Thoughts on Hanging Laundry

Laundry hanging

The clothes hung out to dry

With the spring warm-up, I’m back to hanging laundry out to dry.

Bend and stretch, reach for the stars…

That’s what hanging laundry is all about – bending down to get stuff from the basket and maybe a clothespin or two, then stretching up to get the shirt or blouse or pants pinned to the line.

Yes, I know I’m dating myself with that little ditty – or maybe not. It was from Romper Room, the pre-school show that I grew up with. Miss MaryAnn, I think, led our show, but there were later incarnations, some of which I found on YouTube.

Bend and stretch, reach for the stars…

We have a dryer and during the past few wet months, we used it. But hanging laundry out is a way of cutting down on the use of natural gas and electricity, letting the sun do its business to get our clothes dry. I’ll toss them in the dryer for a few minutes at the end of the day to soften them up a bit. But the time in the dryer has been greatly reduced.

It’s not a fun job. A basket full of wet clothes or towels or linens is plenty heavy. Then there’s the irritation of a sock or pair of undershorts falling out of the basket onto the dirty ground. Shake it off and hope you don’t have to wash it again.

This used to be Woman’s Work, which makes me wonder how the heck we got this idea that women are the weaker sex. Well, I know how, but sheez, most women were not wimps back in the day. If you had any money at all, you had servants, but that was as often as not, the girl from the neighboring village looking for a husband or your own daughter. And it’s as likely as not, you did the same work yourself before getting married. At least through the late Nineteenth Century.

Bend and stretch, reach for the stars…

But the job has its moments, too, in the repetitive movement. In the satisfaction of getting everything in the load on the line – not always easy given that our new high-efficiency washer actually takes bigger loads than our old one. Shirts and pants – the larger items going up first, with socks and smaller things after. Socks are easy to squeeze between the shirts and pants and other tops, so they go last in case I need the extra space. And for once, they don’t. The laundry is hung and I feel virtuous. Until I forget to get it off the line before dark. Again.

Anne Louise Bannon

4 Comments

    • I haven’t noticed any improvement in smell, but then I don’t smell that well. Except when the neighbors are barbecuing.

  1. When we’re on vacation, we hang laundry. It’s a game getting everything to fit and when it’s windy, forget about it. It’s not my favorite thing, but it reminds me of when my Nana used to hang laundry and I feel reconnected.

    • Wow. Good point about how doing things the old-fashioned way can reconnect us to those who came before. Thanks!

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