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Posted by Maxine Cleminson - - 3 comments

I really should've titled this post:

Outlaw-ndry... confessions of a lawless launderer!

I'm from the south of England where there are an average of 106 days of rain per year. And the South of England is the sunny bit!!! That's almost 1 in every 3 days when it's peeing it down. And yet, the majority of backyards in the UK have a clothesline on which to dry wet washing!

Here in Houston where the climate is far sunnier and hotter, you very rarely see washing drying outside.  This is because in most neighborhoods the Homeowner's Association has banned this outrageous activity!  I was amazed when I realised this, and so questioned some American friends about the reasons for this.  I assumed it was because people consider it to be an eyesore; after all, seeing the saggy, greying underpants of the man-next-door swaying in the breeze isn't the most appealing image to consider.  However, it seems that it is more to do with the implied social status that drying your clothes outside infers.  If you dry your laundry outside, the assumption is that you are too poor to own or run a Tumble Dryer.  It's like a throwback to the 1950s when women's social standing was defined by their acquisition of labour saving devices!  

However, my eco-conscience has been nagging me of late... I think it's the 3.5 liter V-8 engine that I have to drive everywhere these days!  In my defence, it's because there's no footpaths or a decent public transport ... and Houston is just so darn mahoosive!  Sidetracking.  Sorry.

Anyway, I decided to flout the law to ease my injured green principles.  I know I have the moral high ground and common sense on my side, so I feel a bit better about breaking the rules so flagrantly!  However, as we rent our property and there was a good chance the HOA would demand I take it down, I wanted a non-permanent, portable clothes dryer... yet one that could hold a whole washload in one go!  So I was keen to try the Household Essentials 3-Arm Portable Umbrella Clothing Dryer when I saw it.  I have not been disappointed.

  • Easy to put up, move around, and collapse when not in use.  Lightweight.  You could even use it indoors during bad weather.
  • Stable, even in a breeze.
  • Holds a lot of washing... more than one load at a time (64 feet of drying space apparently).
  • It has halved my gas bill in the 2 months that I have been using it and no doubt impacted on my electricity usage too!
  • I enjoy the meditative time that pegging out clothes affords... sounds crappy, but it's true.  I get 10 minutes in the sun, with time to think while doing something menial (does it count as exercise?!).
  • Clothes smell fresh and have fewer creases.
  • Reduces your carbon footprint considerably.
  • Clothes actually dry quicker than in the dryer, thanks to the scorching sunshine here in Texas.  That includes the time taken to hang and take down the washing.

  • Unlike the 'whirlygig' washing lines I am familiar with from the UK, the top part of this dryer does not spin.  I found this out when I absentmindedly grabbed one of the arms to whizz it round to fill the next side... it didn't spin, but it did clock me on the back of the head.  Unfortunately, this does mean you have to move around the dryer... darn exercise, again!
  • It may hold a lot of washing, but larger items like bedsheets are too wide even for the longest spans.  This is because of the compact portable design.  Not really an issue, you just fold the sheet in half!  Thank you, Captain Obvious.
  • You may invoke the wrath of your HOA!  Luckily, they've yet to complain so I am going to continue my lawless behaviour until the writ arrives!
In conclusion, I love my new dryer and am fully prepared to defend my actions to the HOA if necessary!  And it would seem that I am not alone here in the States.  There are currently legal cases ongoing where people are appealing against their HOAs to get the right to dry outside!  Join the movement and ditch the dryer!  http://www.laundrylist.org/  Power to the people!

3 Responses so far.

  1. I've never tried one of these. Only the cheaper more basic horizontal racks, and I've concluded that those kind of stink. I am loving my line, but it does require a bit of space (mine hangs all along the side of my house). HOAs are scary business in general. I hope to never again live where I have to belong to one. Zoning laws in the U.S. also tend to be rather ridiculous (some don't allow front yard gardens, etc.), but hopefully things will change as folks get more eco-conscious.

  2. Mama Max says:

    I saw the photos of your washing lines (or solar powered dryers as my husband calls them!)... I think that diapers drying on the line look fabulous! I loved to see them hanging out there when my boys were smaller!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking the time to comment!

  3. Old Bitch says:

    Thanks for this review. I had my doubts about ease of putting up and taking down something like this since I'm vertically challenged & not in my first youth. But I'm ready to knock a little more off the power bill after putting up thick curtains and knitting myself bunches of cozy sweaters w/matching socks. Also getting a modern hot pot that cuts about 6% off power for hot drinks & soup.

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