Summer Wash-a-Day Blues

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I love the look of clothes hanging on a clothesline.

Not everyone does.

Even here on Beaver Island, there are communities that have banned them.

Happily, that’s not the case at my home, here on the Fox Lake Road.

I threw out my dryer a few weeks ago.

Lord knows, I had gotten my money’s worth out of it. My husband and I bought it – used – for fifty dollars back in 1979. Lately, it had been sending out a fine mist of lint every time I used it. It took me a while to figure out where all the dust was coming from. It took me another great while to do something about it. I might still be putting up with it, if the laundry room floor hadn’t started sprouting mushrooms.

My washing machine was leaking.

I had noticed dampness around the base of the washer whenever I did a load of laundry. I assumed the leak was from a hose. Because the washer and dryer sat side by side, the only way to access the back of either of them was by pulling them straight out. I can push a great deal of weight, but to pull either appliance straight toward me was not possible. There was no place to get a grip. There was no room to do the zig-zag push and pull technique that I employ when moving the refrigerator. I worried that if I were able to somehow manage it, I’d displace the hoses so that I’d be unable to diagnose the problem anyway. I was equally afraid of upsetting the vent-work for the dryer.

It didn’t seem like that much of a problem. A little moisture, a bit of dust.

Then summer came.

With summer came my granddaughter, Madeline.

Madeline, who loves painting and gardening and beaches.

Who is not above climbing trees or playing in the mud.

But who (heaven forbid!) cannot possibly wear the same outfit twice, ever, without laundering it first, can’t use a towel more than once, must dress appropriately for every occasion, whether it be a trip to the ice cream shop or an hour in the garden and firmly believes our dining room table needs a fresh tablecloth at least every second day.

I’ve had considerably more laundry than usual.

My laundry room floor started growing mushrooms.

One day, when Madeline was at day camp, I dismantled part of a shelf support in order to move out the dryer, so that I could get behind the washer to try to fix the leak.

It turns out, I had bigger problems than I had anticipated.

The moisture put out by the washing machine was much more than what was evident from the front. The particle board floor under both appliances was spongy, wet and rotted.

As far as I can tell, the hoses are all intact and working fine. The – reasonably new – washing machine seems to be leaking from the base.

The back of the dryer had bare wires and missing panels and was harboring enough dryer lint to be a huge fire danger. It should have been replaced years ago. I retired it immediately, better late than never.

Since then, we’ve been drying everything on the clothesline.

I’ve always used the line for drying sheets and blankets, rugs and sometimes towels…when the weather was warm. Other clothes get too wrinkled, I thought. It was impractical to try to dry everything, with my work schedule, I insisted.

It turns out, it takes a bit of forethought and discipline, but it’s really quite possible. Enjoyable, even!

Madeline has become quite expert at the process, too, and helps with the hanging out and folding. She insists that we’re saving hundreds of dollars this way.

Her amounts may be an exaggeration, but I’m sure we’ll see a difference in the electricity bill.

Still, there have been a few rainy days where I’ve watched my clothes dripping on the line and wished I had a dryer to make my life easier.

And we’re not yet into the cold weather.

For now, though, having clothes hanging outside to dry seems just right.

22 responses »

    • I love the look of a clothesline with laundry hanging on it! I am amazed, in this day of ecological solutions, that it is not heartily embraced by all communities. Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

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  2. Oh, I connected to this post on SO many levels, Cindy: the granddaughter who can’t wear an outfit twice; the mold (instead of mushrooms) sprouting around the laundry room; and the love of freshly washed clothes drying on a clothes line. Colorado is so dry, that sometimes in the winter I’ll hang clothes all around the house to dry, even though we have an excellent and efficient new dryer now. As the clothes dry the house fills with the scent of clean clothes, and every time the furnace clicks on they wave in the moving air.
    Your post brought back many memories!

    • Oh, thanks for these comments, Marilyn! Clothes on a line bring back many memories for me, too. This could have been a much longer post, if there were time to delve into it. Thanks for reading!

  3. I no longer have a clothesline but do dry my laundry on a drying rack on my porch. I love the sight of laundry drying on a line. When I lived in an apartment where my clothesline was right outside my door, I did many paintings of laundry drying. Clotheslines and breast feeding; how can anyone object to seeing such things? They’re an intrinsic part of what’s necessary to be human! I think that your laundry drying on your line would make a great painting.

  4. Ah, Cindy, this made me remember growing up out on Bowers Road, when my mom used to hang our stuff outside in the summertime. (She never really liked going down into the Michigan basement where the washer and dryer were.) As I remember going out to take the things off the line for her, I can feel the sun and hear the cicadas — and, oh, that wonderful smell, just like they put in candles now!

    • Madeline is still raving about the smell of her clothes…she loves that! We used to make tents under the sheets drying on the line; I’d almost forgotten about that. Seems such a simple thing, but has so many aspects and memories attached to it…thank you for reading, Kate, and for your comments!

  5. I’m sorry for your washer/dryer problems, but I must say I love hanging clothes on the line. I’m happy my neighborhood hasn’t banned clotheslines; I think that’s positively insane, but I know of communities around here that won’t allow them either. I’ve never had the guts to hang clothes out in wintertime though. Maybe I should try that this year!

    • My aunt tells me that even after “freeze-drying”, clothes would need to be hung inside to finish getting the moisture out. She has photos of her bending down to get the clothes on the line after a heavy snow, and tells nightmarish stories of trying to wrestle stiffly frozen sheets into the house. I think I’ll pass, if at all possible! Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

  6. Wow, hanging out clothes should never be banned! That’s criminal. We don’t have a dryer here in Ecuador and I don’t miss it much at all.

    Sorry to have been away. Again! Been busy working on my memoir. Excuses, excuses! Right?

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  7. Oh how I love the look of clothes hanging on a laundry line. Really? Communities BAN them? Oh what’s the world coming to? I love that you had such a fun time with Madeline.

    • It was a wonderful six weeks with my granddaughter! I neglected almost everything else, so have a lot of catching up to do, but don’t regret a minute of it! Thanks for reading, Kathy, and for your comments!

  8. I was just thinking how nature will always save us, if we listen to her! Those mushrooms quite possibly prevented a fire!
    Sounds absolutely wonderful having Madeline in-house for a whole 6 wks! What a great way to really know a grandchild and vice versa….she is an extraordinarily lucky girl!!!

    • It was a special, memorable time with Madeline! Too often I am just a footnote in my grandchildren’s lives. This was time to really get acquainted. Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

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