scorecardresearch Skip to main content

‘Right to dry’ legislation would back clothesline use

State Senator Mike Barrett, a Lexington Democrat who represents Waltham, is backing a new “right to dry” measure that would allow Massachusetts residents to hang laundry on clotheslines.

The practice is often barred by condominium and homeowner associations, which Barrett said is unfortunate, noting in a statement that 22 percent of all US energy use is residential.

“Using the good old-fashioned clothesline in place of the energy-intensive automatic dryer is a beautifully low-tech way of cutting energy use, reducing pollution, and saving on bills,” Barrett said.

The bill would not abridge action by local governments to regulate the time and place of clothesline use. It would also allow homeowners’ associations to impose location and usage restrictions.


“In any given town, condo owners may have legitimate concerns — for example, the potential obstruction of scenery enjoyed by all residents,” Barrett said.

The state senator introduced the legislation at the behest of environmental activist Peggy Brace, a constituent from Concord.

Last legislative session, the bill received a favorable vote out of the Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, Barrett’s office said.

In 2010, led by Brace, Concord passed the first local “right to dry” measure in the state, but the Attorney General’s office overturned the action, citing a conflict with contract law, according to Barrett. Similar “right to dry” state statutes already exist in Maine and Vermont, Barrett said.

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at