OLYMPIA — There are 19 “Right to Dry” states in the country, the Seattle Times reports, that outlaw bans on clothelines and other outdoor clothes drying techniques, saying the dryer-free practice is good for the environment.
But residents in those other 41 states looking to hang their clothes in the sun? Well, they might be hung out to dry.
According to the Times, a number of homeowners associations around Seattle ban residents from hanging clothes on an outdoor clothesline. Homeowners covenants site everything from health concerns — such as children choking or getting caught in the line — to unsightly or nuisance ordinances. Most new housing developments or apartment complexes ban clotheslines, the Times reported, with the ban open to the discretion of the homeowners association.
At Redmond Ridge, for example, clotheslines are banned because they “pose a strangulation hazard” and work against creating a “clean, well-kept community.” The Seattle Housing Authority bans clotheslines in an effort to keep children safe. And Sammamish’s Heritage Hill development considers clotheslines “unsightly.”
Now, some clothesline advocates are pushing for legislation that would make clotheslines legal throughout the state. Advocates say the natural-dry method is environmentally friendly, with an average household using 4.3 percent of their annual electricity on drying clothes, releasing 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The Times reported homeowners could also save between $100 and $300 a year by outdoor drying.
Former state Rep. Deb Hall Eddy, D-Kirkland, once tried to pass legislation banning restrictions on clotheslines in Washington state, but was largely blocked by the homeowner’s association lobby, the Times reported.
But now, as summer winds down, the battle to let clothes dry in the sun is again heating up.
“I’m looking for a state law which expands the protection for solar panels to include protection for clotheslines so if we want to do the sustainable thing we can do that,” Howland told the Times.