>>Are you planning on buying a dryer? I don’t have one and with three boys and dh and I, and constantly doing laundry, I can’t imagine having a family your size without one!<<
I honestly don’t yet know the answer to this. So far we haven’t purchased a dryer, and my hope is that I won’t need to. Drying laundry in the sun is a no-brainer six months of the year here, when it’s sunny with not a drop of rain. The challenge comes during the rainy season, which we’re in right now.
In the rainy season, it gets much more labor intensive to consistently hang laundry outside. All the Israelis to whom I mentioned not having a dryer think I’m crazy. This last two weeks have been sunny, but for a couple of weeks before that it was consistently raining – which is a beautiful blessing in this country that is so dependent on it – and it was very, very tough to deal with the laundry.
Here’s what it looked like: wake up, look for a break in the rain, and quickly hang the laundry up. Keep your eye on the overcast sky the entire day. Tell your kids to let you know if they see any rain. At the first sign of a sprinkle, the kids come running and yelling that it’s raining, and you bring in all the still wet clothing. Hang the damp sheets over doors. At least that’s one thing that dries. Keep your eye on the sky. Rehang all clothes when you see a break in the rain. Try to remember to take them in before you go to sleep even if they aren’t yet dry, or hope that if you take the risk of leaving them out overnight, that it won’t start pouring in the middle of the night.
Take your risk since you really want these clothes to dry and you’re 2/3 of the way there….and you lose. Wake up in the middle of the night as you hear the rain suddenly pour down, and frantically jump out of bed and maniacally begin taking in the laundry, until your rational brain tells you to stop because it’s too late.
Once they’re soaked in the downpour, leave them hanging another two days until you’re at the same place you started, with clothes as damp as if they just came from the washer. Bring them in once more when they are halfway dry and the rain comes again, and hang them once more when there’s a break in the weather. Five days after you first did the load of wash, bring them in with gratitude that you are finally finished with this load, look at the huge pile of dirty laundry needing to be washed, and start wondering how long it will take you to cave in and buy a dryer.
No, I am totally not exaggerating. Five days and I hung and rehung the same laundry three times during that time. I’m telling you, I felt like my family needed to say a lot more than ‘thanks’ for those clean clothes! Thankfully the laundry was finished after five days and then during the next week with nonstop rain, I got smart – before I went to sleep at night, I covered the clotheslines with our heavy duty plastic tablecloth, and only took it off when there was a break in the weather. Moving a plastic tablecloth was a big improvement over taking all the laundry in and putting it back out.
Because the air is so damp and cold, even when it’s not raining the laundry doesn’t dry quickly. So it still takes a while to dry but with my new system I don’t think it will take more than three days, and probably only two, for clothes to dry.
I’ve developed strategies to stay on top of the laundry despite the weather. Firstly, wash clothes regardless of the weather. Then you have them ready to hang as soon as you have a chance. (Usually, I wash one load, hang it, wash another load, hang.) Secondly, really keep an eye on the weather. You know the saying, “Make hay while the sun shines”? That’s my motto. When the weather is sunny, I do a ton – sheets, towels, rags, anything that needs washing so that I’ll be set if it rains the next day.
In general in the winter, I try not to let dirty clothes build up. If it means putting in a load of clothes and the machine isn’t totally full, that’s okay. Waiting another day for the machine to be totally full could be the difference between trying to dry things in the rain or the sun.
When I wake up in the morning and see the blue sky, I am SO grateful because I know I’ll be able to get my laundry done. Really, you don’t know how nice it is to hang the laundry one time, and then take it down when it’s done. And even leave it overnight without worrying. The small pleasures in life.
Here’s a reminder about a post I wrote a couple of years ago about tips for hanging clothes to dry outside: http://oceansofjoy.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/how-to-dry-clothes-on-clothesline/
All that being said, I very much hope we’ll have a very, very rainy winter and I’ll be constantly pushed to deal with my laundry that isn’t drying easily. We need the rain!
Do you line dry clothes year round? Why or why not? If you do, how do you deal with inclement weather?