay in the dryer because they feel so much softer that way. Depending on your wardrobe, you’ll have about 50% savings this way.

  41. Ellen says:

    I would agree with the people who don’t see anything wrong with the clothesline–I always think it’s lovely to see things hanging out on the line, myself.

    But I would also like to ask if you could link to a list of some of those frugal WWII measures? Or do a post about them sometime? I’m interested to hear which ones piqued your interest!

  42. Erin says:

    “Clotheslines are one of those items that are often associated with poverty and the appearance of such items gives an impression of poverty in our neighborhood.”

    What an interesting assertion. I’ve lived in various suburban and semi-rural areas around the country, some where clotheslines were common, some where they weren’t – and I have never heard it said, or even implied, that clotheslines in an otherwise well-tended yard indicated poverty and/or could lower property values. Have you actually had discussions with neighbors who have said that?

    Moreover, I have to agree with PP that dryers have become the norm because they are enormous time-savers, and frankly the only realistic option for most families who lack the time or outdoor space for linedrying. Overall, is there a trend towards consumerism? Yes, I agree with that. But I don’t think appliance marketing has given rise to some sort of classist anti-clothesline faction :-) Hang your clothes proudly and I bet you will be surprised at the positive response!

  43. Joel says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of a clothesline as a mark of poverty.

    I live in a nice middle-class residential area in Montreal. I just went out back, and even with all of the leaves blocking, I can still count 15 clotheslines. And as I said, this isn’t an impoverished area.

    I’m originally from Ontario, and the same goes there. Clotheslines are useful, weather permitted, to save some dollars, and save impacting the environment.

    Is this an American notion? Along the lines of big SUV’s hiding men with small sized shoes?

    I say let it all hang out.

  44. Lisa says:

    Many neighborhoods in my area have banned clothlines. However, the cost is only $30 and the potential over the long run to make a big impact is great. If you really are concerned about the neighbors than talk to them. Most people wouldn’t have a problem with it and you could try to hang it in the least obtrusive area. Have you spoken to them?

  45. L says:

    I too am surprised by the suggestion that clotheslines are linked with poverty. Maybe it’s because I’m from the UK but everyone I know with a garden has one, including all my parents’ neighbours- a street full of bankers and doctors.

  46. Sam H. says:

    How about telling your neighbors in advance, real casually, that you’re planning on putting up a clothesline and see how they react? They’ll probably say “Hey, cool,” and if not, just say that you’re doing it for the environment, for the fresh smell, etc. Don’t let them think for a minute that they even have the option of saying “No, it wouldn’t look good in the ‘hood”!

    Line-drying is a bit burdensome (it gets boring hanging up and taking down the clothes after the first few loads) but it really is better for your clothes. All that drier lint is little bits of your clothing- the drier really shortens the life of your clothes.

    Go for it!

  47. Sam H. says:

    Forgot that I wanted to ask you about your remark that clotheslines were popular during WWII because they were considered thrifty. But was there any alternative at that time? People had washing machines, but did they have driers? Did driers even EXIST back then? If anyone knows the answer to this question, I’d be interested in hearing it!

  48. Lisa says:

    I think Trent really wants to put up the cloths line and just wanted to hear all the supportive comments to help push him.

    Umbrella outside (that can be easily lifted out of its hole and put out of site), some lines in the basement, & those folding contraptions in the spare bedroom.

  49. Cindy in NY says:

    I’m also surprised about your decision! I have never heard of clotheslines being associated with poverty any more than vegetable gardens would be! I’ve been line drying for the last 18 years (outside in the warm weather and inside when it’s cold) and have never had anyone comment about it.

    I think that with everyone looking to reduce costs, you should be the trend setter and put up your clotheslines! Why worry about what the Jones’ think? Isn’t that what got a lot of folks in trouble to begin with?

  50. magpie says:

    I actually think clotheslines look rather trendy. You could put your linens and regular clothes (shirts, jeans) on the line and buy one of the racks someone mentioned for your underwear, etc… that neighbors don’t want to see.

    When I was in Italy this past January I stayed at a bed and breakfast and they didn’t even have a dryer. We hung our clothes on a line right outside the bathroom window. It took some getting used to, but I didn’t mind it and I felt good about being eco-friendly even when I’m not at home.

  51. Erica says:

    I’m with Sylvain an ‘L’in finding this all rather odd, not the post, just the idea of a clothesline being a sign of poverty. In the UK it’s commonplace to see clothes drying on a line, it seems almost snobbish to assume poverty because of it.

  52. I know that things have changed over the years, especially with the prevalence of homeowners’ associations, but when I was a kid (not *that* long ago), such things were viewed as normal, not as a sign of poverty. And if our neighbors were to start hanging out their laundry, I certainly wouldn’t care.

  53. guinness416 says:

    Never mind WWII, like the other Brits and Euros above I grew up in an Irish neighbourhood where everyone still uses clothes lines. And trust me, many of my parents friends don’t need the savings. Now I live in Toronto and some of our neighbours use lines in our city street. I can see them from my upstairs window right now. I’ve never batted a eye or heard anyone else complain. I think you may be underestimating your neighbours.

    Suze #17 we got our free Toronto clothes line last week! Haven’t put it up yet though.

  54. jen in indiana says:

    I’m a new reader of your blog and I’m enjoying it so much. I just want to suggest the use of a retractable clothes line. I bought one for $15. on ebay. It’s easy to install and rolls into a discreet home when not in use. The only down side it that it holds less than a traditional line. I can hang 1 large load at a time.

  55. leslie says:

    We had a clothes line (and a dryer) growing up in the 70’s and 80’s and we were not by any means poor. Mom hung most stuff out when the weather was particularly nice and the sheets pretty much always got hung out unless it was raining. We lived in Michigan for a large part of my life and so the dryer was a practical thing for us since it snows 6 months out of the year.

    I have been trying for a while to figure out how to get a clothesline in my backyard (there are issues with severe sloping). I do have a small clothes line in my laundry room but it doesn’t hold more than a few items.

    I have to disagree with your assertion that everyone uses dryers because of marketing. Let’s face it…it is just easier to use a dryer. That is not marketing…that is just reality. Sometimes you have to do laundry even when it is raining or snowing…

  56. Mary says:

    I’m in a very nice, historical neighborhood in a small Texas town outside Austin, and people do hang clothes outside and clotheslines are still legal. :D

    That said, some homeowners associations nearer and in Austin do ban clothesline and even go so far as to document such rules in deed restrictions.

    I would hope there would be more constructive deed restrictions out there; not a person’s choice of laundry methods….

  57. Jay says:

    Agree with others: just erect some sort of privacy screen. Kinda annoying for neighbors to be able to peek into your backyard anyway!

  58. steve says:

    Clotheslines don’t have to be outside!

    some ideas for those who don’t want to show the world their underwear:

    it’s easy enough to get a standing indoor drying rack just for underwear & socks.

    and reserve a line for larger items like pants and shirts.

    Also, depending on the amount of space you have, you can string up a line (or two!) inside either in your laundry room or in an upstairs room (think attic, spare room). Just put hooks in the wall and learn to tie a knot or two (trucker’s knot is a good one for this-it allows you to cinch the line tight), and take the thing down when you’re done. I have one inside (where it never rains!) and it takes me about 10 seconds to put it up or take it down.

    if you don’t like people seeing your underwear on the line, as several commentators have expresses.

  59. Tina says:

    I live in the UK where most people still use clotheslines. Because I have asthma, I’m not supposed to dry laundry outside because pollen gets on the clothes. So we have a set of four clotheslines stretching across the length of the bathroom. I don’t think the clothes would get dry if we didn’t also have a dehumidifier, which we need because the flat is very damp, but the dehumidifier gets the clothes dry within a day.

    This might be a way for you to be frugal and green without fear of what the neighbors might think.

    Sadly, it does not give the clothes the outdoors smell :(

  60. mick says:

    so Trent, change your mind yet?


  61. Joy says:

    In Australia, it’s not considered a backyard without a rotary clothesline. You can buy (here) full size clotheslines that are removable, you collapse the line (a bit like an umbrella) and then pull the entire thing out of the hole in the ground it’s been resting in. We don’t do this because we’re ashamed of them (they’re seen as patriotic because they were invented here), we do it to play backyard cricket.

    If you’re so ashamed of drying your washing outside, yes, grow a screen like the others mention. I can’t imagine using a dryer for every load of washing. I just can’t.

  62. Joy says:

    oh and here’s a tip from my old mother. Back in the day, undies and unmentionables were pinned to the inner areas of the line, and other clothes went around the outside to hide them.

    And for the daily agony of hanging up and bringing in the washing, it’s actually a very pleasant part of my day. I’d rather do the washing than the dishes anyday (oh, yeah, I don’t have a dishwasher either – shame on me for not keeping up with the Jones).

  63. Mobile9 says:

    I love my clothesline. I use it to dry sheets (washed with fabric softner), towels, PJs, jeans and blankets. I notice a considerable increase in my gas bill when I can’t use the clothes line. The time difference is minimal and it is often a chance to talk to my neighbor. We would not be so close were it not for the clothesline. Friends are skeptical when they find I use the clothesline but are won over when they find out I am saving about $15 a month. I never thought of it as a sign of poverty. Many use clotheslines not because they must but because they would like to spend money elsewhere. The green aspect is also important, there is a finite amount of coal and natural gas. The sunshine will be around as long as we are.

  64. I hang my clothes inside on a pole above the dryer. It works just fine. On the most humid days, I have to run the air-conditioner a bit to dry out the air, but it’s something I’d do anyways.

    Because I hang the clothes on hangers instead of using clothes pins, it’s actually LESS effort for me to hang them than if I put them in the dryer and then had to hang them up afterwards. (Plus, I don’t have to worry about leaving them to wrinkle in the dryer.)

  65. Garrett says:

    I don’t perceive clotheslines to be a sign of poverty like you do. I doubt all of your neighbors would view it as a sign of poverty. I doubt all new owners moving into your neighborhood would feel that way either. I can understand your feelings though, as Ankeny people seem pretentious to me, maybe that’s simply the feeling you’re getting? I’ve got a clothesline up in Des Moines, just put it up this week, actually. And my neighbors have one.

    I think they make the owners appear thoughtful, not poor. Maybe you should too.

    And watch the wind when they’re working the field behind your house, or you’ll have to wash again.

  66. Celeste says:

    for privacy: use a multiline clothesline and hang sheets or larger items on the outside and your undies on the inside.

    I would never associate a clothesline with poverty. I can’t wait until I live somewhere where hanging my clothes outside won’t make them more dirty.

    Two more reasons to use a clothesline:
    There is a disinfecting property to the sunshine for your cloth diapers.

    Your clothes last longer because the dryer wears them out.

  67. Catherine says:

    We are very soon moving from an apartment to our own house in another city, and I am overjoyed at finally being able to put not only a backyard clothesline but a rainy-day clothesline in the unfinished basement.

    I also grew up in the country, and we hung our clothes out all summer. Yes, partially because we were poor. But while we all found laundry in general to be boring, I don’t think any of us thought of using the clothesline as being substantially more work. We also didn’t have air conditioning, so running the dryer in the summer made us all suffer. We had enough room to hang about four loads at once, which meant that lots of clothes could dry at once, and being able to fold as each piece was taken down was easier than having to either dump out all the clothes somewhere or bend over for each item from the dryer.

    I do think that in town one issue is the configuration of the houses relative to the street. Both my current neighborhood and the one I’m going to are dense, with close-together houses and backyards not visible from the street.

  68. Have you considered a retractable clothesline on your back deck? That way it is only visible when it is in use.

    Best Wishes,

  69. My neighbor has a clothes-line and we live in a tight neighborhood. They have had it for as long as I can remember, and I don’t even notice it anymore. In fact, as I was reading this, I had to look at my window to see if it was still there.

    Also, we hang clothes in our laundry room. We have wires in the ceiling (it’s in our basement) and we just hang clothes on hangers from the wires. We can fit several loads and it has worked very well. We can’t dry everything this way, but most works fine.

  70. Rose says:

    I must add my voice to the chorus of those who are confused by your logic.

    I live in a relatively rural area – we all have wells and septic tanks, to give you an idea – but everyone on my road uses a clothesline.

    I also disagree with those who argue that using a clothesline equates to more work. I love to watch and listen to the birds when I hang out my laundry. When I take the laundry down in the evening, I often fold each piece as I take it off the line so that I can enjoy the sunset while I perform this “chore”. They can have my clothespins when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers!

    I would guess that if you started line drying your clothing, others would follow suit. Let your freshly laundered freak flag fly, Trent!

  71. Sally says:

    I suspect with the resurgence of environmentalism, resing energy prices, etc, the clothesline will make a comeback.

  72. Lorraine says:


    In Australia, clothesline are pretty much in every backyard. Retractable ones are available and are invisible when not in use. Seems completely absurd not be using natural energy that is free, harmless and mostly abundant! I only know one person who uses a dryer consistently – I would take a guess most people think it pretty lazy and self indulgent over here to use a dryer for anything other than rainy days or emergency drying.


  73. WonderlandAnn says:

    To me a clothesline is a sign that the people living at that home actually get outside once in awhile. I also think it signifies a nice (friendly) neighborhood.

    Today where I live is a beautiful sunny day, yet, looking around, there are very few people outside using their beautiful yards. I hung out some sheets today, saw my neighbor out in her yard doing some weeding, so we were able to chat and be friendly.

  74. SJ says:

    I live in Australia where clotheslines are the norm. We have one that is very unobtrusive. Folds flat against the house wall when not in use. We also have a dryer which I use only when the weather is not conducive to outdoor drying. It is more work to hang the clothes out but once it is a habit you don’t think twice about it. Much better for your clothes…

  75. Lake says:

    I think that not engaging in a frugal activity because you are afraid of how it will look sends a bad message to the readers of this site. You make your own slimy laundry soap, for goodness sake! Is it only okay to be frugal in the privacy of your own home? If you refuse to hang your clothing outside, a clearly more frugal choice, then how do you expect this site to convince someone to bring their own coffee and not buy a latte at Starbucks daily? What if other people see them bring their own coffee? I’m really unimpressed, Trent.

  76. JReed says:

    How do you get the clothes and towels soft using a clothes line? I would like to hang my clothes outside(I honestly don’t care what others think of me for doing it) but the one time I tried it, everything seemed to dry so stiff. Any suggestions?

  77. NZ Chick says:


    I’m from down in NZ and find this article and associated comments interesting. Here, we grow up with everyone having a clothesline and dryers are a novelty. Only on moving in to my partners place 6 months ago did I finally have the use of a dryer. We have retractable clotheslines and the ones that push flat against the fence, and also the ordinary four pin spin one. I don’t find hanging the clothes out to be a drag, you just get used to it and sometimes dare I say it, it is even relaxing!
    I am lucky as I finish work early so can bring in the clothes even in the winter before it gets dark. If it is raining we use clothes horses in the garage and bring them in front of the heater in the evenings rather than using the dryer.
    The dryer gets used only when we hadn’t planned ahead with what we need so not very often.
    For the suggestion of soft clothes, towels etc, we have a liquid formula that we add to the wash, however most of the time i dont use it and they are still soft (possible lack of pollution?). Also if they are left out in the rain when they dry they are incredibly soft.

  78. Carina says:

    Hi Trent
    Wow. This is so odd. Both the reasoning behind this and the fact that it’s coming from you. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and this seems rather out of character.

    Here in England (and in Denmark, my native country) everyone is using clotheslines and they are not perceived as a sign of poverty. At all. The ‘logic’ behind this really boggles my mind. Clotheslines are an economically and environmentally sound way of drying clothes and why home owner’s associations would prevent people from using them is also bizarre to me.

    Just hang out your clothes. If anyone gives you the evil eye, tell ’em the internets told you it’s OK. :-)

  79. ArcAngel says:

    I think the green argument that many have discussed above had made this more of a socially acceptable thing. This might be a good opportunity to discuss this issue with your neighbors. People who live in the country (sort of country in your case) usually do it because they value the outdoor aspects, nature, etc.. Why not talk to your neighbours about green initiatives in your sub-community. This can be linked to composting, home gardens, etc ..

    My community also just lifted a ban on clothes lines (I didn’t even know we had one!)

  80. kim says:

    Wow! This is the worst post I’ve ever read. Are you seriously so concerned with how your neighbors think of you that you would be willing to forgo an investment in both your own hard earned cash and our planet. I have serious doubts that a clothes line will pull down any property values. That’s just crazy! I have a rotary style clothes line that can hold about three loads at a time. It goes up and down like an umbrella and can easily be removed for from it’s post hole for storage. I live a fairly affluent community in Maine and almost everyone hangs out their wash. This is a very green area of the country. If your area is not, then perhaps you should start a trend rather than worry about your neighbors looking down on you. Be a shepherd not a sheep Trent!

  81. Sarah says:

    I agree with the removable clothesline option. I installed hooks in the posts on my back porch and bought $2 laundry line from the hardware store. I simply put up the line when I need it and take it down when I don’t. My concern isn’t so much the neighbors but the loss of yard space from putting up a clothesline. I also hang clothes on the hangers straight from the washing machine and hang them from the shower curtain rod until dry.

  82. Martin says:

    It’s interesting how perceptions can change from country to country. In Australia, it’s normal to have a clothes line in the back yard.
    There’s also one additional factor that you haven’t considered. From what I’ve heard, a dryer causes more wear and tear on your clothes, thus shortening their usable life.

  83. Serendipity says:

    This is something I’ve wrestled with. While flouting social expectations isn’t the problem, I think it’s more about being respectful toward the neighbors that may be bothering Trent. While it *is* stupid that clotheslines are associated with poverty, that doesn’t mean it’s not true in some areas. Since my backyard is one of the first visible things people coming into the neighborhood see and a few neighbors have their houses on the market, I’ll refrain from using a clothesline outside if they’re going to be the ones absorbing the cost of ignorant people who are turned off from the area by my line. Air drying inside (there’s a hanging bar in the laundry room) will do just fine.

  84. T.Brown says:

    I can relate to being concerned about social pressures and wanting to be a good neighbor. For whatever reason, clotheslines have fallen out of style in many neighborhoods and have become something of an oddity. It’s also unfortunately the case that many people don’t care about frugality and ecological concerns, and a pair of raw metal posts bedecked with sagging lines aren’t likely to bring about a change of attitude.

    However, I encourage you to not give up on the idea of a clothesline altogether. It may the case that your neighbors would be warmer to the idea than you think. There are also a number of alternatives which may make it possible both to have the clothesline and not feel that you’re sticking out like a sore thumb.

    From the sound of it, your back yard doesn’t have much privacy. Thus, one alternative might be putting up a “friendly fence”, some sort of enclosure or disguise for your clothesline. Something like a series of trellises with a vine on them would be relatively inexpensive and straightforward to build and would give your neighbors something nice to look at while disguising the clothesline. Done well, this could be very classy.

    Another alternative is to turn the idea of a clothesline on its head and build one that’s inherently beautiful. How about something modeled more on a Mission-style arbor, with classy wood uprights? Later, as time and funds allowed, perhaps a matching arbor and so forth could be added to coordinate.

    Yet another alternative, as others have suggested, is to use a retractable line. Place one end at your house and the other at a pole or tree in your yard. When you’re not using it, it isn’t visible. Voila – minimal visual intrusion!

    As you may have guessed, I’m one of those who has a clothesline; a year or so ago, after much thinking, I finally bit the bullet and put one in. Siting it was a bit tricky, since we have limited space and I didn’t want to interfere with the garden or play area. Finally I hit upon the idea of putting it in a side yard. That side of the house was essentially unused, so the clothesline has let us reclaim part of our property and give it new life. In an area with high property values, this is especially nice.

    There have been benefits galore. Things dry very quickly outside; sometimes it seems they dry faster than they would in the dryer. I don’t have the lag time I used to have, waiting for a load to dry before starting another. When my kid has an “accident”, UV from the sun finishes off whatever smell and bacteria that the washer didn’t take care of. I also don’t have the dryer heating up the house while I simultaneously try to cool it down in the summer, a double waste of energy.

    Finally, there’s just something plain nice about walking out to the line when I’m stressed out and hanging a load of laundry. It’s calming and gives me a mental break. Some nasturtiums have taken root around the uprights, so I get the scent of flowers and sight of bumblebees buzzing around as an added bonus. And yes, our power bill is lower.

    As someone commented, the towels are a bit stiff unless I snap them. However, I like to think of the sensation of a nice rough towel as “invigorating” – loofah action and drying all in one! Alas, they become nice and soft again just as soon as I’ve dried myself on them once.

    So, yeah. Please don’t give up on your dream. It’s a reasonable dream, not a crackpot dream. I say go for it!

  85. Linda says:

    I say go for it! I have been doing this for years. Sure it can be a chore bringing them up from the basement and out the door, but I figure I am getting exercise from that. There is nothing like freshly hung out wash. The sheets will smell fantastic!

    And during the winter I have invested in drying racks. I use my dryer at a bare minimum at all times.

  86. Kevin says:

    I read laundry is quickly climbing the list of dirtiest things in the house because everyone is turning the hot water off and only washing in cold (I’ve been doing this for years).

    I’m all for the dryer until things are just damp. Hung then you have far less wrinkles.

  87. tanya says:

    Actually i agree with you…I would put up one outside if I could – but yes in my neighborhood I would be run out on a rail. The only homes down here with a line up have a house on wheels in front – and no this is not snobby -maybe once others realize it can save them money that perception will change but then again maybe not.

    BUT I air dry (inside) all of my clothes (I bought a rolling clothes rod from target which i keep in my laundry room) – the only things i dry in the dryer are linens/towels while blankets are run thru (enough to get the wet out) and then I hang them on a door for days to dry.

  88. Grey says:

    I’ll have to echo the chorus of voices which say clotheslines are making a comeback, for environmental reasons.

    And yes, they are a tad bit more work. Personally, it’s work I enjoy. I love the sight of clean sheets and towels in the breeze.

    Granted, I’m giggling insanely over the timing of this article. I went to five different hardware stores in town today to find the t-line I wanted, then I came home and immediately dug the holes and started the concrete. I live in an older, very large residential neighborhood of ranch style homes. I have no fence on my backyard, but I actually considered putting up the line because people have a tendency to saunter through my backyard willy-nilly. I guess it was a bit like staking a claim, except my undies will be my Jolly Roger. :P And I’m all to happy to move away from using the dryer – it has a tendency to destroy our clothing over time.

  89. overcoming overspending says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with a clothes line! As a matter a fact, it seems kind of retro and charming in my opinion. Everybody wears underwear, who cares if you hang yours? I think we are way too concerned with what others think….I think everyone is so concerned with their own issues/problems that we really pay less attention to what others are doing than we all think (did that make sense?). In other words, if you are having a “bad hai”r day, or if you have a big zit on your face, you THINK everyone is noticing, meanwhile, everyone else is too busy focusing on their own “stuff” to notice yours! Same with the clothesline- who really cares? Will it matter in a year? In ten years? You get my drift. Hang your cloths line!!!

  90. paula d. says:


    I too was dismayed that you would give up something that you feel is a truly frugal and green just because your neighbors might object! Be the leader in your neighborhood and put that clothesline, you’ll be viewed as cutting edge and walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

    I saved $40 the first month that I started hanging clothes on the line. Not to mention, I love the smell of fresh laundry.

  91. Louie says:

    im guessing i missed the memo as to clotheslines equating to poverty.
    we had a clothes line that we used quite regularly to dry our clothes when i was growing up and we certainly didnt live in a poor neighborhood. Would you purchase new vehicles if you didnt store them in a garage if they were not as “form fitting” to the neighborhood? your clothesline is not going to change the opinion your neighbors have of you already.
    lastly, perhaps you might want to consider asking your neighbors if they would mind you hanging a clothesline.

  92. Bobby says:

    Great insight. Posts like this are why I enjoy your blog.

  93. Rach says:

    If clotheslines are a sign of poverty then the entire country of Australia must be really poor. Why on earth would you use a dryer that uses electricity when the sun is free? Even on cloudy days, as long as there is a bit of windy your clothes will dry. As for what your neighbours will think – who cares, honestly? Why would you worry about what someone else thinks about how you dry your clothes? Everyone has them, everyone has to wash and dry them, how they are dried should be unimportant to others. Lastly it’s your backyard, so putting a clothesline up should be no one elses business….just my thoughts.

  94. Pitchlady says:


    Folks are right that it could be seen as trendy. Is there some way you could make it seem a little more obviously eco-friendly? And therefore make it add to the value of the neighborhood rather than detract? Consider it as a part of your overall landscaping.

    True, it would not be so cheap if you were to, say build it out of cedar and have a raised bed garden or patio and trellis associated — but it would still be enviromentally friendly, and could raise the value of the house.

    If nothing else, keep it in your possible future plans.

  95. Beth says:

    Trent – is your backyard fenced in? Would the fence be enough of a visual barrier?

    I live in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. Most of my neighbors do not use clotheslines, but a few homes do have (and use) them.

    If anyone were to ask (and no one has) I would explain that for our family, it is a simple and inexpensive way to contribute to improving the environment.

    Additionally, if you hang the clothes neatly it’s a little more attractive.

    Just a few ideas. I appreciate your sensitivity to your neighborhood and the goodwill with those living near you. MANY people never consider those point.

  96. Heather says:

    We use our retractable clothesline ($18) for almost everything, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Hanging a load of sheets, bedding and towels is super quick, but it is one of the longest to dry in the dryer.

    Be a “green” leader in your neighborhood.

  97. Fiona says:

    Hi, I’m from Australia and I really how to laugh at how it’s almost the opposite here. Every yard has a line and it’s considered environmentally unfriendly and even a bit lazy to use a drier exclusively. Most people do still use dryers part-time for the convenience, but I’m guessing most people would apologise or be a bit embarrassed if they had to admit to using the dryer exclusively. Actually some people go the other way, and it is socially acceptable to boast if the household doesn’t have a drier at all. Our climate probably has something to do with all this :)

  98. Paula says:

    This is my first visit here and I have to say after reading this article, I am amazed at the ignorance of some people.

    I am an ex-pat now living in Australia. I moved here 8 years ago. When I first came out I soon realized that not everyone had a clothes dryer. In fact, I know very few people that have them. Instead, these smart Aussies all have clothes lines. Even most apartments have them. If not outside, then they will have a folding one to use inside. Rain, cold weather, etc should not stop you from hanging your clothes to dry by using the fold up rack indoors.

    I admit, at first I was shocked and was wondering how on earth I would get by without a dryer. Well, lo and behold, I did and have. I would never, ever go back to using a dryer.

    As for the time it takes to hang out laundry…you have to be kidding in saying that you are just too darn lazy to get out there and hang it up. Unbelievable!

    As for decreasing your home value and what the neighbors think?! Who cares what the Jones’s think?! I really do not see how it is viewed as “poverty” and will decrease your home value. Here in OZ, if you do NOT have one it will decrease your value. Oh, not by much, maybe $30!! The cost it takes to install one. But, for sure, the people will think it’s strange that the house didn’t have one already installed.

    I have never had the “stiff” clothes problem out here. Towels, jeans, etc all dry soft. Use plain vinegar in your rinse instead of those nasty fabric softeners.

    Since living out here I have been able to look back on Americans and see just how narrow minded & brain washed we really are,or in my case…WAS.

    Get over what you think the neighbors will think, for goodness sake. Take a stand for yourself, your family and most importantly…the environment!

  99. Max Smith says:

    It’s also interesting how during WWII, everyone was encouraged to be frugal and not waste fuel or energy or metals or paper or rubber or anything, in order to contribute to the war effort. In contrast, during the present war(s), everyone is encouraged to essentially behave as if there is not a war going on at all – everyone is encouraged instead to “stimulate” the economy.

  100. MoneyBlogga says:

    I live in an expensive neighborhood. When the property market was going upupup, the homes were selling over $1 million. Having said that, three things forced me to totally rethink my expenditures. 1. My bills are/were too high.
    2. I was tired of feeling ripped off by the utility companies.
    3. I wish to live a “greener” life, whether or not it’s considered trendy today or not.

    So, I installed a clothesline in the back of my property and every single day I hang clothes out to dry on it. And I couldn’t care less what the neighbors think. And it makes me feel good that, in some small way, I am saving resources in more ways than just one.

    Admittedly, my home sits on a 2.5 acre lot so there is plenty of room for said clothesline. I do not live in a tract home with windows peering in on me from every angle.

    Still and all, my neighborhood is considered affluent with all the accoutrements of affluence – Hummers, boats, RVs, and so on. Personally, I have reached a point where I feel that the level of consumer consumption that we see in this country today cannot be sustained. If the trend now is more toward frugality and resourcefulness, that’s a good thing.

    The clothesline will stay where it is and I enjoy using it. The clothes smell great and everyone in the household agrees that they feel better, wear better and last longer. AND I get to stick it to the utility company.

  101. Dana Seilhan says:

    If any of your neighbors have a problem with their property values decreasing, tell them you’ve done them a favor by saving them money on their property taxes. Good Lord, man. :P

    Seriously though… Put up a neat-looking clothesline, hang your clothes neatly, and don’t put anything embarrassing out there. Get a clothes rack for your undies and holey/stained items and hang those inside the house.

    My little girl’s dad is renting and can’t put up a clothesline outside but he has one in the basement and uses it for huge items he can’t put in the dryer, like mattress pads.

  102. nickyp says:

    Here in Australia the clothesline is the norm. In fact the rotary clothes line is an Australian invention. In our backyard we have a rotary clothesline, vegetable garden and a chicken. These are all pretty normal here and no one would associate them with poverty.

    I had always thought that the American habit of using a clothes dryer all the time was related mostly to weather and lack of space in urban areas. I find it funny to think that it’s actually about the perception of poverty! I think you should just get a clothesline and get over it.

    By the way, cloth nappies dry more quickly on the clothesline in summer and look and smell much cleaner than when you put them through the dryer.

  103. lorax says:

    Great post again!

    Unlike most posters, I can understand Trent’s trepidation. In my mostly rural, but increasingly McMansion neighborhood, no one uses a clothesline.

    I hang some clothes inside. For the 200 to 300 bucks a year we’d save, it isn’t worth annoying the neighbors to hang outside. We do our part by not owning a Hummer.

  104. Karen somewhere in NC says:

    I think its so important to air dry your laundry but we live in a subdivision too. We have a clothesline that can quickly be put up or taken down….we got it at Big Lots and its the kind that you can real in but we have hooked it from the house to a tree and when we have company or our neighbor does we reel it in.

  105. Craig says:

    While I’m sure that in some places, clothes lines might be associated with lower income, this seems to me a mind set that is probably (I’m guessing) only really prevalent in the US (and maybe some countries where society has progressed in a similar fashion with regards to consuming goods and “saving time and effort”).

    Like Lorraine, I’m in Australia, and I think you would be hard pressed to find a backyard that was big enough to house a clothes line but didn’t have one. The exception being apartment blocks, and even then they usually have a communal clothes lines people can use.

    Sure, it *does* takes more physical effort, and more time, to hang washing on the line, but I think that if humanity in general is to be able to reduce energy consumption to a point where we can be sustainable, the kind of mindset that might make use of a clothesline (and similar energy efficient processes) ‘unfashionable’ really needs to be altered.

  106. Jen S. says:

    Like others before me, I generally disagree with you. I live in an affluent suburb, and I’ve seen clotheslines. Living green is *very* trendy. If your neighborhood isn’t already sporting clotheslines, maybe you can start something. :)

    My problem with clotheslines is that the only air drying I’ve ever done has been indoors and always 100% *sucks* (garments end up drying in the shape of their hangers, stiff as a board) and since I’ve never tried it outside, I’m skeptical about line-dried clothes being so fresh and fluffy. Why wouldn’t clothespins make big dents/folds in the garments? Why would they smell so fresh, if the air doesn’t smell like anything? I can’t wrap my head around it, so I just haven’t tried it. I’m stubborn. A taurus, even.

    And I love the smell/feel of dryer-dried clothing.

    So, there was a clothesline in my yard when I moved into my house … and I took it down.

  107. Aussie Reader says:

    A couple of Aussies have beat me to the punch, a particular rotary clothesline is an Australian invention http://www.abc.net.au/dimensions/dimensions_in_time/Transcripts/s785953.htm, Not only perfect for drying clothes but by far one of the best things for kids to play on!! Great to swing around hanging onto the arm.

    Honestly, I can’t believe that there are home without clotheslines, it seems silly to dry clothes in dryer all the time. We barely use our dryer, only in really wet weather, even then we hang clothes up inside instead.

    Further, I find it hard to believe that house prices are going to drop because one house has a clothesline, surely the market isn’t that sensitive.

    Get the darn clothesline Trent!!

  108. Ken says:

    I come from a middle-to-upper-middle class background in suburban Texas, and now Boulder, and I cannot fathom thinking a clothesline is a sign of poverty. Funny how we get socialized so differently.

    And you’re capitulating? It could be a case where you need to reprogram yourself instead, like you have regarding finances.

  109. Floridian says:

    I’ve never ever seen anything wrong with clothes lines, never heard it referred to as an indicator of poverty and I’m American. Knowing how strict some home owners’ associations are, though–my best friend got fined for having dry patches in her lawn during a severe drought–I’m not surprised. However, I think you may be overthinking how your neighbors would react.

    I love drying my clothes outdoors because 1) the outdoorsy smell 2) my pants don’t shrink 3) if a stain didn’t come out, it didn’t get dried into the fabric in the dryer.

  110. Faculties says:

    Associated with poverty? Would you buy a new car every two years because someone might think that having a three-year-old car means you’re poor? Rejecting clotheslines because someone might think you’re poor is no more sensible. Will someone really think you can’t afford a dryer? And would not being able to afford a dryer really be a disgrace? Heavens to Betsy, just get a retractable clothesline and stop being so status-conscious. Nobody around here (I’m in Oregon) looks down on clotheslines. I bet they don’t in your neighborhood either.

  111. Katrina says:

    This is a situation where I can hear my mother’s voice saying, “If everyone else in your neighborhood decided to jump off the Brooklyn bridge, would you do it, too?”

    Hang up your laundry, neighbors be damned. It is becoming “trendier” so it might not hurt your property values as much as it may have before. More importantly, I don’t think that the amount it would affect property values is really tangible, or something to be considered compared to the tangible value of being able to hang out laundry during warm weather instead of drying it. The sun’s energy is there to be used: might as well harness it. If you’re really concerned about turned-up noses, limit it to sheets, towels and shirts and such- things that LOOK clean and fresh, and avoid displaying your skivvies and socks to your neighbors.

    And more importantly, there is nothing, NOTHING in this world quite as wonderful as crawling into a bed with freshly washed sheets that were hung out to dry in the summer sun. That’s what I grew up with- it always says home to me. I wish I didn’t live in an apartment, so I could hang out my laundry. Soon enough, soon enough.

  112. Blue says:

    This one has just made the discussion forums I’m on in Australia as a truly bizarre concept i.e. using a clothes line = poverty. I clicked on over to see if it REALLY was true.

  113. sunny says:

    Geez, I’m disappointed Trent, if you want a clothesline please have one. We have live in the country but own one the nicest home in the area, earn over 120k per annum and have a clothesline. I’ve never equated hanging out my laundry with poverty. I do it because the sheets smell like sunshine and my towels actually absorb water. Bonus is being green.

    Be the change . . .

  114. Laurie says:

    We lived in South America for 4 months last summer and I had my first introductions to “line drying”. I’m really don’t understanding everyone’s nostalgic view for it. Both of my children (3 and 6) complained about how scratchy their clothes were – and they were! Don’t even get me started on how jeans and towels feel after a line dry, even with good liquid softener – which I might add pretty much negates the savings from not using the dryer.

    Additionally, if you live somewhere high in humidity or very cold the time it takes is all day.

    Also, if you live in high allergen areas (as we do) I can’t imagine the pollen count in your clothes after line drying. Dry inside? How freaking big are you guys’ houses? A full load in my washer would never come close to fitting on even 3 of the indoor drying racks.

    Also as a busy mother, I don’t have the time or inclination to do only 1 load of laundry a day. What a time sink! I do ALL all laundry about once every 10 days to make sure the (super high efficiency front loader) washer and the (high efficiency) dryer are always all the way full.

    While I’m all on board for conservation of resources and green use, I also consider my time in that conservation!

  115. Jessica says:

    Whether or not your assumptions are correct about how people perceive clotheslines, particularly your neighbors, I think it’s nice that you care what they think. Frankly, I find the “erect privacy fences!” and “who cares what the neighbors think?” attitudes a lot worse. I like my neighbors and I do care to not offend them because we all have to live in this world together. Whatever happened to trying to get along? And compromises?

  116. sunny says:

    I live in Florida where humidity is a given, clothes
    dry in a couple hours if that. I work and am busy too but really it might take 5 minutes to hang out clothes. I do care what my neighbors think and don’t hang anything out that might be embarassing for either of us. I also care about leaving something left of the planet for my kids and maybe if I hang stuff out my neighbors might (and have been) inspired to do the same. L

  117. Lurker Carl says:

    We hang clothes on sunny days and I work on cars in the driveway. Everything is neat and tidy, nothing looks like we’re impoverished. I also cut my neighbors lawns, shovel their snow, repair their vehicles and do handyman projects around their houses for cash. I’m not at all concerned about what they think of me. Perhaps they are more “affluent” but their inability to perform simple homeowner chores for themselves paid for my late model new-to-me truck.

  118. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Great discussion. It went down a vastly different road than I expected, but still interesting. I’d encourage you all to do some research into the topic of clotheslines and property values before criticizing – read this thread at Treehugger: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/10/do_clothes_line.php

    I also put a lot of value on a close relationship with my neighbors, something that I find doesn’t exist in some other neighborhoods – I would NEVER install a privacy fence or anything like that to block out people I’ve fostered a good relationship with – that relationship pays a lot of subtle dividends. Combined with the property value factor, we made a choice that goes against what we would probably do by default, which is to install a clothesline.

  119. Basenji says:

    Wow, I am shocked at this post. We have been hanging our laundry indoors and outdoors on a collapsible drying rack for 10 years and never use the dryer, even when we have one. We move a lot but when we have an outdoor clothes line at our home we use that. I can’t imagine the feeling of waste if I used a dryer all the time. I have no idea what people are talking about when they say “scratchy” clothes and towels. How about overly tight jeans and worn out underwear elastic? How about that sick feeling of chemicals on your clothes from dryer sheets?

    This whole poverty and frugality is a complete non-issue. People that are offended by clothes lines are wasteful and spoiled. A clothes line is a symbol of a thoughtful neighbor NOT wasting natural resources.

  120. lilah says:

    This is interesting because we have been looking for a good quality clothesline and haven’t been able to find one. We live in Las Vegas, where it would make sense to hang our clothes out to dry, as it would be done in ten minutes. I have been using one of those drying racks, but they are cheap and tend to break so we are looking for something more permanent. I never considered it a sign of poverty and was surprised that you would consider it so. I also think you missed the bigger picture, the issue isn’t about the money, but rather using less resources.

  121. Mister E says:

    Poverty shmoverty.

    In Ontario, Canada there was a bit of an uproar over most homeowners associations banning clotheslines. I believe the province recently overturned all such bans.

    I did live in a neighbourhood a couple of years back where one family had a line and would hang their clothes only to ignore them for days, sometimes letting them blow all over the yard (I wondered what they were wearing). That WAS an eyesore, but a properly used clothesline is a great thing. If I wasn’t in an apartment at the moment you can bet I’d use one.

  122. gr8whyte says:

    I think it’s better to ping your neighbors first before putting one up, even a temporary one.

    Here in the high desert, I won’t dry laundry outside because of UV damage and dust. I first get rid of most of the water with a drier (if skipped, cottons get really wrinkly), then hang most of it up which humidifies the place nicely.

  123. Tracy says:

    I do 95% of my own car maintenance and service. I do nearly all of my home maintenance and repair. I painted my house myself. I have two huge maple trees that I’ve trimmed myself, twice. I plan to install new windows and siding on my house next year, by myself.

    One of my neighbors has, on MULTIPLE occasions, stopped by to remind me that I can “pay people to do that for me”, regardless of the project. My response is always the same – Why?

    If I were to put up a clothesline, I have no doubt that this neighbor would have a comment of some sort. Would that stop me? Nope. I do try to get along with my neighbors, but I truly don’t care what their opinion is of my, my house, my car, or anything else.

  124. LauraH says:

    @gr8whyte and a few others: yes! Definitely invite the neighbors for coffeee and see what they think! You might be starting a trend, you never know. Besides, when I lived in England, you pretty much defined “good neighbor” as “the sort of person who, if it was raining, would take in your wash as well.”

    I have definitely heard people sniff about hanging laundry as an indication of “lower class,” but I have also heard that the sort of person who worries about that brands him- or herself as provincial and a social climber when he or she does.

  125. Blue says:

    I am amused…I believe we know have a thread extolling the hills hoist (a deeply venerated Australian national icon and invention) as we ponder cultural differences that are incomprehensible. What backyard does not have a washing line?

    : Alas! So that’s what they think of us:

    No doubt, on such small things, international diplomacy may depend ; )

  126. I commend you for being honest. However, this post is very sad. My husband’s extended family is from NZ and every single person there has a clothesline in their backyard. Not only is this energy efficient and better for the environment but your clothes smell better too.

    I totally agree with what MoneyBlogga regarding the the level of consumption in this country coming to a point in which it cannot be sustained. I find it very embarassing that we live in a country in which perception about an object would cloud our sense of reason and practicality to such a degree.

    I hope that you go ahead and put up your clothesline. It was brave to admit your trepidation but it’s even braver to stick to your guns and do the right thing.

  127. simpledollar reader says:

    I have a similar comment to some here already. I was also surprised to hear that hanging out clothes outside could be considered a mark of poverty or living “ghetto.” I never even thought of that. I’m also from outside of the US, and grew up in Australia, where, as others have already noted, it’s the norm to have an outdoors clothesline of some sort. The only reason some don’t have it is that they live in apartment type blocks without their own backyard. Of course, some people do have dryers, but it doesn’t seem to be such a popular thing in Australia. I was actually quite surprised to meet American expats and find that they regard dryers as a necessity and the norm. Our family actually had a dryer in Australia but it hardly got used. Just didn’t seem to be any advantages except that you could dry stuff on rainy days. But the machine was noisy, took a long time to dry, some clothes couldn’t be put in it otherwise they’d shrink, and it seemed to wrinkle stuff more,increase pilling and fade some things. It also added to indoors heat in summer, in a hot country. And lastly, it used power and cost more to run. However, I can appreciate that it’s very useful in places that rain/snow a lot, and it’s not just a matter of being sucked into marketing and consumerism.

    For those that DO need to machine dry, I think wrinkling can be overcome by machine drying, then taking it out when 3/4 dry, and air drying (lay out clothes flat – or on clotheshangers etc and you can even reduce or eliminate ironing altogether! More time and energy/cost savings – great in summer when ironing is the worst chore).

    There was a good comment that perceptions are quite different from country to country. I had heard that Europeans are used to hanging out laundry even in apartments, on their balcony, where it can be seen clearly from the street. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I think people do it in many places because it makes sense to them, in their country, given their climate etc. Anyway, living in Asia, I see laundry hung out all the time,on the balconies of apartments. Living in a small apartment, I also use a clothes rack inside, but when possible, I use the communal rooftop line, especially for sheets and blankets. Someone said, why does it smell fresh if the air doesn’t smell of anything? Well it does! Smell the air in spring – the flowers etc, fresh rain smells… I think though, mainly,it’s the wind that blows OUT smells in clothes, even in a polluted city like mine. Moving air gets rid of smells. That’s why we need air circulation in houses and we open windows or smells accumulate.

    Clothes too stiff? Use fabric softener! I haven’t tried vinegar as suggested by one reader. But I’ll give it a go. Also, I find that if you can bring in laundry before it’s completely dry lessens the stiffness, if you just let the moisture evaporate indoors, out of the sun. This helps a lot with towels and jeans etc. Scrunching up and smoothing out an almost-dry towel also removes that board-stiffness. Do it before you fold and put away towels and it’s really only a few seconds more time and effort.

    Also, someone already mentioned – sunshine has a slight bleaching effect, and an old tip I read is that putting a bit of lemon juice or vinegar in the rinse with whites keeps them white longer when sun-dried. It also has a bit of a sanitizing effect. Better environmentally and safer than bleach. Lemon juice smells nice too.

    Another good tip from someone here – try to hang coloreds in shadier areas to prevent fading. Dryers fade clothes a lot too, and seem to increase pilling.

    For those who think it’s too much effort to hang out clothes – yes, it takes time and a bit of effort. But so does cooking at home! So does washing/cleaning your car, cutting the grass, raking leaves! Hanging up and taking down laundry takes time but isn’t difficult, so ask the kids or your family to help. I helped my mother as a young child. I now look back and remember that it was a good thing, doing a simple chore together, learning from my mother about how to hang out clothes to reduce ironing, put clothespegs on the unseen areas of clothes (underarm seam of shirts, tees, toe/heel of socks etc.) It wasn’t a horrible time sink as someone put it. I spent time with my mother (who has passed away),and it made me feel good that I could help her in some way as a child and contribute.

    Underwear etc? As someone already commented, you can just hang them on the innermost areas of the line, which is what we did too. Or smalls can be hung inside without taking up much space.

    I don’t know what people add to their dryers, but the one we had at home did NOT make clothes smell any better – smelled the same as the line dried clothes,because we used the same fabric softener for both. Fluffier towels? Maybe, but that’s because you ADD those little sheets to make them less static and softer- it’s not the dryer alone.

    Finally, this is a blog about saving money and frugality isn’t it? Dryers save time, for some, but it costs money to run. Line drying takes more time, but saves money. And the heat from dryers is bad for fabric. Great for fading jeans and softening up the denim quickly, but bad for bright colors, delicate fabrics, knits etc. Clothes can start to look old and beat-up/faded in a shorter time. So you save money on replacing clothes by CAREFUL line drying. One expensive, quality wool/angora sweater I really liked a lot shrank horribly in the dryer (accidentally went it) and I had to spend a lot of time and effort washing and stretching it out, air drying (use one of those things for knits to stop stretching. It’s still not like it was before, but at least it’s still wearable.

  128. chris says:

    wow, i never heard nor imagined the idea of clotheslines being tied to poverty. Where did this idea ever come from? I mean doesn’t everyone have some clothes that can;t be dried in a dryer and need to be air dried?

  129. mark says:

    What a CULTURE SHOCK! I’m from Europe and everyone here uses clothesline (always did!) and even the notion of them being a sign of poverty or even illegal is seen as… well… completely offbeat? I mean, I know American have some strange ideas, but this… this is… crazy?

  130. Pete says:

    As another antipodean (a New Zealander, this time) I too register my shock at the ubiquitous clothesline being considered a mark of poverty. It looks like our counterparts in Europe share the same view.

    Although I will say that it can be a bit difficult if clothes are left out overnight in a stiff frost.

  131. GG says:

    The only clothes-line I ever saw that made me think of poverty was one lined with dirty clothes! Hang up the laundry!

  132. Aaron says:

    I have 4 kids (so loads of washing) and don’t have a electric dryer. I’m in the UK so it is the norm here. When its raining we have clothes hanging everywhere in the house.

  133. Jasper says:

    Clotheslines are quite normal in Europe. In fact, many people simply don’t have a dryer. No space in the tiny European bathrooms (where laundry machines are placed).

    I would put the ‘green’ spin on towards your neighbors and ignore their feelings unless it’s very disapproving.

    One piece of advice though. Be polite to your neighbors and buy a tiny indoors rack as well for your underwear. Nobody wants to know whether you wear silk boxers, brief or tidy whities, and whether your wife wears normal panties, thongs or fancy lingerie. There are models that you can simply hang over a door, so keep that indoors.

  134. Aussie Chick says:

    I find it appalling that anyone could associate an environmentally friendly alternative with poverty! I too am in Australia. I live in an inland area that has long cold winters with short daylight hours yet I haven’t had a dryer for over 14 years and I have never wanted one. I can dry anything without a dryer, even a set of queen size sheets (fold in quarters, place over a drying rack, put under a heating vent and turn a couple of times during the day).

    As for the scratchy feeling of freshly dried clothes and towels, I love it, it means clean freshness to me. There is nothing like the scratchiness of a fresh towel to invigorate and dry the skin. And they all loose the scratchiness within a short time of putting on/using the items.

    Some have said it takes so much more effort to hang out and bring in clothes from the line. I find it enjoyable (except on really cold winter evenings when I’ve forgotten to get things off before dark) to get outside, get fresh air, talk to my cats who play around the clothesline area. Sometimes in the depths of a cold winter it’s the only outdoor time I get. Also my OCD side enjoys the pattern of hanging things with all the same coloured pegs and in various other patterns (OK that’s a bit sick).

    Finally I also find it odd that backyards seem to be so open where a lot of people who have posted here are. We value privacy here, all blocks have solid wood or colourbond (coloured corrugated sheet metal) fences and many people develop trees or planting on the fenceline to further seclude their domain. I love that I can walk through my bedroom naked on the way to the shower with the blind wide open on the sliding glass door and not have to worry about someone seeing inside. (TMI?)

  135. Original Steve says:

    First time comment, reading for about 1 month- love the blog—

    Try our approach: we partially dry loads outside on the deck rails, or over the shower curtain or putting them on hangars. Some things such as towels are completely dryed in this manner and then fluffed for maybe 5 minutes. Other things are thrown in the dryer and tumbled. However, we keep a close eye on they dryer and let things remain damp until they are ready to be fluffed the next morning.

    I definitely think getting the clothesline up is a good idea. Don’t worry about the neighbors.

    They might not like old beat-up cars, but if that was all you had to get to work in and it got 30mpg you wouldn’t care though you would likely do what you could—–such as keeping the car washed.

  136. quatrefoil says:

    Wow. I’m stunned. I’m Australian and the Hill’s Hoist (rotary clothesline) is the icon of suburban Australia – there’s one in pretty much every single backyard that’s big enough to hold one. If Americans view this as a sign of poverty and likely to make their property values drop, and are using dryers for no better reason, then it’s no wonder that the world is running out of oil and we’re fighting wars over it. That’s just plain bizarre in my view. If you’re serious about frugality and being eco friendly, time to be in the vanguard of the new movement.

  137. Rebecca says:

    I’m Australian too and this post has me gobsmacked. As another Australian has commented above, I agree that if someone used a clothesdryer for EVERY load, they would be assumed to be completely lazy, extravagant and possibly an environmental vandal. We have a clothesdryer but use it when it’s pouring rain. Otherwise, the clothes are on the line. To think this could be considered illegal or lower the tone of the neighbourhood is just bizarre – and no wonder we’re in so much trouble running out of non-renewable resources if 260 million americans use their clothes dryer every day.

  138. ruth says:

    I, like many other commenters, am de-lurking to express my disappointment that you are allowing a “keeping up with the Jones'” mentality to prevent you from doing what you know is the right thing.

    I don’t have a dryer, and haven’t for many years. I live in the heart of suburban Australia, and I’m horrified to learn that your attitude and that of many of your countrymen is that clothesline = poverty.

    Just do it!

  139. Aussie reader says:

    Quatrefoil – I’d just like to add a +1 to your comments. I too am stunned! Every backyard in Australia has a clothesline. We only ever use the dryer if it’s very wet outside, and that’s quite rare.

    I’m quite amazed at the notion that there are families in the US using dryers simply because clothes lines are frowned upon or carry a stigma of poverty.

    Wow. Just… wow.

  140. Betty Ann says:

    Wow…….my house is worth close to 600,000.00 in a borough of NYC……..and hardly anyone hangs clothes to dry; but when I do see it.. it is highly cozy and warm in feeling. I see something racks with clothes drying. I, myself have an extra large room downstairs and I have 6 racks and dry clothes for years on those racks….. I won’t use a dryer for anything; even towels.. a bit rough is a good way to remove dead skin cells. lol. ….. more people should use clotheslines; racks… it is a beautiful cozy look..

  141. JReed says:

    Did you ask your neighbors if it would bother them?

  142. Melinda says:

    Wow, you’ve opened a few cans of worms here Trent.
    By the way, what’s a drier?
    Never owned one and hope to think I will never need too.
    All the best in your frugality,

  143. Louise says:

    I’m another Australian who found the post fascinating, as clotheslines are definitely the norm in Australia. Perhaps you could look at fold down clotheslines that are invisible when not in use, or perhaps part of your garden could be screened from the neighbours. As for any possible damage to your own property value, that would easily be taken care of by simply taking down the clothesline if you ever put the house on the market and going back to the dryer for that time.

    I do understand your desire to keep the neighbours happy. Good neighbours are some of the best friends you can have. I personally have a very wild native garden and don’t own a lawnmower. Instead I get the small amount of lawn I do have cut every three months. I would let it go even longer except that my next door neighbour has a manicured garden and a fear of snakes hiding in my grass. The reason I do leave the grass long is because I have a rare species of native mice living in my garden. If I wanted to, I could actually get written permission from my council to not cut the grass at all, but I want to keep both my mice and my neighbours happy!

  144. jennifer says:

    I was really surprised to read your conclusion to not put up a clothesline after you articulated so many of the positive points of doing so, especially given the themes of your blog. I think it’s great that you’re considerate of your neighbors and appreciate your relationships with them, but I don’t see how using a neat/discreet clothesline and keeping those relationships must be mutually exclusive. I would hope that your neighbors would see your use of a clothesline as a commitment to saving resources for everyone — a community minded effort. And the idea from an earlier comment of making the clothesline part of a trellis/arbor-styled structure that is visually attractive is a great one.

    We’re in the process of showing our house to prospective renters and I never considered taking down our clothesline — I’d be happy to encourage the people who move in here to use it.

  145. Michelle Wilkins says:

    It is sad that we are so motivated by social pressure. It is the same thought process that keeps us living with the Jonese’s. Your neighbors are not paying your bills. If more people took the high road and did what it takes to get out of debt what an inheritence to our precious children. They would face a much more solid America. It is obvious from what I have read on your web site that you have turned your financial picture around. Those you love are truly the beneficiaries of your hard work. Stay on track and hang your clothesline! MW

  146. Fuji says:

    There is an excellent site dedicated to this issue:
    I believe they will sent you a clothes line for the price of the materials.

  147. wally says:

    Use your garage or basement to put up a clothesline in.The Iowa breeze will be better to take the stiffness out of drying clothes if you could get over the “poor” mentality

  148. Lindsey (ethel & edna) says:

    :-O *gobsmacked* I’ve got to say that your post just confirms what I’ve always believed – America is an insane place!! How can one piece of plastic-coated rope affect the value of your property?!
    Can you not buy retractable clothes lines in America? They come as a spool which which you unwind when you need to use it, then spools back in when you take in the laundry. It doesn’t have to become a permanent garden feature. Just a small yellow box fastened to the wall at one end and a hook on a wall or post some distance away.
    In the UK a clothesline shows affluence, if anything. In the main, only stay-at-home wives/mums who can afford not to work, have the time to hang laundry out on the line.
    Line-drying is also better for the clothes as the extra agitation of a tumble drier wears fibres more quickly than just hanging aroung in the sun. Have you factored in the cost of buying new clothes more frequently?
    Many detergents are made to react with the sun so making the clothes smell fresher for longer.
    I’m just amazed that, if you are so committed to being frugal, you can discount a clothesline in favour of a drier. To me it’s a no-brainer.

  149. Darla says:

    Ask your neighbors, they may not have the hang-ups(pun intended) you attribute to them! I would love to have a clothesline, but my daughter’s allergies have gotten in the way. She will be going off to college in August, my perfect oppurtunity to get one! My biggest fear is my neighbors, the birds, leaving their mark on my clothes. By the way, one of my favorite memories from my childhood is my brother hanging pants out on the line that he had to wear to school the next day, only to find in the morning that they were frozen stiff!

  150. Leonie says:


    I’m from the Land Downunder, too, and whilst other continents and countries may associate us with heaps of sunshine, I have to tell you that parts of our fair Isle get heaps of downward running water, too. Especially where we live! lol

    Hokay, as to the debate, we have an outside entertaining area which is thick wooden-posted in terms of supports and has a roof of corrugated-shaped translucent plastic.

    So, this type of building is also adjoining another part of the back part of the house, and the wooden support structure has cheap washing line hung by screw-in rings so that we have five lines.

    What this means is that we have an all-weather, hidden, easily used clothes line that takes huge amounts of clothing.

    If anyone wants to know tips on how to hang out clothing quickly and well, please ask the Moderator whom I am sure will be happy to get me to write an article – gratis.

    Dominus tecum
    Leonie in Warrnambool, Oz.

  151. Fiona says:

    I’m a New Zealander living in Australia and, like all of my compatriots commenting here, and the Europeans, find the anti-clothesline view rather strange. Trent, have you spoken to your neighbours about putting up a clothesline? They may not be against the idea. They may even be waiting for a renegade to put up the first line so they can join in (with the rest of the world). If they do object to clotheslines, there are many models of retractable or folding lines that give you the benefits of line drying without offending your neighbours’ sensibilities. On a good drying day (stiff breeze, low humidity), washing will dry very quickly and needn’t be outside all day.

  152. deRuiter says:

    Dear Trent, All the Amish and most Mennonites in Pennsylvania and Ohio have clotheslines, outdoors for nice weather, and in the basement or on a covered porch for inclement weather. These are not “poor” people but very thrifty and hardworking folks. In the case of the Amish their religion does not allow electricity. I dry my clothes outdoors whenever the sun shines, saving the environment, money, and getting a bit of fresh air and exercise at the same time. The clothes SMELL HEAVENLY, and they don’t deteriorate into dryer lint which is really minute bits of damaged clothing which the dryer batters off the clothes as it spins them. PUT UP AND USE A CLOTHES LINE AND SAVE ELECTRICITY, SAVE MONEY, AND SET A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR YOUR NEIGHBORS who are problably staggering under high electricity bills. The idea of a clothes line = poverty will be a surpise to many families in the book, “The Millionaire Next Door”!!! Trent, am forced to gently disagree with your conclusion on this one! There is nothing so nice as a load of freshly line dried laundry, and it saves money and wear and tear on the clothing too!

  153. deRuiter says:

    Oooops! I forgot! In India I stay with a very wealthy family which includes an in house staff of five. ALL CLOTHING AND BEDDING IS DRIED ON THE IRON BALCONY RAILINGS, HELD IN PLACE WITH CLOTHESPINS. During the rainy season the clothing is dried on a covered porch. I don’t consider folks with a small palace and a live in staff of five to be poverty stricken! When I’m there I rinse out my own things and hang them on the balcony, they dry within a few minutes. It’s a pleasure to look across at other balconies and see the lovely saris drying in the sun. As for one’s undies, my Grandmother used to hang them on the line INSIDE a pillowcase or under the sheets, all the benefits of air and sun, but no public viewings! I LOVE USING A CLOTHESLINE! And I’m not poverty stricken!

  154. I have never commented here before because I rarely bother on blogs with huge readerships – you just get lost in the huddle. But this article was enough to have me screaming down to the comment section.

    In Australia EVERY house has a clothes line and I find it shocking to hear it talked about as a sign of poverty. That is just insane! Do we have dryers? Of course. well, I don’t because they use up loads of electricity and increase your environmental impact, while damaging your clothes. But loads of other people do.

    Though this doesn’t change the fact that clothes lines are a staple here and even those portable clothes hangers are a common sight on the balconies of my friends’ fancy apartment blocks. We all used to have the round hills hoist, but nowadays they take up too much room and are considered a bit unsightly in a prestige area so fold down or pull out designs have become popular. Some are so well done you can’t see them when there’s no washing.

    If your town is not unusual and all across America people are using dryers, then put that line up today. Set a new trend. Unless it snows and rains all year round you really have no need to use a dryer exclusively. You people have been brainwashed.

    Go the clothes line and stand up for some kind of common sense in a country that has obviously been sucked into a marketing black hole.


  155. vicki says:

    We had them back in NB Canada when I grew up there, no poverty where I lived! Never heard of clotheslines associated with poverty, this is a first.

    I say hang one!!

  156. vicki says:

    We had them back in NB Canada when I grew up, no poverty where I lived! Never heard of clotheslines associated with poverty, this is a first.

    I say hang one!!

  157. Juli Ruffing says:

    I think you really missed the mark on this issue. The frugal and ecological choice really needs to win out.

    It sounds like the area I live in is similar to yours– just bordering on rural, in a neighborhood. I just erected my clothesline and I’m totally loving it. Do a quick google of clothes lines and “the right to dry” and you’ll find this is somewhat of a hot button issue at the moment.

    If the appearance of the line apparatus is something you’re worried about (because of property values and such, erect a prettier line. I saved an old article from Living Magazine that has the directions for building a really pretty covered clothesline, that when you’re not hanging clothes, you hang a hammock. Allow some kind of climbing flower to climb up the pole and you get a really pretty addiction to your yard. I’d love to send you those directions. I guess I’m becoming some kind of clothesline militia member. Reduce your carbon footprint! Use less energy!

  158. Sandra says:

    “Clotheslines are one of those items that are often associated with poverty and the appearance of such items gives an impression of poverty in our neighborhood.”

    Wow, this must be the most ridiculous and silly sentence I have yet read in this blog. Usually I like to read your opinion, Trent, but this is pathetic.
    As one of the Europeans here I feel really sorry for you poor Americans if that argument is actually true. You know, in my naivete I always thought America was a free country, but if you are afraid to do a little thing like putting up a clothesline just because of what the neighbours might think, I am suddenly very happy again to live on the other side of the pond. Geez, really, talk about thought police…
    And the idea that the presence of a clothesline in a backyard can have any effect whatsoever on the property value of the whole neighbourhood just boggles my mind. So what’s the socially acceptable use you can put a backyard to? Just have it look pretty and empty?

  159. Jeana says:

    I think you and your wife are being very considerate of your neighbors, and the point you made was missed by a large portion of you audience: It’s not about worrying what others think of you. Whether or not we wish clotheslines affected the value of the homes in your neighborhood, the fact is that they will. Frugality at the expense of others is not okay. Putting your relationship with your neighbors before the money you might save is the right thing to do.

    (I think many readers are not making proper allowance for difference in geography. It’s nice that clotheslines are not viewed the same way in their country or region or neighborhood. However, it doesn’t change your situation.)

  160. Jeana says:

    And I, too, was going to suggest a well-placed drying rack or two.

  161. Joy says:

    Another Aussie here, our clothe’s line is down the side fence against the wall of the house (It folds down if needed). As it is partially under the eave of the house, washing hung under the eave dries even if it rains. The neighbours is the same, you cannot see the lines from the front of our homes because we have a wall from fence to house. I never use the drier to dry wet clothes, only to remove the dampness on a cold day. Outside drying is better for your washing and the environment. As for the “poverty” comment it doesn’t apply here in OZ.

  162. Rachal says:

    I agree with all the other commentators. Go with your gut here, it’s more important than a perception from the neighbors. I think the best solution is the retractable umbrella style close lines. I am (hopefully) buying a house on 1 acre of land in June, and I know right where two of those style clothes lines are going. I think they’re much more attractive than just a line strung between two posts. That’s my main argument against the old style. My mom had one for years and years and after a while, the line started to droop and it was difficult to put the sheets out–now, I think there’s so much nostalgia, and warm memories associated with them that it’s a popular choice to go back to. I remember running between the lines when I was a kid and hiding between the sheets. :O) It’s definately worth it if for no other reason than for your children to be able to experience them.


  163. Missy in Texas says:

    This is funny to me because when I was in 8th grade we moved to a country club community (a step up for our family) and the home had a retractable clothes line in the backyard. We were surprised but assumed the other owners had been very earth friendly as were the other neighbors to one side of us (who did not have a clothesline). IF you were line drying your clothes just for the environmental benefits you would probably be all proud. I have noticed that with my friends, things I do to be frugal and feel a little weird about they brazenly do in the name of being eco friendly,etc. too funny to me!

  164. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Jenna writes “the point you made was missed by a large portion of you audience: It’s not about worrying what others think of you. Whether or not we wish clotheslines affected the value of the homes in your neighborhood, the fact is that they will. Frugality at the expense of others is not okay. Putting your relationship with your neighbors before the money you might save is the right thing to do.”

    Exactly. This article had almost nothing to do with clotheslines themselves. I’d love to have a clothesline, but this article has very little to do with clotheslines. It has to do with the value you put in your relationship with the people around you. I’d conclude that from this, many people value that relationship quite low – anyone who says “Put up a clothesline” or “Put up a privacy fence” is saying “Ignore your neighbors because they have little value.” I disagree wholeheartedly with that.

  165. Ms. Clear says:

    I really cannot believe that I just read this post. After that great interview with Amy D. too! What shock!

    I live in the suburbs of Boston, most definitely not the country, and I hang my clothes out, as does my next door neighbor. Don’t know or care if any other neighbors object. If they do, that’s their problem. I’m not poor. And so what if I was? Maybe I should buy a newer car so the neighbors don’t see the two junkers outside our house?

    Dryers are awesome and I use mine all the time. But from mid-April to mid-September I can get free drying? I’ll take it. Start up costs: $2. I hang my line between trees.

  166. Ms. Clear says:

    In this real estate market, property values have already gone down.

    Really, I find that explanation absolute crap. Nothing but an attempt to justify and explain outright classism.

  167. Hold on…

    “Whether or not we wish clotheslines affected the value of the homes in your neighborhood, the fact is that they will.”

    I have yet to see evidence of this. The Treehugger article that Trent referenced including a quote from the president of the California Association of Homeowners Associations claiming that clotheslines reduce property values 15%, but it provided no supporting data whatsoever.

    I heard this sort of argument over and over in the past when we lived in a neighborhood with an HOA. In short, I generally found that these sorts of things were driven by personal preferences of board members that were sold as being for the good of the community.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not 100% anti-HOA, as I think that they can do some good things. I’m also not saying that laundry lines *don’t* hurt property values — it’s just that I have yet to see a compelling, fact-based argument one way or the other.

    Do you know for a fact that your neighbors would be against the idea of laundry line? Or are you just assuming that would be the case? It seems like you have a good relationship with them. Why not talk to them about it? For all you know, the people around you want a laundry line, too, but are afraid to do it because they think you’ll hate it.

  168. JReed says:

    It’s nice that Jeanna threw you a life line over your preconception that your neighbors would think less of you for having a clothesline. Unless someone actually has their house on the market, there is no direct impact on their property value. Children, dogs, cats, vegetable gardens, compost piles and vehicles are all parts of our lives and values that can be points of differences between neighbors. Perhaps you and your wife are the ones who see the clothesline’s frugality as a signal of poverty and property devaluation. Also, privacy fences do not necessarily offend people. My neighbor put one up and I love the fact that his guarding his privacy affords me privacy in my backyard. The point is you haven’t asked your neighbors how they feel about clothelines and fences; so you don’t know.

  169. flawed says:

    On the other hand you can view it as a political issue:

    Join the movement for freeing clotheslines from the stigma of poverty!


  170. half-baked says:

    I lived in middle- and upper-middle-class neighborhoods in the midwest over the past 40 years, and I’ve never heard of clotheslines being a sign of poverty. Old-school, maybe, but not a sign of poverty.

    I hang my clothes outside as often as I can. The fresh scent can’t be created with any product in a dryer. I dry everything outside, concealing the private things under sheets. If you’re worried about sun damage, turn the items inside-out before drying. It takes slightly longer to hang than to toss it all in a dryer, but the fresh sunshine and extra movement is good for me.

    Unfortunately, I can’t do this in the winter, so I usually use the dryer more often in the winter (but still have lines strung in the laundry room).

  171. Donna says:

    You could always talk to your neighbors.

    I live in an inner-ring suburb, and I like to joke that it’s where all the out-of-county wannabes live. Seriously, the people are nice but do have a more rigid set of norms about “normal” behavior than I have experienced.

    Thus, it’s come as a great surprise to me that our neighbor 2 doors down came to ask if we’d mind a clothesline in their yard. We told them we’d been considering one ourselves and chatted about how nice the clothes smell and how good it was for the environment. Not 2 days later, the line was up and clothes were out. We did appreciate the neighborly niceness of asking first and we got to know the neighbors even better, AND learned that they share some of the same values as we do. That’s a win-all-around.

  172. goldsmith says:

    Hi Trent,

    I see what you mean. I live in an apartment (in Europe, btw), where it is part of the house rules not to hang clothes on the balconies, for similar reasons. As a result, I only air my comforter (essential against dustmites – air and sun kill dustmites) for brief periods at a time. My neighbours and I usually dry our clothes on drying racks inside the open balcony doors.

    Anyway, a moveable rack in your patio seems a good idea. I did that when house-sitting in a very posh neighbourhood, and it worked perfectly fine. It’s only a bit awkward with sheets.

    Another option might be to write a brief, polite letter to all neighbours on your street, explain your environmental concerns, and offer to them to not hang clothes if any of them has an open house viewing or similar (with contact details).

    That way, they can explain away why you are hanging your clothes to someone interested in their house (and who knows, maybe that potential buyer is a committed environmentalist delighted to move into a congenial neighbourhood! – This kind of stuff works all kind of ways.) Or they can phone and advise you of their needs in advance.

    Or maybe your letter encourages other closet environmentalists to bring out their own clotheslines? I’d say you have little to loose with such an approach, and you are a skilled writer, after all. You can still give up on the idea (and communicate that decision in another letter to your neighbours) if the reaction is very uncomfortable.

  173. Shelley says:

    I’m an American living in Britain and I’ve heard of some rather amusing views about the etiquette of drying clothes, eg not in the front or side of the house, but in the back is appropriate. Some people are choosy about which of their clothes they will display to their neighbours. Personally, with all the rain here, I’ve always thought clothesline were for eternal optimists. We use the old clothes drying rack that hangs from the 10 foot ceiling in the kitchen, hoisted up and down with rope and pulleys. My back garden is used to grow vegetables.

    I was kind of saddened by this post. If you can’t pursue the lifestyle that you want for your family and for the environment, I think you may have bought in the wrong area. I’ve been working my way up through the archives and so haven’t got to the part where you’ve bought your house, so I don’t know how you went about choosing. I always aim for value when buying a house; sounds like you may have aimed instead for prestige. I’ve never thought prestige was worth the price and I don’t think I would like living with snobby neighbours. I think a clothesline in use is a lovely thing, a celebration of sunshine and good weather. If it is hidden when not in use and so doesn’t clutter up the yard, I can’t see how it can reasonably cause offense to anyone.

  174. J.D. says:

    Just one point of data from one fellow in Oregon.

    I’ve never heard the notion that clotheslines affect property values. Ever. It’s new to me. Growing up, many people I knew used them. Now nobody does.

    My wife and I live in the nicest house in a typical middle-class Porland neighborhood. We’ve been actively pursuing a clothesline, one that would be in full view of the neighbors (and the street). It never occurred to us that it might be an indicator of poverty, and I don’t think it would make a difference if it did. I suspect that in the next few weeks, we’ll actually finish this project. (So far our efforts have been amateurish failures.)

    Anyhow, I wonder if there are cultural differences around the country. Or maybe Trent has some mental baggage associated with clotheslines due to experiences in his youth? I’ll actually be doing a straw poll of my friends over the next couple weeks to find out if my own perception of clotheslines is off-base…

  175. practical says:

    I was shocked to read that clothesline use was a poverty thing. I was raised in the city, not in poverty, with my mother using a clothesline as much as she could. When I bought my house in the city 21 years ago, there was a clothesline in the back yard, and I have used it all these years. There is nothing better than sleeping on sheets that have dried outside! When the weather is hot, why would you want to add to the heat in your house by running the dryer? Get rid of those perceptions and get the clothesline put up!

  176. Laura says:

    I understand, why you chose not to install a clothesline. I too live in a small town in Iowa. There was a choice of established neighborhoods, or new neighborhoods with stipulations. I chose the established neighborhood, with a clothesline already planted in the back yard, with a garden space. It wasn’t the deciding factor to purchase, that would have been the charming 1920’s craftsman bungalow, but was part of the package. Most of my neighbors have clothes lines, and gardens, which we share with each other. I think the clothes line goes well with your cloth diaper theory, which I did while my children were small, but then we didn’t have the issues.

  177. Jon Karak says:

    shorter Trent:
    I think frugality is a virtue, but I don’t want my neighbors to think I’m poor.

    Cut it any way you want it Trent, but this issue exposes that a) frugality isn’t really your virtue, or b) you think the best way to combat misperceptions is to appease them. Either way, it really undermines you authority to speak on the subject of thrift.

  178. echoparkgal says:

    I live in a woodsy hilltop part of Los Angeles and recently, I added a line to my apartment patio. Before I did so, I spoke to the neighbors around me and let them know I was doing so to utilize as much free hot summer energy as I could. So far I have been quite diligent and I must say everyone has been complementary about it. Their biggest complaint so far: that I have made time to hang my clothes and their busy schedules don’t allow for it.

  179. Char says:

    I have to comment – look, as everyone has said the clothes line is not going to bring down property values – it won’t. As for the concept of respecting your neighbors, hang your clothes with consideration:hang neatly, leave only until dry (I hang 1-2 loads a day at 8am and it is down by 10am), most people are gone to work at that time of day and the stay home mommies/daddies can relate to my frugalities, hang the undies discreetly (indoors or facing the house with towels covering them, hang an attractive line or a retractable one. Finally, as you think about respecting your neighbors think about the carbon foot print that you are not leaving for their children to deal with – to me that is respecting your neighbors. Okay one last thought, my next door neighbor does not keep his yard tidy, I run a retreat business from my home and have many gardens and work hard at upkeep, but he is kind and loving to his kids, plays with them constantly. He says hello and a few niceties everyday to me, as well, he teaches he children to speak kindly to me. I wouldn’t trade him as my neighbor for the world, not even the out of control trees that are spreading by root into my yard. Trent, you are a good person and your neighbors will value that more than anything. Hang your clothes already and help save the earth!!

  180. John says:

    I really enjoy your articles. I’ll be frugal until I die, then who knows! John

  181. James Lees says:

    I suppose you have to conform to the norms of the place you live in, but I am very grateful that drying clothes outside is not considered to carry stigma here. I live in a tiny village in Scotland and one of the first joys of spring is to get loads of washing hanging out – city-dwelling friends think it’s the coolest thing imaginable.

  182. Andrea says:

    I’ve seen it mentioned a few times already, but not answered: Have you ASKED the neighbours what they think about it? Maybe they’re all dying to have clotheslines too and are not putting them up for the same reasons you are.

  183. Alexandra says:

    Ours is concealed behind a fence. Like someone else mentioned here, it’s hung lower than the fence line. We hung ours across two fences in a small corner, and it holds one large load just fine. The other option is to use clothes drying racks. We do this in the winter, drying the clothes in the garage. Two racks hold one load, and I’ve got a traveling clothes rack for hanging shirts, skirts and pants. If our garage was larger we’d run a line in there.

  184. Sha says:

    I find the whole clothes line debate really interesting. I grew up in a very “upper class” neighbourhood and clothes lines were the norm in nice weather. We respected people’s right not to have to see what kind of underwear we wore, but it was (and still is) not at all unusual to see towels, pants, shirts, sheets fluttering in the wind.

  185. patti says:

    Go ahead and put one up. You are home now and your neighbors are at work during the day when you’d be using it. I’ve always had one . Plus you get a good workout hauling the heavy wet baskets outside. You will get lots of exercise hanging wash.

  186. Tana says:

    You have to be kidding!

    Do you have to buy a new car every two years in order to not drag down the values of the homes in your neighborhood?

    Have you read the Millionaire Next Door? I don’t remember it specifically talking about clotheslines, but with everything else discussed, I would assume that a significant portion of millionaires not only have clotheslines but use them as well.

    Of course, that would mean those millionaires probably don’t live in a neighborhood where they don’t have clotheslines because they’re “better” than the people who live in the neighborhoods that have them and – God forbid! – use them.

    I happen to live in a very nice neighborhood where the houses are kept up very nicely. None of the homes are brand new – they range from 30 to 100 years old. The “new” cars are generally used cars or they’re replacing cars that are ten years old. Most of the homes are paid for, and none of them are rentals. It is by no means a neighborhood that you would associate with “poverty.” But most houses have clotheslines – especially the older ones – and most people that have clotheslines, use them. In fact, I was thrilled to move here because I could have a clothesline and enjoy clothes dried in the fresh air, a privilege I didn’t have when I lived in an apartment.

    Clotheslines go with people who are hard-working and frugal. The only type of people clotheslines probably would not be associated with are those who live in neighborhoods where they aren’t allowed because that makes them think they’re “better” than everyone else. Given the choice, I’ll choose friends from the former rather than the latter any day.

  187. Alexis says:

    Others said this above, but I have *never* thought of clothes lines as indicators of poverty. JD above (#172) questioned geographic differences, but I’m also from Iowa. I can’t imagine your neighbors would have too much of a problem with a discreet clothesline- retractable may be the way to go if you are very concerned about the neighbor’s perceptions.

  188. Justin says:

    For all the people in Europe and Australia, Yes clothes lines can be viewd as a sign of poverty. It definitly is in the SouthEastern United States.

  189. jennifer says:

    clothesline = poverty? How bizarre. Plus it’s in your BACKYARD – it’s no one’s business what you do in your backyard – and who’s looking, anyhow? If you really don’t want to put one up outside, why not get one of the drying racks that hoists up and sits near the ceiling, taking full advantage of the rising heat in one’s home. We have one and use it for every load. Fantastic and keeps up and out of the way – barely noticible. You can get them on ebay, etc.

  190. JM says:

    I can’t believe you think a clothesline is going to bring down your property values.

  191. Sue M says:

    I have always had a clothesline around. I use the folding “umbrella” type with lots of shorter lines. My last one rusted out, so when I bought the new one, I discovered that I can fold it and carry back into the garage! Thus, it is seen only on days that I use it! Easy solution, I think! I don’t put my dainties out there, but anything else is game. I usually use the dryer for t-shirts, also, as they aren’t quite so wrinkled or stretched out of shape.

  192. Mary says:

    I grew up in a an afflurnt/upper middle class neighborhood and we always used a clothes line even though we had a dryer (mostly used in the winter or when time didn’t allow). Now that I think of it, we wewe the only ones on my street who had a clothes line. But up until now I never heard or even considered this to be an indicator of being poor. living in an apartment, I wish I had the ability to hang my clothes outside.

    I think you are reading too much into this Trent. Your always talking about how image shouldn’t matter, keeping up with the Joneses, etc. Maybe others are afraid to put up a clothes line and, by your example, they will go ahead and do so. It’s not only cheaper but it saves on wear and tear of clothes, linens, etc. and also reduces the strain on the environment. I say go for it. Don’t care what others are think.

  193. Holly says:

    Rats. I should have commented earlier, when there were onlly 22 comments. :)

    My initial thought was…Good Gravy. Just put up the clothesline already. :)

    I don’t think it equates with poverty, at all…and if it does, big deal! I suppose it is tacky to plant lettuce and spinach in the flowerbed, too…but it feeds my family! :)

    What about the “less than new” car that is in your driveway or garage? Does that bring down property value? Probably.

    What about wearing your clothes until they REALLY need to be replaced? The neighbors probably know that, too! :)

    Every home used to have a clothesline. It was just common sense!

    Washing and hanging out clothing for a smallish family really isn’t that labor intensive. It gets you moving and gives you fresh air and incorporates exercise into your day (without a gym pass.) (For my family of ten, it CAN be labor intensive…but it STILL is peaceful and therapeutic!

    Hey, thank you for your posts. I think you’re doing a great job!

    p.s. We are a family of ten who live on less than $35,000 annually. The house is paid for, the cars are paid for, and we donate around 20 percent yearly. No inheritances, no governmental help. Don’t fear the clothesline…it is part and parcel of frugal life.


  194. Justin says:

    Its true you shouldn’t care about what other people think, but everyone does. Some people might not care about a clothes line, but who would put an old toilet in their yard and plant flowers in it? How about an old rusty tractor in your front yard? Maybe keep every car you’ve owned in your life in your front yard? Im just saying I understand where Trent is coming from.

  195. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Jon Karak wrote: “shorter Trent: I think frugality is a virtue, but I don’t want my neighbors to think I’m poor.”

    You completely missed the point of my article. I don’t care if the neighbors think I’m poor as long as I’m not actively driving down their property value and creating hard feelings because of it. I have a compost bin next to my garage, for example, and a well-kept garden – those look very pleasant and fit in with the decor.

    Clotheslines, on the other hand, reduce property value: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/10/do_clothes_line.php

    From my perspective, doing that to my neighbors is needlessly antagonistic. I actually don’t care if it reduces my own property value – but reducing the property value of neighboring houses is not exactly a way to foster a good relationship. I have a very good relationship with the families around me – the material items and friendships and conversation and food we share is worth far more than the $200-300 I might save annually from that clothesline. If I lived in another area, I’d love to have one – but here, there are other factors that add more value.

    Justin gets it – it’s about comparative values, and that’s the whole point of frugality. Frugality isn’t about doing the cheapest thing, it’s about making the choice that maximizes personal value. From my perspective, good neighbor relations are more valuable than a clothesline.

  196. Andi says:

    Lots of great input – I love the Right to Dry laws in Canada! Thanks for the idea of putting a
    a line in the garage; never occured to me!

    Two thoughts:
    1. I hang clothes and LOVE not being tied to the buzz of my dryer; I can have two loads on the line by 9 a.m. & not touch them again until I feel like it! Even my 14-year-old voluntarily
    hangs her laundry each week.
    2. Retractables are great; I moved one around with me for years; five lines meant one wash day a week! The neighbors at last house loved that I hung clothes; they would stop & talk. Of course, they all loved my husband’s reel mower, too. Sadly, only one neighbor took up the clothesline & none the reel mower. We do what we can!

  197. Michelle says:

    I read the article you posted, and I’m disappointed in you. The quote about property values was made by the President of California Homeowners Associations. That’s a pretty biased source, since HOAs are the one’s banning clotheslines. Our HOA told us that metal swing sets bring down our property values. Come on Trent, if that’s your only source for this idea that it reduces property values, than that’s just weak.

  198. ericaceous says:

    Wow, I didn’t get all the way through the comments, but it seems to me like many of the posters missed the point of this post, which is about the other things one must weigh other than the bottom line. Cultural norms and one’s relationship with neighbors are important things to think about when weighing choices. Are the norms sometimes weird and “wrong” by my standards? Yes. Should they still be considered? Also yes.

    I could discuss clotheslines with the best of them–I’m an indoor clothes line and folding dryer user since I have no backyard to speak of–but to me your post was not about that. Thanks for bringing up the topic of community harmony and how it can/should impact household decision making. I hope to see more discussion of this topic.

  199. Leanne says:

    I am another regular reader who is quite shocked at your take on this issue. Clotheslines do not equal poverty, they equal common sense.

    I live in a quite affluent neighborhood, and there are rules for our subdivision about types of concrete, roofing materials, etc. There is also the rule that clotheslines are not allowed. However, if I look down the row at the back of the houses, I see many clotheslines, including one in my backyard.

    My line has seen cloth diapers for my three children, rugs and things from our home, and yes, our tighty whities. It’s one of my favorite things about spring, I can finally get our clothes outside in the fresh air and sunshine.

    Wise use of energy is a philosophy, not just an economic condition. I choose to lead by example, and I thought you did too.

  200. Anne says:

    It will take people like you to make something as innocuous as line-drying clothes something acceptable again. Europeans don’t rely on clothes dryers like we do! Thinking that only poor people don’t blast their clothes in artificial wind is a stuck-up attitude.

  201. H says:

    “Clotheslines are one of those items that are often associated with poverty”

    America is a very strange country.

  202. Julie says:

    I echo the disappointment expressed with your choice. Either Iowa is quite a bizarre place, or you’ve got it wrong about what your neighbours think. Could it be that putting up a clothesline would inspire your neighbours to do the same? Also, Trent, you have kids.. cutting out the use of the dryer helps them to have clean air and water in the future. How does that compare to the importance of property values assuming your logic holds? (and I don’t think it does – increasingly, the “hot” neighbourhoods will be eco-neighbourhoods).

    Guess what? If you start line drying you’ll become addicted to the lovely freshness of air dryed clothes (and bed linens!) and you’ll never want to go back :)

    Might you reconsider?

  203. Ms. Clear says:

    Trent, you’ve posted that link more than once now, despite others pointing out that it offers nothing close to proof that clotheslines make property values go down. It quotes exactly one person, who is the leader of an HOA, which is biased to say the least.

    Do you not have a better source or are you choosing just not to post it.

    You’re really wrong on this one.

  204. Nikki W says:

    I’m from a small town in Iowa originally, and I understand completely… it is about balance.

    But here’s my compromise. 1) two retractable clothes lines (parallel). Useful tip: heavy items – the very kind you want to hang out – weigh it down to the point things can drag on the ground. Get a length of pvc pipe cut length = distance off the ground the clothes line should be, cap one end (so it doesn’t sink… you can put a block under it, alternatively), notch into the other end of the pipe. Insert it perpendicular, between the ground and the line, and use it for a mid-length support. Then my towels, quilts, and rugs didn’t weigh down the line (the plastic ones stretch) to the point where the drag on the ground.

    hint 2); Use a front loader machine (way worth the initial cost because of utility & supply savings); it removes the soap better. Don’t oversoap; double rinse (we have to because of allergies); very light softener. Then your towels, shirts, etc, won’t be stiff. Stiff = soap residue. You can always air fluff to tumble out the stiffness, but it’s best to try to not have that residue in them.

    I use an internal folding rack for my underwear and sweaters, etc.

    Here in CA, the four months I had to forgo a dryer (we were saving for the nice one to match our front loader) – I saved >$40 a month on the electricity. And I am an MBA, so I already adjusted for other statistic variations that may have influenced that. But at the time, we had hard core, construction shirts and a LOT of laundry (almost like diapers!).

    Feel free to edit this back… just lending my support to the compromise position. I understand the all-or-nothing position to take in the blog – but in reality, there’s frequently interim steps.

  205. Erin says:

    I’m sorry, Trent, but your source “proving” that clotheslines lower property value is worthless. It’s a quote, unsupported by figures, from the president of the California Association of Homeowners Associations! It indicates only that some people believe that clotheslines decrease property value – it absolutely does not prove that such a claim is the factual truth. There are a lot of economic and social factors contributing to decreasing property values, and I personally would make a bet that in a fair analysis of those factors, clotheslines wouldn’t make the list.

    Now, I do understand the point being made, which is being considerate of your neighbors and not having a negative impact on your relationship with them. That’s why in my first comment, I asked if you had actually discussed the matter with your neighbors. If they are against the idea of clotheslines, then I respect your decision to prioritize those relationships above frugality. However, if you are making an assumption about their values, I believe you are cheating them out of the chance to positively surprise you, and yourself out of the chance to lead by example.

  206. Susan says:

    Hi Trent,
    I can maybe see where you got this idea – was it from your parents? I am about 10 years older than you, so a Gen Xer, and my parents were 1st generation German immigrants to ND, and I grew up in MN. My parents only got electricity on their farm in the mid 40’s, and had an outhouse, saved tin and rubber during the war and sent off care packages of hand-me-downs to their relatives in Germany etc, so they grew up pretty simply. They were then in their 20’s during the ’50’s when everything old was tossed out with new things, and were sozialzed then to have new things and strive for a “better life”.

    My mother commented on people who hung out laundry to dry, and implied it was poor, maybe even ghetto, I don’t remember exactly. But she definitely was happy to have the modern conveniences in her house and not have to do everything by hand, as she did growing up. We rarely hung out clothes- either it started raining or the birds got to them first (ya know what I mean) before we brought them in!

    So, maybe I can see where you possibly got this idea, and I guess many of your other readers didn’t have parents who really grew up in the “nostalgic WWII” era.

    Btw I now live in Germany, and have a nice foldy rack to dry my clothes. Saves on wear and tear and shrinkage! I also found that the thick American towels dry ok on the line, but the thin European ones get hard and scratchy. Just a tip for the yanks abroad!

  207. Amy says:

    I have been reading your blog for a while now and have gotten lots of information off it, but this post really rubbed me the wrong way. I thin your decision to not put up a clothesline is a sad comment on our country and the attitudes many people have. I have recently been apartment hunting and the fact that their was a clothline in the yard of the one we have applied for was a big plus for me. Even when I had a washer and dryer I tried to reduce the number of loads I used the dryer for by using drying racks and installing a line in my basement – It was finished, so it was clean and I lived in an condo where there was not a place for an outside line. Yes it saves money, but to me this is first and foremost an enviromental issue. I seriously hope you reconsider your decision. Even hanging just one load each week makes a difference. If you have covered porch this is also a great place to put up a line and it won’t be in your neighbors faces. When I lived in Israel this was very common.

  208. gr8whyte says:

    @ LauraH (comment #124) : “the sort of person who worries about that brands him- or herself as provincial and a social climber when he or she does” is a narrow sterotypical view. I’ve never associated poverty or “low class” with hanging laundry outdoors for my parents did it all their lives. I’d prefer to hang my laundry outdoors but for the UV damage at high altitude and the desert’s dust but also want to live in a cooperative manner with most of my neighbors — just something I picked up in kindergarten when I was much younger — which doesn’t mean I won’t hang laundry outside even if some do say no either. I’m one of the few in my neighborhood who work on their vehicles (an activity frowned on by some) so I don’t simply cave in to the few. I figure I’m OK as long as a majority thinks it’s OK. Of course, if you wish to skip the ping-the-neighbors part, hang laundry outside by all means. And yes, when I do see a real problem with my neighbor’s property, I do go over and let them know but it would only be for events like your barn’s on fire, not your grass needs to be cut. Many years ago, I was house-sitting for a friend and there was a terrific windstorm one night. Shortly after nine the next morning, the doorbell rang and it was the retiree across the street just letting my friend (his neighbor) know that my friend’s roof had lost a number of shingles which needed seeing to before the next thunderstorm rolled in. Good neighbors are like that. Trent’s comment #164 has it right. Hang in there, Trent; it’s you and us few against the world on this one.

  209. I still don’t buy this explanation. I think there is more going on than neighbors who may or may not like it, like a childhood stigma about hanging up clothes or something.

  210. Fuji says:

    Isn’t part of being a good neighbour minding your own business? If they are so dismayed by the sight of clean laundry hanging out to dry then I’d say life is looking pretty good for them.

  211. Jennifer says:

    I agree with you Trent. Technically our neighborhood doesn’t ban clotheslines, but I don’t want to lower the look of the neighborhood and I agree that to some extent it brings about the idea of poverty, however green it may be. We were not allowed to have a clothesline in CO, and we got used to hanging our laundry inside. So for the past 6 years I have hung 90% of our laundry, year round, inside. It can work.

  212. Beth says:

    I think the point that Trent is trying to make is not that he doesn’t think a clothesline is a good idea, economically or environmentally, but that IN HIS SITUATION it might not be the best choice. Like it or not, the culture in his local neighborhood doesn’t seem to support clothesline installation.

    That being said – I don’t think that your neighbors really will get upset, Trent, unless you’re part of a homeowners’ association that specifically forbids it.

    And let’s all stop being “shocked” and “horrified” at the Americans who own and use indoor dryers. There are all kinds of labor-saving devices that have been implemented throughout the world that we now realize should be used with moderation and with wisdom; cars are a good example of this. We realize now that many of the ways our grandparents did things are superior to our own.

    One thing I especially love about Trent’s blog is that it gives advice in general principles that can be adapted to specific lives. What works best in the Southwest, say (like drying clothing outside), may not be feasible in a place with lots of rain or snow, but the principle is the same: find ways to reduce your energy bills and hence your monthly spending.

    Thanks Trent.

  213. KoryO says:

    I guess you live in a tonier part of Iowa than I do. Can’t imagine anyone here having a spaz about a clothes line.

    If you *really* think that it would damage your property value, why don’t you talk to a realtor or two to find out the true story instead? I guarantee someone interested in buying in your neighborhood is going to be more concerned about someone’s overgrown lawn or junky cars in the yard than about a clothesline, especially if it is retractable.

    I remember having one in our backyard in Arizona when we were growing up. Sometimes, when it was hot enough, the first clothes on the line would be dry by the time we finished putting up the last item. No dryer could be faster than that!

    As for the undies problem….ok, use the dryer if you are shy. Me? I’d probably go to Wallyworld or Target and get a couple pairs of giant granny panties with neon colors if someone complained, but that’s just me. I am admittedly obnoxious at times. :P

    As for the “the sun fades my clothes” argument….in Arizona, we just hung the clothes inside out. Worked like a charm there, and I bet it would wherever you are, too. Besides, I don’t recall the dryer being kind to my darks and blacks, either.

  214. Robyn says:

    Hanging clothes on the line is SUCH a pleasant thing to do. It also makes your clothes smell nice, and stains do not get “set in” like they do in the dryer. In fact, over time, stains often fade if you wash and hang the same garment a few times.

    It is much easier on your delicate items, also. Clothes steam dry, so they are usually wrinkle free.

    Of course, you have the “going green” argument on your side (which people are may just assume without explanation), AND you still have your dryer for busy days and rainy days. BUT, you will also find the line is a time saver. You can hang one load and put another load in the dryer and have your laundry done in half the time!

  215. nuveena says:

    Reading through all of these comments about having a clothesline=poverty, I have to comment on that.

    Having a clothesline was never a sign of poverty when I was growing up. Having a clothesline in your own back yard meant that you could afford to own your own house and own a washing machine.

    After having read the link posted here three times, I have to agree with the other commenters who said that your source doesn’t prove anything. If I were going to make a decision like the one you’ve made, I would like to see some hard evidence with statistical data to back it up first. I wouldn’t go off the opinion of the head of a homeowner’s association, because *they* think clotheslines are a sign of poverty.

    Your neighbors probably don’t care if you put up a clothesline. If it makes you feel better, ask them first.

  216. k12linux says:

    Go to your neighbors and say, “I’m considering putting up a clothesline in the backyard for both environmental reasons and to save money. Would you be concerned about that?” I think you might be underselling your neighbors. Perhaps you are projecting your feelings onto them. (You think it makes a neighborhood look poor, so therefore they must/might.) Just ask.

    The link you gave in comments doesn’t show any evidence that it affects home prices either, only that some people are concerned that it might. My take on it is that I have a hard time believing that a couple walking through your neighbor’s house, and considering buying because they like it, are going to see the clothes line and say, “Oh. I didn’t know you had one of ‘those’ people next door.” then go buy somewhere else.

    Worst case, put up your clothesline with a bright sign that says, “Eco-Dryer 3000” :-)

  217. Rocio says:

    My grandparents live in a flat where they have the same problem: they can´t hang their clothes to dry out the window on a clothesline because it goes against regulations. However, being the extremely money-smart woman she is, she found a system that works for her. It is a very simple idea, though kind of hard to explain in writing.

    She cut up 5 tubes to fit the space she had (about 5 feet). She then installed some hooks on the ceiling, 5 feet apart so that the tubes would hand parallel to each other. Then she put 5 nails on the wall closest to the rods and put enough string through each one so she could hang the tubes on the hooks and tie them to the nails. When she wants to hang her clothes, she releases the tubes one by one, she pegs the clothes onto them and then lifts them up to the ceiling, so they are way over her head. I´m sure you can get one of these, but she has more fun making things herself.

    She also had enough sense to put this DIY clothesline where the washing machine and the dishwasher are, so the heat they give off helps dry the clothes.

  218. tiggerjdh says:

    I like using the clothes line because of the freshness of air-dryed clothes and because it helps clothes to last longer – the dryer is the worst thing for them. Also, my dryer is hooked up to the propane tank so it would be very noticable on our gas bill if I were to use the dryer frequently. Clothes hung on a line tend to have less chance of wrinkling than those put in a dryer, therefore, I spend almost no time ironing – not even my dress/work clothes. We do live out in the country and no one can see our back yard but I did not want poles and lines strung across the yard or between trees because it makes that part of the yard less usable for other things. Two years ago I picked up a removable multi-arm from Wal-Mart for about $25.00. It has a permanent stand which is well-hidden in the ground and can be mowed over with no problem. I simply take out the clothes line when I want to use it and put it away when I’m finished. This means it is not an eyesore, not in the way, and it will last longer because I am not leaving it out in the weather to get ruined (although it would weather quite well for some time).

  219. LC says:

    Your argument makes perfect sense if you were positive that your neighbors would have a problem with it. But you don’t know that. I had the same reservations being the newcomers into a somewhat nice neighborhood but I have seen my neighbors put sheets out occasionally. My solution is to use the drying racks which are short enough that they don’t stick above the deck railings.

  220. Fuji says:

    The Right to Dry

    Laundry on the line.

    By Dusty Horwitt

    AFTER MORE THAN 30 YEARS IN NEW YORK, in 1976 Ed Triglia moved to New Port Richey, Fla., seeking a new home and a sunny spot for his clothesline. He built a house with an outdoor line in Timber Oaks, a 2,000-home community reserved primarily for retirees. There, Triglia says, he discreetly hung his sheets and towels in the sun for nearly 20 years.

    But in 1995, the elected homeowners’ association of Timber Oaks decided it didn’t want Triglia’s clothes flapping in the breeze. When it asked the retired builder not to dry them on the line and he persisted, it sued him. After an eight-month battle, however, it was the homeowners’ association that was hung out to dry. The association lost its case under a 1980 Florida law that invalidated prohibitions on “solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy devices based on renewable resources.” Triglia got to keep his clothesline, and Timber Oaks had to pay his $23,475 in legal fees.

    “They can’t tell nobody not to have a clothesline,” the 63-year-old Triglia said from the home where his linens now hang, disdained but undisturbed, behind some orange and tangerine trees. “They threw away a lot of the community’s money.”

    Florida is the only state in the country with a law specifically protecting clothesline users from such restrictions. Elsewhere, thousands of homeowners’ associations and apartments and at least one local government have prohibited or restricted the drying of laundry outdoors, generally claiming that clotheslines obstruct views and are an eyesore. In California, about seven million people can’t hang their clothes in public because of the policies of about 40,000 community associations.

    Listening to Richard Monson, the president of the California Association of Homeowners Associations, you would think that homeowners ought to be as worried about clotheslines as about vermin or graffiti. A clothesline in a neighborhood can lower property values by “15 percent,” Monson is fond of saying. “Modern homeowners don’t like people’s underwear in public. It’s just unsightly.”

    Two years ago, Doonesbury mocked such sentiments with a series of cartoons that featured police officers apprehending fugitive clothesline users. “Step away from the laundry!” an officer barked in one of the strips, set in a stuffy condo community in the midst of California’s energy crisis.

    In the clothesline wars, everyone is a zealot. The pro-clothesline movement’s champion is Alexander Lee, the 29-year-old founder of Project Laundry List, a Vermont-based organization that promotes the right to use clotheslines, or, as Lee calls it, the “right to dry.” The organization’s website features statistics on the energy consumption of clothes dryers, a model right-to-dry statute, back issues of the group’s newsletter “Hanging Out” (circulation: 800), and a statement that “Project Laundry List encourages civil disobedience.” The group also sponsors the annual clothesline-themed Hanging Out Day every April 19, right around Earth Day.

    Lee’s crusade against the evils of the automatic clothes dryer began in 1995, when, as a student at Vermont’s Middlebury College, he heard a speech by Helen Caldicott, a co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “She said if we all hung out our clothes, we could shut down the nuclear power industry,” Lee recalled. Lee’s mother had air-dried his family’s clothes while he was growing up, and he realized that he’d found his inspiration. He founded Project Laundry List “almost immediately.”

    Lee’s case for the clothesline rests largely on its potential to reduce energy consumption. He has lobbied hard to preserve, or win back, the right to dry—and to convince people to give up their automatic dryers. “One of the most basic steps that we could take toward decreasing our energy consumption is hanging out our clothes,” he wrote in a 2002 article in the Albany Law Environmental Outlook Journal.

    On an annual basis, electric dryers in the United States consume the rough equivalent of 30 million tons of coal—the output of the nation’s 15 least productive nuclear reactors. That consumption is expensive: Estimates suggest that it costs the average household more than $100 a year to use a dryer.

    But for Lee, the clothesline is not just about saving energy and money. He’s hoping to liberate what one newspaper columnist called a “clothesline underground.” Lee’s website features a gallery of clothesline-related art. In his 2002 article, he writes of “the redeeming qualities of the clothesline—its Gestalt, its organic beauty, its simple functionality, the colorful panorama dancing on the line.”

    Lee acknowledges that clothesline advocates are often painted as silly. Richard McCormack learned that lesson when he pushed for right-to-dry legislation in the Vermont Senate in the 1990s. McCormack, then the majority leader, said that he was merely trying to secure “the right not to pollute,” but “what I faced was really derisive mockery, even among friends.” McCormack was left with the support of “New England old ladies who’d call up and say, ‘God bless you, Senator McCormack. All my life, I’ve enjoyed putting my nose in the pillowcase that’s out drying in the nice Vermont air.'” …

    “Where in Victorian times, clotheslines were ubiquitous, Mrs. Brown’s brassiere blowing in the breeze has apparently become scandalizing to some modern Americans. A strange brand of prudery has made it impossible for some people to conserve energy and money by using a clothesline.”
    -Helen Caldicott, M.D.
    Founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)
    Project laundry List Board of Advisors


  221. john says:

    My mom uses the clothesline. The neighborhood is middling-expensive, and over the past 40 years, the number of BMWs and Benzes has generally increased. Nobody says anything, because nobody cares, because the lines aren’t out in the open.

    I guess there aren’t a large population of poor people visibly using clotheslines here. Most poor people here use the coin laundry and use dryers.

    The main advantage is that you can dry a few loads at once. On hot days, the lines are almost as fast as the dryer. Also, the shirts dry wrinkle-free if you stretch them a little bit.

  222. Trent,
    Several times you have mentioned that you don’t want to drive down the value of your neighbors homes, but have you asked THEM what they think of you having a clothesline? Are YOU more worried about the values of their homes than they are? Would you install a clothesline if one of your next door neighbors did? What if the folks on either side of you put one up and you were the odd one in the middle? Would it make a difference?

    I think what needs to happen here is that you talk with your neighbors about the whole issue. Express to them that their friendship is worth more than a clothesline, but if they don’t mind, then you would like to install one that is nice looking and won’t devalue their homes or yours. All of the suggestions of retractable or ‘fancy’ clotheslines are good ones if you find out that your neighbors don’t mind.

    Wouldn’t it be funny if you started this conversation with your neighbors and they said , “Oh, we’ve really wanted a clothesline but were worried about offending YOU.”

  223. Ms. King says:

    Wow. Trent, this seems so unlike your usual thoughtful decision-making. A clothesline is ecologically-friendly and frugal… yet you worry that your neighbors won’t like it?

    I’m with k12linux in comment 216 – put up your clothesline with a sign (I loved “Eco-Dryer 3000”). Use one of those little real estate flyer holders on your fence to display a flyer extolling the virtures of your clotheline, both for your family and for the larger family of humankind.

    Be a trend-setter, and give your neighbors the courage to re-envision the value of a clothesline – if they need it, which I doubt. Who knows how many of your neighbors have had the same thoughts, and will be thrilled to see someone take a step towards sensibility?

  224. Garrett says:

    So one guy in CA says clotheslines can cut your property values, and you give in? He stated that “Modern homeowners don’t like people’s underwear in public. It’s just unsightly.” You don’t have to hang your underwear outside.

    If you value your neighbors and a smart approach to energy use and drying your clothes — talk to your neighbors about it. They may like the idea.

  225. J. says:

    Wow, a lot of comments :)

    You Americans are so extraordinary!
    Pretend you’re a European and start line drying.
    There are few things in life as pleasant as getting between sheets that come straight off the line!

  226. Charlie says:


    Why would we wont to pretend we are European when America is so much better?

  227. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “Unless someone actually has their house on the market, there is no direct impact on their property value. ”

    Our neighbors to the south have their house on the market.

  228. Karen says:

    I live in a middle-class neighborhood in Baltimore City; and the majority of my neighbors, including myself, hang their laundry on their backyard clotheslines. I wouldn’t consider any of us poor. It’s just what people do in my neighborhood.

    And thank goodness. I’m a photographer, and have found clothes hanging out to dry inspirational. I’ve shot a series of photos of my old next door neighbor’s wonderful old house dresses on her clothesline.

    There is nothing more beautiful than sheets on a line, blowing in the wind, on a summer day.

  229. Heidi says:

    I work in the financial services industry and

  230. Jen says:

    What a sad sad world you americans live in.

    You have free solar engery to dry your clothes but you dont use it, instead you prefer to help kill our environment by using clothes driers and paying the extra cost of electricity but at what cost? I was just reading on the Rachel Ray site that 1 in 5 kids in america do not have enough food to eat and yet if these people could save money from using the free air to dry their clothes maybe it will mean their children could have an extra meal each week or more.

    I used to own a clothes drier but now refuse to replace it, to me our environment is more important than being lazy and helping kill our earth a lot faster.

    From the posts I have read it seems its only the USA that has this perception of proverty with clothes lines, as read above the irish, the uk, canada and new zealand plus australia all use clotheslines and we are proud of it.

    Stop being another victim of todays materialistic world that pushes us to obtain things we dont need to prove that we are not poor.

    Being frugal is a lifestyle choice, it relates nothing to do with being poor. I have gone from being a materialistic to being proud of being frugal and my kids are now wiser, healthier and happier, infact her grade 5 teacher was surprised she knew how to cook.

    In the meantime check out these clotheslines that are not intrusive http://www.onlinedirect.hills.com.au/cattleprod/products/A2000ACC

  231. Barb Minton says:

    Wow, did this one get the comments.It takes energy to run a dryer.It is a lot easier to hang out the clothes,except in winter when we hang them inside.We have had a dryer for 19 years, we just never got around to having it hooked up. I haul the bedding and slip covers off to the laundramat, and simply dry them in one of those huge dryers.The rest we hand.

  232. Heidi says:

    I work in the financial services industry (in Iowa) and I have having a hard time understanding how a clothesline would drive down the property value of a home (yours or your neighbors). It has never come across my desk as an item or note on an appraisal. Not in the thousands of appraisals I’ve looked at in the last 10 years.

    Furthermore, there are types of lines that can be taken down and stored when not in use. Perhaps you could buy one of those and not use it when/if a neighbor lists their home on the market.

    I would think that a better reason not to install a clothes line is that since your property is on the edge of town, your clothes will likely be sprayed with dust and chemicals due to “drifting” that occurs when farmers till, plant, and spray their fields. There are certain days in the summer where my mom would never hang out clothes to dry due to the fieldwork being done. That’s a legitimate concern, especially with such small children in the home.

  233. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Paula: “Since living out here I have been able to look back on Americans and see just how narrow minded & brain washed we really are,or in my case…WAS.”

    Mark: “I mean, I know American have some strange ideas, but this… this is… crazy?”

    quatrefoil: “If Americans view this as a sign of poverty and likely to make their property values drop, and are using dryers for no better reason”

    Sandra: “I feel really sorry for you poor Americans if that argument is actually true”

    Jen: “What a sad sad world you americans live in.”

    Anti-American bias much? I thought intelligent people were above such biases and talked about issues that actually matter. Sadly, they still exist.

  234. guinness416 says:

    Well plenty (dozens?) of Americans have commented that it’s not seen as a sign of poverty, or disrespectful of their neighbours, where they live. I’d hate to think someone would read this and say “OMG, I’m making our family look impoverished!” and take their clothes line down. Have you talked to your neighbours about it?

  235. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Beth: “Like it or not, the culture in his local neighborhood doesn’t seem to support clothesline installation.”

    It seems very odd to me that people think that such a culture should just be run roughshod over. I realize that most other cultures say a clothesline is fine – I grew up with one, as did my wife.

    No one has addressed my other point. What if you replaced the clothesline with a car up on blocks? Someone who works on cars might save a ton of money doing that. Should that just be done without questioning a neighbor?

  236. Janna says:

    This article implies that there is a stigma attached to being frugal and saving money. I grew up using clotheslines and still do. Perhaps you are placing too much emphasis on what people think and if your neighbors have a problem with someone trying to save money, maybe you are living in the wrong neighborhood.

  237. “Should that just be done without questioning a neighbor?”

    Have you asked your neighbors if a clotheslines would bother them?

  238. KJ says:

    Since you seem to know your neighbors, why not ask them how they feel about it? You can offer to take it down if/when anybody decides to sell their house or have it appraised, thereby mitigating the potential dip in property values.

    While I definitely admire your consideration for your neighbors, I think part of the motivation to own a home is not having to ask anybody’s permission to modify your own space.

    Thanks for the good idea. I plan to put up a clothes line when I move into a house with a yard in August.

  239. KoryO says:

    Trent, a car up on blocks is a car leaking fluids, etc., for months at a time. Generally it’s a beater missing a few parts, and has weeds and grass growing up and around it. It rarely moves, and could even be considered a potential safety hazard to the neighborhood kids. And yes….it does lower the property values.

    A clothesline occasionally has sheets flapping in the wind. Maybe a pair of undies. It does not leak hazardous fluids, it generally does not have weeds and nasty pests lurking underneath. Maybe a kid might hurt himself if he ran into it, but other than that it’s pretty harmless.

    If you choose to believe some HOA control freak that it lowers property values over one of the previous posters who actually works in Iowa’s financial services (Heidi), well….I guess you believe that trash cans left out by the side of the road overnight and someone painting their house the wrong shade of beige dramatically lowers property values, too.

    (Trent, if you really want to know what lowers property values, consider your local school district ratings, local traffic patterns and your crime rates. *That* is what a prospective buyer cares about, not a clothesline. Honest.)

  240. Rhody says:

    How about putting up a retractable clothesline? (I haven’t read all the posts so this may have been covered.) You won’t need it up all the time.

  241. rhymeswithlibrarian says:

    Trent, many people have asked if you’ve spoken to the neighbours about this rather than assuming they’d be opposed to a clothesline. Also, several people have asked if you have any evidence that clotheslines reduce property values other than an unsubstantiated (as far as we can tell) claim by a HOA mouthpiece.

    Answers to either or both of these questions would go a long way to explaining your apparently out-of-character stance here.

    Thanks, Marion

  242. teelag says:

    “What if you replaced the clothesline with a car up on blocks?”

    That was exactly my inital thought, Trent, when so many people thought you should just hang the clothesline without caring about your neighbor’s thoughts or potential loss in property values.

    One person’s idea on what is “acceptable” can be vastly different than the next. What if your neighbor decides to let their grass grow to three feet tall next because they think it looks more natural? Like it or not, things like that will drop the property values, which in turn hurts everyone.

    IMO, keeping peace among neighbors cannot be underestimated.

  243. PChan says:

    Trent, hang the clothes on the line. Seriously. It’s silly to worry about what your neighbors would think, and frankly, a clothesline wouldn’t put me off from buying a home. In fact, if I was considering a home in a neighborhood with clotheslines in it, I’d be more likely to make an offer because no one would bust my chops about hanging my laundry.

    My mother and father used to hang the laundry up, and we were a solidly middle class family. The smell of clothes off the line is sheer heaven. The dryer wears your clothes out faster (all that lint used to be cloth) and uses a lot of energy.

    Forget that! Clothesline all the way!!

  244. quatrefoil says:

    No anti-American bias here, but the ‘anti-clothesline, use a dryer whether you need to or not’ approach is something that I don’t experience here. If that attitude is something that’s common across America with its large population, then it’s something that’s having a major impact on the world. Obviously, something which is accepted as normal and desirable in your country is seen differently elsewhere.

    For the record, I own a dryer – I use it when it rains.

  245. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I haven’t asked, but it’s not a comfortable subject for me to bring up. We’re already doing enough “interesting” stuff to be talked about, with our giant compost bin and a larger garden than all the others on the block combined, especially considering we’re still the newest family in the area. I very much feel like we’d be crossing a threshold of alienation.

  246. justin says:

    Even if it didn’t lower property values, it wouldn’t be very respectful (to neighbors) to clutter your yard in a nice neighborhood. Obviously, some people think they are an eyesore. Whatever happened to doing unto others as you would have them do unto you?

  247. Jay says:

    If you are really so worried about driving down home values, and cite a home for sale nearby…..just have them email you before showing so you can move your clothing inside; that’s assuming you bother to check and see if there’s a problem to start with. Most people do not leave their clothes out any longer than neccessary and do not do laundry every day. Trying to justify not hanging laundry by “what will the neighbors think” is pretty lame, as is trying to equate once/twice a week laundry for a few hours to a beater on cinderblocks.
    Oh, and chatting with your neighbors while hanging and taking down laundry is a well established friendly, social custom.

  248. JReed says:

    And thus, you really don’t know what your neighbors think…you just know what you project that they think. Based on what? On the outside of their homes, on the year and model of their cars, on the small size if their vegetable gardens. It has taken 245 comments to get to the crux of the matter. You and your wife sized up the attitudes of your neighbors…not potentially vice versa based on a clotheline.

  249. Erin says:

    “It seems very odd to me that people think that such a culture should just be run roughshod over.”

    Well, you have absolutely no idea if that IS the culture in your neighborhood, and you decline to find out. So I wouldn’t characterize most of the commenter’s attitudes as running roughshod over an established community standard, so much as saying that it seems silly to let assumptions about your neighbors determine what decisions your family makes.

    “We’re already doing enough “interesting” stuff to be talked about, with our giant compost bin and a larger garden than all the others on the block combined, especially considering we’re still the newest family in the area. I very much feel like we’d be crossing a threshold of alienation.”

    I think you would have bypassed a lot of the comments here if you’d posted this comment earlier, Trent :-) So, the depressed property value and social stigma you associate with the clothesline is completely irrelevant at this point; the real issue is that you feel you’ve *already* taken neighborliness about as far as it will go in terms of novel use of your property. I am sympathetic to that point, and frankly it is far more compelling than providing bad sources “proving” your point about property value.

    Hopefully in the next few years you will see even more green/frugal trends in your area, and maybe someone else will be the first linedrying rebel in your neighborhood :-)

  250. Milehimama says:

    We rented, and could not have a clothesline. Then the dryer broke – with 9 people in the house, who could afford the washeteria? I hung as much as I could on hangers and hung them on clothes rods in the laundry room. You can get wire shelfs for closets that have a hanging bar. We lay the other clothes on the wire shelves.

    Bonus – your house smells FANTASTIC! April Fresh, all the time! :)

  251. Lisa says:

    Hey Trent,
    I know what you mean about respecting neighbors. I live in a waterfront community, and we all have clothelines and outdoor showers, for the bathing suits and beach towels. However, if someone drives a car that leaks on our shared driveway, or dares to park in the grass, neighbors get fussy.

  252. Jen says:

    Trent, my comments were not bias about americans but based on what is written on here about some housing estates refuse to allow people to hang out our clothes.

    I cant believe a society could actually believe that what is a housing essential in other parts of the world are considered an item that can devalue a property. I can understand the lack of space which is why they have the fold away lines, and even clothes lines designed to use inside by installing on the walls.

    Its really said when we, the people are dictated as to what we can install on our own property. When did people become so ashamed of what we wear that we have to hide our clothing inside especially our underwear.

  253. Stephanie says:

    Hang your clothes in the bathroom then, over the tub. Better yet, put your indoor plants below to save the money on watering your plants.

    I air dry my delicates this way. I would try the outdoor thing if I didn’t have oak trees galore in my yard. I don’t think anyone is going to find your property value worse off if the rest of the place is well manicured. Just get rid of the pink flamingos in the yard first…

  254. Julie says:

    Good heavens! Is it really so odd to have a vegetable garden and a compost bin in the US? I’m not being biased against Americans, but I find that so odd. I live in a large Canadian city on a small lot and we have three composters and half of our backyard is a garden. That is not at all uncommon here and if anything, people are tearing up lawns in droves to grow food.

    I don’t know Trent that the commenters here are being anti-american.. it’s just quite revealing if things are indeed so so different in parts of the US. Eye-opening really, and I’m sorry to say, but a little sad. You know, it is for reasons like these that Americans have the largest carbon footprint in all the world – though I admit that Canadians are embarrasingly not far behind.

    I’m not sure your car on blocks analogy is a fair one. You are comparing a hulking eyesore piece of junk weighing thousands of pounds to drying clothes? Not everyone would find drying clothes beautiful as the photographer who posted here does (and I quite agree) but in my culture, I’d be quite surprised to hear that someone took offense to the sight of clean clothes drying.

  255. Meryn Stol says:

    Acting frugal shows you’re rich.

  256. kim says:

    Trent, I read the TreeHugger link and can’t find any actual facts in there about clothes lines reducing property values. Where are the actual facts? Do you have a strong homeowners association that has rules against clotheslines? Are most of the families in your neighborhood double income families? It would seem to me that it would be much harder to regularly hang wash if no one was home all day. Most people who use just their drier do so for convenience not to protect their property values. Have you discussed the subject with any neighbors? Unless you have really uptight neighbors or a strict homeowners association, I can’t imagine anyone would care. Especially if the majority of the wash was done while there were at work. I would be much more concerned about shabby front yards and old cars than a tidy clothesline.

  257. Gus says:

    Trent, if you feel uncomfortable about hanging your clothes on the outside, for whatever reason, you can do it elswhere, as in the basement (if properly ventilated) using a regular clothesline, a retractable one or a foldable drying rack. As far as I know, it is not the sun that dries the clothes, but the air – so as long as the air circulates, your clothes will dry. You can even use a fan, which is way cheaper to operate than a dryer. The sun can actually damage the clothes, and drying clothes on the inside is handy if it starts raining.

  258. J.D. says:

    Julie wrote: Is it really so odd to have a vegetable garden and a compost bin in the US?


  259. Julie says:

    Thanks for the clarification JD. No need to think yourself an odd duck Trent!

    Have a chat to your neighbours, and let us know how it goes. My guess is that you will be pleasantly surprised :)

  260. Todd says:

    I think Americans hate clotheslines because psycho killers so often hide behind hanging clothes in horror movies. (Or maybe that’s part of the anti-clothesline marketing campaign.)

    Either way, please walk around the line and look carefully down the rows of clothing before you start taking anything off the line–especially if you hear scary music playing. ;-)

  261. Chanelle says:

    I can’t believe that clothes lines would be banned! That is unbelievable, a sign of poverty? Wah? Im glad I dont live in an area like that. It is perfectly normal to have a clothes line where I have lived (thats BC Canada and New Zealand). I think its very sad that the world has become so snobbish that people cant hang their clothes on a line to dry. No wonder people live in poverty, paying to dry your clothes when it could be free… whatever next paying for water!

  262. Jillian says:

    As a kiwi I never thought I’d say this but I’m going to have to agree with the Aussies on this one. The only thing wrong with having a clothesline is that it gets in the way of playing backyard cricket.

    (Besides, this comment is so far down no one will ever read it anyway!)

  263. Trent:
    I read your blog faithfully and have found some fascinating advice here, though I rarely comment. However, this entry surprised me enough that I have to say something–despite others having said this already.

    Your reply about not wanting to talk to your neighbors bothers me, as you are still projecting what you think THEY might think about a clothesline. You are the man who weighs decisions that will save you pennies, and makes choices that will be better for the environment even if they cause you more work. Then the one thing that you can do to save LOTS of money AND be truly ecologically sound, comes up, and you are afraid to talk to your neighbors about it? It just seems so…out of character for you.

    I’m really disappointed that this is the thing that makes you pause. There are enough stories of people with lovely neighborhoods and clotheslines; I won’t bore you with my own. But I hope you reconsider. Talk to your immediate neighbors, if their opinion matters so much to you. Don’t bring up the multitude of things you think could be issues–if they were, someone would have complained about the compost ages ago. Talk about the clothesline. Talk to your neighbor down the street whose house is on the market.

    If anything, a conversation with these people (the ones you seem to be afraid of offending) will show them that you DO care about the neighborhood, and that you are willing to ask them before committing to something they won’t like.

    I understand that you don’t want to alienate your neighbors by just putting up a clothesline that they might not like–I just think you’re alienating yourself from them by not talking it over. Invite them for coffee one Saturday and maybe you’ll find there are others who would like to ‘go green’ more. Maybe they don’t know where to begin, and you could be the catalyst for the neighborhood to become more frugal and eco-friendly!

    One last thing–I think that if you choose NOT to talk about this with your neighbors, I may stop reading your blog. This is such a simple situation to fix one way or another, and if you won’t stand up for the very principles you’ve encouraged in others, I just can’t keep reading. I would rather not leave, and I’m sure losing me isn’t going to impact your stats much, but this situation makes me lose a little faith in you. Come on, Trent, call your neighbors and just ask them!

  264. Also Dave says:

    Man that sucks. I thought Iowa was THE place where they were hanging laundry. I live in the suburbs of NJ, and have a clothes line. I use it from time to time, but generally tend to hang my clothes inside on the big rack I bought through Real Goods many years ago.

    I know in some small communities there’s a day when everyone hangs their clothes. I don’t think it looks bad, as long as you don’t hang your underwear, and take the clothes down when they’re dried.

  265. Jenny says:

    I am sympathetic to Trent’s consideration of his neighbors and the importance he places on maintaining strong ties to his community, but I can’t help but feel that this kind of stigma should be battled (not necessarily in an aggressive, combative way).

    This web site is at least in part dedicated to deconstructing and moving past misconceptions through education and rationality, and the association between clotheslines and property values is fertile ground for such efforts. In fact, there are many things that have been cast unfairly as the harbinger of blight within a neighborhood, including entire races of people. Even if the effect of clotheslines on property values is real, I don’t think it’s one we want to perpetuate.

    Here’s hoping that somehow we can elevate our culture past this state we are in. And now, I must hang up a load on the drying rack on my urban back deck.

  266. justin says:

    @Divine Bird Jenny

    Get a life please.

  267. Holly says:

    I’m Australian and clotheslines are the norm here. In fact, using a dryer is pretty taboo because of wasteful energy consumption. Many people own dryers but only use them if its raining outside (and considering we are in the middle a decade long drought- that isn’t very often).
    I like Americans as individuals, but if the American cultural norm is that clotheslines are embarrassing and dryers are preferable no matter how energy inefficient they are- that just means that the cultural norm is very much the Ugly American. How wasteful.

  268. Paula says:


    I am neither bias nor anti-American. I’m an American myself. Born and raised in the mid west. I came to OZ in my early 30’s and have been here for 8 years. I am very proud to be American and I am equally proud to be Australian. My point in my 1st post was to point out the attitude that SOME Americans have about keeping up with Jones’s. Have you ever traveled to another country? I highly recommend that every American should travel to either Europe, Asia, Australia, etc. Go out there and see how the rest of the world views Americans. Find out why and then reflect back onto it. You will be amazed that there is SOME truth to how the rest of the world views Americans.

    The US has the biggest footprint on the environment. Everyone can do their part in helping to reduce the energy waste by doing simple little things. Using a clothesline for one. And save money while doing it!

    You referred to the treehugger site twice now. As others have pointed out, there is NO factual data based in that article, or anywhere else on the internet, about clotheslines reducing the value of property value. The only references I could find were from homeowner associations. You haven’t said whether or not you live in such a suburb/neighborhood. I’m guessing not. Are you basing your decision on just that one article? I would also like to see what facts you have researched to back up this claim. I feel you are basing your decision on untruths.

    As for not wanting to upset your neighbors. You say that you have a good relationship with them and that you do not want to upset them. You also stated that you are “already doing enough “interesting” stuff by having a bigger garden than your neighbors and a compost bin. That putting in a clothesline will be be crossing a threshold of alienation.” Yet, how can you have a good relationship with your neighbors if you are not even willing to ask them about installing a clothesline? I’m afraid you have contradicted yourself on that comment.

    Your website came highly recommended to me. Unfortunately, or possibly “fortunately”, this is the first article I read. I have to say I am not impressed at all.

    On your “about” page you have written, “The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense.” Once again you have contradicted yourself. I don’t see you as someone having “sense” if you are afraid of putting up a clothesline.

    I won’t be reading any of your other articles nor will I be recommending this site to any of my frugal friends who are looking for more ways to save “cents while using sense”. Are your other articles based on false facts also?

  269. Jen says:

    Try reading this article after I googled http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/news/955262,4_1_JO17_LINES_S1.article

    Quick version is
    Laundry laws
    A bill, backed by state Rep. Careen Gordon, D-Morris, to curb homeowners associations’ ability to prohibit tools that save energy like clotheslines and solar panels has been languishing in the state legislature for a year and a half. But it is likely to die due to lack of public interest, said Morton Dorothy, an Illinois Project Laundry List member from Champaign-Urbana.
    At least 10 states have similar laws. Florida, Hawaii and Utah have laws that specifically safeguard clothesline drying rights and Ontario passed one this month.

    Locally, most municipalities — Plainfield, Mokena and Shorewood, for example — don’t have codes restricting clotheslines.

    After reading some of the responses I dont think you are worried about the neighbours seeing it as devaluing their property but how they will perceive you as being poor and that is the real reason you are thinking twice, as pointed out by numerous people clothes lines dont have be an ugly eye saw.

    I have to ask, whats the point in trying to save the earth when the government is trying to encourage the distruction of it but forcing people to use electric driers. Is our planet not worth saving?

  270. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    So I walked over to one of my neighbors and ran he idea of a clothesline. He said he was okay with it, but pretty obviously by his mannerisms thought the idea was really atrocious. He also directly asked whether I’d be hanging out underwear and other stuff. We don’t have a privacy fence between the two properties.

    I don’t think asking was a good move, just as I suspected to begin with – I have a pretty good grasp of the neighborhood culture. I’m not putting one up, at least not now – it’s pretty awful to thrust my beliefs in the face of neighborhood culture. We already use our guest bedroom as a large drying room and don’t use the dryer that much, so we’ll just keep doing that.

    I think I’m mostly saddened by the readers’ assumption that I had no idea what I was talking about when it came to the culture of my neighborhood, and also the idea that I should just run roughshod over it. A garden and a compost bin? A little out there, but acceptable. A clothesline? That’s a bit over the top. I didn’t need to ask to know that.

    When researching this article, I came across a great quote: “In the clothesline wars, everyone is a zealot” (from this article). At first, I thought it was funny – a clothesline seems minor to me compared to good neighbor relations. Now I realize how accurate that statement was.

  271. Garrett says:


    I wouldn’t worry about having a larger garden than the rest of your neighbors combined — what do you think that giant field behind your house is?

  272. Chiara says:

    Wow…laundry…who knew this would bring out the crowds?

    People, come on! He doesn’t have to go around with polling questions to know the personality of his own neighborhood!

    It’s not so hard to figure this one out: clotheslines are a class marker because when they got mass-produced, nearly everyone who could afford one, got one. That’s what that generation did – the modern way was the better way. Therefore, for the following generation the ones left line-drying were poor, immigrants, etc, along with the frugal who never changed habits. I worked in land use for many years and saw a lot of McMansion type developments, and they are the ones very concerned with putting restrictive covenants on anything they can think of that smacks of lower-middle-class-ness (or heaven forbid, actual poverty). Those are the neighborhoods concerned about such things as paint colors, RVs parked in your driveway, basketball hoops, mansard roofs (seriously, that was a huge to-do in one project I worked on – and I now own a house with one), and of course, CLOTHESLINES. That one in particular seems to have seeped into collective consciousness in a lot of places. Of course, if you don’t live in one of those places, you won’t be familiar with the notion. It’s a big country, yaknow! The tide is turning on it anyway, as many others have pointed out, along with the rest of conspicuous consumption.

    Anyway, I associate clotheslines with my own personal poverty, because back then I had no choice but to use it, but at least I know that’s why it gives me a shudder and can get over it :) No restrictions where I live – after what I saw I would never give a homeowner’s association that much LEGAL power over my personal business. Following social norms is a different thing.

    I can’t imagine anyone who says “screw ’em, put it up!” has ever been in a dispute with a neighbor. I also worked on neighborhood fights as part of my former job and I can’t imagine you would court that kind of trouble AT YOUR OWN HOME if you knew how bad it can get. Even if you are right, it’s happening at your home.

  273. Susan Pesotski says:

    I always loved the smell of clothes hung on the line but had to stop because allergists say they bring allergens into the house and aggravate allergies. So I miss the smell and the pleasure of hanging clothes, but our allergies are much better.

    Isn’t it amazing that this post has brought such a response?

  274. Maureen says:

    All cultures evolve, even microcultures such as your neighbourhood. You and your family are by virtue of your purchasing your home now an integral part of this neighbourhood, this culture. Your input into the culture should be respected too. You can and should make independent decisions on how you want to live. You are not forcing your neighbours to put up clotheslines. Why should your values be undermined? Change can come through evolution as well as revolution. Set an example of good stewardship. I think to do otherwise would eventually exact a toll in terms of personal integrity and credibilty as a champion of frugality.

  275. ghogiel says:

    I live in an Australian suburb which median house prices is currently at AU$735k (@0.95=US$698k), had risen by 8% from last year and still rising with a projection of 13% in the long term trend.

    As far as I’ve seen in the neighbourhood — people do have clothesline wheter it’s the smallest units to the biggest houses.

    “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
    I believe it’s a different norm here and in the United States.

    But if the measurement of poverty is being applied here and the suburb I’m living is considered poor w/ that median prices above, then it blows my mind just to imagine the idea of rich and wealthy suburb would look like (and cost).

  276. Lenore says:

    Trent, I’m an Illinoisan who would secretly love to live higher than middle class. Even so, I see nothing wrong with using a clothesline. If you haven’t noticed, GREEN (both saving and going) is chic! So why not do your power bills and the planet a favor? Be the first family on your block to hang out the wash, and you definitely won’t be the last. It’s the trendy thing to do!

    Maybe you could start with just a few towels or blankets and see if you get any feedback. Keep underwear and stained or shabby stuff inside the house. (Airing out patched longjohns, beer T-shirts in your son’s size or a “Dogs Playing Pool” afghan might not get you elected president of the neighborhood association). A rotating “tree” or shorter, parallel clotheslines might seem less obtrusive than ones that run the length of your property too.

    We’re running out of fossil fuels and need to reduce carbon emissions. Solar and wind power are free and simple solutions to some very costly and complex problems. Anyone who doesn’t understand that isn’t worth trying to impress.

  277. J.D. says:

    I was telling my wife about this debate and she — being the NPR-obsessed woman that she is — remembered a recent editorial on the subject from a woman in Florida. “But it wasn’t well received,” she told me. “People hated her anti-clothesline stance.” I dug around the NPR site to find the two clips:

    A vote for the right-to-tumble-dry movement
    Letters about said essay

    I does seem odd that this is a topic that inspires such zealotry.

  278. Jennie says:

    Don’t you people have fences around your properties in the US? All I’m reading is (gasp, horror), the neighbours might see my undies, or any of the washing for that matter.

    I’m in Australia too, and most of our fences and foliage around the houses (not to mention the house itself)shield the back yard from prying eyes, should anybody even be interested in checking out the laundry drying beautifully in the sun. Every freestanding house in this country comes complete with a clothesline, unless it’s brand new in which case it’s one of the first things you put in. It’s a given. I can’t really believe what I’ve read in this blog. No such thing as Housing Associations here, except in the case of units, townhouses etc which are each privately owned.

    I have a dryer, about 15 years old, and it’s only used in wet weather or to finish the job off during the winter. Useful things, but never on a daily basis.

  279. Kelly says:

    Our clothesline was once a zip line running from my ( now grown) son’s treehouse to a tree on the other side of the yard. When pollen is a problem we hang our clothes on hangers on the shower rod. We also have drying racks that we set up in the garage or bathtub . The only things that stop me from using the clothesline all the time ,is pollution and pollen. I love sun dried clothes.

  280. ozellie says:

    I am shocked at this article I live in Australia and every yard has a clothes line I NEVER use a dryer so I guess my power bill is definitely saving me money

  281. Aussie Reader says:

    Blimey Trent, you obviously didn’t expect this response!! When I initially responded, a mere 169 comments ago, I was looking at the issue purely from a practical sense. I was surprised that you felt it could affect house prices.

    But now it seems more apparent, even more so following a re-read of the article, that in fact you are commenting on your neighbours more than anything. I admire that you are willing to conform to their values to avoid alienation, I don’t think I’d be that considerate. I guess that’s why so many folk have commented, perhaps not as politely as they should. Something about anonymity that gives some folk the freedom to forget their manners.

    It’s a shame that your neighbours seem to be unable to appreciate the benefits of a vegie garden, compost bin and clothesline. I am a little surprised that you choose to live in such an neighbourhood. I guess I thought you would live somewhere that you could pursue such activities without attracting the ire of your neighbours.

    Fair enough Trent, I’m sorry that you have had such a bashing in the comments, you do not deserve that. You have a great blog, obviously really popular going by the comments!!

    Just make a note for yourself never to discuss clotheslines again!!

    Cheers bloke, keep up the good work

  282. Aussie Reader says:

    Oh, and in response to Paula (comment #269), if you rate the blog on basis of one article, it is you who is the worse off.

    But I guess you aren’t reading this……

  283. David Andersson says:

    Never mind the neighbours, isn’t it a free country after all? If some inspector or prospective home buyer is coming over, they could ask you to remove the laundry.

    Mysel, I’m a heavy allergic person, unfortunately I can’t keep my clothes out in the open, because then I will sneeze my head of wearingt them! :)

  284. Vrekje says:

    Why don’t you buy one that you can take down after your clothes have dried? I don’t know the english word for it, I live in the Netherlands and here it’s called a ‘droogmolen’. If you google on that word you’ll find pictures, it’s an umbrella-type clothesline. Very efficient and if you fold it in you can put it in your garage.

  285. Kristen says:

    I am an American PhD student living in Europe (for 3 years now) and when I first moved I was horrified at not having a dryer because I NEVER in my life hung my clothes out to dry. However, having spent the last 3 years doing nothing but hanging my clothes to dry I can’t imagine not doing it. Economically and ecologically it is the thing to do. As for the impression that you live in poverty if you hang your clothes to dry then all of Europe must be impoverished. Almost no one here even owns a dryer (and the ones that do still hang their clothes to dry)! Here’s another one- why is it that European people can bring their own bags to the grocery store and most Americans can’tmanage to do so?

  286. brent says:


    What on EARTH are you talking about????


  287. Chris says:

    So, without a clothesline, how do you dry clothes that can’t be put in the dryer?

  288. mark says:

    Trent: “A garden and a compost bin? A little out there, but acceptable. A clothesline? That’s a bit over the top.”

    Haha. I’m sorry man. I have nothing against you, and I love your blog, but this statement is just so funny from a European perspective. Especially since having a garden, a compost bin and especially a clothesline is a norm here.

    Let me try to switch the perspective on this, so you will see how funny this looks. To us Europeans, Ausies and other with a different cultural background (which is no more or less than American in value) the statement you made sounds something like:

    “A hammock? A little out there, but acceptable. A barbeque in the garden? That’s a bit over the top.”

    Haha. You see? But hey. Let us rejoice in our differences, for they make a good laugh if for nothing else.

  289. vivano says:

    I really think you should put up that clothesline. They’re good for your clothes and the environment. I’ve grown up with a clothesline all my life, its having a dryer thats a luxury not a clothesline. Now all you need to do is learn the fine art of hanging clothes.

  290. Pixal says:

    Hi Trent,

    I havent posted a comment before but I just couldnt go past this one without saying, put whatever you want in your backyard who gives a flying fig what anyone else says, in Australia we all have lines except those in apartments, obviously we have better weather but still. I have just purchased one of these for the convenience, please dont be influenced by peer pressure and do whats right for you and the world.
    https://mrspeggshandyline.com/secure/mrspeggs/order.php Just in case I cant post links its mrspeggshandyline dot com

  291. Blue says:

    281+ comments later…isn’t it nice to know you have a large readership? You’ve got to laugh,so many important issues in the world and washing lines seem to have gotten quite a large response today.

    Trent: I like reading your blog. It’s been very helpful, precisely because it’s at a level where someone with not a great deal of knowledge about money *like me* can take some good ideas away and use them.

    ‘How do we balance things in our life and what are we willing to make a trade on’ got quite a bit of dialogue going. Are we willing to drink recycled water, use humanure on our gardens or double dunk tea bags for the sake of the environment and should we inflict that on those who aren’t into those values? What exactly is frugal extremism? And what is not?

    Blog on.

  292. Carmen says:

    It’s really sad that clotheslines are such a contentious issue in America. I live in Australia and almost every backyard boasts a “Hills Hoist” clothesline – an item that is practically an icon in this country.

    I have never owned an electric clothes dryer and neither have most people I know. Air drying our washing is the normal thing to do here.

  293. Kate says:

    Trent said: “This article had almost nothing to do with clotheslines themselves. I’d love to have a clothesline, but this article has very little to do with clotheslines. It has to do with the value you put in your relationship with the people around you. I’d conclude that from this, many people value that relationship quite low – anyone who says “Put up a clothesline” or “Put up a privacy fence” is saying “Ignore your neighbors because they have little value.” I disagree wholeheartedly with that.”
    This post might not be about clotheslines but it is something that you might need to explore more deeply, Trent, because your written words in response to your readers’ views are very confrontational. One thing that I have loved about this blog is that you have allowed a free exchange of ideas without getting too involved and didn’t seem bothered when people didn’t agree with you. Maybe with more time on your hands, this will change–and I fear that will change the tenor of this site.

    I have to agree with others that the link you provided has no substance at all or research to back it up.

    If a clothesline is viewed as a sign of “poverty” what else in your neighborhood is viewed with suspicion? A well-kept clothesline and a car on blocks or a refrigerator on the front porch are two very different things. There is a psychological term called projection and that could have been what was happening when you talked to your neighbor. You felt that his mannerisms implied that your request was atrocious. Could it have been that you proposed an idea that, fifty years ago wouldn’t have even been thought of as “weird” but obviously is now very alien in your neck of the woods and he needed some time to mull it over?

    My thoughts are: Is this the way that you want to raise your children? That it is worth it to “pay” for friendship? For it seems to me that is the lesson that you will be teaching them.

  294. Bill says:

    So what are you going to do to make up the $100/year that running a dryer instead of using a clothesline will cost you?

  295. Todd says:

    I hate to speak out on the side of homeowners associations, since everyone seems to be against them, but my neighborhood doesn’t allow clotheslines and I understand why. They also don’t allow trash cans and hoses and kids toys to be visible from the street, or garage doors to stay up for more than brief periods. I think it’s more to maintain an appearance of neatness than anything else, and after living next to sloppy neighbors in the past I understand. Some people would keep their clothes on the line for days, trash cans and kids toys out in front of the house, etc. The neighborhood I live in now looks like a photograph from the real estate section–even though it’s not a super expensive neighborhood–and I have to admit that I like the restrictions because our yards always look neat. (BTW, we hang things out on our back patio on portable drying racks, bring them in promptly, and have never had any complaints.)

  296. Darla says:

    Well Trent, all I can say is I am glad I don’t live in your neighborhood! I live in NC,in a 12 year old subdivision, with no fence, on almost an acre, and I have a large garden. Two of my neighbors have had one in the past, and I was not the first. I am the only one who currently has one. I have 2 compost heaps, none of the neighbors have one that I know of. And funny, no one has ever said a discouraging word about either. They do come over and admire our work, and are always happy to take home the fruits of our labors. Don’t have a clothesline yet, but its coming! Funny I always thought (altho I haven’t asked) the neighbors don’t have the garden, because they don’t have the time. I know I didn’t when my child was younger and playing every sport she could. It never occurred to me that there was a social bias involved. Probably because were I live there isn’t. Guess you bought in a neighborhood where you have to live like the Jones. I’m glad I didn’t.

  297. quatrefoil says:

    As a New Zealander pointed out, the clothesline does indeed get in the way of the backyard cricket here in Oz, but if you have a hill’s hoist, it’s more than made up for by the fact that the kids can swing on it (and get yelled at by their parents) – all part of our rich cultural heritage. As soon as I buy my own house, the first thing I’m going to do is swing on the clothesline.

  298. Briony says:

    Quite possibly the most barking mad thing I have read for a while. If you are so uncomfortable with your neighbours’ reactions to your wild and crazy compost bin and large garden – never mind the possibility of “the clothes line of doom”, then why are you living there? It’s your home, right? If your not at home there, then you mght as well be somewhere else. I’m not saying play loud music at all hours and burn tires on your driveway. I’m just talking about normal things that people may do in their homes and gardens. What do they allow you to do?

    It’s like some mad keeping up with the Jones’ jag. How will you explain your choice to your children?

  299. K says:

    After your mention of the car blocks, I was out doing some errands and driving through just my neighborhood, a pretty nice area, I saw 2 garages open with guys working on their cars on blocks. Now, I didn’t look too closely so it may have been someone souping up a sporty car rather than patching together and old junker, and it was in the garage rather than in the yard, which makes a huge difference, but the point is still there.

    I think that you don’t want the clothesline and may have purposely picked the neighbor who you knew would be most annoyed by your suggestion, because if you were as close to them as you say, they would not have acted that way. Also, I bet you would have gotten a much different answer from a woman. But if you don’t want to do it, no one is forcing you to.

    I think that I understand the “culture” of your neighborhood, since mine is similar. I don’t see any problem with a retractable line (i.e. not out all the time) with mostly sheets and towels (a la Martha Stewart). I think the main “image” problem is when more intimate items, underwear and even regular clothing, are out for public view. You can use drying racks inside or outside for these items, or even use the dryer. Just line-drying sheets and towels would still save a bunch of money.

    I bet you didn’t know you had so many Austrailian readers!

  300. Fern says:

    I think you’re a victim of your own mindset,not your neighbors.

    A clothesline in the backyard isn’t going to offend most people. I live in an affluent, suburban town in the most affluent county in Connecticut, and both my neighbor and I have clotheslines; i haven’t checked around the immediate neighborhood, but there are probably others.

    I am sure that drying a load of wash costs more than .35 or .40 in an electric dryer.

  301. Julie says:

    Good grief there are a lot of comments on this. I live in an urban neighborhood and we have a retractable clothesline both outside and in our basement. I always hang my cloth diapers outside after I wash them.

    I think a retractable clothesline, which we got at Home Depot or Lowes, is a great compromise if you don’t want a permanent structure. For us it’s just as much of a space issue as the fact that many around here do have the mentality that clotheslines are ‘ghetto’.

    I have lived in both the UK and Australia however and agree that this mentality about clotheslines is absurd. I personally find it relaxing to hang and take clothes on/off the line. I feel it’s one of those simple things that is nice to do and feel like you are using nature (and your time) in a good way.

    Good luck and on with your clothesline!

  302. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “How will you explain your choice to your children?”

    That’s incredibly easy. We don’t hang up a clothesline because that would take up some of that wonderful shared yard space you play in with the neighbor kids. The only place we could hang a clothesline and expose it to wind would be near our property line, and that would be an obstruction to the near-constant of children playing in the area. Every house around us has at least two kids and our fenceless yards allow the kids to freely play in all yards.

  303. Fuji says:

    Okay, so it isn’t about the clotheline then, but about maintaining good relations with neighbours?
    What is the definition of a good neighbour? Tolerant I would think. I might not be thrilled the 16 year old next door neighbour decided to rebuild a 67 mustang (thus putting it on blocks), but would I march over there and request her ceases and desist – no!! I could tolerant it and I would tolerant a loud noisy party, their dog occasionally using our garden for a toilet, long grass, womeries, wind chimes….etc. Good neighbors and good people are tolerant.

  304. Penny says:

    I live in a small city, in a neighborhood of big trees, 50×150 ft yards (at largest), and well-kept homes that attract a higher price than most in the area. Several of my neighbors have clotheslines — most have chosen styles that they can remove or collapse when not in use, because of space concerns — and they just add to the feeling of comfort and “homey-ness” here. I’ve been trying to find a viable place for us to install a retractable line, even if just to hang out sheets and towels.

    I think your concern about neighborhood standards might be outdated. In the ’80s, ’90s, and early ’00s, there seemed to be a push to move indoors, to isolate ourselves in our own homes and leave up a pretty, staged facade on the outside. Society and culture are shifting again. With so much attention on “going green” lately, a frugal decision that is also environmentally-friendly may be lauded by neighbors. When we added rain barrels and a small vegetable garden this spring, we got more positive attention from people nearby than in the previous year that we lived here.

  305. Fuji says:

    I’m sorry I keep commmenting here, but this topic really befuddles me. Just how sensitive to do you have to be to be displeased by a clothesline? I can hardly even believe there is an Iowan who feels this way. With such sensitivity to aesthetics, such a person couldn’t walk down the street without being bombarded with offensive things. Heck, could they leave Iowa?

  306. Fuji says:

    I’m sorry you’re taking such a hard hit on this one Trent. You’re a good guy, really you are, but you have to understand this idea of offensiveness over a clothesline is confounding to some of us.
    Maybe the clothesline idea should have come under the “hardcore” heading, lol.

    Aren’t there clotheslines all over Iowa? I was in Boone a couple of years ago and saw plenty of them.

  307. Jessica says:

    I agree with the person who said put up the clothesline and hang the neighbors! Who cares what they think?

    I live in a condo and have to live by the homeowner’s association rules, but when it comes to drying clothes I don’t care what other people think. I have a retractable clothesline on my back porch for sunny days and for not so sunny days I have another clothesline in my bedroom as well as drying racks. I pretty much only use my dryer for drying big things like blankets.

    Towels and such getting stiff is a problem that is solved with (ta da!) white vinegar. The reason your towels are stiff is they have too much soap in them. White vinegar gets it out. Just add a 1/4 cup to your wash water.

  308. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Of course there are. I have no problem with clotheslines at all – that’s why I think it’s funny I’m being attacked over this. My only trepidation with hanging one is that I value the relationship I have with my neighbors much more than a clothesline and that makes me hesitant to move forward. I am shocked that people think I should trample that relationship and just move ahead full bore – I think that line of thinking sours the neighborhood.

    Again, this has nothing to do with clotheslines at all. I used one for twenty years of my life and I’d love to have an outdoor clothesline again. It has to do with other issues – neighbor relations, mostly, and whether doing things that they may perceive as intimating poverty might damage that relationship. The question of whether clotheslines actually damage property values is largely irrelevant. Making the case for clotheslines to me is silly. I know quite well how great they can be. I had one most of my life.

    When someone says “HANG THE CLOTHESLINES AND YOU’RE IGNORANT IF YOU DON’T,” I feel pity for their neighbors. If you’re doing what you personally want without any care or thought about the people living around you, you’re being quite selfish and being a very poor neighbor, someone I wouldn’t want to live next to. I’ve seen the angry actions and lawsuits and property damage and anger and uncooperation and resentment between children that a bad neighbor relationship can devolve into first hand and I’d far rather take the extra step to preserve neighbor relations and be respectful than have that happen.

    You might think an issue over a clothesline is stupid, but if your neighbor has a problem with it and you don’t bother to even address that at all, you’re being massively disrespectful to that neighbor. That’s why this thing is very similar to the idea of cars on blocks in the yard – I personally would be fine with that, too, because I love to tinker, but I know that the neighbors wouldn’t be, so I don’t do it. I know what the cultural expectation is from my neighbors and I respect them enough to abide by it, even if I might like to do something else.

  309. Sheila says:

    Thank God I live where I have no HOA or neighbors’ opinions to worry about! (Mu SIL is another matter.) But to each his own.

    We have a clothesline and I have always had a clothesline – whether at my parents’ house or when I moved out on my own. I love the way the clothes and linens feel and smell after a afternoon out in the Southern sun. And I don’t get the ‘time-involved’ comments. It takes no longer to hang clothes than to sit around waiting on a dryer to buzz so you can rush in to grab the clothes before the heat-produced wrinkles appear.

    And I agree with the Europeans and Aussies and New Zealanders – Americans are spoiled and wasteful in most areas of our lives.

  310. Ryan says:

    I’d like to comment on your calculations. I don’t think you were very frugal in those ;-) We just put a up a clothesline for the first time a few weeks ago. We got the posts off freecycle, and borrowed a post-hole digger from a neighbor. Total cost was a couple dollars for line and pins.

    As for the eyesore aspect, there’s nowhere in your yard that would be inconspicuous? I was concerned as well on how it would look in the yard, but you don’t have to run it across the whole yard or put it in the middle for all to see. We were able to run ours between the garage and the garden, out of the way along a row of tall bushes. Not only does in not look bad, it actually looks like it belongs there.

  311. R.L. says:

    Anti-American bias much? I thought intelligent people were above such biases and talked about issues that actually matter. Sadly, they still exist.

    If your goal with this statement is to make non-American readers of your blog feel unwelcome, that’s a good way to do it. It’s not a trivial or hateful thing to point out where countries have different cultures, or even to point to something that seems part of a larger cultural trend (Americans and consumerism, for example) and say “I think this is regrettable or wrong.” Just because I think hunting whales is wrong doesn’t mean I am biased against Japan; accusing people of Anti-American bias for noting a cultural difference just serves to shut them up.

  312. Salve Regina says:

    What about simply installing a retractable clothesline? When the clothes are dry, put it away. I have been begging for a clothes line for FIVE years–and we DO live in the country! Thanks for the blog and the inspiring articles–they have been a good resource for slowing the money hemorrhage brought on by rising fuel and grocery costs.

  313. Katrina says:

    I already commented, but I’ve been mulling this over in my head this weekend.

    What it comes down to is a VALUES judgment on both sides. That’s why “everyone’s a zealot”. It’s the same idea in the breast-feeding debate, cloth vs. disposable diapering, hybrids vs. hummers, etc. The list goes on. Breast-feeding isn’t always appropriate for every new mother- it is impossible for some, etc. And yet there are zealots out there who see nothing wrong with approaching a stranger bottle feeding a baby and criticize her to her face. Appalling, but that’s the way it goes.

    Same goes for this. Your values, while normally frugal, are placed on neighborly relations in this specific instance. While I don’t necessarily agree with you, and certainly wouldn’t want to live in your neighborhood, I respect your right to make those values judgments. A clothesline isn’t appropriate for you, just like breast-feeding isn’t always appropriate for some new mothers. A clothesline might be preferable, like breast feeding is, but not always best.

    You have the right to spend your money as you wish. If you want to spend 30 cents a load on drying, go for it. You’re so frugal in so many other ways, which ends up being green, that I think you’re allowed this indulgence.

  314. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    R.L.: “If your goal with this statement is to make non-American readers of your blog feel unwelcome, that’s a good way to do it.”

    There were a lot of good criticisms of American consumerism in this thread. Search “America” and you’ll find dozens. Several, however, went overly far and painted the United States with a very large and negative brush. I called them on it – you don’t have to say “America is evil” to make your point about American consumer values.

  315. Catherine says:

    This is my second comment, and I’m sorry for adding to an overlong debate, but I think my reactions have become more crystallized after reading so many comments.

    Trent, from your brief description of your neighborhood–edge of town, becoming urbanized–it sounds like the sort of neighborhood that would attract people who value NEWness. I would agree that clotheslines, much as I personally love them, don’t give that sort of impression. And the neighbors in question probably don’t directly associate clotheslines with poverty, but if they think affluence=newness, they may well think clotheslines=older neighborhoods=less affluence. The point is not whether the older neighborhoods actually ARE less affluent (many commentors have bristled at the idea that hanging clothes out means you’re poor, but don’t seem to have considered that, except in the country, the truly poor usually don’t have the space–have a little sympathy instead of considering yourselves insulted), but that many of the people who chose the newer neighborhood did so because they wanted that newness.

    My own neighborhood in a large city was built in the 1920s. The houses cost $250,000-$300,000 and a few new behemoths are going up at the $800,000 price point (I doubt they’ll get it). People would not bat an eye at a clothesline here. They also don’t bat an eye when someone puts up a car on blocks and works on it right on the street. But I have known some suburbanites who have thought that kind of thing meant they had wandered into another dimension. What I’m getting at is that those of who live in this neighborhood chose this neighborhood–we chose dense, urban living in an older neighborhood.

    Trent, I think at least one commentor said that maybe you don’t belong in your neighborhood. Maybe you actually don’t. What you seem to be getting at is that you are at that point, where having followed a path based on your values, you are turning definitively away from those around you. You can compromise (not always a bad choice), try to establish yourself as a tolerable local eccentric (your kids will hate you for it but probably turn out great), or decide that there’s a complete disconnect where you are and make a more major change (as you’ve done in other situations and posted about).

    What I’d like to see a post on is the issue of newness in housing. Was that a factor in choosing where you currently live? If so, how do you harmonize that–and your major goal of building a new house–with your environmental ideals?

  316. Jon says:

    As a long time reader, I think it is obvious that while Trent tries hard to be frugal and make wise decisions, he also values personal relationships. And while I know many of us disagree with his reasoning, we can at least respect his decision regardless of the justification. Trent seems to be a firm believer in humanity and the idea that kindness and goodwill will be paid back. Which I think is essentially true, but I’m not always willing to count on it.
    I do think however that even though he asked one neighbor about it that he still has a lot of assumptions about what they think. If I was in the position and was really passionate about putting up a clothesline I would put more effort into conversations with the neighbors than just running over and mentioning it to one guy.
    I think people are making comments like “who cares about the neighbors, just put it up” because topics like these fall into the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. What is next? No TV antenna on the roof? Cars in the driveway can only be so old? No barbeque’s because they smell? Everyone’s mailbox must match? No garage sales? A clothesline in the back yard is WORLDS away from a car on blocks in the front lawn.
    Some of your neighbors might not like your very large garden but I’m guessing they will be the first to accept any excess vegetables come harvest time this summer.

    Trent, how far would you go if your neighbors did something or put something up you didn’t like? Would you just live with it or talk to them about it?

  317. Dee says:

    I guess I’m lucky that I live in an area of the country where green is very popular – right up to the group of city residents petitioning the city council for their right to keep a backyard flock of chickens for eggs. Actually, out of the things you’ve already done that you consider ‘out there’, the only one I could understand would be the compost heap – if it’s not enclosed, it _could_ attract rodents. Otherwise, clothes hung up for a few hours at a time? I understand that you live in this neighborhood, Trent, and we don’t, but where would you draw the line? No swing set or sandbox for your kids? No umbrella over your patio set? Grilling only on weekends between noon and 6 p.m.? Take advantage of your work-from-home status, and do your laundry early in the day, so that’s it’s dry before the rest of the neighbors get home. That way, you’re pleasing both sides. I truly wish I could line-dry, but our area is very dusty, and it would un-do what the washing machine produced (and I don’t have a basement).

  318. I don’t think I’ve ever commented on your blog before but I felt compelled to with this post. Are you kidding me!!?? You seem like a smart guy–why on earth would you bow down to what the neighbors might think? And I agree-they would probably respect you for “going green” and trying to be more frugal. This just seems like a no-brainer to me. Hang the line!!

  319. Sylvain says:

    When you present this issue as clotheslines on one side, and good relations with your neighbors on the other, of course it’s very compelling to accept your viewpoint. But some here, myself included, don’t see this as clotheslines vs good relations, they see this as doing something that is reasonable and makes a lot of sense vs surrendering to an obviously idiotic social norm. Sorry, change idiotic to something less offensive, but you get the idea.

    What if having a garden was as “problematic” as having clotheslines (possibly lowering property value and being frowned upon by neighbors), would you give up the garden as well? What other things are you willing to give up to keep supposedly good relations with your neighbors? Are you sure these relations are healthy in the first place if they require you to give up some of the things you believe in? I’m talking identity, freedom and property ownership here, these are all very important values. Keeping good relations with one’s neighbors is important too. But maybe the frugality here isn’t about deciding what is more valuable between good relations with your neighbors and clotheslines, but between good relations with your neighbors and defending your identity, freedom and property rights, and perhaps having even better relations with your neighbors as a result of being true to yourself.

  320. Joslyn says:

    Our dryer went out and I thought how much will I save if I don’t use it. Our LG&W bill went down almost $300.00 in just ONE months time. Now our house is pretty big (b/c we have a large family), and we do a lot of laundry but I had no idea that the dryer was such a huge amount of our bill! When I opened the bill my heart stopped and I started calling everyone. So of course I haven’t gotten it fixed b/c I figure I can hang my clothes in the wash room and let them dry overnight and start the process over again.

  321. AndieG_inTx says:

    Most of the newer neighborhoods in the suburbs of Austin, TX, including starter home communities, have deed restrictions against clothes lines. A few newer apartments don’t even allow line drying on patios and balcones, but they offer washer/dryer connections or a washer & dryer in the apartment.

  322. JD says:

    I am glad to see that a lot of people have disagreed with your conclusion, as I was very disappointed with your reasoning. This kind of thinking is precisely what leads to the consumerism that you’ve been against before. Everything is done based on what others will think… instead of what is truly best. The fastest car, the latest gadget, the biggest house… everything is based on appearance, whether it is best or not. I find this very sad. I have been hanging my clothes to air dry for quite a while now and I find it perfectly convenient and economic. I don’t know how you calculated your cost, but unless your electricity is cheaper than mine, it is off. I find that I save easily $20 a month in electricity only and that is only doing about 4 loads a month as I live by myself. I don’t have a backyard, so I put my clothes on hangers in the bathroom and they dry overnight (large items still go in the dryer, unfortunately). To me, living this way is not a sign of poverty but rather a sign of intelligence and consideration towards the environment and others.

  323. James says:

    Haha, if you can’t understand how neighbors could be sensitive about clotheslines, I think this discussion proves that people in general can be hypersensitive about anything. :-)

    Regarding comments that Trent doesn’t belong in the neighborhood because they don’t share his values, seriously, where are you going to find a neighborhood where everyone completely agrees with everything you do? (and how boring would it be to live there?) Sometimes you have to pick your battles if you want to live in society. You may not agree with Trent’s decision, but this is a fairly trivial concession to make. I’m not surprised at the number of dissentors here, but I’m amused by the level of outrage, haha.

  324. Fuji says:

    Trent, I can perfectly understand your wanting to remain on good terms with your neighbours. Any rational person would want the same. However, what some of us are saying is that on this issue, maybe it is your neighbor who needs to cede, not you – that maybe a clothesline isn’t something to get upset about. Life is all give and take and we all make compromises. Obviously you don’t really mind not having a clothesline – that’s fine, but if you DID, then maybe your neighbour would have cede to your wishes. Asking for a clothesline is not a big imposition. If the hanging laundry were really unsightly to this person, as a good neighbour, maybe you could hang it out in the morning and bring it in before your neighbours return home from work.

  325. Crystina says:

    I grew up in the country using a clothesline and it was relatively normal, but it still did seem to carry the stigma of poverty. Now, living in the city I rent a back-house and one of the rules in our lease is that we aren’t allowed a clothesline or even to hang clothes to dry on our patio. Instead, I use a small drying rack from Ikea – folds flat to store and holds one large load of laundry. No fading from the sun or dryer, and it just means the time to do laundry is stretched since I wash/ hang one day, and then put it away the next. The texture of clothes dried on a rack however, is quite stiff so I do pop everything in the dryer for about 5 minutes just to soften the clothes. This way the clothes last longer and our electric bill is much lower.

  326. Lucky says:

    I’ve lived in the Midwest and the Southwest in the U.S., as well as in Sweden and Germany, and have _never_ heard of a clothesline being an indicator of poverty or bringing down home values.

    Trent knows the culture of his neighborhood, and living with hostile neighbors gets old quickly – they will find ways to make your life miserable. If having a clothesline in the yard is going to cause trouble, don’t do it.

    As many others have said, however, do consider hanging clothes to dry inside. I’ve found the drier shrinks my t-shirts, but hanging them to dry does not, and it keeps my wife’s work clothes from wearing out so quickly.

  327. Kristina says:

    I haven’t had a chance to read all of the comments (I only made it to #50). Growing up, I had to hang my family’s clothes on a line and I’d like to mention some other negatives about clotheslines based on my own experience.

    As someone else mentioned, it gets tedious hanging clothes out to dry. It can also be a bit of a chore to hang up big items like bed sheets. As a kid, I never could get those things up on the line without having some part of the sheet touch the ground.

    Weather can add to the difficulties of line drying. The sun can bleach colors. Clothing dried on the line can be very stiff if there isn’t a nice breeze to fluff it out a bit. This is really a problem with towels and jeans. If the wind is to strong, though, you can wind up with your undies in the neighbors yard. In the desert where I live, a strong wind also means a lot of dust blowing at your nice clean laundry. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

  328. Cliolynda says:

    Someone may have posted this already, but there are some very nice retractable clothes lines that are not at all noticable when not in use. They are more expensive, but if having a clothes line up all the time bothers you, it may help.

    I like to air dry clothes too, but I second some of the comments that it takes quite a bit of work, something else you might want to consider.

    I will take a different tack and support your concerns for your neighbors. We live in a small, community-minded neighborhood and we tend to be aware of how our neighbors perceive our yards. However, I think if you do a nice job of hanging your line and are responsible about getting your laundry inside in a timely manner, you will find that your neighbors have little interest in the matter.

  329. KoryO says:

    If nothing else, I’ve learned some other things to ask prospective neighbors before ever purchasing another house….

    “Are these people going to get their panties in a bunch if I put my sheets out on the line? Can I grow a veggie garden in the back? If my car is over five years old, are they gonna pitch a fit?”

  330. partgypsy says:

    Just wanted to add I also don’t think a clothesline is a signifier of poverty. My parents in law live in a very nice home in a good neighborhood and they have a clothesline out back. I don’t think they or their neighbors ever gave a second thought of financial implications of it.
    We don’t use a line because we are in town with a small wooded backyard, but do hang up some things inside the house on hangers to dry.

  331. Laura says:

    Trent, what is the all time record for comments on a post? lol

  332. rstlne says:

    I put my clothesline indoors. As a bonus, I just take clothes from the line when I need something, so it saves folding time too.

  333. Michael says:

    Europeans and Americans each ought to prefer their own countries and their own people.

  334. Mister E says:

    What a fussy neighbourhood you live in. I can totally respect that you want to keep good relations with the locals but I just can’t fathom this sort of attitude, I’ve never run into it in real life.

    And uhm, yeah, a car up on blocks is ok too as long as it’s temporary and being worked on and tucked away as best as can be done, especially on a relatively large lot such as I believe you to have. And as long as you don’t have 6 of them cluttering your yard. It’s important to keep up a general level of cleanliness but at the end of the day homes are for living in, they are not display pieces.

    I believe wholeheartedly with keeping relations cordial in the neighbourhood but if my neighbours were such fusspots I’d probably care a lot less.

  335. Jill says:

    Trent – depending on how your yard is set up, you might try a retractable clothesline. You could hide it when not using it. It may be a compromise.

  336. Crystola says:

    Does this qualify as one of those hard decisions? Maybe no clothesline is the easy road…

    At any rate, you’ve inspired me – I hung some nylon rope out and hung my last two loads of laundry on it with clothespins I bought at the dollar store last year for crafts with the girl scouts. I know we can’t all live in a bubble, but clotheslines are easily put up and taken down if you plan for it, even if you don’t use a retractable. The impact of an occasional clothesline on your neighbors’ property value would be minimal at most. Even if it saves you drying a few loads a week, it would be worth it IMHO.

    Side note – I made a clothespin holder out of a milkjug and hung it on the line with a piece of wire clotheshanger. Even taped the raw edges of the cut-out part with good ole duct tape – try that one and see what the neighbors think!

  337. Mac says:

    Amy Dacyczyn refers to an attic clothesline on pg. 69 of my copy of “The Complete Tightwad Gazette.” I thought I read more about this in an interview with her and perhaps even saw a photo of it. However, the only article about her family that I have a copy of is from the Jan. 1997 “Money” magazine, and that one doesn’t include a photo of it.

  338. Jessica says:

    I live in an apartment and dry all my husbands and mines clothes in the apartment. I just drape it over chairs and stuff. Is done with 4-8 hours most of the time. No skin off my back and saves me $1.00 a load. Just do that.

    Although I am a little dissapointed with your choice.

  339. partgypsy says:

    OK reading all the postings (what a controversial topic)! I think in the US line drying has 2 connotations. One IS lowerclass/messy, the hanging of multicolored clothes on lines for days on end, along with unkept lawns, junk in yard, etc. I can see it having a negative connotation not necessarily for itself, but in association with the fact that people who do not take down their laundry also don’t keep up other aspects of their homestead.
    The second image of line drying is old-fashioned, country, clean, wholesome, and economical. I think the majority of people I know I guess it’s all about the context in which you see the line drying. My mother and mother-in-law both have dryers and use the dryers for some things but lines for others (sheets, towels, large items).

  340. typome says:

    Trent, don’t worry about having to defend yourself so much. As get rich slowly says, Do what works for you. And clearly using a dryer works for you, whereas using a clothesline may work best for others. I feel that people feed off of your defenses and continue to add more than there needs to be. Listen and take their comments in, but try not to let it get to you ;)

  341. Vicky says:

    SOcially unacceptable? Clotheslines? I’m sorry, but that is just ridiculous. What kind of neighborhood do you live in? And if it’s that kind of neighborhood, why do you live there? Sorry, I’m late on this (sometimes I read a week’s worth of posts backwards) but I feel strongly enough about it (as it symbolizes so much else) that I had to comment.

  342. jm says:

    I don’t understand the whole clothesline = poor thing. What about clothes you can’t dry in a dryer? How do you dry them without ‘looking poor’? My wife has many items she hand washes and dries on the line because they would be destroyed if left to the machine.

  343. jm says:

    I don’t think that article that you link to in tree-hugger is proof of anything. It says clothes lines CAN reduce property values. CAN doesn’t mean DEFINITELY DOES. Furthermore, this guy is the president of the Association of Homeowners Associations, in California no less. Meaning, president of the group of groups that loves to tell people what to do, in the snootiest and nosiest state of the Union.

    I am willing to bet money that that advice only stands in California, and probably more specifically only the nicer neighborhoods of LA.

    “Richard Monson, the president of the California Association of Homeowners Associations, told Legal Affairs magazine that a clothesline in a neighborhood can lower property values by 15 percent: “Modern homeowners don’t like people’s underwear in public. It’s just unsightly.””

  344. Marci says:

    Just wanted to chime in — I installed a large umbrella-style clothesline in my yard a few weeks ago, and I live in the city on a very small lot. We dug a hole in our lawn and filled it with concrete, allowing it to set up slightly before we installed the post holder. The clothesline came with a watertight cap that covers the post holder when the clothesline isn’t in use, so the hole won’t fill with water or other debris.

    When I’m finished with my laundry, I simply fold up the clothesline, disassemble the posts, and take the whole lot into my garage. I could leave it out 24/7, but I won’t. This is partly out of courtesy for my neighbors, and partly because I don’t want the lines to get brittle and dirty from the weather.

    I find really enjoy the act of hanging my clothes. It’s very calming and quiet, and forces me to slow down and listen to the sounds of the my neighborhood — my neighbors, the children playing, the hiss of traffic on the road, the ice cream truck’s jingle, the birds, and the wind through the leaves. Directly beneath the clothesline grows some sort of spreading plant that smells like sweet fresh mint when I trample it. Not to mention how fresh my clothes smell once they’re dry. I now have a new appreciation for doing the laundry. :)

  345. Jon says:

    “Great discussion. It went down a vastly different road than I expected, but still interesting. I’d encourage you all to do some research into the topic of clotheslines and property values before criticizing – read this thread at Treehugger:”

    Your justification and proof that it lowers property values is based off of one comment from a forum article that the president of California’s HOA’s made? Surely this is not information you would actually use to make an educated decision on the topic. Is this the standard that this blog has fallen to?

  346. ToilingAnt says:

    Put up a fence, if the neighbors care so much.

    I’ve always wanted a clothesline like this one. For now, though, living in an apartment, I do use the dryer for jeans, towels, and sheets. Dress clothes are hung up on hangers while damp, and pretty much everything else goes on this and a hanger something like this.

  347. JimmyDaGeek says:

    After we got married, my wife insisted on putting up some kind of wire gadget so she could hang up her more expensive items to drip-dry. She also got a multi-tiered folding wooden drying rack. On the drying rack, she puts underwear and sweaters.

    Why all the bother? The energy savings are secondary, as one poster pointed out, because it takes time to separate out all the items to be hung. And you still have to iron, sometimes, because the permanent press feature hasn’t been heat-activated. The advantage is that clothes last much longer because they don’t shrink, they are not stretched, and are not beaten to death by the tumbling action.

  348. Jamie says:

    Why not use clothing racks instead of a clothesline? It’s what I do because I live in an apartment. Mine were ten bucks apiece, but the prices vary depending on the type you buy. You could put them outside without having a permanent fixture (to get your fresh air smell), or use them indoors, even during the winter or harsh weather. What do you think, Trent?

  349. Bridgette says:

    I remember my gradmother having a clothes line Now we have one. When we’re not hanging out clothes we’re using it as a volleyball net.

  350. Andy says:

    Trent — lower property values equal lower property taxes. Think of how much money you could save your neighbors!!!

  351. Mark B. says:

    If your neighbors have a problem with a frugal decision that you have made, then perhaps they do not share the same values as you, and your relationship with them may not be as important as you thought.

  352. Mark B. says:


    What if your neighbor was an American auto worker and by buying a foreign vehicle you would be offending him? Would you choose a different vehicle to maintain that relationship?

  353. Holly says:

    Wow, I can’t believe how much controversy this has sparked. For what it’s worth (and that’s not much considering I’m commenter three hundred and something) I don’t think clothes lines are a poverty signal…it just depends on what you hang on it and how long you leave it there. Leaving your tighty whities on the line all summer is one thing – hanging out the lovely white bed sheets for an afternoon is another. Besides, just tell everyone you’re going green – which seems to be a status symbol these days.

  354. Sebastian says:

    Interesting discussion indeed. I don’t know if anyone of the 340+ commentators before me has already noted what I’m up to say here as I didn’t manage to read them all.

    I think the interesting point here is if putting up a clothesline would really reduce the property value. I think it could very well be a mix-up of cause and effect.

    Let’s make two assumptions: first, that people with lower income are more likely to have a clothesline in their yard, second, that people with lower income are living in rather cheap properties. Both assumptions seem reasonable to me. So if you would look at property prices and clotheslines, you would properly find that there is a correlation between the two.

    Still, if you put up a clothline at any property, it does not necissarily have an impact on the price of the property. It’s just about the difference between correlation and causality.

    Of course, if Trent says a clothesline is something his neighbours would frown upon… from a European perspective, it is indeed rather irritating, I have to admit. But, to me, it still seems a reasonable choice to keep the dryer.

  355. Phil A says:

    There is the potential for theft and also the potential for birds crapping on your clean clothing.

  356. Anon says:

    “Clotheslines are one of those items that are often associated with poverty and the appearance of such items gives an impression of poverty in our neighborhood.”

    Wow. Not that I was surprised to see the slew of comments here but still, wow. I think this is way out of line with the values you espouse on this blog. Would you stop using cloth diapers for you daughter because a day care provider thinks you can’t afford the “nice expensive ones?” Would you start eating out more so your neighbors see you at the local food joints and know you have money to spend? Would you limit yourself to only putting your “nice” clothes on the line so they don’t see your mustard stained undershirts (after that laundry demonstration) or holey socks? Or could you simply rig up the outside clothes dryer and incorporate it into your lifestyle? Chat with your neighbors about enjoying the outdoors and saving on that electric bill while you hang clothes on the line. Play hide and seek with your son through the lines of laundry.
    “Respect to the neighborhood” to me means not putting this in the front yard and stripping at dusk, hosing down your drawers and tossing them on the line. To me this undercuts your value as a personal finance blogger because your value is grounded in looking “not poor” and the slight (if unfounded) theory that property values may suffer. I’ll remember this excuse the next time someone suggests taking the bus instead of driving, what? and look POOR?

  357. Heather says:

    It’s too bad that you don’t already have a clothesline out back. My apartment building has one, and not everyone uses it, but not everyone has to deal with deciding whether or not to buy a dryer for a rental unit. Even though the laundromat is on the corner, lugging my things over there is more of an attention-getter to me than just hanging them out back, now that I have a portable washer in the kitchen. Even though the savings of the washer and line-hanging may take a long time to recuperate compared to paying for laundry, I gain a lot in time saved. If I were in your situation, I would do it as an energy-saver and a statement on being green. Your neighbors must be able to appreciate that?

  358. Lisa says:

    I am an American. I think American consumer values ARE horrid and embarrassing.

    I think a car on blocks is not a fair comparison, but I am sure everyone has their own idea of what would be equal. Is it not edging the grass along the sidewalk? Is it actually mowing the lawn myself rather than paying a company to do it? Would not putting a mountain of mulch around my trees lower the value an equal amount? Leaving the garage door open all day?

    Frankly, I am looking for ways to lower property values. My neighbors would be happy to have lower taxes. But, my neighbors hand their houses down to their children so I don’t have to worry about families selling every three years.

    As an aside, I would NEVER buy next to a corn field. How does that atrazine taste? Got glyphosate?

  359. How about a wooden clothes rack someplace in your home? I keep one in my attic (which has a normal staircase going up to it), and it’s great for drying delicate items, or even more stuff if I have my act together.


  360. Maureen says:

    “There are about 12,700 clothes-dryer fires in residential buildings annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. These preventable fires caused 15 deaths, 300 injuries and about $88 million US in property damage. ” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/consumers/dryer-safety.html)

    These fires are caused primarily by trapped lint that is ignited by heat or sparks) from the dryer. If you do use dryers, be sure to clean the filter after each use and the interior of the machine at least every 2 years.

  361. Jade says:

    I’m an aussie and can see where your coming from.

    I think its sad that something that is such an Australian Icon devalues property over there. However its different countries, different mindsets.

    I admit to not having read much of this blog or the comments. It’s admirable that you are thinking of your neighbors above your own financial savings. Many people focus on the frugality and forget about the intangible. Its little to with how your perceived. Its how your neighborhood is perceived – especially when it comes to sales. It may seem petty to have such a concern but without all the world-wide financial problems, you can’t take any risks.

    I was wondering if you had an alternate plan to dry your clothes, perhaps inside? As others have suggested, there are several alternatives that don’t involve using the drier. In doing this you could save money and the environment. I would actively seek a way to find a compromise.

    For anyone interested – personal items of laundry are hung inside here. If it starts raining, the damp clothes go in front of the heater. But on a clear windy day, I can get several loads of washing dried quicker than if I used a drier.

  362. Mitford says:

    I have lived in Iowa next to cornfields. I would suggest hanging a wet piece of clothing somewhere in the yard and see what happens on a windy day in the fall or spring. Depending upon the time of the year and the wind, you may have to do the laundry over because of all the dirt/debris that can blow off of a field.

  363. JF says:

    Originally this article upset me since my parents line-dried our clothes growing up and we lived in a middle-class neighborhood. Some of our neighbors did the same, and others did not. I don’t associate line drying with poverty.

    I hang dry some clothes and use the dryer for others, but where I live space is a big issue. My apartment is little and my area is foggy 90% of the time (even in summer) so stuff like towels and jeans don’t dry quick enough and there is no space for sheets to be hung dried.

    I think the interesting thing to note is that Trent is hanging clothes to dry, just not outside on a clothesline. He made a compromise that he felt comfortable with, respecting his neighbors while still have the frugality of the line drying. I say to each his or her own. We all will do what we feel is best.

  364. PChan says:

    Trent, I understand and respect your concern for your neighbors’ feelings and your relationship with them. Having said that, I think they’re a little snooty if having a compost bin, a large garden, and a clothesline puts them off. Our neighbors were happy to take my parents’ surplus and never had a problem with the mulch pile. But I know things are different.

    To the poster who likes the HOA regulations against clotheslines–I don’t think they look messy, even if clothes are left on them. I think there’s a world of difference between asking people to keep their yards cleared of toys and junk and expecting people to forgo clotheslines in their backyards.

  365. Steve Upstill says:

    Are you kidding? You can’t put up a clothesline in the US without traumatizing your neighbors?!? As long as we’ve had a washer in the house my wife and I have NEVER not used a clothesline in 32 years of marriage and no one has ever said a word to us except in admiration. You’re being very sensitive to speculative criticism, IMHO.

  366. Caroline says:

    When I was young my mom used to hang our clothes to dry…I grew up frugal and my parents did all sorts of things to save money, not because they wanted to quit their jobs but because they had no choice (Mum made me dresses out of dad’s old shirts…just an example of how poor we were…but I was still oh so cute in those simple dresses!)and so putting the clothes up on the line made sense.

    Funny how you associate the clothesline with poverty. To each his own. Personally I associate the clotheslines with fond memories from my childhood.

    We may have been poor but we were very happy!!!

    I can definitely appreciate your concern for your neighbours. Too bad more people aren’t as considerate as you. But, take it or leave it, I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill. It is just a clothesline.


  367. Danny says:

    Don’t you make a living educating people on personal finance? Install the clothesline and use it to strike up conversation with your neighbors on frugal decisions. They will surely thank you for helping them save money (assuming the conversation leads to other tips as well).

  368. Janice says:

    Another me too seems hardly necessary, but I also grew up with a clothesline in the back yard and indoor lines in the basement. So did the people around me. The more well-to-do had fancy retractable clothes lines.

  369. Ang says:

    The question this raises for me – an occasional visitor – is why would anyone *want* to live in a neighborhood where they could *assume* that their neighbors would object to a clothesline (even if the actual neighbors themselves didn’t)? The existence of a clothesline won’t actually affect property values, but perception of such by some people – and whether they’re people living in the neighborhood or just driving through, that’s their problem. There’s a huge difference between having respect for these people and catering to their prejudices.

    The laundry line issue also seems symptomatic of that other great U.S. post-WWII phenomenon, suburbanization – the dream of having one’s own discreet space, with a margin of lawn, and just enough property to feel self-important but not enough that one has to work too hard to maintain it (keeping a respectable white collar distance from labor). The laundry line is too much of a visual intrusion on neighbors’ spaces, a reminder that the property is, after all, limited. U.S. culture has on the whole bought into the idea of suburban life as being the ideal, so it’s not suprising that we have so many communities where the appearance of homes is actually regulated.

    This strikes me as being very different from the way life is lived in urban areas, where densely-spaced housing necessitates habits of politely ignoring the goings-on of your neighbors. I’d imagine this is true for many of the European readers who’ve responded to this post. It’s certainly true for me, and I live in an urban neighborhood of a U.S. city.

    I do have a clothesline in the back yard, made with hooks and cotton line, and it’s knotted at the ends so it can be easily slipped off and coiled when not in use. I’m a work-at-home mom and most of my line-drying is done during the day when the neighbors are at work. Most of the time they never have to see it. There are options.

  370. Tallulah Maggs says:

    I live in Europe too (France), I am sorry to say that it is this kind of stereotype that gives Americans such a bad name on the eco front. Hang your damn washing out and get real, you can still use a dryer when the weather is bad, but seriously, worrying about your social status regards to a clothesline to me, it’s just crazy, and kinda shameful.

  371. Chad says:

    One of my good friends and his wife rack dry all their cloths in their apartment. They do loads more often so its easier to manage. They choose not to buy a dryer due to the cost and the environmental impact. In the end, I guess it boils down to commitment. I’m just not dedicated enough.

  372. I’m glad you at least talked to your neighbor. I still think it’s silly, this whole idea that clotheslines are somehow bad or detrimental, but whatever–I have seen after 369 comments that there are places where clotheslines equal poverty. Who knew? It boggles my mind.

    I also think some people have brought up good points–for instance, the one about tolerating neighbors who might do annoying things sometimes and the ones who ask where you would draw the line at ‘pleasing’ your neighbors.

    My original point was that you were making your decision based on what you thought might be the case, but hadn’t actually investigated. If you’ve talked to your neighbor now, you’ve at least addressed the issue. It’s too bad that your neighbors are so concerned about what you do in your own yard. I hope you and your family can one day move to a place where you have a little more freedom to live the way you want to.

  373. Marie says:

    Loved the post, keep stirring folks to think! I hate paying for dying when heat here in Texas is SO FREE! I hang clothes on hangers every night in the kitchen and put them away every morning. It is embarrassing to my mother that my father hangs the laundry out! I would but I have too much shade and the overnite system works well.

  374. Sally says:

    I think a clothesline does reflect “less than” – I don’t have enough to buy a dryer – or I don’t work and have time to hang out my clohtes. I agree with the person who said “thank you” for a clothes dryer. Life was more difficult – and quite frankly, more BORING – I am sure. We should be grateful for all the modern conveniences that we have!! We are lucky – so some people take it overboard – so what – we live in a wonderful country and we should thank our lucky stars for all that we have – AND all the choices that we have. I don’t like the look of clotheslines – they ruin the view! They look like clutter

  375. Dreamer says:

    I think it is interesting that you have based your decision to not use a clothesline on the fact that it makes you or your neighborhood seem to be in poverty. Would you buy a more expensive car because of what the neighbors think? I don’t think you would. Who cares what the neighbors think. Use a clothesline sometimes to dry some clothes. Save yourself a minimal amount of money but help the environment. Just don’t go leaving clothes on the line all week long.

  376. CyanSquirrel says:

    I understand the need to keep good relations with your neighbors. I’m curious how you view them on a personal level, however. From your description, they sound haughty, concerned with outward appearances, and clique-ish. Shallow, in a word. The clothesline issue is moot. The character and values of your neighborhood, and you by proxy (since your neighborhood defines you in some way, yes?), is what is at issue here.

  377. Anitra says:

    As a relatively young American who grew up with a clothesline, I’m only bothered by seeing lines that are in poor repair (sagging, rusty supports, etc.) I’d rather see a clothesline in use than a rusty, obviously unused, eyesore. When we moved into our house, one of the first things we did was to rip down the rusty umbrella line in our backyard. It was in such awful shape that I would never have used it. My neighbors, on the other hand, have several lines hung between T-shaped supports, and they use it for most of the summer (in their side yard). It’s barely noticeable next to their large vegetable garden. :)

    Personally, I’d love to hang clothes outside, but I currently do most laundry at night because of time constraints. Until that changes, there’s no reason to have an outdoor clothesline.

  378. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “I understand the need to keep good relations with your neighbors. I’m curious how you view them on a personal level, however. From your description, they sound haughty, concerned with outward appearances, and clique-ish. Shallow, in a word. The clothesline issue is moot. The character and values of your neighborhood, and you by proxy (since your neighborhood defines you in some way, yes?), is what is at issue here.”

    There’s a good reason for their hesitation. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. The strip of yards is used as one long, giant play area for all of the kids. Yard obstructions are frowned upon, period, because all of the kids get enjoyment out of the huge lawn area.

  379. Carmen says:


    I’ve been reading for a long time and enjoy your posts and comments. This one really surprised me though!

    I’m sorry to say that whilst you made some valid points, your post came across as timid, very shallow and also utterly way off the mark, IMO. What I read is someone petrified of being considered poor. Do what you think is right.

    I agree that you need to respect your neighbours, but basing a decision not to get a clothes line because of what they *might* think is absolutely ridiculous. It is only a clothes line, let’s keep some perspective.

    It is the better person that uses a clothes line and not a drier, since they are not wasting money nor damaging the environment.

    If you remain concerned about what we call ‘keeping up with the Jones’ in England, then please just hang your clothes inside on drying racks instead of using a drier.

    Also, they can be removed from the concrete post in the ground for when the children are playing in the garden. It could even be a great way of keeping all the neighbourhood kids out of your garden so that you and your family/friends can enjoy it together without an audience! :)

  380. CyanSquirrel says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Trent. In that case, I wouldn’t put up a clothesline either out of concern more for the safety of the children (keeping an eye on them) than of property values. Your emphasis on this aspect is what made me think they were just being shallow.

    I read the articles you referenced. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that something as benign as a utilitarian clothesline can draw battle lines in class warfare. It’s kind of related to the Born to Buy book you just reviewed, only it is us adults that are “branded”.

  381. Chicago Gal says:

    I know in the Chicago suburbs that there are ordinances against hanging clotheslines just like there are about parking a boat along side your house. Anything that affects the visual appearance of the house is fair game for the ordinance committees these days.

    I personally think clotheslines are ok and the ecological and cost benefit justifies them beyond any appearance issues.

    The other thing though that might be a consideration in urban areas like Chicago, is how much pollution you have and how much particulate falls from the sky. Parked diesel trains throw a lot of soot into our air in Oak Park, and it piles up on everything from windowsills to your car.

    I would rather dry clothes on drying racks indoors than get that all over the clean clothes.

  382. Lulu says:

    Wow. I had never even considered that a clothesline can be seen to represent poverty. It’s too bad that doing something positive for the environment can be interpreted that way.

    I agree with your first commenter though, and I imagine that the trendiness of being green will soon outshine that view.

    As for me, a Seattle resident, I found that the best option was to hang the line right in the laundry room inside. Now I can use it year-round. There’s no fresh Iowa breeze, but I feel like I’m doing my part nonetheless!

  383. Lori Moore says:

    I’m catching up after being away for the long weekend…..this is the first article that I’ve read in over six months and had a problem with…. home values in our neighbourhood are between 350,000. to 600,000.00 and out of seven homes in close proximity……five have clotheslines……one of the many things we have always done. Signed a Multi-Millionaire.

  384. Mar says:

    One of the selling points for the house I purchased in 2006 was that there WAS a laundry line installed. I don’t consider it a sign of poverty; I consider it a sign that I’m avoiding poverty by not wasting natural gas on clothes drying. If the weather is nasty or I need to do laundry at night, I just hang the clothes in our laundry room and, if needed, on a rack in the family room.

    For the people worried about hanging out the undies, I just hang those in the laundry room year round. My daughter is 12 – she doesn’t need ANOTHER thing that will humiliate her! LOL!

  385. Artdogs says:

    For a lot of Americans, it has nothing to do with what the neighbors think, or being embarassed about what people see — it’s about the HOA giving us a monetary fine if we violate the rules.

  386. TJ says:

    I just posted this weekend on my new clothes line. I put it on the side of the house, where it is fairly well shielded from view. I never thought a bit about whether the neighbors really liked it, but more about having my family’s undergarments hidden.

    I’m sure the neighbors that don’t like it are the same that don’t care for my front garden which is tomatoes and jalapenos. I covered those with cardboard boxes the cat litter comes in for the first several nights.

    I’m saving my family money, and treating the environment better.

  387. Eden says:

    Interesting idea. It’s too windy where I live, so clothes lines wouldn’t be a viable option anyway. Generally, yes, they do look rather poor, though I’m sure someone could build a ‘classy’ clothes line if they tried. :)

  388. Jon says:

    “There’s a good reason for their hesitation. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. The strip of yards is used as one long, giant play area for all of the kids. Yard obstructions are frowned upon, period, because all of the kids get enjoyment out of the huge lawn area.”

    So basically this article was pointless. Why make the article about appearance of the neighborhood and supposed property value decreases when it boils down to an unobstructed play area. Still doesn’t explain why you can’t put up a small one unless your lot is super tiny.
    My neighborhood growing up had the same setup that kids played in all the yards. Didn’t stop everyone from putting up clotheslines. You just run them parallel with the play area.

  389. Maureen says:

    Whole generations of children have played safely among the clotheslines. Myself and my children included. Millions of children are doing it right now. Arrange the lines so they are fairly high off the ground. A clothesline in use is a pretty obvious obstacle. If the line runs parallel to the house it wouldn’t take much of their play space (maybe a 3 foot swath, max). Still lots of space left for the ‘free range’ children. Remember the water will evaporate even without a cross breeze. If you use retractable lines or umbrella type lines there should be no problem. Or place your lines so they fly high over the veggie garden. I presume you wouldn’t want the kiddies roaring through your veggies anyway! If there is a will there is a way.

  390. Elaine says:

    Wow, 400 comments on clotheslines… is that a record or something?

    Anyway, I can just envision the conversation next door:
    “omg honey, I think the Hamms might be poor!”
    “Quick, uninvite them from euchre night! We’ll fake sick or something!”

    Add me to the list of people who’ve never heard of clotheslines being equated with poverty. Why bother writing the article anyway, if it’s really a play area thing?

    For what it’s worth I remember playing with clotheslines as a kid. WITH, not around. We had a really sturdy one that was as good as a jungle gym, and when sheets were hung up, even better. Think puppet theatre curtains.

  391. JReed says:

    Your neighbor said he was okay with the clothesline. The only question he asked was “would you be hanging out underwear”? He did not state that he thought blocking the play area would be an issue. The wind turbine that you are considering for electricity sell back…is that safe for children to play around?
    Will it block the area? Is he okay with that turbine in the backyard look? and the noise also?

  392. Chris says:

    We always had a clothes line when I was a kid in the UK. The clothes smell much better.
    I would agree it is all marketing. Propaganda by Edward Bernaise has just be re-released and it is a very interesting read and almost as fresh as if written today. Well worth the read.

  393. Macinac says:

    I have a New York style clothesline with pulleys. The far end is high in a tree so that even the lowest part of the line is normally above everyone’s heads (for safety). My wife prefers the dryer because it makes towels softer and there is less work overall for her. However, I grab as many loads as I can and put them on the line. The work itself is very psychically satisfying and the thought of getting something for nothing is just wonderful.

  394. Macinac says:

    PS — While on a vagabond road trip across Mexico I discovered that the shelf behind the back seat is a great place to dry clothes. The sun shines straight down into this space all day. You are limited to a few pieces at a time, but it is very effective.

  395. vrekje says:

    Wow, I’m really glad that I don’t live in the U.S. What can possibly be dangerous about a clothesline? My kids play in the yard when the clothesline is out (umbrella-type, I put it away after use) and it never crossed my mind that it can be potentially dangerous. If you put up a permanent line it’s too high for kids to touch anyway. Americans are way out of context when it comes to safety. And just the idea of neighbours having any influence at all at your laundry is ridiculous. They say ‘It’s a free country’. Doesn’t sound free at all to me.

  396. MargaritaK says:

    I originally read this post and thought it was satire. Could someone dedicated to thrift, frugality and saving money really use a dubious and unsubstantiated claim such as this “clothesline in a neighborhood can lower property values by 15 percent” to defend his choice not to install a clothesline?
    One, his zoning laws do not prohibit a clothesline. Two, he has not even asked his neighbors if they would take umbrage to seeing his laundry blowing in the breeze. Who knows? His neighbors may be looking to save a few bucks and want to hang a line too but everyone is afraid of what “The Neighbors” will think. Three, I looked on the web and can not find any study validating this notion put forth by the California Homeowners Association that clotheslines lower property values. Yes, there are people who do not like looking at them over the fence but the aesthetic distaste for seeing skivvies does not necessarily equate to lowered property values. Four, if he doesn’t want to hang lines, use an umbrella clothesline or wooden racks that can be moved indoors or outdoors, weather permitting.
    In response to those who claim dryers are necessary and this movement back to line drying clothes is faux nostalgia, I share this story. As a young bride with two children in cloth diapers, I spent the first five years of my marriage living in one of those great “first” apartments, you know with the tacky decor from thirty years ago and a washing machine your grandmother would have been comfortable using-fifty years ago. There was no dryer and everything-sheets, towels, jeans and cloth diapers, had to be line dried. On top of that, I live in New England, where temps can stay below 0 for days on end in the winter. It takes a few extra minutes but line drying is not the ordeal other poster make it out to be.

  397. Lianna says:

    I will also testify that in New Zealand clotheslines are the norm, even in suburban communities.
    If you are concerned about you’re neighbors perception of your clothesline (and I’ll bet more of them will admire it than criticize it), use a good quality wood for the posts, and use some of that green thumb of yours to plant ivy or some flowering creeper to go up the posts. Turn it into a thing of beauty!

  398. Leticia says:

    I’m late in the discussion and I’ll confess I have not read all the comments. This post was positively engaging.

    I just dropped by to tell that in Brazil dryers are a very expensive proposition – the costs in electricity are prohibitive. Everybody that has a home usually has a clothesline in the (usually tiny urban) backyard and most apartments, mine included, have some sort of clothesline contraption that can be hoisted with pulleys.

    Outside big cities, clotheslines are all over.

    I just came back from Europe and found out that people there rely on clotheslines too. Not a surprise to me. The dryer culture – because that is exactly what it is – of the USA never stops to amaze me.

    I am sure you can find some solution close to Europe or Brazil for your problem, something that wont take up a lot of space and be fairly inconspicuous.

  399. Eve says:

    My parents have always had clothlines inside to dry their clothes. They accomplished this by stringing up a clothesline in their basement and by buying folding wood drying racks.

  400. Stockman says:

    We are Australians. My wife called my attention to this website & link. Can’t believe what we are reading here. America, not only are you the biggest debtor in the world (China is now your banker! As a nation you’ve completely lost it by calling clotheslines a sign of poverty.

    Apart from those idiots who choose to live in city apartments, every home in Australia has a clothesline which without exception is used during fine weather. It is always with deep regret that any of us are forced use an electric dryer should the weather be overcast or wet.

    For God sake, America, get real! No wonder you lot are all on a downward slide. Jeeeeeeeeeez!

  401. Kin says:

    This is the first house we’ve ever lived in that hasn’t had a clothes line. And it’s in the garage. What a wonderful compromise – the clothes get dry, no sun damage, and no negative perceptions on the property.

  402. Chanelle says:


    Trent I have found the perfect solution to your problems. This is the clothes line we have, mounted to our house around the back, out of site, our of mind. It is folded down flat against the house when not in use. No poles taking over your kids play area. You can even decorate it for birthday parties.

    Plus you can hang your undergarments against the house so they are hidden from view!

    I am in no way affliated with this company by the way.

  403. aMotherSite says:

    I grew up with a line inside and out.

    now, I use a cloths rack that can hold most of a load. This way I can take it in and out as I please… and when I don’t want to air my dirty laundry, I dry it inside on the line.

  404. Groovy Mom says:

    You inspired a blog post outta me!!
    I read this and wrote a response a couple days ago, and *finally* came back to comment. My suggestion, if you simply can’t stomach the line outside – get one inside :)

  405. incredulous says:

    Good grief! Are you serious? Surely this kind of attitude isn’t normal in America. Washing lines are a sign of intelligent frugality and a sense of responsibility to the environment (dryers are one of the highest polluting and most energy inefficient household appliances). But a sign of poverty? If so, the whole of Germany (where I live) is poor. Here people would think you were totally crazy to pay for something relatively expensive that can be had for free on dry days. Not to mention, IMO, selfish for creating so much unnecessary pollution.
    America is one of the world’s most polluting nations. I’m hoping that the eco-considerate standpoint of the majority of your American commentors is the norm over there, not your ‘appearances before responsibility’ approach. Just try a line – you’ll never look back!

  406. Suzanne says:

    I like to dry my clothes for 4 minutes before hanging them. This gives them just enough time to warm up and then when I hang them, there are far fewer wrinkles and very little need to iron. I hang them inside in winter and outside in summer. Try it!

  407. Suzanne says:

    I forgot to say I think not using a dryer is much easier on the clothes. Think of all the lint not going into the trap each time you line dry.

  408. Cathy says:

    Set up a clothesline for goodness sake. Tell anyone who cares that you are doing it for the environment. The repetitive motions and menial nature of hanging up your clothes can be incredibly relaxing, and it will also give you plenty of time for your creative mental work as a writer.

  409. Veronica says:

    Not long after i got married (we had an OLD dryer) my dryer gave out. so i HAD to get a clothesline. i live out in the country, but i don’t think it would make a difference to me where i live. we have a new dryer now and i use it in the winter but even in summer i dry our smaller items (underwear, washclothes, rags etc.) in the dryer cause it takes to long to hang them out. but i might start hanging everything out to save on electric.

  410. Bekki says:

    When I first read your post, I was absolutely amazed at some of your conclusions, but after reading some of your responses to the comments, I have a better idea now why you’re giving up on the clothesline thing.

    Personally, I had never seen clotheslines as a sign of poverty in my entire life – the exception being messy, droopy, dirty ones with clothes that stay up for days at a time.

    My husband and I rent a house in the country, in a riddculously affluent area of New York State. Our home sits on 5 acres of property, but the house is unfirtunately only about 40 feet from the street, so anyone who drives by can see a lot.

    I have a clothesline on the side of the house that runs from a hook on the side of the house outside the laundry room, all the way to a tree across the yard – about 50 feet.

    To be honest, I don’t use it because it’s eco-friendly, or because I like the smell of the laundry when it’s dry, nor do I use it to save money – I like it because I sincerely enjoy being outside. That 10 minutes of fresh air and sunlight is good for the body and soul.

    I wake up at 5:30 to start a load of wash so it’ll be done in time for me to hang it up before I head to the gym. By the time I get home 3 hours later, my laundry is done for the day.

    Our next door neighbors have a clothesline, but it’s just a 3 foot rope sagging between a couple trees that they only use for kids clothes and unmentionables. If any clothesline gives the impression of poverty, it’s that one – but the funny thing is that they’re not poor at all! The husband is a TV writer who lives in Manhattan during the week and they stay up here on the weekends. That and their unkempt lawn make their home look like a dump.

    Our lawn is kept immaculate by our landlord, and the clothesline is always clean and tidy. Nothing stays out there more than a few hours, and socks, undies and towels don’t go out there.

    I would actually be shocked to learn that my clothesline brings down the property value. Our landlord loves it because he likes the “country feel” that it gives the property. Besides, 15% of the property value is $90,000… I doubt that a piece of rope could have that effect.

    I personally think that a clotheslines impact on property value depends entirely on what kind you have, and how well you keep up with it.

    The fact that your neighbors are acting a bit snotty about it is kind of upsetting… I can understand if it gets in the way of the kids play area – that would be a problem, but just because they don’t want to look at it? Now that’s just plain silly.

    I think that hanging your clothes in the guest room is a brilliant alternative. While you must sacrifice the fresh air and sunlight, you still get to save money and give yourself a bit more exercise than just tossing it all in the dryer.

  411. Lukas says:

    I didn’t realise there was such NIMBY BS in the states. In the UK a clothesline is just how you dry clothes. And we have crummy weather!

    I would add to the whole debate, that clothes simply last longer when not dried in a machine. A machine eats clothes as well as electricity, and I found after doing my laundry in a dryer at Uni that my tshirts would just be rags after a short time.

  412. Jane says:

    Well, what a lot of opinions! I thought I would give you my Englishwoman’s view of how to tackle this problem – I have the advantage of many decades of washing-hanging experience in various different environments.

    First, I think you are wise to consider the effect on your neighbours. Like it or not, you need to co-exist with them and it always makes sense to think about ways of acheiving your aims without making unecessary enemies.

    I live in a country where dryers are not the norm, even though we get lots of rain. So I can certainly assure you that a dryer is not essential.

    I think the main irritant with outdoor clothes lines is when people do not bother to bring their washing in when it is dry. Most English people do not want to look at their neighbours’ weeks-old washing flapping about in the rain, even though they are not in the least bothered by the idea of washing lines. Here is what I recommend:

    I would not advise a strung-between-posts type traditional clothes line, for these reasons:
    – They are not practical, because you have to cover a lot of ground to create a relatively small amount of drying space.
    – When you need to wipe the line clean(which you will from time to time, even in the country) it takes ages because it is strung all over the place.
    – Pegging out and collecting in the washing takes ages for the same reason, and you keep having to move the laundry basket along with you as you go.
    – It gets in the way of children using the garden (or yard, as you would say) to its full potential and means you have to disentangle children and their bicycles from wet bed sheets.
    – It looks pretty messy, which I personally dislike.

    Get an umbrella-type rotary clothes line as mentioned in earlier posts. this gives you loads of drying space while taking up very little of your outdoor area. You can site it in a part of the garden that will not bother you or your meighbours, and can take it down easily when you do not want to use it. It is neat and practical, because you can hang and collect your laundry without having to roam all over the place.

    Always bring in the dry laundry as soon as possible – this will be appreciated by your neighbours, and is much better for the clothes than being left out for days at a time.

    For bad weather (or days when you want to use the garden for something else, like sports or parties) just use folding airers inside the house, near an open window if it is not too cold. This will dry your clothes perfectly well, and is really not that intrusive once you get used to it (did I read somewhere that you already hang nappies (diapers) to dry?).

    You need to be systematic in how you hang the clothes, so that you get optimal use from each airer and minimise ironing – so, hang shirts and t-shirts on hangers over the rails of the airer, fold sheets neatly before hanging, etc. If all else fails, you can get things virtually dry on the airers and then finish them off in the drier if you need them urgently (this is often helpful with small children in the house, but not really necessary once the children grow up).

    I wish you luck in your air-drying project, and hope that you succeed in starting an eco-trend in your neighbourhood!


  413. angela says:

    I’m from Australia and I am intrigued by this thinking! Clotheslines are in all back yards across australia no matter the income! It has no conuntations attached to it. Have you considered hanging lines in your garage? What about instead of the traditional lines – here you can get ones which attach to a wall and are able to be folded down when not in use best thing you could actually hide it behind a screen with plants growning around it something in the ediable kind! Look this is not a question about poverty but rather a stance in being ecologically friendly. To change the thinking of your community encourage and talk to your neighbours about becoming “greener houses”, make the change by changing others thinking!

    I have to giggle this makes zero sense – it really sounds as if everyone is keeping up appearances and not being real! You must follow your own path in life.

  414. angela says:

    Maybe everyone should stop “spying” on each other!!! lol!!!! We must spend a lot of time looking over the fence. By reading some of these posts! lol

    Why not put up a 6 foot fence that way you won’t have to worry what you do in YOUR back yard! you could run around naked and not worry! lol.

  415. ame says:

    One bit of rope, two poles and clean fresh clothes waving in the breeze in ones back garden – lovely.

    Compared to three parked and drivable cars stuck directly under the front windows of each house on narrow plots in the UK. I know which I prefer. We all have our problems Trent – love your blog.

  416. ame says:

    Oops forgot about the pc brigade. English translation (a wooden or metal pole/post you cement into the ground for your clothesline)I would use a capital letter for a country…

    Better add this to the first message – thanks.

    It is understandable that when you have bought into a property in a good area that you maintain it to the standard that attracted you to it in the first place. Perhaps when you and the neighbours have lived there longer there will be the inevitable changes. You only need to rock the boat if you feel very strongly about something and you are presently quite happy to keep on the way you are and that is your personal choice.

  417. MelMel says:

    My parents have been married for 51 years. We moved a lot due to my dad’s corporate job. He is now 81 years old. We always lived in a middle to upper class neighborhood, near a bus route, walking distance to schools and the mall. My mother never worked from the day I was born, taught me to appreciate and enjoy public transport, have always had a compost system (my father has been nominated many times for the Trillium Award for beautiful gardening), and they ALWAYS, ALWAYS installed a clothesline. HOWEVER, they installed the 4-sided “umbrella” style, to contain the view in a strategic corner of the yard. Every week, religiously, for over 51 years my mom and dad have hung the laundry out to dry. The only time they used their electric dryer was to “fluff” certain items like towels for 10 minutes. They never had debt, they never had a mortgage, and we never wanted for a thing. My parents are now poster children (!!??) for the new “green” economy!!

  418. Tamara says:

    I can’t believe that a clothesline would be seen as a sign of poverty. In my city that is not at all the case. They are prevalent in the “cool” and artsy neighbourhoods full of young professionals of good means.

  419. apples says:

    i’m with sylvain, except im australian

    no way is a clothesline considered a sign of poverty.

    that really says a lot about your society

  420. SB says:

    I don’t know if this was mentioned in any of the other comments, but I hung my clothes on indoor racks at one point for 2 years, and my clothes basically just didn’t seem to wear out. Dryers really wreck our clothes. There would be a dollar cost savings with the power bill and the clothing bill. Not to mention the fact that clothes are kept in excellent condition for resale at a consignment store.

  421. Maria says:

    Hi from Ireland! I’m absolutely stunned that a clothesline could be seen as a sign of poverty. It’s daft to bow to peer pressure like that… I’m a city-dweller couldn’t LIVE without my clothesline. I also have those drying racks for my undies. I own a dryer too but I only use it in the winter.

  422. Karen says:

    When I see clothes on the line in my town I figure they were put there by an immigrant mom (sorry for the stereotype) who knows how to do laundry the right way! I always admire them and wish that I had a line. I say, the heck with the neighbors, go for it! Also, have you talked to your neighbors about the line? They may not care.

  423. kaywosz says:

    Might I suggest a drying rack? We have two of them that fold up against the wall when not in use, and we dry laundry for a family of three with them. You can put them outside, of course, but you can even use them inside in the winter!

  424. Nayya says:

    Starting June 6th is the International Clothesline Week! gogo!

  425. Kitty says:

    I don’t think anyone reading this blog would consider a clothesline a sign of poverty. However, to some, it is. When I moved into my small town (into quite an aged property) 30 years ago. This small town has been surrounded by a major city over the years. A wonderful clothesline array was in place (and still is). However, new people moved in and the current city council passed an ordinance of no clotheslines. The new folks want to seem urbane and sophisticated and, obviously, clothes flapping in the breeze is neither urbane or sophisticated. To circumvent, I placed an array of clotheslines in my basement and it works just fine.

    They will NOT win!!!!!!

  426. Mel says:

    In Australia it’s very odd not to have a clothesline. I’m a student and live without a dryer, it’s even easy enough to have an indoors clothesline/clothes hanger and everything dries overnight. Maybe it’s because we’re blessed with the sun!

  427. Trent, obviously, 400+ comments.. this is a good conversation piece.

    Regardless of which side you take, I think it’s cool that you analyzed from both sides, recognized the pros and the cons, and MADE A DECISION with the thought of others(your neighbors)involved. Right or wrong, your an unselfish, rational thinking kind of guy.

    Unselfishness, and thinking of others are very noble qualities, any way you slice it

    T.A Smith, Creator, Smile-Therapy.com

  428. karen says:

    I happen to live in Alaska where nine months of the year your clothes would just freeze on the line. Yes, I do hang my clothes outside in the summer but it really is harder on your clothes to freeze them dry then to use the dryer. I’m pretty amazed at the snootiness of the “green” posters though. Not everyone has the time,room (for inside drying)or climate and if that’s what you want to spend your money on that’s fine!

  429. Alexander says:

    If I was the richest person in the world I would have a clothesline, as it is the best way of drying clothes. Grow up – get a clothesline.

  430. Rosa Rugosa says:

    I actually never would have thought of the clothesline=poverty equation. When I see clothes hanging out to dry, I just think that someone is more energetic, passionate about that fresh-air smell, or whatever, than I am.
    I enjoy the ease and convenience of the dryer, but dry many items on a line or rack in the basement because the dryer is harsh on some things, and clothes are expensive. Probably the main reason I don’t have a clothesline is that I’m a passionate gardener, and a clothesline just doesn’t fit nicely into the landscape design on our small suburban lot. It would clash with the gazebo:) Hey, it’s our only little piece of paradise, and we have to use it as we best see fit.

  431. steve says:

    A car up on blocks does not leak fluids unless it leaks fluids. The blocks have nothing to do with it.

    Putting a car on blocks prevents the tires from flat spotting and the suspension from getting stuck in one position. That’s why it’s done. But it’s only done by those who work with their hands. And in some neighborhoods, that’s a “no no”.

    I definitely understand the “poverty” implication of clotheslines. In my family it was clear to me it seemed that anything that could be paid for (drying with a gas dryier) was not going to be done the less-expensive, old way (using a clothesline). It was kind of a mantra for much of the adult generation that came of age in the 50s and 60s.

  432. Soeren says:

    Frugal is the new black. As a bonus, your clothesline is eco-friendly and green. Go for it.
    If your neighbors complain, use that as an opportunity to educate them about both personal finance and the enviroment. All else being equal, clothes lines are SMART, clothes dryers are DUMB, and in this Great Recession, using the free resources Mother Nature offers(as opposed to paying high energy prices for dwindling fossil fuels to run your dryer) is the way to go.

  433. Robert says:

    I do what ever to save money. I don’t care what others think. I am not going to spend more to make others think more highly of me.


  434. Sue says:

    I haven’t waded through ALL the comments here, but I didn’t see anyone mention the fact that your clothes last longer when they aren’t subjected to being put through the dryer on a regular basis.

    Our compromise: shirts, pants, towels and sheets go up on the line. Shirts are hung wet on hangers (they hang better, generally), so the effort of pinning them up is not an issue.

    Underwear and socks are put in the dryer, or hung on an rack.

    Incidentally, I have a tension rod that is the length of our shower area, so in the winter, I hang pants and shirts up indoors as well when the shower’s not in use.

    Less ironing, longer lasting clothes, less power usage – where’s the downside?

  435. Fascinating. Where I grew up (middle class Australia), everyone had a clothes line – they might not be associated with being uber wealthy, but they definitely were not associated with being poor. I live in an apartment now, and you’re not supposed to hang out clothes on the balcony, but every house I’ve lived in as an adult has had a clothes line too.

    Maybe this is an American thing?

  436. Blizzard says:

    “Clothes lines give the impression of poverty”? Uhhh… maybe if their all broken down and drapped from rusty poles, but brand new ones? And how can people see them from the front? Don’t you have a fence? As for what the neighbors think? Fuck ’em! If they got a problem then they can just piss off… it isn’t like your cooking meth or some shit! Personally I prefer my dryer, but if you lived next to me I wouldn’t have a problem. And this whole BS about driving property values down? Utter fiction!

    Dude! Seriously, just put the clothesline up, to hell with the neighbors! Just tell them it’s either that, or a huge HAM radio antenna! LOL!

  437. Beth says:

    Holy Cow! Who knew clotheslines could spike such a long conversation!

    I grew up on the dryer in a middleclass home, but when I moved to Miami I really learned how to do laundry. You put the clean clothes in the dryer for the 7 minutes it takes to sort and start the next load. The heat, with or without a softener sheet, relaxes the fibers. I reach in for a couple items at a time, and wrinkles shake out, towels are fluffy. I hang on lines in my basement because they were there when I bought the house and I enjoy my little backyard without garroting myself. In summer I open front and rear doors to let air through, but in winter I add heat and moisture to my home with hot laundry strung under the first floor. I watch my neighbors add humidifiers and pump steam out their dryer vents. My electric bill runs between $60 summer and $125 at Christmas with all the lights on all month. Its a 1928 brick and stone townhome with shared side walls and southern exposure, wood floors, and radiator heat. Recent article in Dwell details a designer’s 3 story dreamhome with these same features for only $300K, but we sell them here in Baltimore for about a third of that. Its a pirate’s life, and its good.

  438. Christine says:

    Having my own laundry facilities was one of the reasons I purchased a house and moved out of my apartment 9 years ago. Nothing bothered me more than to go to the communal laundry room and someone had taken my stuff out of the washer/dryer and put it on top of the machine or ran off with something.

    Being in a small town and living in a 1950’s era house means a clothesline is the norm. When I had to survive on disability after a health problem, I pretty much use the clothesline exclusively.

    Everything smells nice, the items last a lot longer and my gas bill is alot lower.

  439. Carla says:

    I find this really interesting reading, as in Australia whether a house, unit or villa, everyone has one.

    I do not know of anyone that does NOT have a clothesline, no matter what their financial position.

  440. Joseph Librero says:

    Really? Wow I never thought of clothesline as sign of poverty.:) But that’s interesting.:)

    Taking a sip,

  441. Jo says:

    I just find this article hilarious! In Australia, EVERYONE has a clothesline. The idea that you would be seen as povo, or that it would bring down property values…just seems bizarre to me. There you go!

  442. Terri T. says:

    Those who would begrudge you a clothesline have never had the pleasure of sleeping on linens dried in the fresh air!

  443. Siti Kamariah says:

    Im from Malaysia and there are clothes line everywhere including the more affluent neighbourhoods :-)

    Most people do not use a dryer and in fact if you have one, people might think that you are just showing off or cant find a better way of spending your money.

    On top of that, when ever I use my credit cards I sometimes get this look that says “I dont have money to spend hence I need to borrow”. So much negative connotations is attached to frivolous spending.

    In overall generally most people that I know here are quite frugal. :-)

  444. JS says:

    I’m reading this almost 3 years after it is written, in which time there’s been 3 years of recession and green/cheap living has become popular, so perhaps attitudes have changed :)

    I don’t know how this would work in humid and/or cold climates, but one of the benefits to hanging clothes to dry inside where I live (the Sonoran Desert) is that it helps lower the temperature of the room. Also, I live in an apartment, and especially when it gets to be over 100 degrees, I’d much rather hang cool, wet laundry inside then walk to the laundry room and haul back hot clothes out of the dryer.

  445. tentaculistic says:

    I definitely understand Trent’s thought that neighbors would judge the use of clothesline, because in many US places (unlike Europe or apparently Australia) it really is true that people connect clotheslines with poverty. It’s changing in some places, but not in others. If you otherwise look respectable, people will assume you’re being “green” or just eccentric.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *