Chore of doing laundry has changed over time

“Understanding is the beginning of approving.” — Andre Gide (1869-1951), French author and Nobel Prize winner in literature

Who would think that washing and drying clothes would become a controversial issue? I have read recently — with great amusement, I might add — that in some neighborhoods around the country, folks are giving up their clothes dryers and hanging their unmentionables right out there for everybody to see. It seems there is a movement afoot to save energy by hanging freshly laundered clothing outside to dry.

Now, here is the big bite. It also seems that not everybody in the neighborhood wants to see tighty whities, socks, sheets, towels or anything else for that matter flapping in the breeze. Adding to this dilemma, certain neighborhoods have rules and regulations prohibiting such public displays of laundry and are taking their neighbors to court. Mercy, can you just believe it?

Now, for my part, I remember my mother hanging clothes out on the line, and I fondly recall the fresh smell when I would climb into my newly made bed. But for me today, I want no part of it.

First of all, I don’t particularly want to see my neighbor’s underwear, nor do I want everybody driving by to see whatever I might put out there. That’s just a little too much information and strictly my view of the universe. And the last time I was offered a nature-dried towel to use, it practically scraped the skin right off my face.

I’m sure there’s a lot of opinions on this, but between the time my mother did it and today, things have changed. Clothing doesn’t smell fresh; it’s as stiff as a board and just not user-friendly.

So I am definitely an indoor laundry gal. I don’t like camping either; hanging clothes outside is the same thing to me. I love my creature comforts, and I consider indoor laundry at the top of my list.

When outdoor clotheslines were no longer the norm, appliance manufacturers jumped into the market with great aplomb, offering the lady of the house the opportunity to wash and dry clothes — even on a rainy day. In today’s market, the appliances go far beyond protecting your clothing from the weather.

These same appliance makers are extremely competitive and are offering machines that actually make you want to do laundry. OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but I would say not.

We tend not to think a lot about our workhorse appliances. Once you buy them, and as long as they work, we don’t even look at others in the store. So if your appliances are a little older or if you haven’t walked through the washer/dryer aisle in your local home store recently, you should do it just to see the competitive nature of this business.

I don’t even want to think about how old my washer and dryer are. I’ve had them “repaired” at least once, so we’ll see how long they go.

Along with the multitude of features offered, the prices are also astronomical. Some of these machines rival the cost of a small car.

And designer colors are no longer to be found only in your closets or in your home decor, but rather are proudly displayed in laundry rooms around the country. My favorites now are the bright red appliances. Just imagine swinging into your laundry room every day to that sight.

For those of us who are space challenged, the good choice has always been the stacking unit, with washer and dryer in one piece. The footprint is smaller than the regular side-by-side washer/dryer, and they stack one on top of the other.

But being always on the cutting edge, the latest fashion to hit the washer/dryer runway is the “one machine that does it all.” In other words, you wash and dry in the same machine. How’s that for efficiency?

Regardless of your laundry preferences, as with most things today, your choices are many and decisions more difficult. I have friends who live in an environment where they can and do hang out their clothes, and then there are others who live, for instance, in high-rise apartment buildings in New York City and couldn’t fathom doing it. And if you live in an area that is a controlled by an association, you can’t put your laundry outside.

In many new homes, the laundry room is becoming one of the top-selling rooms. In addition to the washer and dryer, there is usually a sink and lots of cabinetry. They are great places to appreciate your laundry.

On trips overseas and to different cities, I see clothing hanging from every balcony in apartment homes. But you won’t see it here.

So hanging clothing outside is one of those things we have to say goodbye to. There are so many options for doing our laundry that you will never be disappointed.

So whatever your laundry preference and choice, enjoy! We’re so lucky to have them.

Carolyn Muse Grant is a design consultant and creator of beautiful spaces. Questions can be sent to her at

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