Before fancy washers and dryers came into the world, people used to dry their clothes outside. Crazy, right? Even when dryers did emerge, some people simply couldn’t afford them or didn’t want to go against what they’ve been doing all along—so they continued to air dry their laundry by hanging it outside. It was a pretty big thing.

However, there was a method to the madness. It wasn’t as simple as just hanging up a t-shirt with a clothespin and sticking it on the clothesline. No, no, there were many techniques to hanging out the laundry to ensure it dried properly. Ask any grandparent and they’ll be happy to tell you!

If you don’t feel like getting a lecture from gram, or, say, your dryer breaks or you just feel like airing out your clothes in the fresh air, we’ve got you covered. Try to remember these 7 rules to hanging out the laundry from the good old days.

  1. Wipe down the clothesline

    It would be counterproductive to hang clean clothes on a dirty clothesline, wouldn’t it? For each load you hang, always make sure you’re wiping down the line before putting up the clothes.

  2. Hang socks by the toes

    Never hang socks by the heel—that would stretch them out. And if you’ve ever worn a stretched-out sock, you know the struggle of it continuously falling off your feet.

  3. Hang shirts upside-down

    While it’s probably tempting to hang shirts upright by the shoulders, this makes bumps appear once the shirt is dry, and they don’t come out easily. Hanging them by the tail might also give it a bit of a crimp from the clothespin, but this isn’t as noticeable and you can iron this out much more easily.

  4. Color-code your clothes

    Hang white sheets and linens with other white clothing and let your colored pieces hang to the opposite end. This is for the same reason we wash whites and colors separately; you avoid any potential bleeding of colors into the whites.

  5. Group up the clothespins

    Use one clothespin to hang multiple pieces of clothes. Back in your grandmother’s day, they did this to save money, but being resourceful is never a bad thing.

  6. Hang sheets on the ends, delicates in the middle

    The sheets are big enough to hide your intimates (underwear, bras, etc.) so that your neighbors wouldn’t get a full glance. Hey, they don’t need to see that floral number, do they?

  7. Don’t pay attention to the weather

    You might think drying clothes outside only works when it’s bright and sunny, but we can hear our grandmothers now: Whether there was six feet of snow on the ground or the it was frigid temps outside, the laundry still had to get done. (Hint: Hanging it by a fireplace could make your clothes smell like smoke or even get smoke stains—not a good look!)

Have you ever hung your laundry outside to dry? What kinds of laundry rules do you remember your grandmother telling you about?