I tend to talk this subject to death (hey there, IK girls!) but I love the process of hanging out laundry. Our clothes line was being thrown away by my neighbor when I stopped her and dragged it into my yard. It's one of these:
(stock picture - that is definitely NOT my backyard)
I also have a retractable clothesline across our screened-in porch. A great option if you have limited space in your yard, or just have a balcony, porch, small spare room, etc. where you want to dry your clothes.
The Mister dug me a post hole, inserted a piece of PVC pipe into the whole, and filled in around it with cement. This way it can be removed for ease of mowing, flocks of children descending on your yard, etc. I started hanging my laundry out 2 years ago and was quickly addicted. The best time to get your laundry out is first thing in the morning so it has all day to dry (especially important in cooler weather). An added bonus is to be out in your yard, preferably by yourself, first thing in the morning. The birds swooping overhead, the quiet - and your laundry is going to smell amazing after being hung out all day.
A few months ago I started researching recipes for homemade laundry detergent. I have tried a few and eventually came up with a recipe that cleans great, is super cheap, and smells wonderful. You will need :
1 bar fels naptha or another all-natural soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
1 large bucket with a lid (the Homer buckets from Home Depot do nicely)
Grate the entire bar of soap into a large stock pot. Add 6 cups of water and heat until soap dissolves. Add Borax and washing soda and stir until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and pour mixture into bucket. Add 4 cups hot water, then 1 gallon plus 6 cups more water, and fragrance. Let sit uncovered for 24 hours before using, then use 1/2 cup per load. The finished detergent will not be solid - in truth it looks like homemade slime. I keep a wooden paint stirrer next to my bucket to mix it up before I use it. If you can find a cheap scoop that measures around a 1/2 cup, it is well worth it to avoid detergent covered hands when you go to use it.
The fragrance - ok, I really wanted to be super Earth friendly and use only all natural organic essential oils harvested by Tibetan monks during the full moon OBVIOUSLY; however I didn't want to spend $25 for 2 oz of fragrance. Hello, Dollar Store! As the ever enlightened Mrs. B from Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom points out, there is magic in the Dollar Store! They have a line of essential oils in their candle aisle, and while a lot of them are way too sweet or strong, they had a rain scent that was awesome. I use about 8 drops per bucket - you get a nice hint of fragrance but it's nothing that is going to make your significant other want to roll around in the mud. And if you want extra brownie points, you can also make your own fabric softener:
1 cup baking soda (hint : if you keep baking soda in your fridge to absorb odors, instead of throwing it away when it's past it's prime, use it for this. Unless it really reeks it will not transmit odor)
6 cups white vinegar
1 large bucket
Add baking soda to bucket with 1 cup of water. Slowly add vinegar, then 7 additional cups of water and fragrance if using. Mix well, then you can funnel this into any clean empty plastic container. Up-cycled vinegar bottles or orange juice or milk containers work very well - just make sure to label them and put them up where kids won't be able to reach them.