Solving the big issues: the washing hang out


Thank you for your help in solving the issue of the pillow up/down thing. There’s not much more I like discussing than the mindless, menial tasks that make up my day, dissecting the way we all go about out business in various ways. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I never claimed to be smart. But today I have something I wanted to discuss with you. I’ve dabbled here before with peg discussion, and how I hang out my washing  and we have discussed the clothes horse, but allow me, if you will, to probe a little deeper.

When I was staying with my sister a week or so ago in her new house, I commented on her superior hills hoist (because I would notice that kind of thing because I am crackers) and also because is there anything better for drying clothes? The answer is no. Anyway, in the middle of her washing line (like where the crank thing is to wind it up or down) there was a kind of rack/shelf! On which to rest your washing basket while hanging out!

I immediately wanted to know ALL the details on said shelf, and commented on the ingenious nature of such a thing! Imagine not having to bend down! She commented on it being great, but by the time she makes her way out she has to bring the basket with her.

Let’s look at that for a moment: WHILE SHE HANGS THE WASHING OUT, SHE TAKES THE BASKET WITH HER. I was as confused as you might be now. Because, when you hang out washing on a hills hoist don’t you start on the outside with the big ticket items like a sheet, jeans, jumpers etc and then work your way in to the smalls? LIKE A NORMAL PERSON WOULD?

Exhibit A:


And she was all like “Huh? But I hang from the inside racks first and then head out to the outer parts of the line.” And I was like “UM, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG” and she was like “NO, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG” and we were basically 5 and 10 again fighting like we used to. Except if she did it my way then her magical shelf would work so that should be enough indication that I am, in fact, right. So there.

But hearing such craziness made me think that maybe people do it the same way as her? Inside out? Instead of outside in and it troubled me so I thought I better check. And let me clarify: when I start from the outside and work my way in, my back is to the centre of the line so I am not being hit in the face with laundry as it’s on the outer lines and I am heading in…do you know what I mean?

When hanging clothes out on a hills hoist is it INSIDE OUT or OUTSIDE IN. And no, you are not allowed to answer WHO CARES. I care.

How do we learn this stuff?
Did someone teach you how to hang out washing?
Do you not have a hills hoist ? Are you ok with that?
Does anyone else have one of these magical shelves?


  1. Haha I hang inside out. I don’t like dangling wet towels/sheets anything on my head. I hang smalls on the inside and then work out to the bigger things like grown up clothes/towels/sheets what have you.

  2. My mum is adamant the only way to hang washing is the way you do, big items on the outside, then smalls on the inside. I just hang stuff wherever there is space. No method to my madness.

  3. Outside in. Like there even needs to be discussion pffft.

  4. Sorry….. I am definitely from inside to outside. Little stuff to big stuff. Otherwise you have to fight your way through the stuff on the outside to get to the inside……. ?

    • Yes.. I do the same. Inside to outside. Smalls to Large. I’m tall… I hate fighting with clothes hanging on my head/ shoulders/ back.

  5. You’re wrong and she is right Beth. That way you don’t have to fight your way through the other crap you’ve hung up to get to the middle. Would I be correct if I said your place doesn’t get too windy? There is nothing I hate more than getting whipped in the face by a wet sheet or towel, therefore those bastards are last to go on. I actually love that you’re discussing this – pegging out washing is virtually the one facet of domestic life where I exhibit some OCD-like tendencies!

  6. If I had a Hills Hoist with a shelf (which I don’t as my husband seems to think that stringing rope up between two poles is good enough – I can tell you after 25 years IT IS NOT!) I would start from the outside and work inwards. Seems the logical approach to me. However if you used a laundry trolley you could start from the inside and pull the trolley with you as you worked your way out. Can’t believe I have just commented on how to use a Hills Hoist!

  7. Oh how I love my hills hoist. I work from inside out, one section at a time. I even separate clothes as I take them out of the machine to make the pegging process easier – socks and underwear on one side of the basket, big stuff on the other. Socks pegged together as they go on the line, pegs under arms of shirts, bottoms and tops grouped together to make un-pegging and folding easier. Cringe when husband pegs things as it’s just not right! How can one not shake before pegging?!

    • Yes! 🙂

    • Oh god this is me to a tee. Glad in not the only person out there so OCD about the washing. I also fold each piece as it goes in the basket then I never have to ‘do folding’.
      And Beth, it’s inside out. Because you bring your trolley doohickey out with you as you go. Otherwise as others have said you’d be bitchslapped by wet sheets!

  8. Donna Saunders says

    Outside in. Of course. Though I haven’t had a hills hoist for about 15 years ..that would still be the rule if I were to have one. My mother in law hang clothes where ever, all over the place and even across two lines (as in one side of the shirt is pegged to one line and the and other side to the parallel line). It just upsets the order of things.

    • How could she? The HORROR!!!

    • My mother in law does the same. I love her to pieces, but when she lived with us for a year I felt wildly, irrationally irritated whenever I saw her hanging out clothes. She also leaves the pegs on the line instead of putting them neatly away in the peg basket….but that’s another issue entirely.

  9. I miss having a hills hoist. We have a small wall mounted line, it is horrible. Pointless in the highlands winter.

    But I always start at the centre and work out. Matching pegs. Socks next to each other. Larger clothes to the outside. I start in the centre because I hate walking through the wet washing hanging on the line.

    • I hear you Danni…………MUST HAVE MATCHING PEGS!!!

    • I confess to matching pegs! Pink for my daughter, blue for my son, white for me. (My husband does his own washing but he gets blue or white pegs when I hang it out) and I use one section at a time. Hubby just starts at the outside line and goes around the whole outside.

  10. Inside out! Undies socks blah blah on the little lines on the inside, to the big bits on the outside. If you do it the other way I find it annoying to wrestle my way through the sheets to get back out at the end…also, I have a trolley thingy on wheels that you out the basket in. Is the BEST. 🙂

  11. Carly valentine says

    It makes much more sense for me to go inside out. I don’t want to duck under wet washing, as you would going inside out. I have a hanging peg basket that hangs in the middle. No bending down… A little bending up tho.. If your short? Everyone has the “right” way to hang their washing lol k hate one peg hangers ? Or the dreaded drapers! How do things dry when there hanging over on the middle of the garment, sheet etc!
    I also like to connect my washing.. Peg item peg .. Then peg end of one item with begging of next…. I’m weird! Aren’t I!?

  12. I’m with your sister 😉

  13. Ange Morrison says

    My husband hangs long pants upside down with pegs at the knees! And willy nilly all over the line. The horror of peg marks

  14. Oh No! I love this discussion and will watch with interest but I think I’m with ye olde sister on this one! If you go outside in, then aren’t you getting flapped with wet washing as you make your way in?? But the shelf puzzles me and makes me thinks that it does in fact prove that you may be right?? but what the hell! Now I’m so confused.

    And it IS such a mindless habit of doing these things – when I go to help my Dad, I ask about the peg situ (or just look) and am told: ” leave them on line” and every time I find myself with a handful of pegs looking for a basket. #oldhabitsdiehard.

    My Mums carers that occasionally help with washing, don’t do it right either cos he likes the pegs to be left on line and through the big hole one the peg (old school pegs) so he can easily slide them along! Ha!

  15. I’ve always hung my washing from the inside of the line to the outside…..I had never even thought of starting from the outside. What happens if you have more that what will fit on the line???? What on earth do you do then? If you start from the inside with your small items and work your way out, if you have too much for that section of the good ‘ol hills hoist, you move to the next section. For the first time ever…….I have to say you’re doing it wrong 🙂

  16. Inside out but inside and around so gradually working your way out eg do the very inside line all the way around the clothesline in a circle and then move to the next line out working around the clothesline and then onto the next.

    I place my laundry in a rough order in the basket, so it gets hung out in order – sheets/towels/large items at the bottle so they are hung out last, then pants, tops and lastly smalls (underwear, socks, tea towels etc etc) so they are hung first inside the line.

    For the record, we don’t have a clothesline of any variety, I use two clothes airers/horse and when not in use, they get folded and put away!

  17. Inside out!! I load the washing from my machine into my basket in size order – big items on bottom, small on top (and grouped per family member!). Then I hang smalls closest to middle pole (then they don’t hit it when it’s windy) and big items furthest out. By going inside out you’re not surrounded by washing. And I have a trolley for my basket and pegs so it comes with me 🙂

    • Exactly what I do! Beth, you need to get on board with a trolley! So much better for your back than bending down to the basket on the ground!

  18. Inside to the outside – I am not lucky enough to have one anymore living in Eastern Sydney… But in the days when I did always the inside first. The thought of being trapped within walls of sheets like some sort of horror movie even makes my heart race now.

    You are crackers.

  19. Julie Harris says

    Outside in. Always the big stuff on the outside first. Then work my way to the smalls and socks on the inside.

  20. One of my favorite features of my house is the hills hoist! Yeah it’s old but I don’t care. It has superior clothes drying abilities!! I hang stuff from the inside out as others have said, I hate things hitting me/getting in the way as I’m pegging out the washing. I use a laundry trolley as I don’t want to be lugging a heavy laundry basket around so it’s really no issue! Big stuff goes on the outside and smaller things on the inside lines.

  21. Excellent topic. I estimate per week about 98% of my brain power is spent on washing and everything that goes with it.

    And I say, inside out! That way you don’t have sheets and stuff blowing around behind you getting in your way as you go. And I always leave an empty row between rows (if space permits) because I reckon it dries better/faster with more breathing space or something? I don’t know, don’t make me explain it…

  22. And… do you hang sheets by putting it over the line or pegging the ends on the line?

  23. I’ll go first. What the hell is a hills hoist? 🙂

  24. PS: Having lived in Paris for six months with a cement mixer for a washing machine and no dryer, I’ve had it with hanging clothes out to dry. Scratchy sheets! Razor blade towels! Turtlenecks with arms four feet long!

    Having gotten that rant off, I would say hang the big things on the longest lines. But how do the inner things ever get enough air to dry? My mother’s was one line from tree to tree.

  25. Sorry Beth…. I agree with your sister….
    Start on the inside and work around and out.
    I always leave socks till last though so the pairs can be next to each other.
    My Aunty has 2 hills hoists and a drying yard! A courtyard that catches the sun and is only used for drying!!!! Washing goals!

  26. Outside in. Always.

  27. No magical shelf here but I do have a tall terracotta pot planted with thyme under the rotary line to hold the laundry basket at a comfortable height. Looks pretty and smells gorgeous when crushed and withstands the weight of a load of wet washing to bounce back for another day.

  28. LOL!! Love this post 😉 I agree with your sister 😛 I take all my washing out of the machine, big items first, undies, socks last – that way the smalls are on top of the basket. Then I take it out to the clothes line – we have a hills & I work from inside out……so undies & socks up first, then bigger items ie, t shirts etc, then jeans……..or sheets (though they are washed seperately anyway). That way, no body can see your smalls! 😉

  29. No Beth, your sister is right as far as I am concerned. I can’t stand the thought of battling through wet washing to get to the inside lines. I also have to have matching pegs and I hang the sheets corner to corner and not across the line as they are much easier to bring in and fold. I hate seeing sheets half over a line like my MIL does and she is short and then can’t get them off. I also hang like with like and will move something if I find another singlet or shirt etc to make them all be together. Socks in pairs but pegged separately.

    • What do you mean you hang the sheets corner to corner please?. I would love any innovation that made the folding easier.

      • I fold the sheets in half and hang them on the edges (corners of the ends), not flung over the line, with three pegs. When you bring them in you take the first and last peg off and fold them to each other and then the middle peg. This makes for straight sheets all ready to iron or put away. It also gets them off quickly in case of rain. I get the top edge ready in the laundry out of the machine and then put the end over my shoulder while I hang the first half of the sheet with three pegs then the second half to match up. I hope this makes sense.

  30. Ha! So funny, because I have to side with your sister on this! Let me explain however – here where I live we regularly get these awful Westerlies that blow up for a day or two. Thus, if you hang the heavy items first, the wind gets under them and spins the Hills Hoist in a blur, forcing you to attempt to hang the washing with only one hand, while the other hand tries to wrangle the line into submission, all while rogue sheet sets slap you in the face and wrap around your head. Not. Much. Fun. Ergo: unmentionables on the inside of the line, first.

  31. When I visited Oz, this was one of the things that surprised me the most…that you hang your wash out…well…that and the fact that you could BUY rum and coke in a can! My house was built in 1955 and many backyards in my neighborhood have a cement area with poles at either end and 4 or 5 lines strong across for drying clothes. (Mine has a big dirt area for a veggie garden. But no one uses them except to hang out sheets on occasion. Most people have a clothes dryer, or they take the washing to a self serve laundromat. Why Is a clothes dryer not popular or used down under?

    • I think it’s because a) we’ve always hung out our laundry, and b) electricity is really expensive here and my drier costs as much as my air conditioner to run, so I only use it in emergencies. My girlfriend in the US pays literally 1/10th what I do for electricity.

    • Clothes dryers are used (apartments these days come with them as the developers don’t want to waste land for clothes lines) but the main reason for using a clothesline is we have so much free sunshine for most of the year in most parts of the country. Dryers are expensive to run and sheets flapping in a fresh sunny breeze is just…right 🙂 it’s also eco friendly and cheap. Win, win, win.

      • That makes sense. I grew up in Chicago and we used to hang the washing on the enclosed porch in winter. It would freeze like stiff as a board!

    • I think you are on to something, Renee.. Why are we not combining these two great Australian innovations? Drink the rum and coke from the can whilst hanging out washing on the Hills hoist?

      • Yes! And as I’ve told Bev before….Lammingtons. You guys have been hiding another great secret from the rest of the world…lol. I’m doing my best to let my friends know about Pav’s though. It’s my most requested dessert. ?

        • Next thing you’ll be telling us you love meat pies with tomato sauce!

          (and you are right about Lamingtons, they are the absolute best).

  32. I am with your sister. Inside out is the way to go – otherwise you get caught up in the stuff you’ve already hung up. Socks and undies go in the middle on the shorter bits of line. It just makes sense that way!!
    I use a trolley to put my basket on so I don’t have to bend down – it revolutionised my life!!

  33. Definitely inside-out! You have to fight through the already hung washing when you have a new load to hang up – it doesn’t make sense! And pegs have to match, clothes have to be hung together in groups of who they belong to and husbands should NEVER be allowed to hang washing on the line – they just don’t understand the rules…..

  34. Outside in. But instead of a shelf, what you want is a trolley to put your basket in, then you can wheel the basket out from the verandah (no carrying!) AND it is at the right height.

    I think the real question is ‘Leave pegs on the line or take them off and put them in a basket?’
    (For the record, I leave them)

  35. Definitely inside out!! I hurt my back a few years ago, and went and got a trolley for my washing basket. I felt a bit like an old lady at first, but now I love it! No lifting heavy baskets, and wheel it around as you go. Even the husband uses it now 🙂

  36. We don’t have a hills hoist at this place but when we did I had a trolley for my basket & would hang from the inside out, starting with little things & working up to the big stuff as I got further out

  37. Leeanne Boyson says

    inside out so that the big stuff doesn’t keep wacking me in the face/head.
    Pegs have to match on each piece of clothing and sock pairs must be side by side so i can fold them as i take them in ! Sigh no wonder its an ordeal to hang the bloody washing out !

  38. My Grandmother told me that it’s outside and work in. How else are you to get the oricavy for your ‘smalls’ that you hang on the inside of the line?

  39. My Grandmother told me that it’s outside and work in. How else are you to get the privacy for your ‘smalls’ that you hang on the inside of the line?

  40. I have a trolley to sit my basket on and just wheel around with me. And then I start from the middle and work my way out. And I fill one section before starting the next. My husband likes to go all the way round before starting the next line (when he ever does the washing ?) Hills hoist all the way

  41. I bought my first home because it had a metal hills hoist in the backyard – PRIORITIES! My Mum has a shelf thing that you can attach to the clothes line and when I was pregnant and she would come down to help me out, she would always complain that we didn’t have one. I’m pretty sure you can pick one up at Bunnings – my husband just didn’t see it as a priority {but I would have liked one}.

    In terms of how I hang washing. Outside in, just like you. It’s easier to get the bigger things out of the basket first. And I like no one being able to see my smalls {bahaha – I think that comes from my Nana}.

  42. I’m afraid that I’m also an inside-to-outside person. Smallest stuff inside – because it fits there and avoids the horror of having people round who might see my undies on the line. Gives me the shudders.

    I have dedicated a lot of time to training my husband in correct peg placement. We are still working on that one. And shaking out the creases before hanging.

  43. I’ve never had a Hills Hoist so I can’t comment on that question. However, I think a much BIGGER question that needs answering is…..
    Who hangs the sheets OVER the line like shown in the photo?
    I always fold my sheets together while in the basket, then peg at the top of the adjoined sides, fold hanging at the bottom. Find it much easier when taking sheets of as you don’t need to drag/wrestle the dry sheet over. (And if HE does it the other way, I refuse to take the sheets off.!!)

    • Wow! Great tip Linda for hanging sheets, never thought of doing it that way 🙂

      • Love this tip as well – makes so much sense – will institute immediately. I love how we are working all the big issues!
        Cindy F

        • And you can easily fold the sheets up as you take them off the line if you take the opposing ends off, join together, unpeg the middle then fold up. Wallah.!! All done and in the basket.

  44. how amazing is the shelf idea!
    I can’t believe the number of people interested in this topic beth!
    I grew up in the ’50’s like your mum!
    we had a typical back yard … fruit trees, vegie patch, shrubs around the fences and
    the hills hoist took pride of place! … mum love it! and we had rides on it!
    with shelf, out to in! … without in to out!
    go figure hun! … I don’t have one!
    much love m:)X

  45. Inside out and the colour of the peg must match the colour of the garment, if said colour is not available, only whit pegs are acceptable

  46. Haha, this is so great! The main problem at our house is I cannot let people do it their way, I have to ‘instruct’ on how it should be done. Wooden pegs, hate the plastic ones, and start with smalls in the centre, working way outwards with bigger things. Can’t handle the sheets and towels touching me! And the way I do it, I can fit 3 loads on the line at once, when others do it in my house, the shambles that represents the line, will only hold one- 2 loads!
    I love how diverse we all are!

  47. Inside out Beth!!!
    OMG, I have just realised that everytime I peg washing out, as I go back indoors I turn around and admire the washing flapping on the line…..EVERYTIME!!!! xx

  48. Inside out. My husband built me a shelf that is behind me. I’m very particular about hanging washing out. As I take it out of the machine everything is sorted into piles for each persons. Big ticket items are the put on the bottom of the pile the undies etc go on top, doing it this way makes it easier to work from the inside out.. Each persons pile then gets put in basket. Once at clothesline each persons clothes (theres 3 of us) get put in one quarter of the clothesline, which is a beautiful old hills hoist. Doesn’t matter if they have more than someone else it all gets squashed into one quarter. Last quarter is for the towels. This also makes it easier when you take it of because you have each persons together to fold/iron. NOBODY but me hangs the washing out. This happens every 2nd day and looking at this I’m wondering if there’s a washing addiction group out there somewhere.

  49. I definitely hang from the inside out – and always use my laundry trolley – which I couldn’t live without – I know I know a laundry trolley is on par with one of those canvas shopping trolleys on wheels – but I love them both. I must say though my beautiful 82 year old neighbour who gets my washing in and folds it if I’m not around – who is a superior housekeeper – tells me I do it all wrong.

  50. I think you are right!! Outside to inside

  51. Gibbergunyah says

    I inherited my grandmother’s laundry trolley and a 1940’s vintage Hills’ Hoist (came with the house). I hang from the inside out.

  52. I just love the fact that this topic will probably rate as one of your most commented on blog posts! We are all clearly passionate about our washing & methods! Too funny! I’m inside out too, like your sister & majority of readers (sorry!) but that’s mostly because we have a collapsible wall-mounted line now so you have to start at the wall side and move out – not much choice really!

  53. Oh my goodness, so many posts on the humble hills hoist! I’m with you Beth, outside in – what is everyone talking about getting hit in the face with the washing, don’t you bring your basket (on a trolley?!) in towards the centre of the line with you??!!! BUT I don’t know if anyone has touched on it because it was taking me too long to read all the posts – but the lighter items e.g. smalls should go on the outside line and the heavier items like jeans and pants on the shorter lengths of line. Otherwise, over time if you load up the outside (long length of line) with too much heavy stuff you’ll get the dreaded saggy line!!

  54. Outside in. Sheets and towels outside, smalls inside. With the linear nature of our washing lines now, this method is very hard to maintain…still ingrained to have smalls inside !

  55. Your sister is correct, inside to out – this is how my mum taught us, after we were told off for swinging on it! Hills hoist goals from appartment living ?

  56. I moved into my in laws house as we are on a farm. My mother in law tells me she ordered the biggest hills hoist you could buy in the 70’s, 8 wires people!! She also left behind her amazing retro trolley which my hubby kindly refurbished (painted). Long story short I’ve only filled the clothes line 3 times in 17 years so doesn’t matter where the heck I hang stuff! I do have a system though; outside in and the trolley is a god send as it moves around with me!! 🙂

  57. I’m with you Beth always outside to the inside one section at a time.

  58. Inside out(ish). I do socks/undies on the first 2 rings, kids clothes on the middle 2 rings and adult clothes on the outside 2 rings. Not that that sorting method makes it any easier to fold, because they all get chucked back into the basket together! And I have a trolley, which is the best thing ever, except on a windy day when the towels push it away from me as they whip around the merry go round. My youngest still likes to be my pegman when we’re outside together, and hand the pegs to me one by one.

    Funny story, my sister and I were watching my hubby (then boyfriend) hang clothes once back in the dark ages, and we cracked up at his OCD using 2 pegs the same colour as each piece of clothing. He never hung washing in front of us again…

  59. From the inside out everytime. Otherwise you get slapped in the head with wet towels. Sorry Beth, your sis wins this round.

  60. I have a trolley for the laundry basket so I go inside-out when hanging washing on the hoist. However I scarcely use it – old house with a wide veranda has a clothes line the whole way around, under cover, so I usually use that instead. Closer to laundry, dries quickly because only has the one layer, and reduces the mad rush to get clothes off the line if it starts to rain!

  61. Always inside out!!! Or the stuff on the outside drips on you and bongs you in the head!

  62. Caroline Holt says

    Firstly let me say that I am at my happiest with clean clothes drying on my hills hoist – I absolutely love a wash. I hang from the inside out. If you hang the other way then you have to fight with the items you have already hung to get to the inside part of the line….

  63. I am on the hunt for a washing trolley that has a metal basket ATTACHED to it… not of this floppy plastic baskets you hang from the line…

  64. Loving this, will show my husband as he thinks I am seriously anal about the washing, which I am!
    When using the hills hoist, always start from the inside, always small items first, the large items always go on the outside as that is how it was designed to spin, spinning makes it dry faster.
    I sort my laundry per person as it comes out of the machine and stack it in the basket accordingly. ALWAYS shake out the creases as I DO NOT IRON! Each person gets a quarter of the line and is hung out in order of how it is put away, ie undies and socks first, hanging items last! Also helps hide your undies! As it comes off the line it is folded ready to put away straight away, hate double handling!
    Have had to buy wooden pegs as am also a colour coded peg person and was doing my head in when I couldn’t finish one person’s washing in one colour if that colour had run out ?

    • OMG yesss!! A fellow ‘fold as you go’ person!! 🙂 I’m so anti ironing I also hang good shirts straight onto hangers and run my hands over it to remove creases. Yep. I’m full crazy.

  65. You’re right! (Don’t you love those words)!
    If you hang sheets etc on outside & work into smalls then it’s also easier when you take everything off the line
    Stand at outside fold up sheets etc & then push all the small things in as you get to them
    Other way ….. Madness!!

  66. Im definitely an inside to out, small to big kind of girl. Im getting eye twitches just thinking about going backwards!!! HA

  67. Beth you are very quiet on this post, wonder if your sis is doing the old “I told you so”. I don’t like Hills Hoists and have always hung my washing up on an indoors line in the garage. Sun destroys and discolours clothes and my clothes last for years and years. This was something my mother always did too. Can’t stand stiff sun dried t-shirts. Rarely use my dryer, feels like cheating somehow, not to mention waste of money. Really big things get hoisted over the pool fence to dry in a few hours on a hot Brissy day. Like the idea of folding sheets before hanging, it probably takes some pressure off the sheet and helps it last longer too. Love this post, you’ve tapped into something deep in our hears here Beth!

  68. I don’t have a hills hoist anymore but when i did I would wash the big stuff first and the smaller stuff second so the small stuff went on the inside and the big stuff on the outside. But I’m lazy and only wanted to hand out once so I would so out in order of heading out. Now I have a five line retractable ado it doesn’t matter. However I have a bit of OCD so I still group it together. Everyone hates trying to help me!

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