11 May

The War Against Clotheslines. “The Right To Dry.”

by Jon Katz

For years now, gated communities and condominiums have banned clotheslines, the point where 19 states have passed “right to dry” laws outlawing clothes bans.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, North Caroline, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin have all made it illegal to ban clotheslines, mostly over environmental concerns about saving water and energy.

Many wealthy suburban communities across the country ban clothesline because they think they are ugly or suggest poverty.

I’m in love with our clothesline. Yes, it saves water and energy, but I think they are works of art; I love to see them flapping in the wind, I love the way they smell; they add character and dimension to our farmhouse.

I think communities without clotheslines are soulless and bland sometimes. I’m always happy to photograph ours.


  1. Why?
    Because clothes snap in the wind like they are dancing.
    Because all those colors look pretty like the flags over the gas station.
    Because they feel nice to hug on a hot day, or crawl under and pretend the sheets are a circus tent. You can sit in the grass in their shade and look up at clouds and lick your paper cup juice pop.
    Because it’s really exciting when there is thunder and all the kids on the street run outside to bring in the clothes.
    Because when we are too late and the wind blows them around, we can run through the backyards figuring out which socks are Jimmy’s and which are mine. Sometimes we swap.
    Because after the clothes are hung up, the mothers can wave hello and talk over the fences.
    Because wooden clothespin are really small dolls with feet, and you can make paper dresses and hats for them.
    Because clothes from the line smell like hot sun and cool wind when you carry them inside and fold them up and put your nose in them.
    Because it means we are very lucky to have moms who took care of our clothes so we will look neat for school tomorrow.

  2. I have always had a clothesline in my backyard, so did my mother and her mother and everyone else’s mother in my neighborhood growing up! I can NOT live without one! Thank you Jon & Maria.

  3. There is nothing like sleeping on sheets that have been lined dried. I have been hanging clothes out since helping my Great Grandmother hang hers out.

  4. I used to use the clothes line until I got allergies real bad especially drying my sheets. They smelled so good

  5. Growing up my Mom always used her clothesline and when I got married one of the first things I did was put up my clothes line then we moved to our house and my husband built me a wonderful clothes line. Well along came new neighbors and I was out in the yard one day and the husband came over to me and asked me if THAT was necessary and I asked him what That was and he pointed at my clothesline I very nicely replied and told him Yes it was necessary and he proceeded to tell me how he and his wife have to look out there kitchen window at it. A few days later he was measuring up the side of a tree and informed me he was measuring for a fence and wanted to make sure it was high enough to hide THAT> Well me being the person I am replied with “Well that’s nice because fences make the best neighbors” he did not appreciate that at all and up the fence went and my clothes line is still there and used all the time and those people moved and new neighbors moved in and loved my clothe line so I guess I had the last laugh on that one.

  6. I love my clothesline! I just had to have mine redone because the posts were leaning so badly that I was afraid they would soon just fall over. I have sheets flapping on the line right ow.

  7. Your clothes line is beautiful because of Maria’s artistic nature. Her clothes and fabric make yours sparkle and dance.

  8. I don’t think I can live without a clothesline. I love driving in the country and looking at the clothesline’s….there is something so simple, so satisfying, so honest about a clothesline. Last summer we drove past a farm with a clothesline covered with all white sheets and pillow cases blowing in the wind and I was mesmerized. It was so peaceful. I will never give them up!

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