Rinsing the rumours: What is the correct way to hang your washing?

Do you peg on the bottom of the tops, or swear by hangers on the line?
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If you’ve been pegging your wet clothes on the Hills Hoist with reckless abandon with nary a thought to the dynamics of drying, you may be committing backyard sins.

It seems there are multitudes of considerations when you are hanging your clothes, but how many of them are actually science based or merely personal preference?

We take a look into the tried and tested methods to work out which is best.

Many people have a methodology such as “hang tops from the bottom, and bottoms from the top” however a surprising number of people also have systems that they swear by.

“I hate peg marks on the bottoms of my tops,” says Emily Hawker.

“So I fold them over the line and peg them under the arms -inside out, so they don’t fade.

“No one else I know does this. I’m just strange,” she adds.

But Emily is not strange. In fact, borderline obsessive compulsive behaviour when it comes to hanging your washing appears to be quite common.

“I hang shirts and dresses on hangers, and then I hang them in order,” says Melissa Swan.

“Towels, kids clothes, our clothes, and then I match pegs too,” she adds.

“I’ve always done it like that. I fold at the line and I have a sorting system in the laundry. My husband will deliberately mix the pegs up and mocks me for being so OCD.”

Hanging washing can cause undue stress!


Colour coding pegs has no actual benefit to the laundry process, but for some, the perceived need for order can be consuming.

“I organised by size and then colour,’ says Kate Ives.

“Pegs have to be matching. It got so out of control that I sobbed when we got a dryer so I can avoid the stress.”

It seems simple household chores can bring out the obsessive side in anyone. Even famous science commentator, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, has a strict system.

“I do the garments long ones, short ones, long ones, short ones in order to maximize the sunshine input, but my wife and two daughters taught me another method which is one quadrant for each of us which makes sense as it’s social engineering,” he said of his family hanging techniques recently on Triple J radio.

WATCH: How to wash your down jacket. Story continues after video…

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But let’s forget about the design of hanging clothes for a moment, what of the science behind leaving space between lines in order to maximise airflow?

If you’re hanging towels and sheets does it make a difference if you leave space between?

Yes, says Dr Karl.

“If you have it with the towels touching each other, then the water will leave one towel body and travel half a millimetre and go into the other one.

“You want to have that air gap and the bigger the air gap the better, and if you can have wind going through that to remove the water molecules once they’ve left the towel, that’s even better again as it provides a better concentration gradient.”

Turns out there are some nifty tricks you can try that’ll dry your washing for the better!


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