Airing Laundry

One of my favorite posts on Janet Givens blog is when she wrote about clotheslines. In reading that post, I learned that people are passionate about whether outdoor clotheslines should be allowed, or not. In some places, they’re actually outlawed.

When I saw Luna’s adorable cloth diapers drying on a rack in Evan and Kayley’s house, I just knew there was a post in it! 

Airing our Laundry

I’m passionate about not airing ones laundry (private matters) publicly. This practice is commonly referred to as airing one’s dirty laundry. In reality, I don’t know anyone who hangs dirty laundry out to dry—most of us hang clean laundry.

Maybe it stems from the way I was raised, or because I don’t have oodles of dirty little secrets. Either way, I don’t talk about private matters publicly. 

What’s your take on airing “dirty” laundry?

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61 thoughts on “Airing Laundry

  1. I observe that most airing of dirty laundry falls into one of four categories:

    1) Venting to friends rather than talking it out with the person involved

    2) Embarassing the person in front of friends

    3) Trying to get honest feedback and support from friends, and

    4) Just plain bitching

    Of these I find #1 entirely counterproductive, #2 only marginally productive, as a very last-ditch measure before giving up entirely, #3 the only really legitimate aim on the list and in fact a highly desirable practice, and #4, like #1 and #2, far too prevalent among us.

  2. I am also not fond of that and I think there’s far too much of it these days. Although yes, I think that, as Ana says, sometimes we might want feedback from a trusted person, but that’s a bit different. Have a great week!

  3. I don’t do my laundry in public. My private life does not enter the workforce. The things some people talk about……I have to walk away. Never have been a fan of ‘sharing’ anything personal. Much to some gossipy coworkers chagrin.

  4. What a fun surprise! I’m so pleased to find you remembered that post, Laurie. So, dirty laundry outside, in public view. What grabs me on this question Laurie is how variable are the definitions of “dirty laundry” and “public.” Surely no one claims to do that; it’s the observer who makes the judgement. I’m also quite smitten with those colorful cloth diapers you pictured. The evolution of diapers: now there’s a future blog post; thanks. Did you know in Kazakhstan, the toddlers often go around with no diaper at all? Different strokes for different folks …

  5. Some family secrets were aired in my memoir but only because they became part of my transformation. I was careful not to denigrate loved ones without showing “redemption” in the end.

    I remember Janet’s popular post. These days I hang an item of clothing on a tree branch if it doesn’t get completely dry in the drier.

    Like you, I don’t talk about private matters publicly on social media. Great topic . . . I loved Luna’s rainbow array of diapers. 🙂

    • Marian — I love that you drape an article of clothing over a tree branch if it didn’t get completely dry in the dryer.

      And I’m so looking forward to reading your memoir!

  6. I’m with you, Laurie. I feel “dirty laundry” should be “aired” in privacy (if at all). In my experience, those who feel a need to publicly speak about such private matters are often (sadly) the same folks who regale in passing along the private matters of others as well. P.S. Luna’s little cloth diapers are adorable, aren’t they? Cher xo

  7. Wow diapers have really evolved! The colors are fun. Mom washed and hung untold hundreds, perhaps thousands (with 12 children) of plain white diapers on our backyard clothesline.

    I suspect your purpose here is a light one. Yet, there is another side.

    I am opposed to gossip or recklessly sharing “dirty laundry”. AND, I have found that what might be described as “dirty laundry” is (as Marian mentioned above) often part of a memoir. I have one scene within the memoir which may be seen as such laundry. However, memorists are also advised to share the story in a wholistic way and only when essential to the story.

    Further, as a genealogist, I have come across letters and other documents which reveal realities of an ancestor or two which are puzzle pieces in our history. Should we only reveal only the sunny side of life? No, then we hide the realities which shaped our past and may offer insights which enlighten our future. In this case, the information will only be shared within the family.

    Our intentions when revealing any dirty laundry must be deeply explored and then shared, if appropriate.

    • Audrey — I think you’ve uncovered the heart of the matter: MOTIVATION.

      It’s the WHY behind we share or withhold information (clean, dirty, or in-between).

      Thank you for sharing this aspect 🙂

  8. As a rule, the only griping I do online is about social media venues and the clever traps they set to get us to spend too much time there. I post about great writing news, weather, Sassy Dog and Katie Cat, and things to make us laugh. Speaking of the weather, it’s snowing here in Northern Colorado. Pretty bizarre for May 21st.

  9. Laurie, I don’t care to have my private matters become public ones. Nor do I take great interest in the unfortunate antics of others, they have no entertainment value for me. Between close friends and family some sharing of info, good and bad, is inevitable and necessary to the growth of trust and of the relationship itself. Broadcasting the miserable details of ex-whatevers to generate sympathy and cast aspersions on the miscreant turn me cold. Honesty – sure. Indiscretion of the mouth – ugh! Some things just won’t be un-known.

  10. This is where I get very literal – my dirty laundry lives in private in the hamper in my bedroom, until it is clean laundry and some of it (a few gauzy tops) will get hung on hangers which will hang on the gazebo frame to dry in the fresh air. As to the “other” kind of dirty laundry, it is best kept inside, in a virtual hamper in our minds. Or tossed into the burn barrel and burned, because what good does it do to remember it?

    • Carol — I like that your freshly laundered gauzy tops get to hang in the gazebo to dry. And I agree with you wholeheartedly about the other type of laundry — best kept in the virtual hamper in our minds or tossed on the burn pile 🙂

  11. What a vivid, colourful life Luna is living. Very stylish.

    I only share my dirty laundry with trusted friends and in caring circles. On the whole, I believe people have enough dirty laundry of their own I don’t have to add to the pile.

  12. Reminded me of my mother’s war with her clothes line laundry and the on again/off again afternoon rain in South Florida. I used to hide and giggle as she struggled. Put them up, take them down, put them back up, take them back down… Mother never ever cursed but I heard a few on those days.

  13. An honest person who writes a memoir without paving over conflict may be accused of airing dirty laundry. But if they know in their hearts that they were not seeking revenge or harm, they have a powerful moral place to stand. Motivation is important, as you pointed out to Audrey above. So is discretion.

    Airing in the great outdoors is good for laundry. It can be good for stories, too, if the two values above are also observed.

  14. Good question. I don’t talk much about the negative, unless I’m certain that I’m with a person who is discreet and openminded. As those people are few and far between it’s safe to say I don’t air much dirty laundry. Not really a bad thing come to think of it.

  15. No dryer for Me here in Spain. I hang all my clean laundry out to dry and it comes in smelling fresh and clean. As for ‘dirty laundry,’ I try not to have any so no worries about who knows about it.

  16. Clothes lines out of sight in the back yard would be fine with me, but then I grew up with them out in the country. As far as dirty laundry and personal business, I prefer to keep it limited to family. And some things need to be taken to the grave! I am amazed at the private information people reveal on social media. I loved seeing your friend’s diapers drying! Kudos for her.

  17. I wouldn’t say I air dirty laundry. I do think we live in a time where people want real. Especially if you’re building a platform, people want a piece of you. It’s not easy, but I find people connect with me better when I give more than surface.

  18. Hi Laurie,

    The essence of the saying is in the “dirty” part.

    The dirty part implies something toxic to others (in the dirty knickers sense).

    The idea that we should be responsible for what we put out in public is something I strongly favour. Whatever we put out, we should attempt to make it as beneficial as possible to us, to society and to the environment. And that rapidly gets extremely complex.

    It seems that we are, each and every one of us, complex beyond our capacity to know in detail.
    It seems that the reality in which we exist is equally complex beyond our capacity to know in detail.
    Those twin realities force our subconscious brains to make the best guess that they can about what is likely to be important to us in the context of the moment, and present that to us as our experiential reality. A vastly simplified model of something vastly complex.

    And we have to make decisions and act in it.

    So we make our simple conscious models of the model of reality that is our experience (mostly mistaking it for reality itself).

    Often our models are so simple that they come down to simple binaries (good/bad, right/wrong, etc).
    Sometimes the necessities of urgency and lack of information demand such simplicity.
    Sometimes we do it out of habit.
    Sometimes we do it out of expediency.
    Sometimes it is down to laziness.
    And always it is a vast simplification of complexity, rather than anything accurate.

    Often useful, never accurate.

    So in this context, we need to be as clean as possible, in our own actions, in our own thoughts – and often that means doing the hard work to clean up the messes we have lying around in the hidden corners of our minds and our lives; and giving others the room and understanding and respect that they need to do the same.

    Doesn’t seem to be any end to the process.
    It just seems to be a necessary part of this journey we call life.
    We do in fact seem to be that complex.

    • Ted — yes, Yes, YES! I love the way you summed it up:

      “…we need to be as clean as possible, in our own actions, in our own thoughts — and often that means doing the hard work to clean up the messes we have lying around in the hidden corners of our minds and our lives; and giving others the room and understanding and respect that they need to do the same.”

  19. Like you Laurie I don’t have any dirty secrets that I’m aware and if I did they would be kept well and truly in doors .
    As for hanging your washing out doors 💨☔️💧💦🌬you’ve not been to West Wales then😂 As we speak its warm and dry here but would you believe the line has just broke 🤭
    Cherryx

  20. I think I might fall into the “doesn’t share enough” category, rather than the oversharing and airing dirty laundry group. I am improving in openness, but I have been called “aloof.” And there are definitely some things I wish I didn’t know about other people . . .

  21. I spent many years listening to the good, the bad, and the ugly. I also spent time with a counselor and mentor so I could deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly in my life and in my head. There is a time and place, but public, well that is not such a good thing in my life (I would like to see the President’s taxes and I think that my be in the dirty laundry category of life right now!!!)
    The Koch Brother’s dirty laundry is now being exposed in our state – airing out this awful stuff has been very purifying. Not as cute as the diaper covers for your grand daugher!!

    When it is not too damp, we use a solar clothing dryer for the past 50 years – my parents did also and when it was raining we had a basement with a furnace

    ( Well, I got your posts our of the Junk box in my email program! Not yet Wonders In the Dark. Now your posts come in entitled BETWEEN THE LINES, which is a Southern Romance writer’s blog title and Debbie, another writer’s blog I follow who lives in England???) My Tweet function is not working on my phone…so I am working on saying thank you for the tweets when on the computer these days? Sorry it is hit or miss

    • Patricia — I love the idea of a solar clothing dryer. How cool is that?! And how oddddddd that my post notifications are showing up in your junk program. Boo hiss! And please know, it’s always my pleasure to Tweet your posts 🙂

  22. This is priceless – I’m definitely sharing the colorful diapers on FB and maybe Instagram:-). I actually love the smell of line-dried clothes, but developed an aversion to doing that because it was so much easier and faster in a busy life to just throw them in a drier (or hang delicates inside). But some day you have to post a photo of Luna wearing one of these diapers!

    • Dawn — I’m glad you’re as taken with Luna’s brightly colored diapers as we are. And yes, at some point I’ll photograph her in them so you can see just how doggone adorable they are on her 🙂

  23. Ha, what a fantastic metaphorical post, not to mention the best defense for clotheslines I’ve yet come upon! I am one to steer clear of airing dirty laundry at least to those who aren’t in my inner circle.

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