Thread Number: 39788
How to make clothesline clothes softer
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Post# 589131   4/13/2012 at 20:31 (2,203 days old) by norgechef (Saint George New Brunswick )        

Its that time of year again, I can finally hang the clothes on the line again!!! but I hate how line drying leaves the towels and jeans so crusty, i cant stand it! so i guess what i really need to know is what softener (That can be bought in the US Or Canada) works the best at softening, unless somebody knows of something better i can do to make line dried clothes feel like they came out of the dryer when i bring them in?

Post# 589139 , Reply# 1   4/13/2012 at 21:00 (2,203 days old) by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        
Use almost no softener in wash...

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Put them in the dryer, exactly what Tumble Fluff cycle was made for.  I have a couple of quilts-coverlet blankets that are too stiff right in from the line so I give them 10 or so minutes tumbling with no heat to soften them up.  They're softer and lose the harshness without losing the wonderful scents of the season.  The climate here has it's drawbacks as they all do, but we have nice, fresh air scrubbed clean by the Rockies.  I just love opening the linen closet door and greeted by the fresh scent.  I tumble quite a lot of loads, even for a few minutes helps a lot - the best of both worlds.   

Post# 589145 , Reply# 2   4/13/2012 at 21:44 (2,203 days old) by abcomatic (Bradford, Illinois)        
clothesline drying

HI Norgechef, I hang my clothes outside all of the time except for permapress things and in the Maytag dryer they go. Here is what I do for towels on the line. I do nothing at all, I wash them in the Easy spindrier, or the Speed Queen Wringer, the Maytag wringer or the ABC wringer, rinse them and out they go.
Yes, they are rough when you bring them in and put them into the bathroom to use. I find that after I have showered, I use the rough towel and after I use it once, then it is soft and ready to go for another time. I don't shower and then use a different towel for the next time; I use a towel for a week and then change it. After all, the way I look at is you are clean, why do you need a fresh towel each time? If you use fabric softner on them, then they are not very absorbant and take much longer to dry off. Happy washing. Gary

Post# 589148 , Reply# 3   4/13/2012 at 21:54 (2,203 days old) by washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        
Crusty clothes

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I learned after living in Phoenix Arizona for three years that the degree of "crustiness" seemed be from the degree of heat outside. In Phoenix, temps climb to well over 100 degrees from May thru October, and the intense heat seemed to dry the clothes too fast, resulting in crusty clothes. Shady, warm, breezy conditions seem to have a much better effect on clothes on the line. Now I live in beautiful northwestern California that has annual temps in the 50-70 degree range with a gentle breeze which makes for optimum clothesline conditions!

Post# 589157 , Reply# 4   4/13/2012 at 22:33 (2,202 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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Now I do the opposite to you guys.....still no softener

before hanging on the line, the clothes go in the dryer first to heat up, about 10/15 minutes, and then hung to dry.......but not in the shade, that will cause them to stiffen, they have to go in direct sunlight for perfect results everytime.....

some argue that the sun can fade, or even bleach the whites, never seen either one...

I learned from an Aunt not to just pull them out of the dryer into the basket, but to seperate, and line up or fold in half, ready out of the basket to hang....also socks matched up.....and never worry of dropping clothes on the ground...

Post# 589161 , Reply# 5   4/13/2012 at 22:52 (2,202 days old) by suds14 (Pittsburgh)        

I use fabric softner and then I put the clothes in the dryer for 5-10 minutes then hang. I usually let the jeans in the dryer about 15 min. Everything come off the line soft and smelling great. Already have the clothes sorted and the white soaked for tommorow, susposed to be nice until late evening, I be hanging out all day.


Post# 589162 , Reply# 6   4/13/2012 at 22:56 (2,202 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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I still use a little Downy in the dispenser of the Maytag year round. Finally it is somewhat warm enough to hang outside and not use electricity to dry. I usually put the towel I am showering with in the dryer and turn it on (heat in colder weather) while showering. Washer and Dryer are right there in my bathroom. That little bit of tumbling does seem to soften them up. My well water is extremely hard so fabric softner is a must.

Post# 589515 , Reply# 7   4/15/2012 at 02:14 (2,201 days old) by mikeKlondon ()        

I use a spin dryer when they come out of the washer, then line dry when i can the spin takes out the last of the hard water and any soap that makes the fabric stiffen. Never use FS on bed linen or towels

Post# 589572 , Reply# 8   4/15/2012 at 07:54 (2,201 days old) by henrypeter21 ()        
My favourite

Softner for me, mine just has to be one of the following...

Lenor Spring awakening
Lenor Summer Breeze
Comfort sunshiny days
Comfort Bright colours
Asda Sapphire Blue (UK ONLY I Think)

And my favourite washing powder is persil, or surf.

Post# 589747 , Reply# 9   4/15/2012 at 19:29 (2,201 days old) by bosch2460 (Harrisonburg, VA)        

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I am with everyone else that tumbles clothes 10-15 mins in a cold dryer BEFORE hanging them outside. I rarely use softener, but occasionally a half dose on towels. Tumbling softens everything up, and lessens the wrinkles. It sounds weird, but it works better than tumbling them after they dry. I line dry year round, and it always works. Windy days will produce softer clothes, too. Good luck.

Post# 589776 , Reply# 10   4/15/2012 at 20:37 (2,201 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        
Windy Days

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You are right about the wind. Yesterday was nice, but very windy here and I hung a load on the line and they were just as soft and wrinkle free as out of the dryer

Post# 589784 , Reply# 11   4/15/2012 at 21:04 (2,201 days old) by wetguymd (Maryland)        

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My Mom hung clothes out side all the time and never put them in the dryer first. For many years she used a wringer and would put the clothes right on the line from the rinse tub and thru the wringer. All year... as long as it didn't rain (wash day was based on the weather) and it was so neat to see the sheets freeze rock hard on the lines in the winter and I can remember the tracks in the snow under the clothes lines in the winter! She always got them out early in the winter so they had most of the day to dry before bringing them in to put them over the old radiators to finish drying. I remember my Grandmother saying that hanging white clothes out and letting them freeze made them whiter. In the later days Mom would not put the towels out on the line and dried them in the dryer. I always put them in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them and then put them out on the line.. however... I don't do the winter scene.. I only hang some things out in the warmer weather when there is a nice breeze and its not too hot. One thing I learned was to never hang non color fast clothes on the line in the direct sun.. yes they will fade!

Post# 589794 , Reply# 12   4/15/2012 at 21:30 (2,201 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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My mother would do the same in the winter, only used the clothesline when it was somewhat above freezing temps. She used her old Bendix gas dryer sparingly, probably because she shut the pilot off to save gas and it was a pain to relight it and was afraid it would cost too much to run. I do like a scratchy, off the clothesline, nice smelling towel after a shower. Brings back good memories. Eventually, the Bendix finally gave up the ghost and she bought a new Kenmore. She refused to use the Automatic cycle no matter how much I tried to convince her.

Post# 589814 , Reply# 13   4/15/2012 at 22:38 (2,200 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
"Windy days will produce softer clothes, too. " It&#

mickeyd's profile picture

The other day, I hung out a load of white T-shirts and shaving towels to dry, but a dry calm day turned moist and windy, and I was very much annoyed to find them really soft--in fact, too soft, as if they had been dried in the dryer WITH fabric softener,


I like the T-shirts crisp and shaving towels rough for exfoliation purposes, and a little dermabrasion, too.Cool


So what I'm saying here is that what goes on the line depends on the wind, air & sun conditions: bath towels and robes go out on a windy day, dark color on overcast days, sheets on sunny days because they say sun is the greatest disinfectant, whites on sunny days as well, and so on.


In Winter, getting whacked by a frozen sheet is fun. So is the magic of watching flannels unfreeze and soften. Like many of you, I hang out all year. Not everything and not always, of course.



Post# 589825 , Reply# 14   4/15/2012 at 22:53 (2,200 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
tried putting clothes

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in the dryer first today (about 10 min) then hung outside. It works!

Post# 589843 , Reply# 15   4/16/2012 at 00:30 (2,200 days old) by badgerdx ()        

Interesting. I'm redoing my deck that's the entry to the backdoor where "THE LAUNDRY ROOM" (angelic harp music) is.... Anyhoo, the deck is on the South side of the house, so I'm putting up retractable clothes lines for the first time. I was always taught that if you want things soft that have been hung up, stick them in a warm or cool dryer for 10-15 minutes just to tumble around. I may have to try that 15 minutes before hand. I'd never heard that trick before. Why would it work?

Post# 589850 , Reply# 16   4/16/2012 at 02:06 (2,200 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
Don't know

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but, it did for me! I only tried it because I did Laundry today, and I had remembered this thread, so I gave it a try. (I used a warm dryer thou)

Post# 589855 , Reply# 17   4/16/2012 at 03:03 (2,200 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Always Dryer First, Then Line Dry

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Gives far better results than other way round.

Even commercial laundries/dry cleaners will put items into a tumble dryer first (closely watched of course) to remove a good part of the moisture, then finsh by hanging to dry.

Think about it; simply beating a dry terry cloth towel may break up the hardness but does not equal the wrinkle removal and softness that comes from a tumble dryer.

Of course the other way round is also true, hang things to dry until damp, then finish off in the dryer. Either way it's the moisture being released along with tumble action that causes the softness.

The other old housewive's trick is to put a wet hand towel or wash cloth into a the dryer along with the laundry. The moisture released from the thing will also act as above.

Post# 589891 , Reply# 18   4/16/2012 at 08:28 (2,200 days old) by franksdad (Greenville, South Carolina)        

franksdad's profile picture

Personally, nothing feels better on your fresh showered skin than a good scratching with a stiff crusty line dried towel.  I NEVER use fabric softner on my towels (whether line or machine dried).  Fabric softner reduces a towel's absorbtion rate.  I hate when all a towel does is roll the water on your skin or dishes into little balls.   

Post# 589929 , Reply# 19   4/16/2012 at 11:17 (2,200 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
Deck Drying

mickeyd's profile picture
Mark, If you want to dry now, just get a couple of those 3 inch hand-screw-in hooks, and you'll have very heavy support in a few minutes. After 17 years of this, the experience is vast, and trust me on this, if you have wind and humidity, you really and truly do not need the dryer. And if you want the stiff scratchy towels Frank is talking about, hang out on a calm, dry day.

WINTER, (such as it was--hardly)

This post was last edited 04/16/2012 at 11:37
Post# 589930 , Reply# 20   4/16/2012 at 11:24 (2,200 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
The Wind Pretending to be a Dryer

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Post# 589934 , Reply# 21   4/16/2012 at 11:35 (2,200 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
One hook is screwed into the tree;

mickeyd's profile picture
the other is secured in the balcony and then a little extra for leftovers. I take the line down all the time, using the wrap around technique thumb to elbow, etc. like we do for long electrics.

Post# 589938 , Reply# 22   4/16/2012 at 11:48 (2,200 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        

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Bye. Don't want to get carried away, but I have more taken in an unexpected rainfall. .

Post# 589952 , Reply# 23   4/16/2012 at 13:05 (2,200 days old) by westingman123 ()        

Oh, to sip coffee on that deck and listen to the wind whip those sheets around! Love the cabbage roses, too. I think I have that set somewhere.

I swear, there is NOTHING like the smell of bed linens line-dried. Please don't get me started on the smell of line-dried pillow cases on the ironing board. Mike, you made my day. Thank you.

Post# 589980 , Reply# 24   4/16/2012 at 16:08 (2,200 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
Thank you Keith, so much

mickeyd's profile picture
Who doesn't love to be appreciated? Sharing what I have makes me feel wonderful. And you just made my evening. People who line dry experience a bit of heaven on earth. When I'm 90, I'll hire someone to do it for me.

Post# 589995 , Reply# 25   4/16/2012 at 17:16 (2,200 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

yogitunes's profile picture
Mickeys words...."like many of you, I hang out all year!" could get arrested for

Dryer first has always been the norm for me.....especially the dryer for a few minutes to release the wrinkles, and then hang, it could be inside or out.....

I think the idea came from my mother, her washer would only rinse in warm water, so the clothes always came out warm, ready to hang, and seemed to be soft at that temp, and evaporate faster, and if you had a good wind, most things were wrinkle free and dried fast....

when we got the Whirlpool, and the rinses were all cold, she hated the way the clothes would be stiff comming out of the machine, and the wrinkles would stay in if line from then on everything went into the dryer, even if only for a few minutes to warm them up.......

Post# 589996 , Reply# 26   4/16/2012 at 17:19 (2,200 days old) by westingman123 ()        
"When I'm 90..."

At that point, I shall be 80 and will gladly hang out your laundry for free. However, I suspect you'll be just fine on your own. Mama is 87, slowing down a bit, but still loves to "hang-out the warsh". (sic)

Where's Darren? I think the three of us are the line-dried fanatics around these parts. **LOL**

Post# 589997 , Reply# 27   4/16/2012 at 17:22 (2,200 days old) by cphifer5115 (Jackson, TN)        

cphifer5115's profile picture
well my mom always hung clothes out to dry and still does to today. she very rarely uses the dryer, she scared it will run up the light bill too high. she even would run an indoor line in the back hall way of the house during the winter months. but i don't hang clothes out. everything i wash goes right into the dryer. and i use liquid fabric softner int he rinse cycle. lately i've been using the gay dryer bar but i'm not too impressed with it. the package says it lasts 3 months but i barely get two months out of it.

Post# 590000 , Reply# 28   4/16/2012 at 17:38 (2,200 days old) by westingman123 ()        

Um, "gay dryer bar"? Elaborate please. **LOL**

Post# 590003 , Reply# 29   4/16/2012 at 17:48 (2,200 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
You know Keith, right after I wrote that

mickeyd's profile picture
I remembered reading that over-your -head exercise is one of the best forms for over-all health and longevity. Indeed, it's really a work-out, hanging towels and flannel sheers, heavy terry robes, blankets, and the like, especially if spun in a WP/KM. So maybe if I keep doing this like your Mom does, I'll be slinging the loads at 90. Thanks. But if not, come on up. In 30 years, travel from St, Louis to Buffalo will probably take minutes, if you can't stay.

Post# 590012 , Reply# 30   4/16/2012 at 18:19 (2,200 days old) by cphifer5115 (Jackson, TN)        

cphifer5115's profile picture
sorry that was a typo, gain dryer bar.

Post# 590147 , Reply# 31   4/17/2012 at 05:04 (2,199 days old) by aldspinboy (Philadelphia, Pa)        

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Laundress is right moisture is the key for towels and jeans.
Or anything that you dont want that might be stiff.
10 mins on medium heat or damp dry then hang.

Mike your line is the ultimate what a veiw.
And your looking good my friend ...
that burst of air through those shirts I'm sure was dry in no time.
The air just about Irons them.

If your in a hurry and the towels where not soften with liqued softner and you
put them out...
then I take them off the line and use a fabiric sheet for 10 mins of heat ..
which I dont like to use dryer sheets there bad for your machine.
Just very rare if I do.
But it works.

Keith I got a new one for yaa.
A wounderful morning at Mike's ( Dishwashercrazy ) home ..
He washed for his laundry service that morning and had the dark clothes at the
end. No sun at that end.
And sport T shirts in the middle with hangers.
Partial sun.
I did a load of whites T shirts washed at 130f in a Asko washer.
And had them at the end where the most sun was.
That morning was Zen for me.
Look at the sun burst through the trees.
Mike has such strong beautiful trees.
You really dont mind hanging here.

Post# 590149 , Reply# 32   4/17/2012 at 05:14 (2,199 days old) by aldspinboy (Philadelphia, Pa)        

aldspinboy's profile picture
Let it flow
Morning !

Darren k

Post# 590151 , Reply# 33   4/17/2012 at 05:21 (2,199 days old) by aldspinboy (Philadelphia, Pa)        

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White shirts.
With Swagger.
Darren k

Post# 590176 , Reply# 34   4/17/2012 at 07:41 (2,199 days old) by westingman123 ()        
Thanks, D!

I should say, Zen! What a peaceful scene.


Post# 590424 , Reply# 35   4/17/2012 at 21:48 (2,199 days old) by suds14 (Pittsburgh)        


I love the view from you deck. Wish I had place like that to hang clothes. I have a nice yard to hang clothes in,but I don't hang out in the winter because of snow. If I had only had a deck. I am so glad I found this site, and their our others you love to wash and hang clothes out.



Post# 590431 , Reply# 36   4/17/2012 at 22:09 (2,199 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
Darren OMG--Literally!

mickeyd's profile picture

The shot of the refracted, color-spectrumed sun rays is truly celestial. You should enter it in a photo gallery.


Thanks, David. Any line dryer is an instant friend.


Chorus: "How dry I am, How dry we are.... Nobody knows how dry we are."Tongue out


Wonder just how many of us are out there?

Post# 590438 , Reply# 37   4/17/2012 at 23:16 (2,198 days old) by alr2903 (TN)        

My Mom always had her clothes line on the west side of the house.  Sun fading and wind whipped were the least of her worries, raising 2 boys. We had jeans that  appeared to be  acid or stone washed long before it was fashionable,  quite a few rips too.  alr

Post# 590457 , Reply# 38   4/18/2012 at 01:25 (2,198 days old) by westingman123 ()        
..before it was fashionable...

How funny! Grandma Agnes had loooooong lines along the vegetable garden and the chicken coop. No shade anywhere nearby. She had a Speed Queen wringer, and on wash days we'd fill all those lines up.

I'll never forget the smells of Oxydol and Final Touch. She started with whites, and there were a LOT of bed linens (big family), so I got to hang those first. Here it is, 40-odd years later, and I still love to hang laundry.

Funny, I don't ever remember stiffness in our towels at the farm. I guess it was the breezes combined with the extra water left from the wringer.

I agree with you, Mike, Darren's photos are almost always art. Even the funny ones!


Post# 590469 , Reply# 39   4/18/2012 at 03:44 (2,198 days old) by waterwitch (Pomona, Calif.)        

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Growing up, we always would Line-Dry our clothes. I used to like to watch the Green Beatles land on the sweet smelling laundry and rest before having to continue their journey in the hot summer day. And for the record, I have to admit I like that stiff rough feeling that towels get when hung out on the line to dry. Seems that when towels are soft, their ability to dry one off after a shower are minuscule at best.

Post# 590472 , Reply# 40   4/18/2012 at 04:47 (2,198 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Best Day For Laundry

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Is when a housewive or whomever was going to be doing the wash, woke to find a sunny but breezy mild day. Crisp weather with a good (but not gale force mind) wind did wonders for not only drying laundry quickly, but kept much of everything from becoming stiff as a board.

Trick was to learn which way the wind was going to blow, then hand one's wash not only in that direction but in such a way that the wind would catch and "flow through" items. To this there was a science on how to properly hang laundry towards this aim. Sheets, shirts, blouses, drawers, etc... all had to be hung a certain way not only to catch the wind, but also in some cases to prevent strong breezes from damaging finer items.

Post# 590496 , Reply# 41   4/18/2012 at 08:33 (2,198 days old) by cmlrobison ()        
Give 'em a good shake

We use no fabric softener and line dry. I give my clothes a crisp shake exiting the washer, line dry, then give jeans and towels (or what ever else I want softened up) a good shake or two. Takes the stiffness out, leaves the freshness in. Our water is softened, however.

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