Coming soon to the South Lawn – the Obamas’ laundry?



You know, I support practically every good cause there is (though very few of them with money), including Project Laundry List.  It's the big-name nonprofit that's encouraging people to save energy by drying their laundry outdoors – and organizing to overturn stupid laws and homeowner association rules that prohibit it.

But now this, from their most recent newsletter:

"Please forward this month's newsletter to all of your friends. Ask them to call
The Office of the First Lady at (202) 456-1414. Only together can we get Barack
and Michelle Obama to install a clothesline for all of the linens, aprons, and
laundry done at The White House."

Now that just makes me feel sorry for the Obamas.


  1. Oh my! And I was already feeling (a little) sorry for them when the gardeners of the world, including me, united to encourage them to plant a kitchen garden!

  2. I don’t want to see laundry hangin’ around the White House. Gardening, yes, laundry, no. Besides, Washington is too humid in the summer for laundry to dry well, and the White House linens don’t really need to be bleached out by the sun. Plus, laundry hung in CLEAN air smells good, and I’ve visited Washington DC…

  3. Well, you know, I don’t want to see the presidential undies hung out to dry either and I think this campaign is kind of silly, but since I live in the DC metro area I can tell you that you CAN indeed hang out your laundry here in the summer. It will smell good, it will dry (sometimes more slowly than you would like), and you will save lots of lovely money by not using the insanely expensive electricity supplied by our local power companies.

    I have a solar dryer outside and a clothesline in the basement for winter and rainy days. I dry almost everything that way except towels, because I do like fluffy towels.

  4. I don’t think someone who lives in Houston has any reason to make unkind remarks about DC. No, it’s not too humid for laundry to dry well in the summer, and my laundry, dried in the Metro DC air all summer long, smells lovely. But if I’m ever in Houston I’ll smell your air and report back.

  5. This made me laugh out loud. I’m all for hanging laundry (in fact want to build a clothesline/rack this summer for the garden), but I agree with Rosella: this seems kind of silly. Maybe we environmentalsts risk trivializing the victory garden effort with this? Just a thought.

  6. They need a drying yard. Residential landscape design books of the early 1900’s always had a fenced in drying yard so no one could see your undies.

  7. Garden yes, White House dirty (clean) laundry aired? No thank you. I do however, prefer my wash line dried – with the eception of towels. Way to scratchy line dried.

  8. I think that it is a little silly, but of course it is to be expected that the Obama family is going to be bombarded with requests to do all sorts things.

  9. interesting how selective we can be when it comes to “protecting” the environment. Leaf blowers are SO wrong – they should never be used according to some of the people here, but an unsightly laundry line- what a horror. We should undoubtably not be concerned about the use of a dryer, just so we don’t have to see laundry hanging around.

  10. Low income trailer parks often have covenants that ban closelines. It takes ambition to do the extra work involved and if you have to save money this is a blessing. I wouldn’t like to see exposed thongs but sheets and shirts look good.

  11. The poor Obamas, being petitioned on behalf of everyone’s favorite issue. We just had a similar solar clothes dryer conversation at our house. The December ice storm took down my clothesline contraption and I thought it could be relocated, next to the new Potager. I thought if I had to bring clothes down to hang I might spend an extra half hour weeding. But my husband is adamant about not wanting to look at the laundry when he is relaxing in the Cottage Ornee. I love the idea of a drying yard.

  12. I’m gonna get all southern on you people. There is a scary racist image in this scenario, where you have the First Laundress going to Whitey’s House.

    Don’t do it Michelle!

  13. i have lined dried for years and only use the dryer in bad weather. I like the idea of a drying yard. My lines were on one end of the garden and in our next garden (we’re moving) i hope to install a drying yard.
    hooray for clothes lines!!

  14. I think we are going too far imposing our laundry drying preferences. Let’s do it in our own home first, (I do) and encourage our neighbors to do so. The president has a lot more to think about right now.

  15. DC has an astronomically high pollen count in the summer. I’d be afraid of hang out whites and bringing them in with a layer of green pollen all over them. And then, you sleep on pollen-laced sheets.


  16. I am just not into the whole line-drying thing, and find it absurd that people think the Obamas need to be bothered about this.

    Let those who want to do it do it–I agree with Susan there–but leave the rest of us alone. I choose to spend my few leisure hours gardening, not hauling wet laundry.

  17. I’m in DC too and hang my laundry out spring-fall. Suzq – I don’t have allergies but my mom has severe ones and she hangs out her sheets to no ill effect.

    Sure it’d be nice to see the First Family go green in this way, but really this is a ceremonial home of a head of state folks and I just can’t see it happening.

    I’d be interested to hear the history of laundry at the White House – how were they doing it pre-machine? I bet it was done underground in one of those big southern mansion style drying-rooms out of sight of the prying public.
    Nowadays, I suspect that the great quanities of sheets, table linens, guest towels, etc. that the Whie House produces on a daily basis are all picked up and done professionally off-site like many hotels, restuarants, and other large-scale homes have it done.

  18. I’m all for the laundry line (planning on one very soon until I hear neighbor grumblings); but I thought this was kind of sexist — problems of national security, call the president; want to talk about laundry, call Michelle.

  19. Some of you folks need to get over yourselves and your snobbery, it’s just laundry and nobody is asking you to look into your neighbor’s yard.

    In MOST other countries of the world, line drying is more common place than dryers.

    You folks need to get out more (out of the country that is). 😉

  20. Hanging laundry can be beautiful. But they never have to get behind on their laundry because I am sure they have room in the with house for a clothes drying rack or two. Then they can air dry year round. What a great example they can set.

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