hang me out to dry

hills hoist b&w-1

For the first time in my adult life I am reveling in having a big back yard and marveling at the practical virtues of a functional Hills Hoist. I remember reading somewhere the nanna-wisdom about how to best use the iconic Aussie clothesline – the idea of keeping your ‘smalls’ private, hanging all knickers and socks on the inside lines, only letting the public see your fluffy clean towels and squeaky-clean sheets.

As logical as this seems given the tiered design of the HH, this was a moment of newness for me! A shining-light clean-fun, giddy epiphany where I realised I’d never actually stopped and reflected on that item’s function and form. The hangings of my childhood cared not for public prudence. It was a common line, with a common goal of dry, bird-poo-less clothes. I never thought twice about knowing what colour undies Colleen wears and I don’t think she ever cared. I also don’t recall the emphasis on how or where to peg – instead learning this from the cries of indignant peg-marked housemates or older, visiting friends. (to avoid these outcries, a few peg tips are offered below..)

I’m thrilled to have access to outdoors rays and love the scent of sun-kissed clothes, but lately my life has seemed so consumed by this, and I feel somewhat wrung out as I wonder what cycle the machine is on and will I get another load done before the next deluge drops down? When summarising a day at home, we no longer just comment on doing the washing – there are specifics involved – the number of loads done, the number of rain dashes, lately ending in the soggy face of the un-dried laundry lament. Sure I use clothes airers in between, but I’m so hooked to hoisting up that Hill and am secretly drawn to the adrenaline hit of the ‘quick it’s started raining again’ clothes-line dash that the mounds pile up, wondering if it’s me or the rain who will will the race. Yeah, me and Sisyphus go way back.

This crazy image of a pegged man trying to break a world record is the closest visual I can find of how I feel about all of this rain.

pegged face - guiness book of records

Sure I’m grateful for the water. I love that tanks are getting full, and have been very chuffed to watch the seedlings in my first vegie patch grow up, getting ready to leave home. Yeah, we have ripe, juicy strawberries and flourishing herbs, but what about my wet clothes?

Here are a few basic pegging tips from

How To Line Dry Clothes

Ok, so line drying clothes isn’t rocket science. But, there are some tips that will help you get better results and save you some frustration.

  • Buy a good line- Cheaper lines are going to sag with that heavy laundry over time. So, buy a sturdy, thicker line, and tie it as tight as you can.
  • Don’t hang your line under a tree- Birds. Enough said.
  • Fold your sheets- Sheets are big, and quite heavy when they’re wet. If you’re not careful, they’ll drag to the ground and get dirty again. So, fold them in half before pinning them to the line.
  • Careful with your shirts- says that if you’re not careful, button up shirts will have bunched shoulders from the clothespins once they come off the line. To prevent this, hang shirts by the hemline instead.
  • Hang your dresses on a hanger first- If you want your dress to hold its shape, hang it on a hanger first, then attach the hanger to the line using a clothespin.
  • Keep an eye on the weather- With summer comes thunderstorms. Make sure you’ve seen what the weather is going to do that day before you hang out all your laundry.
  • Maximize space- If you’ve got a very small area to work with, don’t forget you can hang two lines on the same posts. One is high (this can be used for sheets, towels, and jeans), and the other is lower down, by your waist (which can hold small t-shirts, shorts, underwear, and socks).

  • Watch the time- It’s hard to say how long your laundry will take to dry because so much depends on outdoor temps and humidity levels.
  • Don’t fold socks- If you fold socks over the line to save pins they’ll dry slower, and might fall off if a good wind comes through. Always pin them from the toe.
  • girl hanging up washing

    This image is from LadyLever Art Gallery, the photo was taken c1907.

    In looking for images for this post, I also just stumbled across a most poignant blog by Katrina Jungnickel – she’s doing post-doc research looking at the ‘intersection of DIY technology cultures, grassroots community practices and innovative methodologies’ , with emphasis on suburban bike-making and wireless cultures. Her blog is well written and researched with lots of lovely pictures.

    I hope we get to peg again soon…x