Line Drying – How to Hang out the Washing | Anyclean

updated: 29/10/2023

Drying washing outdoors is free and it’s the green way to dry your washing, requiring only the sun and the wind to get clothes clean.  You don’t have to clean a lint filter, use a little sheet of stuff to remove static or worry about whether you’ve put something that can’t handle it into too hot a drying cycle.  The clothes always smell nicer after hanging outside in the fresh air, and it’s always my impression that they’re less wrinkly, too.

Drying clothes on a rack is pretty straightforward – all you do is drape the items over the bars and leave them there.  Hanging clothes on a line is a little bit harder.  Old-school housewives (probably like your grandma) claim there is a proper way to hang out your laundry on those lines.

According to this theory, you hang all the clothes up by the middles, which means you hang shirts up by the bottoms and trousers and skirts by the tops.  With shirts, this is fair enough – the peg marks are hidden if the shirt tucks in (and if the shirt doesn’t tuck in, you probably aren’t bothered by peg marks).  With trousers and skirts, however, I disagree with the old-school method.  The tops of trousers and skirt are thick, as they have the waistband and the pockets.  When you peg them on the line, this makes quite a lot of fabric to double over and peg.  Either the pegs will pop off and dump your jeans on the ground, or else this multiple layer of fabric will take ages to dry (especially with jeans or denim).  I find that hanging skirts by the hem and trousers by the cuffs is much better.

Square things should be hung up with a peg at each corner.  If you are short on space and/or pegs, then you can make a sort of daisy-chain of towels and tea towels, where the left-hand corner of one item shares a peg with the right-hand corner of the next.  It looks quite attractive, too.

Socks are best hung up by their tops.  You can either hang them singly or hang a pair together, although this does lead to a double layer of fabric.  The peg should have one arm inside the sock and one out.  Hang socks up in pairs so you can see if you have any odd socks and don’t run the risk of separating pairs and losing yet another sock.

Hanging up sheets really depends on your local climate.  If you live in an area with not much wind, then the experts (such as my grandmother) say that you should use put a peg on all four corners so you have a sort of hammock arrangement, with a single peg in the middle of one side.  With this arrangement, the sheet can billow out like a sail and catch the wind.  However, don’t try this, like I did, in an area where strong winds are common.  After having to retrieve a sheet or two out of the neighbours’ garden on a very windy day (and my lingerie, which was even more embarrassing), I shifted to what the neighbours did – double the sheet over so the sheet hangs down on each side of the line, with several pegs down the “spine” in the middle.

Take care when hanging up underwear, as delicates can be stretched.  Hang up bras by the middle between the cups, never by the elastic.  Underwear can be hung up by the side seams or by the crotch, but as being pegged is probably the harshest thing that will happen to the underwear, don’t always hang them up the same way every time.  This will stop your favourite smalls getting a hole in one place too quickly.

Don’t hang up woollens with pegs.  Drape them over the lines.  Ideally, dry them flat – the middle of a rotary line (the metal cobweb type) is a good place.  If you try hanging them up by the hems, or, what’s worse, the sleeves, woollens will stretch.  And no, you can’t fix something that has shrunk in the wash by hanging it up like this to re-stretch it.  I’ve tried this and it only deforms the garment more.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.