Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Sheets on the Clothesline

on July 5, 2016

Do you know what my all-time favorite summertime smell is? Sheets on the Clothesline! Yes – sheets that have been dried on the clothesline!!! Oh my gosh – there’s nothing like the clean, crisp smell of sheets hung out on the clothesline in the sunshine and a breeze. They feel great when you climb into bed at night, and they smell great from being outside in the fresh air! I know it’s an old-fashioned thing that doesn’t happen too much anymore, but we decided when we moved to our house that we had to put up a clothesline. I’ve even had neighbors who’ve come over and used it. There have been times when I’ve hung out clothes, but it’s mostly used for sheets.

Hanging out the sheets was one of the things I would help Grandma do at the farm. She actually had two clotheslines and she would hang things depending on which clothesline had the most sun shining on it. I know that sunshine dries things faster and I do remember her being really worried about fly specks (I don’t know if  that had anything to do with the sun). Another use for your clothesline – relieving summertime boredom for the kids. Sometimes, when staying at the farm for an extended time, we would be bored enough to make a fort out of an old red wool blanket thrown over the clothesline with two picnic table benches at each edge to keep the blanket standing out like a tent. We’d stay in there and play until it got too hot under that wool blanket in the sun!

Until this past spring, I was using a very old washer and dryer that was beat up and didn’t look so great (our laundry room is downstairs and hidden behind a door so it didn’t matter what they looked like). We finally bit the bullet and bought a new model washer and dryer set, and we’re forced to use the new HE laundry detergent that is a liquid. Liquid laundry detergent is NOT my favorite smell. In fact, I hate it. All I can say is that had I known that I wouldn’t be able to use my usual powdered laundry detergent (the kind and smell I’ve used my WHOLE life), I would have thought long and hard about getting a new washer and dryer. Who knew that I would have to use a specific kind of detergent in these new fangled gadgets? I sure didn’t. That’s how old our washer and dryer were! I have been buying the usual brand of detergent I use, but in the liquid for most clothing (I just use about half of what they call for so the scent doesn’t bug me too much), but I also use an unscented liquid for my sheets and towels, because I just don’t like the smell of the other. Well, unfortunately, I found out that part of the wonderful smell of sheets hung on the clothesline is the detergent. Unscented detergent doesn’t make the sheets hung on the line smell good. They don’t smell at all!!! It was a sad realization for me, but it is what it is. I still like the fact that the sheets are hung out in the fresh air and sunshine and they still feel cool and crisp climbing into bed at night. Until they make liquid detergent that smells like my usual powdered kind, I’m stuck using the unscented. It will just have to be one of those smells of my childhood that I remember fondly but won’t ever have again. I guess it’s time to make new memories of cool, crisp, unscented sheets dried in the sunshine and the breeze, and enjoy them for what they are.


Wash your sheets as you normally would and then, out to your clothesline. Get yourself some good old-fashioned clothespins to hang up your sheets.


Pick a beautiful, sunny, breeze, low humidity day to dry your sheets on the line. I don’t think there’s technically any certain way you HAVE to hang the sheets – just so they’re off the grass and able to freely flap in the breeze.


It’s nice when the breeze fills up the pockets on the fitted sheets so they dry faster.


This was a perfect day for drying. You can see here that the sheets and pillowcases are a bit wrinkled when you first put them on the line. When they’re dry and you’re ready to bring them in, they are flat and straightened and look like they’ve been pressed with a iron.


I love to see the sheets flapping in the breeze.


Make sure you have good, sturdy clothespins if you have a real breezy day – you don’t want to come out and find your sheets on the grass!

When they’re dry and it’s time to bring them in and put them on the bed, I try and not put anything on top of them and don’t let anyone touch them until it’s time to climb in. That makes this old-fashioned experience even more delicious – I don’t want anything disturbing those clean, crisp, cool, sun and fresh air and breeze dried sheets before I get in. It’s absolute heaven. Sigh.


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