Friday, 1 May 2015

Washing One’s Dirty Linen In Public


The weather has been brighter and it has been so good to be able to dry washing outside.

But as I pegged out my laundry, I started wondering about the way I do it.

For instance- which way up should you peg things? I was looking for clip art of a washing line and found these drawings



My pegging technique is the complete opposite to these.

  • I peg trousers by the bottom of the legs, so that the thickest, heaviest part [waistband] is hanging at the bottom, and it can drip dry more efficiently
  • Shirts also get pegged upside-down for the same reason
  • Teeshirts likewise [the straight hem goes along the line, and I do not get peg marks at the shoulders]
  • Socks are pegged by the toes
  • Most clothes are pegged inside out, which helps prevent fading, and helps pockets to dry properly.

I have a random assortment of pegs in the bag – ranging from a few trad wooden dolly pegs[leftover from craft projects] through assorted plastic ones, up to the swish Lakeland spring ones [gift from SIL]


The Lakeland ones are really good, I have to admit. I bought a bag of pegs for Cornerstones in the Poundshop in 2009, and discovered over Easter that the plastic has gone brittle, so every time I squeezed one to peg something out, the peg shattered and had to be discarded. Clearly that was a false economy.

But is the position of things on the line significant?W ith a rotary dryer, longer, larger things need the higher, wider lines nearer the edge – so sheets and bath towels are pegged out last. 

I would not consider myself particularly prudish- but I realise that with the rotary dryer, I always peg my underwear at the centre, near the post – and surround it with larger items [towels, tee shirts etc] In Norfolk, where there are two close, parallel lines, sheets go to the outside, and smalls on the inner line. But are my neighbours really interested in “Mrs Vicar’s Knickers”?

undies dryerI did raise this in a conversation with some friends, and they admitted to screening their undies too.

Another friend pegs her ‘smalls’ on one of these contraptions, and hangs it in an out of the way corner.

Sing_a_sing_of_sixpence_-_illustration_by_Walter_Crane_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_18344I checked out the Good Housekeeping Institute’s website for advice on drying laundry . It was singularly unhelpful, and just said “29 results. Related products – gin, prosecco, tumble dryers” -

My advice? Just remember the old rhyme and watch out for blackbirds!


  1. I remember reading the advice to hang tops by their bottoms, a,d bottoms by their tops. But I don't always follow it. We don't have outdoor drying facilities, except by squeezing our maidens onto the balcony. I hang stuff any which way though: if folk want to inspect my smalls (or rather, my "bigs"!) then they can. (You could do another blog post on what these clothes airers are known as - Mr FD calls it a clothes horse, but I know it as a maiden. Lord knows why!!!)

    1. I just love the phrase "Squeezing our maidens onto the balcony"!! I grew up with the term "clothes horse" - not heard "maiden" before!

  2. I hang trousers from the waist to avoid ironing. Some t-shirts or blouses are hung on coat hangers again to avoid ironing. I dislike ironing.
    I also have a rotary line and I place underwear in the middle, on the shortest lines with longer items hiding them.

  3. Interesting post - I too have had this sort of conversation with friends and it is interesting to note the different ways we all have of doing things. I hate leaving a space if something is dry and taken in and will move things along to fill the gaps. I hang shirts by the hem so that the wind can get inside the shoulders and blow them better, tee shirts are hung by the hems but nightdresses by the shoulders (why?!) trousers by the waist since the top seems to dry faster on the line than the hems below (nearer the sun perhaps?!) socks by the toes like you ....Regarding pegs I like the lakeland ones for teeshirt hems but find that they don't grip the line as fast as the older wooden ones and with very thin things like scarves they tend to slip along the line. I wonder someone hasn't done a report on the psychology of why we do our washing in one way or another it might prove interesting but what it would say about me who doesn't mind my undies on show I don't know! Granny used to spread hers over the bushes preferably lavender to dry.

  4. When I lived in Shrewsbury I once commented to a friend that I thought I was the only woman in Shropshire who wore knickers as I had never seen any on anyone’s line. Here in Lincolnshire the custom is to let it all hang out.

  5. Lakeland pegs win every time. They stay where you put them and dont break.
    Yes, I hide my undies too!

  6. Oh I am liking GoodHhousekeeping's associations with gin and prosecco. Most acceptable. I am very fussy about only having wooden spring pegs, although the camping pegs are admittedly plastic. I hang trousers upside down on the line and in the wardrobe too. I don't like rotary lines, and so haven't had an outside line at all since we moved, as i can't work out where anotheer retractable set of stright lines would go. I do miss my retractable lines. Thankfully though the previous owners left their big old pulley rail and that has been a delight! It's the ironing that defeats...

  7. ps Badger would love to come to Dorset- do I have your new address? And no, there was no visual that applied to your Bob at all!

  8. We have no washing line, just a communal lawn and I do put laundry out to dry on an ancient clothes horse, but oh the times the wind has blown the whole lot down when I have used a new style of airer. I dry my smalls indoors, not keen on the neighbours seeing them and if the airer fell down or high winds caught them, I wouldn't want them strewn across the lawn!

  9. The only eyes looking at my hanging out to dry smalls, belong to wildlife.Dave, the builder arrived this morning..I was willing him not to look up at the line.
    Jane x

  10. I have a high line and a low line, both strung from two huge poles like flag pole. The high line is for sheets, towels and big clothes. I always hang the smalls on the low line, so they can be seen by neighbour's!

  11. In the small mining town where I grew up, a woman's housekeeping skills were measured by how tidy a washing line she had, as in, 'Aye, she pits oot a nice line o washing'. It would have to include nothing grey that should have been brilliant white and no felted knitwear! Also, those dolly clothes pegs made great babies' dummies/soothers - the rubber teat from the bottle being attached to the top - much before my time, I hasten to add!Hope you have a domestic trivia-free weekend, Angela. x

  12. I have a mix of pegs but like lakeland's best. Trousers and skirts by waists shirts by hems, socks by toes. I must confess to never having thought about hiding my undies! Do you hide bob's as well?

  13. I have a selection of the curvy plastic dolly type pegs like the orange/yellow one in the middle of your row of pegs. I've had them 35+ years and the plastic is now starting to go brittle and my pegs are breaking. They have outlived my wooden ones that I had at the same time : )


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