Chinese Clothes Dryers

Most apartment buildings in China have balconies, and a large percentage of the balconies we saw were decorated with drying laundry. I was fascinated at the diversity and universality of these displays, and followed the urge to snap many photos, a few of which are included in the slideshow above.

As I stared at building after building decorated with drying dainties, I wondered how long it will be before America adopts something similar. How long will it be before snooty neighborhoods that don’t allow yards to be marred with such plebian amenities as clotheslines change their thinking? How long will it be before clothespin sales hit record levels, as bicycles sales are already doing?

I was reminded of our visit to Ireland a couple of years ago. All the B&Bs we stayed in featured clotheslines in the yard, and most were in use. One hostess explained Ireland’s rate system for electricity. Initial costs remain low, to enable families to heat their homes, cook their food, and light a few bulbs without undue strain on their budgets. Above that minimum, rates go up a graduated scale, similar to our income tax structure. The incentive to “dry green” is strong!

Back in the fifties, I grew up with clotheslines, and spent my share of time attaching clothes to them and removing them again. I remember hanging lingerie on center lines between larger items so they wouldn’t be visible to the neighbors. My first experience with automatic dryers was in a college dorm, and later in the laundromat during our Boston apartment days. I loved the convenience of dryers, but I never considered that I’d have one of my own. I agonized for months over what the neighbors would think of my dingy sheets when I hung them on the line in our new home when Hubby finished grad school. I studied television commercials to learn of new products for getting them sparkling white.

Imagine my surprise when the new house we moved into in Richland, Washington did not have a clothesline. Instead, it had a laundry closet in the hall with space for both washer and dryer. Within less than a week, that space was occupied by a matched coppertone Kenmore washer and dryer set, perfect for the dozens of diapers I had to wash each week. My worries about dingy sheets were over, primarily because the new washer got them cleaner than the laundromat machine. But even if they’d stayed dingy, nobody would have seen.

Except for rare occasions on camping trips, I have not used a clothesline for ... never mind how long. But in this “thinking green” era, I’m becoming nostalgic. Those ubiquitous clothes hanging from balconies in China fed my desire for the fragrance of sun-dried sheets towels. My yearning rose even higher when I read Pat Flathouse’s Thankful Thursday blog where she mentioned that hanging sheets to dry is one of her favorite things to do. I’m cogitating the best place in our steeply sloping, seriously shady yard to install this post-modern appliance.

Write now: about your experience with laundry and clotheslines. Did you ever hang clothes out to dry on a cold winter day? Did you dash out to gather them from the line just as it began to rain? Did you hang them on the porch or in the basement when it was raining? When did you first use a dryer? If you have always been fortunate enough to avoid laundry duty at home, what about college or camping trips?


Pat's Place said...

One comment: my husband says he can tell when I begin hanging the clothes out in the spring because his underwear is more "crunchy." Oops! Forgot the softner again!

Leah J. Utas said...

We hang out our laundry in good weather and I've been know to put it outside in the winter as well. I love the smell of fresh air dried clothing and it's healthier.
I posted something about this recently, too. Nature's automatic dryer is just plain better.
For the record, in lousy weather we hang it in the basement. We don't own a dryer.

Ritergal said...

Crunchy undies. Now that is a compelling image, and one I'd forgotten.

Lucky Leah, to have a basement. Maybe my garage would do. I'm working on cleaning it out.

Linda Austin said...

I was a die-hard sheet on the clothesline woman until I heard that is bad for people with allergies as pollen and mold spores get on the sheets. That and my clothesline was wrapped around a big tree and birds would sometimes leave presents on my sheets.

Ritergal said...

Oooh, allergies. I'd forgotten about that. And those presents from the birds? Yucko! So much for the solar dryer at my house, at least for now.

Tara said...

What great photos/stories you have shared. i am envious as I have always wanted to go there.

Glad you are back and writing ;)