Wednesday, July 27, 2011


The clothes line.  What image goes through your head with those three little words?  I remember my grandmother having one in her back yard when I was a little girl. It was painted green; I guess to “beautifully” blend in with the grass in the back yard. It looked a bit weathered, paint chipped from the years of use. It stood tall through the torrential Oregon rains and the occasional winter snowfall. Yes, my grandmother used her clothes line for years until the day she got herself a dryer. Well, that was the beginning of the end for “Old Faithful.” It continued to stand in the yard, now ignored and neglected except for the times we, her grand children, would hang and twirl on it like it was an amusement ride, the plastic lines falling off of it one at a time until it was bear. Eventually, after all its years of service, Grandpa removed that old clothes line from the ground and unceremoniously disposed of it. No one seemed to take notice. After all, Grandma now had a dryer!

The only other time I remember seeing a clothes line in my life was the occasional hotel that would have one in the bathroom. You know the kind? You could pull it out from the wall…just one line…that would stretch across the bathtub, perfect for hanging wet swim suits used in the pool. I used to think, “What a wonderful invention. Wish I had one over my bathtub as well.”

Now fast-forward to 2011 and you’re living in Australia, land of sunshine, blue oceans, white sandy beaches and…you guessed it…land of the clothes line! Every house in Australia has at least one! It’s very reminiscent of Europe, seeing clothes hanging out to dry in the very efficient Australian sun and heat.

I was recently Skyping with my mother, (she finally got Skype and this was our first time seeing each other since I moved to Australia), showing her our new house. I “took her” outside my French doors to show her my terraced garden and slate steps leading up to our pool. As I turned to walk back down the steps she caught a glimpse of it… “Is that your laundry?” she asked.

“Yes, Mom” I said with a sigh and an added roll of my eyes, “that’s our laundry.”

“What’s it doing outside? Isn’t it winter there? Won’t it take a while to dry?”

“Yes, Mom…about 2-3 days.”

Even though it’s winter here right now, that doesn’t stop Aussies from hanging their clothes out to dry.  In spite of the cold and rain, we do get our fair share of sunny days in the middle of winter.  I had told her stories of my laundry hanging out to dry, and it’s also been fodder for some recent blog updates, but today was the first time she could actually see it first hand! I guess a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?

I proceeded to apologetically tell her, “Ashley (my husband) put some sheets on the line to dry.” My poor husband. He so desperately wants me to be happy here and believes part of that will come as I assimilate to the Australian way of life, but I begrudgingly dig my heels in…kicking and screaming most of the way! What can I say; I love modern conveniences like the dryer! If God didn’t intend for us to use them, He wouldn’t have allowed us to invent them, right? I know, this is slightly flawed theology, but you get my drift!

Okay, so where was I? Oh yeah…I was Skyping with Mom and showing her our new home when I turned my laptop in the direction of our fireplace (a rarity in these parts!) Mom suddenly stopped me and asked, “What’s that?  Is that clothing hanging by the fireplace?”

Gulp! She discovered something I hadn’t had the guts to share with her before…

“Oh Mom,” I sheepishly replied, “that’s our INDOOR clothes line,” (…a free-standing sculptor of metal that allows you to hang a full load of laundry in a small space.)  It was standing there, in all its glory, in our formal living room, full of laundry! At that moment I was faced with the impenetrable truth before me; I could not lie to her. I blurted out, “They’re really hard-core about hanging their laundry here!” I was hoping for some compassion from my mother. Instead, she busted out laughing with a belly-laugh I hadn’t heard from her in a long time. She just couldn’t get over the Ninja-tactics used to dry laundry in winter when we have a perfectly good dryer in our laundry room!  (Note: pictured here is the indoor clothesline I use in my home. It's obvious I got this off the internet since I'm never smiling when I'm using it.  Looks pitiful, doesn't it?)

I must admit, I do resist Aussie ways and enjoy running my clothing, especially towels and socks in the dryer. But my husband insists it’s too hard on his clothes and fears shrinkage from the heat, so I continue to hang his clothing in the middle of winter. In my desperate search for the quickest way to dry clothes indoors when I don’t have central heat (don’t get me started on this. I’ll save that for a future discussion!) I came up with the perfect solution…dry them hanging in front of the gas fireplace which is one of two heat sources for our house that is about 3,000 square feet!  Oh my…is this what the Pilgrim’s went through, drying clothes by the fire? What time warp am I in? Next I’ll be fishing in the nearby stream for our dinner. Help!!!

Okay…so now not only does my mother know the truth, but you do as well.  Yes, we avoid using our clothes dryer even in the winter. Yes, we hang our clothing in our formal living room to dry.  Yes, I’m a complete failure when it comes to coping with this Fred-Flinstonian way of doing laundry.  But I do love it here.  At least we have enough sunshine and warmth to dry our clothing outside, year-round, in the fresh Australian air. Can’t say that about the weather back home in Oregon!

...I guess I should be thankful it doesn't snow here!


  1. Love it...LOVE it, Dayna. I know exactly what you`re saying. You are better than me, though. I was horrified when I moved here from CA. in 2000 to find ALL Aussies still used these "outdated" clothes lines. I use my wonderful energy efficient clothes dryer and I`m proud of it. My dear mum-in-law thinks it`s sinful and wasteful and LOVES the outdoor smell of her clothes dried on the line. Not me, thank you. I MUCH prefer the softness and fragrance of clothes-dryer dried clothes. I have taken all sorts of "flack" from my use of our clothes dryer but that still does NOT deter me from using it. My Aussie hubby lovingly bought me the best one on the market and I LOVE it--a Miele clothes dryer. One thing I cannot understand though. Why does it take 2+ hours to thoroughly dry a load of laundry HERE..when in Sacramento my dryer took 45 mins. to get the load completely dry? Any answers on that one? Thanks for your wonderful blog, Dayna and your great comments on Americans in Adelaide. :) Claudia

  2. Thank you Claudia for your encouraging words! It's always nice to know that there are other Americans here in Australia struggling with the same things I do. You're part of the Americans in Adelaide group? Perhaps we'll meet at one of the meet ups! Thanks for the info on your dryer. Now that we have finally moved into our new home, I am in the market for a new one. I'll have to look for the one you described.

  3. Hi again Dayna, GREAT to "meet" you to speak. *smile* And yes, I`m also on Americans in Adelaide so we might eventually meet in person. *smile* CONGRATULATIONS on your new awesome! Where is it located if you don`t mind me asking? If you are looking for THE best made and the most efficient whitegoods for your new home, you cannot go past ANY of the Miele appliances...truly. My hubby was working for Harvey Norman and we were lucky enough at the time to get a good discount but I`d still have Miele even if I had to pay full price. They absolutely last forever in the long run, they are a great value for money. I also have a Miele washer and dryer, a steam oven and a regular oven. I love them all. (I sound like a sales person huh? LOL) Have a great day and I cannot wait to read your other blog posts. ;) Cheers--C

  4. Hi Claudia,
    I decided to continue this conversation through FB but could not send you a friend request. Look me up and "friend" me so we can chat. Okay? Looking forward to getting to know you. =) Dayna

  5. lol well i always use a clothes horse (that thing to put clothing in front of the heater to dry) but mine is a lil different looking. ever since i lived in a block of flats (apartment building) in Perth that had shared clothes lines, i have always been paranoid that some of my nicer stuff (bed linen etc) would get pinched so hang it up all over the house..easy in summer..longer in winter LOL. i know its convenient having a dryer but i have never had the urgent need for one so didnt bother with the expense of buying then running one. and if you have a line outside, in summer (on days that its not too humid), you can put a load of washing on the line and by the time the next load is ready to hang, those are ready to come off.
    hehe loving all your blogs, even if i am way behind with comments..

  6. Thanks Tiggy! Glad you're enjoying my blog!
    We just purchased a large washing machine/dryer in one and I LOVE IT! It has a very large capacity, similar to my washer that I used to have back home. It washes and drys my clothing all at one need to transfer clothing into the dryer. It's wonderful!

    By the way...I do still use the clothes line for many things, but I insist on using the dryer for towels and socks. I hate it when they line dry and end up crunchy!

  7. It's the good ole fashioned electric clothes DRYER fer me! Too anal to be as 'tacky' as those 'airing their laundry in public' or in private! Maybe it's a throw back to Chicago days of seeing the slums full of clothes lines because we were too poor to own a new fangled drier! The disgrace is failing to find dryer sheets here! Unlike many USAers in Australia, we can barely wait to sell our beach side townhouse to return to the land of 99 cent stores, anti static fabric dryer sheets & fabreeze!

  8. I feel your dryer sheet pain! The only thing that saves me is my two giant boxes of Bounce that I brought back with me from Costco! Fortunately I return to the States often enough to replenish my supply. I refuse to be a hard core line-dryer! I don't like cruchy socks and towels!

  9. Oh Dayna, that is soooo funny! But so true about us Aussies! I remember growing up on a farm - everyone only had wood stoves (and still do). It was the best way of drying our clothes -you would put a couple clothes airers in the kitchen overnight and one or two in the lounge in front of the fireplace and by morning, hey presto, dry clothes. There was no point putting them there until we all went to bed tho - as it was laundry for a family of 5!
    In fact, the other day when hanging out our washing, my brother and I (we share a house) even went to Bunnings to get some clothes line rope to make our own clothesline under the double carport so our clothes could still dry -as the heater here costs too much to run that long.
    Oh, and in case you were wondering what happens to the items like sheets and towels that are too big for the clothese airer..... why they simply get flung over all the doors, chairs etc until they are nice and dry.
    Nothing compares to air dried I say!
    Oh to still have a wood stove and fire place! Sigh!

  10. I'm Australian and I HATE using the clothes line for the same reason you don't like using it for your towels.. My mum is very "dryer only when it's raining out" to save on power costs so it wasn't until I moved out and got my own that I knew just how awesome it was to have soft towels! So (without telling her of course) I ALWAYS used my dryer.

    Gotta admit a big fave of me here is the bounce dryer bar. Hate the dryer sheets (I always seem to miss one and the dogs find and destroy it) but LOVE the bar. Love how my clothes smell. Mum is gunna find that weird too! Our clothes smell pretty and "clean" instead of just smelling like nothing :D

  11. Kerrilynne McFaddenJuly 16, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    I read your blog and couldnt stop laughing and I can understand exactly what you are going through but in reverse. When I lived in the states (spent 7 years there) one of the first things I noticed was no clothes lines in the back yard. When I asked husband (he is American) where I was supposed to hang out the clothes he said we use clothes dryers over here lol. I asked why and he said its too far to walk out the back yard to hang them out lol he was joking. Another thing I thought was great was every house has air conditioning and central heating now that was a plus in Indiana during winter. Well I better go outside and bring in the dry clothes lol you have a wonderful day and please continue to write on your blog its great to see the other side of things.

  12. I LOVE my clothes line - I hate being inside and NEED to be outside (I really think I was concived in a tent)

    The other thing is it brings back so many memories of swinging around on it - especailly my late grandma's (dad side) as as a child with my siblings and cousins. Right down to destroying one of her mops on it (she use to hang it out to dry on the clothes line (in Mitcham - so hardly a 'poor' suburb by Adelaide standards) So she had a huge back yard and we use to spend hours entertaining ourselves with the clothes line

    My grandma on my mum's side is English and wont even think of using anything other than the clothes line (even aged 91 and it would be easier for her) The main reason being "Australia has all this sunshine! WHY waste it???"

    One of the reasons she and grandpa migrated here in the 1950s was, in part becuase of the climate and the hassle of having to dry things inside was a pain in front of a open fire place, post WW2 England.

    So, yes, it might be easier to have a clothes dryer, but for me, I like being outside so hanging the washing is really no drama for me, and I get around the winter weather with a bit of planning.

  13. I honestly think that towels and socks only go crunchy if hung outside if they have always been dried in a dryer. I don't even have a dryer (live in Canberra, and had twins in winter too) but I washed some towels for the Spa where I was working once and couldn't believe how awful they were when I got them off the line - almost had to break them to fold them, whereas my towels which have never been in the dryer are always lovely and soft when I get them off the line. And no, I don't use fabric softener. Re central heating, that really takes away from the ability to dry a load overnight. We used to just have a big heater in the lounge room, that I could easily dry a load in front of if it was wet outside, but since we've had central heating it takes about two days! Mind you, I'm not complaining - central heating is great for Canberra (I must be getting soft in my old age). Great blog!

  14. it might be easier to have a clothes dryer, but for me, I like being outside so hanging the washing is really no drama for me, and I get around the winter weather with a bit of planning.which country export

  15. I for one am glad that we havnt adopted the habit of using dryers down here in OZ. Energy is becoming expensive (dollar wise and for the planet) and the sun is free! I prefer the fresh air dried clothes, free of soap smells, and the sun and wind can also iron your clothes some-what.

  16. I'm so sorry I didn't see your comment until now. I'm new at this blogging thing and had no idea there were more comments added since I last checked in 2011!

    I'm so happy you enjoyed my blog entry.
    Thought I'd update you.. I use my dryer a lot more than I used to. I decided to give up on the clothes line during the winter unless we happen to have a lot of sunny days in the forecast. It's so depressing to hang your clothes out to dry, only to have them rained on, then have to wait for them to dry...only to have them rained on again! Besides running the dryer in the winter months, I also dry my socks and towels year-round. I just hated not having them soft! In fact, I was telling my mother-in-law why I dry them, and she started drying her towels as well. She loves it!

  17. Thank you for remembering my childhood days... i like your blog..

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  19. Thanks for all this great discussion. We are about to be Ozzies-in-Austin. My hubby is house hunting. No clotheslines to be seen. One house which looks great has the stacked washer/dryer between bathroom and walk in robe for master. Where is the laundry in these homes? Where do you do sorting/scrubbing etc? I want to be able to hang clothes outside (exercise, fresh air, reduced power bills, crisp sheets...). I guess we'll buy drying racks if we are 'not allowed' to hang laundry that others can see. Anticipating some culture shock! Mum/mom to two young boys.

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