Solar Energy in My Yard

We love Disney World.  What does this have to do with solar energy in our yard?  Inspiration.  The Universe of Energy(dinosaur) exhibit at Epcot has a massive 360 degree theater with an ear drum exploding, mind-blowing film about harnessing the earths resources.  They mention oil, of course, but they focus on hydroelectric and solar energy too.  No matter how many times I see it, I get goose bumps.  I picture my kids having homes of their own one day that draw every bit of energy from sources not owned by a large corporation.  What is taking so long to accomplish this?

About two years ago I decided that my electric clothes dryer was a huge energy waste for our household.  I bought an outdoor clothes dryer that is shaped like a big umbrella.  It is made of metal and wood.  The wood part was a weird red color but it only took me 30 minutes to paint it the color of our house.  It now blends beautifully.  I absolutely love this thing!  I found it in the ads in the back of Mother Earth magazine.  It’s from G & G Industries.  For a link on how to build your own solar clothes dryer Click here .

My outdoor laundry room. A summer storm was approaching in the background. The clothes were already dry and I was just letting them get some natural summer ozone fragrance.

I never used to put my own clothes in my electric dryer because I wanted the fibers to last as long as possible.  (I only buy clothes that I really like).  So my clothes were always hanging from doors, knobs and everywhere.  I wanted to start hanging them outside because it made more sense.  When I bought this nifty outdoor  laundry dryer I quickly realized it was easier to wash and hang the entire family’s laundry.  I can wash 5 loads of laundry, hang them all out to dry at the same time and they’re completely dry and ready to fold in 30 minutes.  We live in Florida… the land of solar energy.

Are they stiff?   Sometimes, but I really like it.  They fold like they’ve been ironed.  The fabric dries on the line in the exact position that I hang them in.  If the towels dry stiff,  I just give them a big shake with a snap… then they’re perfect.  It’s very hard to resist smushing my face in the towel to smell it.  My friend Roxanne from Jamaica says I should tell you that the towels do stay a little stiff.  I think they soak up the water much, much better when I dry off. 

I’m a really busy person and I usually find it difficult to get the washed laundry in and out of the electric dryer in a timely manner.  Sometimes I don’t get to it right after it has finished its cycle and I get a wrinkled mess to deal with. 

I would never use the dryer when I’m leaving the house and if I’ve just washed a load of clothes, this is bothersome.  I don’t seem to have any of these issues with my clothes blowing in the breeze outside.   Sometimes I forget they’re out there, but it’s no big deal. I’ve been hanging my clothes out to dry for 2 years now and I can’t think of a single complaint.  The sun sanitizes my clothes so beautifully.

Our laundry "umbrella". It folds down when not in use and can be easily taken out of the pvc pipe fitting in the ground that the pole stands in. It has been worth every hard-earned penny we paid for it.

I never, ever use fabric softeners or perfumed additives.  I avoid perfumed detergent like the plague.  This stuff is really unhealthy for humans, animals and the environment.  People spend a ton of money on them.  Can I talk you out of using them? 

I recently had a friend give my son some wonderful hand-me-downs and his closet smelled like the fabric softener they used.  I can still smell it.  It doesn’t smell bad, it just smells weirdly unnatural and fake.  These lab-made perfumes (especially fabric softener) are notorious for causing health problems.  Your clothes rub against your skin (the body’s largest organ) and can send nasty chemicals straight into your blood stream.  It stands to reason that the fresher and natural your clothes are… the better.  I feel like we would all be so much healthier if we didn’t use these things.  A lot of people like the soft feel of fabric softener on their skin.  It feels unnaturally soft (almost slimey) to me. This is only my opinion though.  My skin always breaks out whenever I sleep on sheets and pillowcases that have been laundered with fabric softener and perfumed detergents.  

I find baking soda to be my magic laundry tool.  I learned this from the laundry guru, Martha Stewart.  Yes, baking soda is a chemical, but I feel more comfortable drinking a glass of water with some baking soda rather than benzyl acetate or chloroform. The corporations that sell us these fabric softeners and detergents do not have to tell us what is really in them, even the really toxic, cancer-causing ingredients.   

This is a friend's laundry line. I love it. I think a path of concrete stepping stones would make her life easier though.

My clothes line is located in a very convenient location in full sun.  I made sure of this.  It’s at the edge of a tiled patio so my feet never get dirty or touch the grass.  I think this is a reason my outdoor laundry room has been such a pleasure. 

These clothes smelled so darn fresh and the breeze made them feel really nice. I wished I'd had my pillowcases hanging out there.

In Jamaica I noticed that my laundered clothes always came back smelling so fresh.  They smelled like breezy sunshine (for a lack of better words).  They always looked and felt like they had been ironed, yet they hadn’t.  Crisp clothes seem to be a characteristic of the Caribbean, especially white linen.  Their secret is no secret, it’s just solar energy. 

When I bring the laundry in after dark, the ducks always come out to see what I'm doing.

This little frog was so cute balancing on the laundry line one night. My daughter is adamant that this is Princess Tiana from "The Princess and the Frog" because the frog is yellow. My laundry line is next to a small pond that has an orchestra of toads every night. They have some serious bass to their sound.

The transition from the electric dryer to the outdoor laundry room was easy.  My electric dryer caught on fire one time and I’ve been overly cautious of it ever since.  However, I still suffer from the guilt associated with hanging my clothes outside.  I guess it’s not the modern thing to do.  It seems that most people would not even consider hanging their laundry outside to dry.  There is a stigma attached to it that I don’t understand. 

Boats go by our property and see me hanging my laundry up and I feel like they’re judging me.  Let them judge.  I have a huge investment in our clothes, sheets, towels and fabrics and will take care of them the way I choose.  I’ll save my electric dryer for rainy days and late nights.

Come grow with us!



7 Responses to “Solar Energy in My Yard”


  2. I do not have a dryer any more at all I use this clothes drying rack for all my laundry. What I like best about it is its portability. It seems like it rains, or is too something more often than not to put the clothes outside. With a rack I can take advantage on the days that the sun shines the other days my clothes dry perfectly fine somewhere in my house.

  3. I have not recd any more posts what happened? Kati

  4. 9bgardener Says:

    I’ve abandoned a retractable tree-to-tree clothesline in favor of simply pinning or draping laundry over a 4′ chain link fence in the side yard. I cover the fence top with sections of clean old sheets reserved for the purpose. It might sound a little tacky, but it’s fast & convenient to my laundry room and hidden from the street and view of neighbors. All the suggestions here just go to show that almost anyone can enjoy the benefits and energy savings of outdoor clothes drying. (I do toss cotton towels in the dryer on air-fluff for a few minutes to remove the “fuzzies” that my washing machine’s lint filter leaves behind).

  5. how come i dont get anything from your blog i will subscribe again

  6. Hi,
    While I was searching about fabric softeners, I stumbled into your blog.
    A pretty laundry line. One not seen in most of the US cities and towns. While I was in US , I was told not to even keep some clothes on the railing of the patio! I appreciate your awareness.

    Here in India, you may have heard that we dry all our laundry in the sun. I love the smell of the sun in the clothes. ( i missed it while in US). We do use solar energy for a whole lot of day to day activities. We love it too.

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