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13 March 2015 / leggypeggy

Laundry—how well hung is your line?

clothes hanging

Clothes draped on the base of a billboard

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know I hate washing clothes by hand. Oh, I do it, but it’s my least liked household chore. And you might remember that I am also not very good at it.

But you can’t get away from doing it on an overland trip. It dogs me day after day. We wear an outfit for a few days—two is the minimum and five is the max and depends on how far away the next shower is—then change clothes and wash what we’ve been wearing. Luckily, Poor John is a good sport and does his share of laundry duty. We’re both reasonably good at stomping on clothes soaking in a bucket. However, he’s much better at scrubbing and I’m much better at wringing out.

rooftop laundry

A busy rooftop

Funnily enough, I don’t at all mind hanging out laundry, bringing it in or folding it. In fact, I take some pride in producing a reasonably well-hung line even on overland trips.

Which reminds me of a piece contributed to the Sydney Morning Herald by a reader a couple of years ago. I’ll share it here, and extend my thanks and apologies to the newspaper and Glenda Ellis of Brisbane (the author). I hope they don’t mind.

laundry India

Laundry and a thatched roof too

by Glenda Ellis

‘In the Laundry and Home Management classes at my school in the 1950s, I learnt to admire a well-hung clothesline. Not only did we sort the washing to be laundered, we sorted the washing to be dried, and it still irks me to see haphazard clothing flapping in the breeze. My daughter cannot understand my disappointment at finding a pyjama top far from its other half, let alone pillowcases separated from their pairs and far from one another.

‘Mrs. Frazer (or was it Fraser?) must have had a subliminal impact on me, because if asked to name a teacher who influenced my later life she would not have sprung to mind; at least not immediately. Lately, however, as I have hung washing on the line with new-fangled super-strong plastic pegs, I find myself remembering her classes.

‘She taught Domestic Science at my school during the 50s, and there would not have been a girl who did not regard her as awesome, to borrow a 2012 description. Her cooking classes were nothing like those on the television today. We girls were there to be instructed in the essentials of cooking using The Commonsense Cookery Book, and we were also there to learn Laundry and Home Management. It is the laundry lessons that remain etched in my memory.

‘Until I attended Mrs Frazer’s classes, I was unaware there was a right and wrong way to hang items on a clothesline. I watched my mother for many years as she struggled with the sheets, pillowcases and clothes, pegging things on the line then hoisting it up with the prop to catch the breeze. Her clotheslines were orderly and a pleasure to behold.

‘Mrs Frazer insisted that we peg clothes and other items with the smallest amount of overlap. On the rare occasions my husband puts the washing out, I am mortified to find the towels hung over the line at the top.

laundry, India

Lots of laundry spread over several lines

‘Doesn’t he know this increases the necessary drying time? His insistence that they dry just the same cuts no ice whatsoever.

‘My daughter has never learnt to arrange a line of clothes satisfactorily, despite my urging. It is not something one discusses over the dinner table, I suppose, and I don’t think it would be a point of debate at parent–teacher evenings nowadays either.

‘I still think of Mrs Frazer. I wonder how she would have managed the fitted sheets of today, and what she would say if she knew I leave my pegs on the clothesline? But I’m sure she would nod her head at my well-hung line.’

laundry in Digha

A West Bengali woman creating her own well-hung line

Unlike the author of the above, young people in India probably aren’t taught Domestic Science in school. Some classes might touch on cooking, but I bet there are no lessons on beating your clothes against a rock to get them clean. Not surprisingly, clothespegs (clothespins) are also very difficult to find.

This means clotheslines in India are rarely well-hung. Instead they are almost always haphazard, interesting and colourful. I shared some pics when we were here in 2013, and here’s another batch.

So tell me—how well hung is your line?

laundry on the ground

Who needs an actual clothesline?


Leave a Comment
  1. skippersy / Mar 13 2015 9:57 pm

    Hello LP,

    I have not had a washing machine in my apartment in years… so I go out to a Laundromat and use their washing machines… and they also have clothes driers! What a pain it is to fold properly the “fitted Sheets” (with nobody to help, two people holding and folding). So I clump (not folded) the sheets together and into my draw when I get home. And when using have wrinkled sheets (no ironing) to use…. would surely get a FAILING grade from Mrs. Frazer!!!


    • leggypeggy / Mar 13 2015 10:56 pm

      Hi Sy, I think you must use the Poor John system of folding fitted sheets. I never give him a fail because I appreciate when he brings in the laundry. I secretly refold, but I never iron either.


  2. Curious to the Max / Mar 14 2015 3:18 am

    Reminds me – In my “youth” I hated to wash clothes so when I ran out of underwear I’d buy more. To this day I probably have enough to last 30 days!

    I can’t imagine how many pairs of underpants I’d have if I had to hand wash. Of course if I lived where I had to hand wash there would be no store to buy more so I’d probably go naked!


    • leggypeggy / Mar 14 2015 12:27 pm

      In my youth, I used to own a lot of undies—maybe 30 days worth—UNTIL that day I was down to the last rattiest pair.

      So I washed all the others and two sets of sheets (in a machine) and hung them out on the clothesline in the backyard. The ‘gypsies’ were in town that week and in the middle of the night they (or so the cops surmised) stole everything off the line except the second and third last rattiest pairs of undies. They were thieves, but they were fussy.

      And I had completely forgotten about that episode in my life until you mentioned owning 30 days worth of undies. Now I own maybe seven. And I travel with two bras and four pairs of undies.


      • Curious to the Max / Mar 15 2015 10:35 am

        That’s why I use a dryer – never know who might covet my underwear . . .


      • leggypeggy / Mar 15 2015 10:42 am

        Good thinking, Curious to the Max. Luckily my current backyard has no access to the street. Although on my overland travels I worry that someone will steal one of my hard-to-buy bras.


  3. Midwestern Plant Girl / Mar 14 2015 3:40 am

    So not a fan of laundry. . However, I’d rather do that than dust!


    • leggypeggy / Mar 14 2015 12:38 pm

      I don’t like to dust, but I am very, very good at it. That said, I used to pay one of our daughters to dust by hiding 5-cent pieces around the house that she could find as she dusted. It worked for about three times, but those were three times I didn’t have to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. susan@marsha'sbungalow / Mar 14 2015 3:52 am

    There is an admirable skill in line-drying laundry, and I fully respect people who master it. When it’s also a colorful piece of folk-art, I am in awe. Thanks for the tour!


    • leggypeggy / Mar 14 2015 12:39 pm

      What a wonderful description—colourful folk-art! Thank you!


  5. skippersy / Mar 14 2015 11:17 am

    P.S. I do not know what I would do without Google…. I found this; How To Fold A Fitted Sheet (several videos)
    I tried it once with some good success, but need to practice some more…


    • leggypeggy / Mar 14 2015 12:51 pm

      Excellent videos. Good luck with your practice. 🙂


  6. Dorothy webster / Mar 15 2015 3:53 pm

    Life has more interesting things to do than laundry so my shortcut is a lightweight aluminium pulley in my garage right next to my washing machine. I drape the clothes over the pulley and run my hot hands down them to get rid of wrinkles, then pull it up out of the way. My garage door gets lots of sun so they dry very quickly and when I am out and about I dont have to worry about sudden showers of rain. No ironing required. I fold them on the lid of my chest freezer and put them away as the garage comes off my lounge. I do not own a drier, they cause fires and when I had one they shrunk the clothes.


    • leggypeggy / Mar 18 2015 4:26 am

      What a great system. I love the smell of clothes dried outside on the Hills Hoist (an Australian rotary clothesline). I own an electrical dryer but haven’t use it for about 20 years. I wonder if it still works?


  7. vinneve / Apr 15 2017 8:04 pm

    First time I have seen a blog about clothes line! still a good story haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. barkinginthedark / Nov 25 2018 3:42 pm

    cheeky title there. 🙂 continue…

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 25 2018 6:44 pm

      I’d love to do a coffee-table picture book on laundry—well hung or otherwise.


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