The “Fresh Air” Laundry Fragrance

Michelle - Saint Marys, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 20, 2008

I believe in the simple pleasure of hanging laundry out to dry.

Few things in the world give me more satisfaction than taking freshly laundered clothing from the washer and carrying it outside on a warm and sunny day to hang dry. Especially when this sunny day is the first after a long line of cold winter days.

The birds are singing their hearts out. The breeze is gentle but a tad bit nippy. The golden sunlight warms my skin and tames the goose bumps that were brought on by the breeze. I take each item from the laundry basket, one at a time, and give it a whip snap and a shake. With a crack! I get some of the wrinkles out and loose fuzz goes flying into the grass.

I carefully hold the item up to the clothesline and with a clothespin in one hand and the other pin held between my lips, I carefully clip the clothing to the line, one clip at each corner. Immediately the shirt begins to wave in the wind, moving slowly back and forth in a rhythmic motion. I work repeatedly to hang up the various articles of laundry. There are jeans and pants, dress shirts and t-shirts, tablecloths and bed sheets. When I finish I pause long enough to lean close to a waving t-shirt to take a deep whiff, and already the magic has begun.

Due to some crazy alchemy of sun and fresh air and water on wet clothes, the sweetest aroma this side of nature emanates from the hanging clothing. It doesn’t even matter if the shirt is cotton or nylon or some other material. With one whiff I am transported back in time to when I was a child, climbing into the big bed at my grandmother’s house. The crisp white sheets smelled like this and seemed to make naptime less a punishment and of missing out on something and more of an eagerly awaited adventure into dreamland.

The “fresh air” laundry fragrance defies replication. Although some manufacturers may claim to have caught the fragrance in detergent or air fresheners or dryer sheets; their products pale in comparison and never truly smell the same in my mind.

The freshness of this smell makes me happy. I grumble less about the task that needs doing (cleaning a week’s worth of dirty undergarments, uniforms and play clothes) and find myself more content to get the job done. Not a time saving activity, hanging clothes, but for those of us who are interested in “going green” we can’t go wrong with this method which employs both wind and solar energy.

Hanging out the laundry was a tradition that my mom learned from her mom and I adopted as well. It is easy and worth the effort, especially when the reward lingers long after I have put the clothes away, or set the table or made the bed. Ahhh!