Monday, March 31, 2008


A couple of years ago, I worked briefly, on a contract basis, in California. (I wasn’t a low wage worker!) I realized that Americans, unlike people in this region, did not dry their laundry under the sun. Instead, they relied on clothes dryers. (The only exception I came across took place in a forest monastery which generated electricity from solar panels.) That year, the failed "energy deregulation" brought electricity outages in California.

I couldn’t understand why Americans, or at least Californians, did not use clotheslines. After all, the Golden State was sunny for most of the year, and it only rained in the winter. On the other hand, people in Southeast Asia who dry their clothes under the sun have to worry about late afternoon downpour.

It wasn’t until last year before I knew the reason. American homeowners are concerned that clothesline – not exactly something aesthetic – could cause depreciation of their properties.

However, an environmentalist named Alexander Lee is advocating the use of clothesline to replace the clothes dryer. He lists many reasons for doing so:

  • Save money – more than $100/year on electric bill for most households.
  • Conserve energy and the environment.
  • Clothes and sheets smell better.
  • Clothes last longer. Where do you think lint comes from?
  • It is physical activity which you can do in or outside.
  • Sunlight bleaches and disinfects.
  • Indoor racks can humidify in dry winter weather.
  • Clothes dryer fires account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually. The yearly national fire loss for clothes dryer fires in structure is estimated at $99 million.

(Source: Project Laundry List)


  1. Proud to say that my family still dries clothes under the sun. We still do not buy a cloth dryer at home after all these years. One of the reasons to be clothes dried under sunlight are more scented than those not dried under sunlight. Agree?

  2. jam
    Drying the clothes under the sun is definitely better than using clothes dryer, provided that we have the space and time and the weather is good.

  3. Clothes and sheets smell better.

    i fully agreed to this!!
    i love the smell of sun ~ ^_^

  4. Nothing like sun-dried clothes but the colours fade faster though. Can't have the cake and eat it too, huh? lol

  5. 迷迭香
    Me too...

    You nail it. But as a compromise, we can turn the clothes inside out. As for undies, it doesn't really matter if colors fade, unless you want to show them to your hubby.

  6. Cheap and good solution right before their very eyes, only to be ironically shadowed by myths.

    Oh well, guess the world leader has to be different somehow. =p

  7. shingo
    In the case of America, it's the homeowners who refuse to use clothesline. They think clothesline symbolizes poor neighborhood...

  8. Interesting! In post WWII America, electricity was cheap as was natural gas. Things are changing, so maybe they'll go back to "solar" clothes drying.

    Hanging clothes out doors is the way here in Japan too. Some fading problems, Happysurfer, can be partly remedied by turning clothes inside out before hanging them.

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