I came across this delightful article in today’s UK Daily Mail online edition.
Basically, the author is exploring the etiquette of hanging your knickers /smalls/tighty whities/panties/undies/big girl pants (etc) on the clothes line. The idea being that some people may be offended by the items and – by inference – cast you in the mould of the neighbourhood floozy for putting your wares on display for God and all the world to see.
It’s mainly focused on the UK, where I suspect some may take a bit stuffier line than in other countries. Apparently some women have had notes through the letterbox asking them not to hang their undies on communal washing lines (in blocks of flats) as it upsets other residents and puts some husbands off their food (!)
I live in the great call-a-spade-a-spade-and-if you-don’t-like-it-too-bloody-bad country of Australia, but I remember as a young girl (waaaay back in the 1970s when dinosaurs walked the earth) my mother insisting that underwear had to be hung on the inside of the rotary clothes line (the good ol’ Hills hoist) with the other clothes on the rows around them, which looking back, I’m assuming had something to do with the neighbours seeing them – we backed onto a big park area and had no back or side fences, so you could see what was going on in the neighbours’ yards. Come to think of it, at least one of my friends of the same age as me still hangs her clothes on the line like that – is this proof that we all eventually turn into our mothers?
These days I live in a house with side and back fences, so it’s not a privacy issue. But I think even if I didn’t, I’m not sure it would change the way I hang clothes on the line – whatever order they come out of the basket works for me.
What do you all think??
When I’ve had a clothes line I did hang underwear *but* there was a substantial separation between me, my neighbors and the road. The family underwear was fairly generic as well with no unusual colors or skimpy designs that would have acted like a flag to anyone within view. I personally despise hanging underwear, wash clothes, hankies, and socks on a clothes line because it was so much effort for such a little piece of fabric. Clothes line work best for sheets, towels, blankets, jeans and cotton shirts and dresses.
That said, I think there is something to be said for not displaying an intimate article of clothing in shared spaces or communal clothes lines. I really don’t need to know that my neighbor wears pink, lacy thongs…TMI. Or that the man next door has an effluent leakage problem that reveals itself in underwear with a “racing stripe” permanently staining it. Or that ratty underwear might signal financial troubles. I may think differently of the neighbor who hangs a pair of boxers on the line that has some skanky saying on the fly opening. And I’d probably die laughing if I ever saw a pair of those charcoal lined undies on a neighbor’s line. It’s OK to not tell the world everything about you and to keep some things private between the family.
Comments on this entry are closed.
At least these people are allowed to HAVE outdoor clothes lines. There’s a lot of places in the US where HOA rules and local laws forbid them!
Yep! Part of why I chose an HOA neighborhood.
Technically, my HOA is against them too-and they’re usually sticklers. However, we had several months of bad financial luck two summers ago and in the middle of that, our dryer went kaput. So we really had no choice but a clothesline. I didn’t get a single complaint so I can only asset that my neighbors don’t care. The line wasn’t visible from the street. I had to use it for 2 months until we were able to get a new dryer.
Another tempest in a teapot. I have also read opinions that have suggested that ANY hanging of laundry made the neighborhood look poor (as people were unable to afford dryers). If one cannot help but be assaulted with Victoria’s Secret advertising anywhere and everywhere, I highly doubt that the hanging of one’s underwear on a clothesline is much titillation.
In the same way that it is rude to “look a gift horse in the mouth,” perhaps it should also be considered rude to study one’s neighbor’s garden and clothesline to closely.
Our neighborhood is rather affluent and I will say that most of us have clothes lines. I repainted mine last year, my grandfather had put it up back in the 50’s or 60’s I do believe. It was a horrible shade of light blue and was rusted and peeling. So I went out there one day and sanded down all the burrs and then used a spray paint meant for metal and outside and sprayed it a nice deep dark red. It actually matches the crab apples on my giant crab apple tree right by it. My neighbor complained because when she walks out side in her backyard it catches her eye due to it being red. I’m tempted to spray paint it hot pink with black zebra stripes.
“I’m tempted to spray paint it hot pink with black zebra stripes.”
No, no, no! Don’t do that!
(Hot pink and orange. Flourescent.)
Bad essie! Bad girl!
Hot pink, with fluro orange stripes and neon green polkadots. Add a touch of black to outline the different bits (around the dots and to flank the stripes). On top fasten a few of those mylar pinwheels to keep the birds from coming near. Voila!
Love it! Orange IS my favorite color 😀
I wonder if the sort of people who write those opinions also suggest that anyone who goes to the gym every day must be really unfit, as otherwise why would they need to do so much exercise?
I wouldn’t even give it a second thought if my neighbors hung their underwear on the line.
Tighty whities, boxers, briefs, panties, leopard print, thongs, neon colored, ratty, sparkly, or otherwise.
Everyone has undergarments and they should be able to hang them out to dry in the sun.
I may feel especially strong about this because of the problems women in India are having.
Their period cloths are considered unclean and shameful. So they don’t get hung out in the sunlight where the sunlight actually helps kill bacteria on the cloth. Instead they are hidden away instead to dry. Unfortunately with this practice the cloths are more likely not to dry completely and become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Which is causing infections, sterility, and even death in these communities. All because the simple biological fact that most women bleed approximately once a month for many decades of their life is considered dirty and shameful.
So I’m all for us getting rid of this shame about simple things like the fact everyone has underwear. I’d rather my neighbors put them out to dry on the line than hide them away like a shameful secret.
Thank you for this. I agree 100%.
I agree that our female biological functions should not be something to be ashamed of! It’s taken me years to get to this point- when I started having my monthly visitor, I tossed my sometimes-stained panties in the hamper and my dad promptly had a fit- they were disgusting, I should be ashamed of their condition, what if someone saw them on the line like that? It wasn’t really something I could control, I flowed heavily. So I took to washing them in the bathroom sink and hiding them under my dresser on a towel to dry.
I’m amused that you think bodily functions are nothing to be ashamed of, but you say monthly visitor instead of period!
Any man who is THAT uncomfortable with females of a certain age range bleeding once a month should go join a monastery so he can avoid it for the rest of his life.
Preferably one on Mount Athos, where no woman is allowed to set foot, ever.
I agree. I remember, when a friend came to stay with us once, that she insisted on hanging her undies on the inside lines so that no one could see them. My thought was, “Everyone has underwear”. Yes, if you’re in a community setting (we’re not, our line’s actually quite hidden in our fenced-in backyard), then to be polite to others it would be nice to hang up your underwear discreetly, but what if all you’re washing that day is the family’s undies? We don’t have a dryer and our house tends to be quite humid. The sun and rain outdoors dries and brightens our underwear in a way our indoor line never could. If our neighbours became annoyed at my underwear-hanging tendencies I would probably try to be more discreet in deference to them, but I’d inwardly be fuming at their judgemental ways! We’re a family of five, we produce a lot of underwear laundry.
I agree with you, this is awful. But instead of cursing the darkness, is there some sort of candle to light? Obviously we are not capable of instantly “enlightening” this culture to allow women to freely dry their period cloths in public. So, is there something else that can be done? Another way that these cloths can be properly dried? It has to be something effective, inexpensive, and compliant with laws/mores/beliefs. Would it be possible to have a communal, women only, enclosed area for that specific purpose? Is it practical to invent an easy to replicate product that can thoroughly dry the cloths while concealing them?
Just brainstorming here, but it seems if we would put our minds to it, we could alieviate some of the worlds problems until a complete solution is discovered
Which reminds me that there already is one (with a number of different manufactuers).
There is a man who is trying to help. He invented a machine to make sanitary pads cheaply.
And his wife and mother left him for the shame of it while he was researching. Still, it’s a great article to read and someone to support as a light in the darkness.
Now *that* is an awesome story! Thanks for sharing that link.
And I was glad that his wife and mother came back.
My concern with hanging ladies’ delicates on the line was always the neighborhood perv that would steal them. A drying rack in my bedroom worked perfectly at preventing that.
not having underwear is the obvious solution
As the author of the article pointed out, dryers is not common in every country. People have to dry things at some place. Not everyone has the luxury of a large enough apartment to dry their intimates inside. I don’t see why they cannot dry them in the open. Most people wear undies. Passerbys should be happy that their neighbours wash their clothes! I don’t think that there is any reason for neighbours to over-analyze someone’s (clean) laundry. If they catch a glimpse, they can just ignore it. Most people don’t judge a friend they happen to see who is purchasing intimates from a clothe’s shop, or Victoria’s secret. So why bother about stuff left to dry?
By the way, in the article, the author also says that it is okay to hang men’s underwear, but not women’s (though the admin treated both men’s and women’s clothing equally, which is nice). Why should there be one rule for men and another for women? Aren’t we in a world where we are fighting for equality?
I remember reading about women drying their underwear under their regular clothes once upon a time. But that often resulted in the undies not drying completely, and after repeated use of the damp undies, they often developed fungal infections.
I can’t understand why people are in such a flap about this. Whilst it would be nice for everybody to have access and be able to afford to dry things inside (with a machine or just on a radiator) there is something infinitely nicer about line dried clothing, smelling of fresh air. Drying them in a dryer always seems to put holes in things and wear out the elastic much much faster. And makes them crispy (although that might just be my stupid machine.)
If people are offended by the concept of other wearing underwear (fancy, salacious, flappy sails or otherwise), then they should exclude themselves from locations where they might see them. Communal spaces where you might see intimate things (laundries, communal washing lines, open showers and changing rooms without cubicles etc) always have that kind of unspoken agreement of “do not look, do not laugh, do not make a comment.” That’s the polite etiquette.
I always think it’s just one of those things you quietly chuckle about (or cringe) to yourself and then move on.
“do not look, do not laugh, do not make a comment. That’s the polite etiquette.”–words to live by!
I have never even heard of rules for hanging out underwear, and I think I am older than many if not most of the people who post here (58). At my age and weight, I don’t need to think that my underwear would get anyone going. I guess I also can’t imagine people getting upset over something I hang to dry in my own yard! People with this low amount of excitement tolerance should wear “modesty glasses.” http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/israel-new-modesty-glasses-orthodox-jewish-men-blur-women-line-sight-article-1.1133397
Personally I’m not a huge fan of drying my underwear outside, simply because I don’t want everyone to see my personal underwear. When I see someone else hang theirs outside, I rarely think more than “well I wouldn’t do that”.
If you’re okay hanging your undies on the line, then go for it. If you don’t like your neighbour hanging their undies on their line, then look elsewhere. It’s a clothesline. For drying clothes. That’s its purpose. One wonders what a proper 19th century Victorian lady, living in the city, would think of this “dilemma”. Even she had to hang her “unmentionables”, including the little rags she needed at various times of the lunar cycle, on the line, and her neighbours did, too. It’s just ordinary living.
A TRULY proper Victorian lady would have had the maid doing it. 🙂
ALL women in that time period were Victorian, even the poorest ones. But, yes, it is difficult to picture what we have come to know as the classic Victorian woman as doing her own laundry. But they did, if they had to, and did others’ too, if that was their job.
Oh my gosh….I always had a separate set of panties for that time of the month. I would never ever hang those outside. It looked too…well…nobody wants to see that. Those get tossed in the dryer.
On the other hand, sun bleaching is one of the best ways to get the stains out.
Soap and water works just as well. Women here are fussing about whether to hang them outside or throwing them in the hamper with their bloody stains, and they are not even thinking about the obvious – handwashing them first, then putting them in the laundry.
Not all of us are/were lucky enough to be able to do that. I had to have a hysterectomy a few years ago in my late 20’s due to really really heavy flows that would last 2-3 weeks each month. This went on for years before something was done about it. There was no way I was hand washing those. Total TMI but feminine products didn’t do anything to protect my undies. Towards the end I simply threw away my underwear and I spent a small fortune on them each month, there was just no point in washing them.
Yeah but there is still that amazing staining that turns brown…..I didn’t want anybody to see the war zone so to speak. I do not miss that time of the month at all. First time my husband saw that set of undies he asked why on earth I had brown stains with a raised eyebrow. I turned beet red and explained that is what color blood turns when it dries and goes through the wash. It wasn’t until after we had been living together for a month or two that he totally grasped the concept.
I am so glad that era is long over. I found one company put a dark red/maroon pair in a certain assortment pack they sold of dark colors, and I bought a LOT of those. The dark blue ones were good in a pinch but those maroon ones were sanity savers. To see the staining you had to get close enough that I would want to know what you were doing in my yard, pawing my unmentionables on my line?
I can honestly say I wouldn’t judge my neighbor by anything they hung to dry. And I doubt I would give it a second thought. When we busy ourselves with our own lives and being a good person/neighbor, we rarely have time to pay attention to what is on a clothing line or make assumptions on any of it.
My washing line is in my garden and what I hang on that washing line is absolutely my business and no more anyone else’s than what plants I choose to grow or what brand of potting compost I buy.
That said, I don’t think a dozen identical pairs of black M&S knickers is worthy of any gossip or intrigue… 🙂
I think there’s a give and take here. It’s not rude to hang your undies outside, but you also have to accept the fact that people may have opinions about what you show them.
If my neighbors are inclined to care about what I hang on the clothesline…what are they going to think if they NEVER see underwear? >:)
Is there a difference between hanging underpants on the clothesline, and hanging a bra there? I don’t often hang the former out; my DH and I tend to use the dryer for those. But my bras do go outside to dry when the weather permits, along with the rest of the wash that gets done in cold water.
Our clothesline is in the back yard, and not visible from the street, although it is visible from the yards on either side of us, and from certain angles in the alley. I doubt I’d even notice more than “oh, Neighbor has stuff out to dry,” and I’d tend to look a bit oddly at someone who notices my drying laundry enough to be bothered by specific items. It seems to me to be very much a “mind your own business” situation.
In some places, counties are making laws to allow people to hang their clothes out on a line, no matter what their stuffy HOA says. I hang my clothes out, and I own a perfectly nice dryer, which I use in rainy weather or for heavy items. Line drying is clean, energy efficient, and I find it mind clearing to hang clothes out on a beautiful day. I’m saving at least 50 cents per load on electricity when I use the free sun, and nothing beats sunshine for getting breast-fed baby poop stains out of cloth diapers and tomato stains out of laundry. I hang my underwear on my revolving “umbrella” line so that it is hidden by other clothes, because my line is visible from the road at certain angles. Other than that, I never worry about it, and don’t scrutinize what other folks hang out. Drive through Amish country sometime, and look at all the laundry hanging outside on lines in their flower trimmed yards. I think it’s attractive, actually. I can’t imagine getting upset at someone’s underwear or other clothes on the line, but, as I said, I tend to hang my own underwear discreetly.
Where I live now makes it impossible to have a clothesline but I am looking forward to it when I can. I love the smell and feel of sun-dried clothes and bedding!
As far as underwear, there were “rules” for hanging it in the past: “Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide your “unmentionables” in the middle.” Other rules or suggestions can be found here: http://blog.oldfashionedmotherhood.com/2011/09/old-fashioned-homemaking-clothesline.html
I’m reminded of a situation described by a woman in a book about her early life in the 1960s. She and her sisters only had two pairs of knickers to wear per week, but after some disagreements they were allowed to wash their knickers and hang them on the windowsill to dry overnight. There were many pairs of knickers because there were many sisters. The punchline? The sisters weren’t related. They were nuns.
(The book in question is ‘Through the Narrow Gate’ by Karen Armstrong. I recommend it. It’s a thought-provoking read.)
I have a copy. I remember the story of the drying undies. It’s a great book.
Agreed. I first read it as a Reader’s Digest Condensed book when I was a kid, and then bought an uncondensed copy for myself a few years ago. There’s a sequel – ‘Beginning the World’, which I haven’t read yet. I really must get around to buying it.
I remember an episode of My Three Sons after Robbie married Katie, which meant that for the first time in years there was a female in the household. The reaction of Uncle Charlie when he was hanging out the wash and came to Katie’s bra was priceless.
I’m actually reminded of an episode of MASH where Radar goes to wake up Major Houlihan and all her undergarments are hanging up in her tent.
Just thought of something. Did Victorians have silk underwear? I know they made stockings out of silk. And white silk can’t be hung out to dry in the sun because it turns yellow.
A petticoat here or there, possibly, or a corset. For people who could afford it. Silk would have been too expensive for regular underwear, especially as Victorian underwear required a lot more fabric. The knickers, for example, were more or less down to the knees, and just two loose legs connected to a waistband, no crotch. Petticoats were at least ankle-length and better clothes required several of them (the top one, just under the skirt, would be the fanciest one and silk might have been used). And a shift, corset and corset-cover. That’s for finer ladies – I’m less familiar with the ways of the poorer classes, because there are less resources, plus my speciality is Europe, not USA.
In the cities the richer people had their stuff laundered elsewhere, so presumably the drying took place there too. Or there might have been an airy attic for that purpose. They would not hang underwear out for everyone to see. In the country, I think the clotheslines would be normally in the backyard, less visible from the outside. Or – again, an airy attic.
They had outdoor clotheslines. Many a story about having to take carpets and rugs and hang them over the clothesline and take one of those flat curlied paddles and beat the rugs to get the dirt out of them… The parlor rug would usually be nailed or tacked down along the edges and once a year all the furniture moved, the rug pried up, and taken out to be beaten and aired and possibly spot shampooed with a scrub brush, then brought back and reinstalled. The poor clothesline was the accomplice in this.
All though my Central European childhood a metal carpet rack was a feature of practically every appartment complex. People took their carpets and rugs out to beat them with a paddle occasionally (I did that… it was a lot of fun 🙂 ). When no one was using them, they were the local kids’ favourite hangout. A nice sturdy metal construction with several horizontal rods to sit on/hang from… There were less playgrounds around back then than there are now.
I don’t see them around as much nowadays. On the other hand, I’m too old to hang from them and allergic to dust, so I have no carpets. In other words, I haven’t been looking much.
But a sturdy rack was definitely better than a clothesline for this purpose. The carpet didn’t swing as much, plus the whole construction didn’t swing either. For washing, I think you should have laid the carpet horizontal.
I remember reading something about how modern “labor saving devices” actually make more work. Vacuum cleaners may be faster that hauling rugs outside and beating them, but now we vacuum once or twice a week while back then the rugs got hauled out and beaten twice a year. Just like the fact that people used to wear the same clothes for several days in a row when we were using washtubs instead of washing machines.
I read a story many years ago – it may have been in Reader’s Digest – about a woman who’s mother was admonishing her for hanging her undergarments on the line when the daughter lived next to a confirmed bachelor. The daughter thought it was ridiculous and ended up asking neighbour if he minded. He did not. His 50th birthday rolled around. Daughter celebrated by hanging 50 pieces of lingerie on the line.
I could not care less what people hang on their line. I, personally, don’t line dry because it is too much extra work for me that I just don’t have the energy for.
I only realised what “confirmed bachelor” was code for about two years ago.
Putting things in a dryer when drying outside is possible is incredibly wasteful. And really, who has the time to inspect their neighbour’s washing line and make judgements on their underwear? (Having said that, I went into hysterical laughter when I was about 7 and saw my gran’s bloomers on her line). People wear underwear. It’s not shameful or embarrassing and making a fuss about it is incredibly immature.
Any article in the Daily Mail should be ignored, and if that’s not possible, taken with a bucketful of salt.
I would classify hanging underthings on the clothes line as “being part of humanity”. People wear under clothes. If I don’t want to look at them I can turn my head. As with the OP’s mother when I used to line dry my underthings they were on the inside lines with other items blocking the view. These were generic white, cotton briefs. Nothing racy. It was for my comfort. Others are free to hang theirs as best fits their needs.
I’m firmly on Team Dry Things Outside Weather Permitting.
If people have a problem with my underwear, they have a problem with the fact that I’m a human being who wears clothes and they can go find themselves a hobby that will give them something more interesting to think about.
I agree with admin on this. I would not hang underwear on an outside line because it is intimate apparel. Even with a dryer, I hang many things outside – hand washables, table linens, handkerchiefs, vintage clothing, etc… I think underwear on public view is vulgar and invites speculation.
Invites speculation? you are kidding surely.. speculation about what? That you wear underwear or enjoy feeling good about yourself or sexy and full of self esteem or you enjoy sex? Heaven forbid.
I think underwear in public view is vulgar only if it is being WORN at the time! And I don’t mind on small potty training persons.
That being said, I tend to hang underwear, socks and other small stuff on the back line, partly for modesty, mostly so they don’t blow away :-).
I genuinely don’t understand. Who would be speculating about what – and how would you know?
I think in some ways it’s a full circle thing. When I was younger, we hung laundry (including panties) on the line because we couldn’t afford to run the washer. I hated it, especially in winter. Now, as an adult, I am moving away from the dryer and have had a clothesline installed in my back yard, not because I can’t afford to use the dryer, but because the environment can’t afford for me to use my dryer. I have known several people who have made the switch back to line drying because of global warming and environmental concerns. As far as underclothing is concerned, you aren’t really supposed to dry your dedicates in the dryer anyway and line drying leaves them smelling so nice. If I see my neighbor’s laundry on the line, my first thought is going to be they are saving the planet. I’m not going to stare at their laundry to see if there is something to be “offended” by. People wear underclothing. Underclothing needs to be cleaned. I would rather see them on the line rather than on people’s rears because they wear their pants so low.
I meant “couldn’t afford to run the *dryer*”
Underwear is nothing to be ashamed of. However, they are private garments and I think it’s in better taste to maintain their privacy during laundering. I would hang them in the least conspicuous way and place even if drying outdoors.
The desire to keep some aspects of one’s life private is not an indication of being stuffy, out-of-date, neurotic or ashamed of one’s personal functions. Etiquette and the general rules of decorum have always recognized that there are demarcations between what one does, shows or reveals in public and what one keeps under wraps.
It has nothing to do with judging others or fearing being judged. It has to do with one’s own standards of appropriateness.
What? This is a thing? When I first read the title of the article, I thought it was a joke – I cannot believe people actually give a second thought about this.
Possibly, again, it’s me being Australian, but I sriousl do not know a soul who would give a second thought to hanging up underwear outside – we have sun, here, and everyone knows it’s healthier, cheaper, quicker and just nicer to dry outside, so why wouldn’t you? It’s my washing line and my yard, if something offends a person, they don’t need to look – exactly the same as when I breastfeed my baby in obliviou (ooo – don’t open that can of worms, girlfriend!).
And I am seriously disturbed by the notion that that its ok for boxers and men’s underwear to be hung out and not a woman’s g-string – what century are we living in, exactly?
HAHA Seems all us aussies like airing our ‘clean’ laundry 😀
I admit, I hang my underwear on the inside lines. I’m not as careful about it since the neighbors on both sides put up wooden privacy fencing (Hm, cause and effect?), but given a choice, I hide the underwear. Yes, it is kind of silly, especially since my underwear is pretty boring stuff.
Back in my ancient days, you had trash barrels and you burned trash on a certain day of the week, and Tuesdays usually, were laundry day. We would have somebody that liked to burn her barrel several times a week, and she couldn’t understand (after some notes left at her door) why on Tuesdays someone would always tip some water in her barrel so it wouldn’t stay lit, or Monday night hers would get a massive soaking….
And you hung unmentionables INSIDE pillowcases or a double folded sheet (put stuff up and put a sheet over it and peg that in the middle line) so the others couldn’t see. On a pillowcase you put open end up then pegged that shut. It had about six clothespins to hold it on the line? It was ‘loaded’.
In many places you can’t even have a clothesline these days.
Adding, where I live now, I have about 75′ of line. During the summer we often hit single digit humidity and 95f or better, and an average 25mph wind. IF we have not had recent higher gusts that stirred up the field dust so you can taste it and it’s not that direction from the stockyard (about five days a year we have ‘brown’ air you can taste). Do a load, go out and start pegging. Fill the line. By the time you get to the end, go back to the start and take down dry stuff. The washer can’t keep up. Hang jeans by the hems and sweatpants too, as they will take two passes (take them down with the next load). You can’t beat a solar dryer that does that well! Just make sure you use enough clothespins so stuff stays on the line (a teeshirt takes 4-5 pins and pin it from the hem) and don’t overlap clothes (my mother would to save clothespins needed, here it just causes a damp spot so pin everything separately). As for what you hang, nobody’s going to really see it. Do save the ‘nasty lingere’ for in house drying rack is all. As for my DH’s generously sized boxers, it just proves there’s a guy living here and he DOES NOT go ‘commando’ … heh.
“I came across this delightful article in today’s UK Daily Mail online edition.”, now THAT’S not a sentence you see very often!
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I’ve lived in many types of buildings and with many, many housemates from multiple countries, thanks to Celtic Tiger-era Dublin. I’ve found hat sort of prudishness is often down to how pernickety their mother was (irons tea-towels and screeches at the sight of a hand-towel in the kitchen. Anything other than acres of kitchen paper to dry ones hands is “disgusting” apparently – who knew hand-towels in the toilet were the height of hygiene)
Or whether they were used to living with members of the opposite sex. Nobody bats an eyelid really.
I always say; “you wouldn’t worry about what other people thought of you, if you knew how rarely they did”
I wouldn’t hang mine outside but it’s mainly because the idea of using any kind of clothes pin on delicate fabric isn’t appealing to me, I wouldn’t want to risk damaging any lacy bits.
As for the idea that it’s scandalous or something, whoopdy do, it’s underwear. Lots of people wear it, and if your whole day is going to be thrown into a tizzy because you saw someones wash hanging on a line, you need to get your priorities in order.
I don’t give underwear drying a second thought. Actually I don’t even examine clothesline that much to even see if there’s underwear on there. We all wear it, no need to gawk at it.
If seeing underwear on a clothes line offends you sensibilities then j suggest not inspecting clotheslines too closely.
I agree with admin. The only time I’ve ever hung underwear on the line is when the dryer was broken. And then I did hang it on the interior lines out of eyesight.
I personally would not want to look at my neighbors’ underwear and/or intimate clothing. But I wouldn’t get upset about it, or complain. I would just think they were just a little too uninhibited for my taste, to hang that stuff outside for the world to see.
I personally don’t hang any laundry outside because I do not want crunchy clothes and towels.
However if I were to do so, I would hang underwear on the inside, not because I care about the fact that it’s underwear but mainly because I don’t want anyone seeing what size underwear I wear.
They can probably tell just by looking at you.
Very true. But I don’t need to put out the proof.
As I said I wouldn’t put out laundry just because I don’t want stiff, crunchy laundry. My MIL hangs everything outside and I’ve never found a soft towel or soft set of sheets in her house ever!
Another reason? We have lived in a county where dairy farming is extremely common. Let’s just say, a few times a week (with no way to predict which days) my clothing would become quite fragrant, and they wouldn’t smell of sunshine and fresh grass!
I also agree with Admin. We all wear underwear, but it’s intimate apparel not meant to be broadcast to the world. Not only that, but there are a lot of perverts out there with an underwear fetish who would love nothing more than to see, or even steal your clothesline underwear. Either hang it up to dry inside or hang it outside our if public view, such as an enclosed backyard. I especially don’t want to see my neighbor’s skid marks on their underwear, nor do I want them to see mine. It goes under the category of things you don’t need to know.
If the underwear has skid marks, it hasn’t been washed.
Having now parented males through the teenaged years, I can attest to the fact that some “racing stripes” will not come out even with straight bleach poured on them.
This still doesn’t answer the question of why you’d be scrutinizing your neighbor’s underwear closely enough to see a skidmark or read a skanky saying on the fly opening.
I use my clothesline as much as possible, for many reasons. It’s cheaper than the dryer, and more environmentally sound – no energy needed except my two arms! My clothes smell better, I like how crispy they get, the sun acts as a natural stain remover (ketchup stains on my daughter’s shirts bleach right out in the sun). My clothesline is in my private backyard, but even if it was visible, I would still hang out underwear. They are on the clothesline, so therefore they are CLEAN. If my clean laundry is offensive to people, that is not my problem.
I live in a small town in Western Canada. My mom hangs up her laundry on a line, and so did her mom. I inherited my clothesline attitude.
I stopped using a clothes line when I noticed my clothing disappeared if it was hung outside. There are people who will steal anything that is not red hot or nailed down. The local rectory was burglarized and the priests’ used underwear was stolen, along with many other inexpensive things. That amazes me.
I don’t mind seeing whatever anyone wants to hang outside to dry. Underwear is just another article of clothing, but I use my dryer.
I tried having a clothes line after I moved from the neighborhood where clothing was stolen and it still disappeared. My miniature horses were taking it as a game to pull things down and to spread them around my fenced yard. There is nothing like seeing a horse run by your window with your best bra in his mouth. They moved on to pulling the screens out of all the windows. It cost $500. every time they did it because they would tear them apart. I ended up putting the screens in the garage.
As an urban dweller who lives on a busy street, home to 4 bus routes several commercial truck routes and lots of regular car traffic, I have seen the black soot left on my window screens from emissions and only think it would be gross to line dry underwear (any clothes really, but especially intimates) due to the residue that would be deposited on them. If you live some where with clean air, take advantage!
I used to hang clothes to line dry in a previous house where we didn’t have a dryer for a while. I set up four parallel clotheslines, and I tried to use the inner two for underwear. I wouldn’t think badly of anyone who chose to do differently, but like the admin I preferred to keep private things private. And I thought it was especially important for the kids, because sometimes they did have potty training issues that would lead to staining. No need to share that with the world.
Our neighbor thinks hanging laundry out to dry is the tackiest thing she’s ever seen.
I, on the other hand, think sun-dried sheets are one of life’s greatest pleasures.
We still get along because we both agree that property rights trump. 🙂
You should never dry your bras in a dryer anyway – it breaks down the materials faster. I can definitely tell the difference after a while; I need to get new bras every 6 months but the ones that have gone through the dryer often aren’t as supportive after about 4. At around $50 a pop – I need those extra 2 months!
That said, I don’t dry anything outside. I have a shelf with hooks on it on the wall of my laundry room to put my bras on after they come out of the wash. I do make sure to retrieve them quick if I have unexpected people over – my laundry facilities are in my bathroom downstairs, which most guests would use.
Absolutely! I’m amazed that you’re the only one to mention this. It goes for most other types of clothes, too. The only things that go in my tumble dryer are jeans, pajamas, socks, underwear, and linens/bedding. I hang everything else in order to get more wear out of it.
I hang them in my basement, because that’s where the clotheslines were when I moved in, and I don’t feel like stringing outdoor lines. But I agree, this is a tempest in a teapot. I think people would be a lot happier if they worked harder to ignore these sorts of petty irritations. I try to do so myself — I don’t always succeed, but when I catch myself feeling annoyed over something on a neighbor’s house, I try to remind myself that it really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things.
My question is, where does it end? If it’s rude to hang underwear on a clothesline, is it also rude to buy toilet paper? Should we switch back to the “silent purchase” system for feminine hygiene products? (For the uninitiated, that’s outlined here: http://www.mum.org/modjn28.htm). What about bikini swimsuits whose flesh coverage may be less than or equal to a typical pair of underwear and a bra, but are socially acceptable to wear in public at beaches, swimming pools, and water parks? What about men’s boxer shorts, that cover the same amount of flesh as a regular pair of shorts? My point is, there are always going to be situations in life where “private” and “public” collide, such as laundry rooms, public bathrooms, locker rooms, buying potentially embarrassing but necessary items (toilet paper, F.H.P.’s, condoms, home pregnancy tests, and medicines for things like diarrhea, hemorrhoids, foot fungus, and so on, and so forth). The fact is, we all go to the bathroom, we all wear underwear, most women wear bras and have periods, and bodies aren’t perfect, and are therefore vulnerable to diarrhea, flatulence, hemorrhoids, foot fungus, runny noses, and possibly even incontinence in old age. So, why aren’t all of the products for these purposes hidden behind counters, or shelved in opaque paper bags, and why don’t public bathroom stalls have floor-to-ceiling doors, no gaps, and soundproofing, if hanging underwear on a clothesline is considered “rude?” If the social contract dictates that all private things are to be kept private, why not be consistent with it? If the answer to that is, “because it would be wildly impractical,” then why not be consistent the other way, and say that hanging underwear on a clothesline is okay? I can see being a bit bashful about not wanting to hang sexy lingerie outside, but regular cotton underwear? I don’t see the problem.
As for the “no clotheslines because the HOA says it makes the neighbourhood look poor” edict, I’m calling B.S. on that too. First of all, some people use clotheslines to be environmentally friendly (which is a good idea, because money may be renewable, but fossil fuel isn’t), and second, some people are wealthy because they make sensible financial decisions, like not driving up the electric bill by using their clothes dryers unnecessarily. It makes no sense to dry clothes in the dryer when it’s 30 C and sunny outside, and the dryer is burning up power and overheating the house, when the sun could dry those clothes for free.
P.S., I would have LOVED a “silent purchase” system as a teenager, but now, I’d find it a hassle, especially if I was buying other things at the same time. Maybe it’d be good if it was revived, on an optional basis, for anyone who’d be embarrassed, like young women, or males with females of childbearing age in their lives. The silent purchase coupons would be available online, to be printed. I know that feminine hygiene products can be purchased online (also silently), but that’s no good when they’re needed Right Now. I also know that menstruation is natural, and nothing to be embarrassed about, and blah, blah, blah, but tell that to the young woman who got hers for the first time at an inopportune moment (school, summer camp, dance class, the middle of the night at a sleepover, et cetera), or the poor guy being sent to “purchase by proxy.” I ran into one of those at Wal-Mart last summer, and I felt SO bad for him, because he was clearly out of his element, and texting frantically with his wife/girlfriend/daughter/sister/whoever had sent him. I’m not even sure he was embarrassed (after all, no guy is embarrassed to have a wife or a girlfriend), so much as he was overwhelmed by too much variety, and not knowing what to get, hence the texting–which men in previous generations couldn’t even do, so they just had to wing it (no pun intended). So, having the option of using a silent purchase coupon would have saved him all of that.
I’m pretty sure those coupons were in use in a time before supermarkets, though. Back in the day, grocery and drug stores were not self-serve. You would go to the counter and request the items, and the stock clerk would bring them to the register for you. And if you lived in the sort of town or neighborhood where everybody was always up in everybody else’s business (think of “the village” where Shirley Jackson characters always live) people might very well gossip and judge you for your purchases: “Mrs. So-And-S0 bought steak, and that’s the second time this week, how extravagant! No wonder her poor husband works such long hours.” “I don’t think Miss X can be a nice girl–I distinctly heard her buying ~tampons at the druggist’s!” So the “silent purchase” coupon spared you the embarrassment of having to ask for napkins or tampons or whatever in front of all the nosy neighbors. There’s not much point in it now, when the customers pick up the merchandise from the racks themselves.
As for people judging you for hanging your wash on the line–in the middle-class neighborhood where I grew up, your neighbors would judge you if you ~didn’t have your wash on the line by a certain time on Monday morning. You were beyond the pale if you did the wash on Tuesday!
Im Aussie, I have always hung my undies on the line, I try to keep them in the middle for modesty sake but if I miss one and it gets hung on the outside, meh. I simply dont care, I dont judge people for what style of clothing they wear why judge them for what they wear UNDERNEATH. I also dont care if my neighbors have a problem with it, they can live with it. I live in a tiny flat there is NO room for drying racks inside, I have one for under the back verandah when its raining but prefer the sun to do its work. There are only two flats in my building we have our own yards and hills hoists with a small metal fence in between. The only time I have had my neighbor say anything was to tell me off for leaving my clothes on the line for about five days during exam time when i was hardly ever home and forgot all about them. I passed my exams and my clothes were fine so I dont see an issue. Recently we had a massive storm, the worst in a decade sweep through, my town is a natural disaster zone and the contents of peoples houses are strewn all over town and the floods and wind have destroyed some homes altogether, some without power or phone service for weeks. I bet they wish their biggest problem right now was a pair of undies drying in the breeze.
My husband and I had a big fight about clotheslines when we first got married. Mind you we have a fenced in yard (it is a privacy fence) so unless you open the gate the clothes cannot be seen hanging up. My husband did not want a clothesline because he thinks they look trashy. I on the other hand grew up with a clothesline in the backyard and we used to hang sheets and towels on it, as well as clothes. It does save energy especially in the summer time. To this day we don’t have a clothesline, but whenever the weather starts to get warmer I bug him about it. Then when the weather gets colder I stop bugging him. I don’t think this is an issue that is ever going to go away though. It’s just gotten smaller with us over time. To be honest I never really notice individual pieces of clothing on the line, they don’t bother me. Even underwear. I am impressed that the person went to all the trouble of hanging out the wash. It saves energy and there is nothing like the smell of sheets and towels dried outside 🙂
I hope you’re all okay up there. Lots of love from Melbourne.
@Angel: folding racks is your solution. They’re good outside in Summer, indoors in Winter. They used to be made of wood, now I have chromed metal ones. A quick cold fluffing in the dryer will undo the “crunchiness” and stiffness.
I didn’t realize that folding racks made out of metal are sold now. Maybe I will get these. As long as my husband can’t see them he won’t complain. I can set them out in the morning and bring the clothes inside before he even gets home. Unfortunately they will probably be too small for the sheets, but as long as I can use them for most clothes I can get that nice smell 🙂 Thank you!
I lived in Australia for two years, and I think it’d be impractical NOT to have a clothesline there, because the summers are incredibly hot (the hottest day I experienced was 42 C, and that was in Wollongong, near the coast), and so, using a clothesline in the summer there would offset some of the energy consumed by running the air conditioning, and on the hottest days, line-drying isn’t even that much slower than an electric dryer–I remember putting clothes outside in the morning, and they’d be dry by lunch time.
I am not sure why Britain would be “stuffier than other countries.” I am Canadian and have travelled to Britain and visited relatives there numerous times. They seem to think nothing of hanging their intimates all over the house to dry, and I was a little embarrassed when they hung mine that way for the whole family to see. In general, I thought the ads I saw in Britain posted all over the streets were far racier than anything that would ever be allowed here, and, we Canadians are really not all that stuffy. I think of the U.S. as being the most puritanical of all, based on my travels, what I see on the news and in on-line forums.
When I was doing my Bachelor’s degree, I lived in residence, and therefore, the default was single-gender living–I lived in a single room my first two years, and in an apartment situation during my third and fourth year. The housing office didn’t ban co-ed apartments (although co-ed roommates in double rooms in the older residences were banned), but they wouldn’t put together a co-ed apartment unless all four people asked, and agreed upon it. Even then, it wasn’t encouraged, because people often got the idea to do it so that boyfriends and girlfriends could live together……but the housing office issued a BIG caveat about that–if moving was even possible (and often, it wasn’t, because the residence was full), how would the recently-split couple decide who had to move? So, since single-gender living was the norm, and the standards of propriety were relaxed a bit, it’d be completely normal to, say, air-dry bras in the living room because hey, we’re all girls here, right? Anyway, one day during my fourth year, I came back from class to find one of my housemates had a boyfriend over, and I happened to have a few of my bras air-drying in the living room. Boyfriend was politely looking away, but looked self-conscious. I saw this, and broke the ice by saying, “Boyfriend, did you just now learn that girls have boobs?” Everyone there thought it was pretty funny, we had a good laugh, and I gathered up my (now-dry) bras and put them away. I’m Canadian too, but that year, two of my housemates were Asian, and the third one was Caucasian, like me, but I can’t remember where she was from, because she was kind of quiet. Anyway, I don’t remember having any conversations about what it was and wasn’t okay to do in the common areas of our apartment (because I moved in somewhat quickly in late September/early October after leaving a “roommates from hell” situation), but over time, air-drying bras there became a common practice.
I agree. I thought that comment was a little strange. When I was in the UK everyone had their underwear lying around on radiators, and it didn’t matter if guests came over. And yes, I’m also Canadian and thought their television and advertisements in general were racier, and humour cruder.
Fellow Aussie here! the good old hills hoist has been a permanent fixture in my life, my reasoning behind pegging my “smalls” on the inside of line are practical as well as being a learned “modesty” behaviour from my Mum. The closer towards to centre, the less moving around you have to do to reach all the items (be it walking around the line or swinging it around) – ideal when it involves lots of small items.
Also on a cultural note I don’t think Australia has the same “outdoor clothesline = poor” way of thinking as America. We’re renowned for having good, sunny weather, electricity is expensive, and we’re pretty environmentally aware when it comes to home and living design so clotheslines win out over electric dryers.
As an interesting side story, my mum now hangs up the smalls inside on a small clothes airer – as one of the neighbours; an accountant and (formally) respected member of the community, was caught stealing women’s undies of clotheslines >.<
I have the same system, also instilled by my mother. Only modesty never entered into it because in the house we lived in growing up and also where I live now you’d have to be a very nosy neighbour indeed to see what is on our line.
The “undies in the middle” was for two reasons
1) The inside lines are really SHORT. There’s not a lot of room on them, so that’s where the smaller items go.
2) The outside lines get more of the breeze so thicker items like jeans, towels etc go there so that everything will dry in the same amount of time. I don’t like to wash much on the days when I’m working so when I wash I have lots to get through. It quietly annoys me when my daughter or husband hang washing on the line ‘wrong’ and I go to bring a load in and have to leave some of the heavier items because they’re not quite dry while the delicates dried half an hour before. It just makes things much less efficient. And yes, I do know that I sound a bit mad there 🙂
This seems like a no-brainer to me. If it’s indecent to show something in public, don’t hang it out to dry in public either.
As a Brit I have two things to say to this:
1) There is a reason the ‘Daily Mail’ is generally mocked and lampooned in England as the ‘Daily Fail’ – it is full of ‘scare stories’ about how breathing air and standing upright give you cancer (according to the Daily Mail, ‘Scientists’ reckon EVERYTHING gives you cancer). I wouldn’t take anything written in the Daily Mail too seriously.
2) This is a storm in a teacup. We Brits are no stuffier than anyone else anywhere else in the world. Different people have different opinions about how washing should be hung – My mother and I disagree on how cardigans should be hung, for example. Some people feel that you should be discrete with your smalls, others don’t care – I’ve seen plenty of peoples’ undergarments hung on their washing lines. Generally I hang washing according to size – small things on the inside, large stuff on the outside – I have a logic for this in that stuff on the outside generally needs to have better exposure to the sun/air as it likely can’t be tumble dried. I need my shirts and skirts for work. We need our Bedlinen dry. I have enough pants (Knickers) not to worry whether they don’t get dried on the line as I can always bung them in the tumble drier. I choose not to use the TD all the time because it leaves stuff smelling funny.
As an aside, I’ve never heard the ‘Outside Washing Line = Poor’ thing – Almost everyone in the UK has some form of outside washing line whether it’s a rotary line or hoist in the garden or an airier on a balcony.
2 Words: Cognitive Dissonance.
I’m sorry, Admin, but of all the stupid articles I’ve read today, that has to take the cake.
I, too, live in the ‘call a spade-a-spade, etc,’ country of Australia.
If people are debating whether it’s proper to hang their underwear out on the line or inside out of the prying eyes of the public, and if this is what the Daily Mail has sunk to by publishing this nonsense no wonder the world is in such a mess!!
My parent’s crazy next door neighbor hangs out her lingerie, very racy “Frederick’ s of Hollywood” (anyone remember those catalogs?”) type undergarments.
She and my folks hate each other, and she is in her (best guess) late 60’s.
She never hangs out anything else….just her undergarments.
Of course, she is allowed to wear anything she wants, she is an adult, but she puts on a great show a few times a week in the spring and summer of hanging these out.
Objective achieved it seems 😉
That has to be the laziest, but most cost-effective, way of having a running feud with a neighbour. Well-played Crazy Racy Knicker Lady!
@AIP: I know, right?
This chick has pulled many stunts over the years, mainly to get my dad’s goat, and they work every time!
I tell my dad all the time, “Do not engage the crazy! You KNOW she’s trying to piss you off….And you LET HER!”