Clotheslines used to be a common sight in most American homes, even as late as 30 years ago when people left their clothes out to dry in the sun.
Today in the US, many states have enacted laws that prohibit the use of clotheslines because they believe that it defaces and devalues the house.
Generally speaking, not all states in the US have a complete ban on clotheslines, but some states have more strict clothesline bans, and this is a law championed by the Homeowners Associations (HOAs) who work to protect their homes.
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To Dry On Clotheslines Or Not To Dry
Since the invention of electric dryers in the 1930s, there has been a gradual shift from drying clothes on clotheslines to using electric dryers. In fact, for some, hanging clothes to dry outside under the sun is perceived as archaic.
The main argument of those who promote the clothesline ban is that they believe that clotheslines lower property values because it’s unappealing, for instance, watching laundry flying about in a clothesline.
The governing body wants to keep the residences looking neat and tidy. They considered clotheslines unsightly outdoor objects, such as old furniture and overflowing trash.
Another argument for the clothesline ban is that the chemicals used in fabric softeners keep clothes from being stiff as they are sun-dried. The electricity used to wrinkle iron clothes also cancels any benefits from drying clothes outside.
Those who believe in drying their laundry on a clothesline believe that the key to most property value issues has more to do with home maintenance, not clothes drying on a clothesline.
They also believe that the cost of drying laundry with a clothes dryer is enormous especially given the statistics from the Natural Resources Defense Council,
Almost 85% of American homes have a clothes dryer.
Dryers gulp a whooping $9 billion in annual energy bills.
Dryers account for Approximately 6% of residential electricity consumption and 2% of residential natural gas consumption.
What States Have A Clothesline Ban in the USA?
Technically, no state in the US has a complete clothesline ban throughout the entire state. That is because different Homeowners Associations (HOAs) have different rules and bans depending on their area.
It is believed that about 60 million citizens of the US live in HOA areas and groups that manage condos and some apartment blocks, and these associations are free to set their regulations. That means there are lots of folks who could be facing a clothesline ban.
Some places, such as gated communities, condos, mobile home parks, retirement communities, and the like, have different restrictions or bans on hanging clothes outside in almost every state in the USA. In contrast, some municipalities, like some cities and towns, have outlawed the clothesline in certain places, and the penalty for violation would be a civil fine or even eviction.
The ban on clotheslines led to different protests, with people seeking the “Right to dry” their laundry on clotheslines. It led to the “Right To Dry” law which made it legal for people to use solar power.
Six states initially started the “Right To Dry” law: Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, and Vermont. These states voided any ban on clotheslines because of the high cost of using electric dryers, unlike drying in clotheslines in the sun, which was free and environmentally friendly.
Today, the states with the “Right To Dry” laws have grown significantly to more than 20, and in these states, you can use clothesline as much as you want to without fear of being penalized by HOAs or other associations.
These are some of the states that have the right to dry law
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
Benefits of Drying Clothes on Clotheslines
People are becoming more conscious of how their activities and lifestyles impact our planet. It is not unconnected to the fact that there are many undesirable natural phenomena like floods, depletion of the ozone layer, and tsunamis, consequences of some human activities. Hence many people are doing all within their means to preserve the earth, even by something as small as drying their clothes in the sun and not with electric dryers.
The benefits of sun drying our laundry in clotheslines include being environmentally friendly because it reduces the amount of electricity consumed daily. After all, electric dryers consume a lot of electricity. Hence sun drying our clothes makes for responsible energy consumption. Dryers contribute to many emissions since they use much energy to dry clothes. These emission impact our planet very negatively.
Electricity is costly. It accounts for a reasonable portion of our household budget. We use it for heating, cooking, watching television, etc. By simply drying our laundry on clotheslines, we will save lots of money on electricity.
Another benefit of drying our clothes in the sun is that sun and wind help remove strong odors from fabric. They also help to make our clothes last longer, not to mention the fact that they leave our clothes feeling and smelling fresh, and this is because the sun is a natural deodorizer and sanitizer.
In terms of safety, drying clothes in clotheslines trumps using electric dryers. If not for anything, the fact that we significantly reduce the risks of electrocution and fire incidences is enough reason to want to dry our laundry on clotheslines. To buttress this fact, a report from the US Fire Administration states that there are about 2900 clothes dryer fires annually, costing around $35 million in property loss. With sun drying, you have one less thing to work about.
Alternatives To Clotheslines
If you live in an area where HOAs insist on banning clotheslines, then you can go for other alternatives that are very effective but might be cheaper than sun drying your laundry. Some of these options are:
negativity is an excellent alternative to drying clothes on a clothesline or with an electric dryer. Because of their size, they can fit in small spaces, so they will still fit even if you don’t have a lot of space in your home. It is best to place these drying racks in front of an air vent or a radiator so that the clothes get some air on them and dry much faster.
Drying rods are quite like drying racks. The only difference is that they hold only one row of clothes. The beauty of this clothesline alternative is that they can be hung anywhere, be it on the porch or balcony, and because they are relatively wide, they can hold many clothes.
A retractable clothesline is an excellent option for a regular clothesline. That is because you can pull the retractable clothesline out of its housing when you need to dry clothes, attach it to a post directly opposite or even to a wall, and spread the clothes. This clothesline is not permanently installed, so it should be okay in most places.
Clotheslines in the sun have always been the way people dried their clothes. It is cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and very safe. However, specific rules and regulations about their use in the US should be followed.
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Even though some associations like the Homeowners Association seek to enforce the ban on clotheslines, the reality is that there is no state in the US that has a complete ban on clotheslines.
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