Clothesline Ban Debate Heats Up as States Consider Legislation

Once considered a community eyesore, the clothesline is now a hot topic of debate. While clothes dryers use at least 6 percent of all household electricity consumption, many consumers are opting for good ‘ol fashion air drying.

Photo: Flickr/jilldoughtie

Over the next few years, the DOE Appliance Standards program will determine whether to revise the current federal energy conservation standards for dryers. Photo: Flickr/jilldoughtie

But instead of lowering their electric bills, some residents are receiving notices or even fines as clotheslines are commonly against the law in many communities, calling it a marker of poverty that lowers property values, according to The New York Times.

However legislation to protect the clothesline is catching on, most recently in Colorado, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont. While advocates for drying laundry outdoors feel that it is the right of the homeowner, others argue that it brings down the aesthetic appeal of a community.

For Opal Davis, 71, clotheslines are not a symbol of a low-income status, but of energy savings and cleanliness. As a resident of Maryville, Tenn., drying laundry outdoors is legal and common.

“There’s nothing better than getting clothes fresh off the line,” Davis says. “Furthermore, it really cuts down on my electric bill every month. If that option was taken away, I would feel a little cheated.”

Similar bills to protect clotheslines are being considered in Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia. If clothesline drying is not an option in your community, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends regularly inspecting dryer vents and using indoor drying racks as an alternative.

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  1. It is legal in the United States to own a gun, but against the law to hang your clothes out to dry. I feel like the United States is getting to be just one big insane asylum.

  2. There is another solution. Even with this ban you can still hang dry your clothes! check this out
    I just got one and it works great!

  3. A ban on clotheslines? That’s crazy. I never thought of a clothesline as a marker of low income. We just called it saving money.

  4. This entire topic is pure insanity and shows how left-wing wacko tree-huggers gave themselves a bad name. The people who want to ban clotheslines are the same ones living in their McMansions, driving alt-fuel vehicles, and pushing for cap-and-trade legislation. “Only the rich can afford to be green”.

  5. I Agree they are crazy. I have been hanging clothes out for years. When my children were growing up I had to wash at least 10 loads. On a hot day every load took 10 minutes to dry. Saving the earth,saving on the energy bill and saving me money.

  6. I love my clothes hung outside. I would not trade my clothes line for anything. I do not like clothes dyers. Besides the fact the sun takes out a lot of stains the wash left in.

  7. I echo the sentiment of Janet Texas. This country IS becoming one big insane asylum, that is, if it hasn’t become one already! {:-o

    Fortunately, I live in rural northeastern Connecticut; I can hang my clothes up to dry anywhere I want. I don’t even OWN a clothes dryer, nor do I WANT to. No clothes dryer can make clothes smell as good as they do when they’re dried outside in the fresh air and sunshine, although I need to make an exception in the winter. In the winter, I hang my laundry in the house. You’ve got to be careful about the sunshine, though, because although the sunshine does a great job of bleaching whites, that same sunshine also fades colors.

    When they make a clothes dryer that makes clothes smell as good as they do when they’re dried outside in the fresh air, THEN I’ll get one.

  8. In Europe there are so many indoor and outdoor drying solutions. Here’s a ceiling-mounted indoor dryer that’s being made in the U.S. It saves floor space; the laundry is up high and out of the way while it dries–taking advantage of the natural airflow in your house. It’s smart and I use it for airing out sleeping bags and other gear, too:

  9. Here in Ireland there would be riots in the streets if our government imposed a ban an the clothesline, even in the most affluent areas in Dublin you will see a clothesline in most back gardens. My husband Tom installed clotheslines and was often called to housed he would describe as mansions, obviously no stigma attached to using the clothesline here. We now make our own brand of rotary clothesline and sell them direct from our web site and I am happy to report that despite the clothesline ban over there we have many costomers in America using the Breezecatcher and please god we will add many more over the coming years.

  10. Stupidity at it’s finest. Pick on all the low income people just because you have more money than they do. Who can afford $2000 dryers..are you crazy people going to run out and buy the world a clothes dryer? Stop trying to control the common man they mind their own business and work to support their families like the next decent person. These are decent people leave them alone. Trouble with you people is you have too much time on your hands. Maybe if you hadn’t been born with a silver spoon in your mouth you’d understand. It’s not the neighborhood or your freakin image that is depreciating it’s your wasted mind! Why don’t you read a bible and learn some humility.

  11. Not everybody can win the lottery and live up in their effiel towers..come on down from your pedestals so you can face reality. This is the backbone of America. It’s okay for them to put fancy food on your tables and fill your homes with fancy furniture and clothes but now you’re going to dis them for hanging their laundry outside. It’s smells better blowing in the breeze just shut up and find something better to do with your time and stop wasting mine with this crap!

  12. I rent and is not allow to have a clothesline. So I invested in a dry rack to place in my garage or in an room. I also have one that I can put in the bath tub. Dry racks are inexpensive and portable. My mother and grandmothers hung up there clothes outside, why can’t we? My electric bill is low because I don’t use my dryer. Where I live, the older neighorhoods you see clotheslines in almost in every back yard. But if you go in these new developments, the home owners association want let home owners have clotheslines in the back yard due to property appeal.-What crock!!!

  13. i cant believe they would ban clotheslines !!! Everyone is talking about being good for the enviroment, but then the states do that!! It makes no sense.

  14. It has been an informative blog regarding the clothesline debate. It describes how line drying techniques are effective in reducing electricity consumption. It describes how laundry could be rinsed or dried in the best possible manner and line drying serves being the best technique even when in use in winters or in the countries like UK etc. Indoor clotheslines can be used as a means for drying clothes for those living in apartments. I know one of the websites that deals in Eco-friendly clotheslines. Have a look at this website

  15. I live in a developement called Marble Head in Orlando Fla. Orlando is the the county of 15 – 17 percent unemployment. The county where property values have dropped 33 to 50 percent since 2009. I purchased this house that in 2008 was 380k in 2009 was 280K and when I bought it in Oct of 2009 it cost me 230K . Being retired and disabled I am on a fixed budget and thanks to the economy no cost of living increases or increases in my pension. I can afford to keep this house in repair, I can afford to a moderate life style. But I cannot afford to pay a landscape architect to draw up plans when I want to replace a shrub or change the layout of the landscape. But the HOA here thinks it is still 2008, they think that by having a rule for everything in the community you are protecting home values. When I bought this house they did not furnish me with the rules and regs regarding hoa’s. I got it today, you are not allowed to hang clothes outside. In a state that is always having water shortages they expect you to use and irrigation system to water grass (I use the term looslely, St Augustine) and artificially keep it green summer and winter.
    The county is always extolling the bad side of irrigation systems how wastefull they are and yet nothing is being done. They want to control every facit of living in the community, its like being in Nazi Germany, they tell you how, when, and where to do everything. And, if you don’t do what they say the association has the right to come onto your property and do what they want and bill you for or put a lean on your home. It is utterly rediculous. My advice to anyone thinking of buying in a community with a HOA is don’t do it, you will regret it.

  16. good grief! i live in australia & u won’t see that crap here. the rotary clothesline is a national icon, well we did invent it. keep fighting it people

  17. I may be the only resident of Cranford, n.j. who has (since 1971) a clothesline in my yard.My clothes pin collection probably goes back at least 70 years, collected from house sales. Well, enough bragging but… What’s up wiith the world?

  18. I live in California, and enjoy more than 300 sunny days a year. I have lived in a townhouse association where clotheslines were banned. I left my up anyway. The courts have ruled that the right to one’s spot in the sun may not be blocked. The sun and air dry clothe beautifully, and the ultraviolet rays are among the world’s best sanitizers, great for diapers, towels, bedding, and one’s dainties.

    It is immoral and insufferable to use as wasteful an appliance as a clothesdryer in my region. As for the aesthetics, if you can’t stand the sight of whatever is in my yard, AVERT YOUR EYES. Your right to not ever see anything you think is ugly stops at my property line.

    I don’t know where I was when it suddenly became an inalienable right to expect to never be offended by anything. We have all sorts of actual political rights, and last time I looked, that was not one of them.

    I promise that I will never ever buy in an association that has rules prohibiting residents from making use of free energy. I will not suffer anyone to tell me what kind of furnishings I must have or must not have. They will never be allowed to dictate whether I can keep animals. They will never be allowed to dictate what kinds of plants I can grow.

    In return, I will not waste energy and I will not water the sidewalk. I will not use annoying leaf blowers or other power tools that pollute. I am competent with a broom and rake, and there is no reason these tools should not be the tools of choice. I will not pour hazardous materials down any drain. All these little decisions add up to a big lifestyle choice- make mine clean, sustainable, and manually powered whenever feasible.

    I presently live off-the-grid more than 20 miles from the nearest town. YAY, all the beautiful people can kiss my ring. In the immortal words of Frank Zappa, ” There are a lot more of us ugly m———–s out here than you.”

  19. Not only do I use a clothesline I also run my water from my washing machine out to water the garden. I have the biggest Hasta’s around and my cucumbers are looking really good

  20. Absolute inasanity, same thing i thought when i first saw it in the local paper. As far as it effecting property values i have three neibors with overgrown and dead eyesores of lawns and shrubbery and our property values have been consistantly up in this 45+ year old development. Id rather see someone taking the earth into consideration than dead dahlias. Glad i have high fences and can do what a darn well want.

  21. I love drying my clothes outside. I’m originally from Europe and flabbergasted by the weird sense of ‘freedom’ in the US. “Hands of my property” is commonly heard, but forbidding clotheslines is okay? Totally beyond me. The laundry is fresher, pure, it costs way less energy and hanging the laundry makes me slow down, even if it’s just for a couple minutes. For me personally, seeing clotheslines makes me happy. It gives me a sense of home and being grounded. Now how pretty is this?

  22. Like Janet well said, it is legal to own a gun, but against the law to hang your clothes out to dry. They just don’t know how to extort money, it’s really drying your clothes outside it’s one of America’s greatest issues, and there have to be taken serious measures. Get real..

  23. @ Mitch: I also live in FL and my Aunt & Uncle live in an ‘uppity’ neighborhood in Tampa with a very “strong” HOA yet still line-dry their clothes as well. Luckily FL (and a few other states’) statutes trumps local HOAs trying to ban clotheslines……

    Florida Statute, Section 163.04

    Energy devices based on renewable resources.-

    (1) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter or other provision of general or special law, the adoption of an ordinance by a governing body, as those terms are defined in this chapter, which prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the installation of solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy devices based on renewable resources is expressly prohibited.

    (2) No deed restrictions, covenants, or similar binding agreements running with the land shall prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy devices based on renewable resources from being installed on buildings erected on the lots or parcels covered by the deed restrictions, covenants, or binding agreements. A property owner may not be denied permission to install solar collectors or other energy devices based on renewable resources by any entity granted the power or right in any deed restriction, covenant, or similar binding agreement to approve, forbid, control, or direct alteration of property with respect to residential dwellings not exceeding three stories in height. For purposes of this subsection, such entity may determine the specific location where solar collectors may be installed on the roof within an orientation to the south or within 45 ° east or west of due south provided that such determination does not impair the effective operation of the solar collectors.

    (3) In any litigation arising under the provisions of this section, the prevailing party shall be entitled to costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

    (4) The legislative intent in enacting these provisions is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by encouraging the development and use of renewable resources in order to conserve and protect the value of land, buildings, and resources by preventing the adoption of measures which will have the ultimate effect, however unintended, of driving the costs of owning and operating commercial or residential property beyond the capacity of private owners to maintain. This section shall not apply to patio railings in condominiums, cooperatives, or apartments.

    History.-s. 8, ch. 80-163; s. 1, ch. 92-89; s. 14, ch. 93-249.

  24. I hang my sheets and cloths in the rafters of my garage. Living in Southern California, the garage gets very hot in the summer and the drying time is just a few hours. Winter it may take a couple of days for a pair of jeans. Just a few nails, hangers, and cloths pins and you will be in business in no time.

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