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June 01, 2009

Vermont Legislature Lets it All Hang Out -- Wet Laundry, That is

Governor Jim Douglas didn’t get his panties in a bunch over this line item — a new law that guarantees Vermonters the right to dangle their damp drawers outdoors so that Mother Nature can do her thing.

As improbable as it sounds, until last week municipalities and homeowner associations could outlaw the age-old practice of hanging wet laundry outside to dry. But S.18, which was signed into law last week and took effect today, now prevents anyone from banning “solar collectors, clotheslines or other energy devices based on renewable resources.” It’s this generation’s “sunshine laws.”

The bill didn’t generate much static in the legislature, largely due to the efforts of Vermont Country Store proprietor Lyman Orton, a longtime “right to dry” advocate who helped push the bill. Orton’s interests weren’t just financial — the Vermont Country Store sells clotheslines, clothes pins and drying racks — but also environmental: Clothes dryers account for about 15 percent of domestic energy usage in the United States, according to Project Laundry List.

Aside from the cost savings, line-drying linens and things makes them last longer, conserves energy and the environment, and reduces the risk of dryer fires, which account for about 16,000 house fires annually nationwide, PLL reports.

Of course, airing one’s dirty laundry in the legislature is still verboten.

YES! I am forwarding this story to our condo association right now. Now I won't have to dry our laundry in the frickin' dining room any more.

Molly, be advised that there is a clause in the version of the bill that passed the Senate, which talks about balconies: "This section shall not apply to patio railings in condominiums, cooperatives, or apartments." But, if you're using a clothesline or laundry rack, they can't stop you.

Thanks Ken! I have a very lovely wooden rack that my parents gave me for Christmas last year. Good drying racks are hard to find - they're expensive but you save money and frustration in the long run because you don't have to buy and try to Gorilla Glue the heck out flimsy Made-in-China models.

Thank you Seven Days for keeping us informed. This is a wonderful and logical new law. I am forwarding this discussion to my Association volunteer leadership!

Ken, You say there is a clause about balconies; does this mean that you can be prevented from hanging a clothesline on a balcony? I'm in this situation and I want to figure out what the new law means for me. I'm having trouble locating the bill. Do you know the name of it?

I found your other article with a link to the bill - thanks!

Glad you found it. Here's the operative section in H.446:
Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no municipality, by
ordinance, resolution, or other enactment, shall prohibit or have the effect of
prohibiting the installation of solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy
devices based on renewable resources. This section shall not apply to patio
railings in condominiums, cooperatives, or apartments.

Well this is Very Good News for alot of us. For me it will Save Money that I give to the Laundrymate every week. So, once again thanks!

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