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Laws You Didn't Know You Were Breaking

You'd be amazed at some of the wacky house-related ordinances still on the books around the country

Hear Ye, Law-Abiding Homeowners

Illustration by Douglas Adams

You'd be amazed at some of the wacky ordinances still on the books around the country. (If you don't believe us, just try puttying nail holes in Schenectady, New York, on a Sunday.) We went looking for some of the strangest laws that affect homeowners, and here's what we found. Read 'em and learn 'em—or risk the clink.

Put Down That Plate and Step Away From the Sink, Ma'am

Illustration by Douglas Adams

Forget about using a dish towel in the state of Oregon or in Minneapolis. Letting china air-dry is the only allowable way.

In Florida, you're in trouble if you shatter more than three dishes per day, or chip the edges of more than four cups and/or saucers. If you get your kicks tossing plates, don't try it from any window above the ground floor of a house or apartment in Freeport, Illinois.

In Kansas, you can't stack plates more than eight high.

When The City Fathers Vowed to "Clean Up the Town," Is This What They Meant?

Illustration by Douglas Adams

Watch out for gangs of rug beaters on the streets of San Francisco between midnight and 8 a.m, the only hours one is permitted to beat a rug on the sidewalk in that city. You're safer in Port Jervis, New York, where the law prohibits "the spreading of a carpet or rug on any city street," at any time.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, doesn't legislate what you can do with your rug outdoors, but indoors, it's a crime to sweep dirt under it.

California requires "housewives" to boil their dust rags or risk jail time.

And This in the Hometown of Frederick's of Hollywood!

Illustration by Douglas Adams

Clotheslines are a great way to conserve energy—unless it's winter in Los Angeles, when women aren't allowed to dry their unmentionables in public.

Don't Throw the Donkey Out With the Bathwater

Illustration by Douglas Adams

Donkeys may not sleep in bathtubs in Brooklyn, New York. In Arkansas, it's alligators that aren't allowed in the tub, while in South Carolina, it's horses.

Don't try giving the twins a bath in Los Angeles, where it's illegal to wash two babies at once.

You're one toe over the line if you dip it into the bathtub before 10 p.m. in Piqua, Ohio.

Lawmakers in the state of Virginia and in Canton, Ohio, must not want their citizens to bathe: Indoor tubs are against the law. Don't head to Portland, Oregon, for relief, either. While you can have an indoor tub there, you'll have to use it while wearing "suitable clothing…that which reaches from the bather's neck to his knees and completely covers the body."

You can be cited for "dozing or snoozing" in the tub in Detroit.

We're Just Trying to Get a Little Shut-eye Here

Illustration by Douglas Adams

You may not sleep in, or on top of, a refrigerator in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

You can't sleep with your shoes on in North Dakota.

You can't snore with the windows open in Massachusetts.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Illustration by Douglas Adams

Spite fences—anything "unnecessarily higher than six feet" and put up just to annoy your neighbor—are considered a "private nuisance" in Rhode Island.

Pointed fence pickets are not allowed in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Finally, an Excuse for Those Unfinished Jobs

Illustration by Douglas Adams

Don't tackle those home-improvement tasks on a Sunday, or you'll be afoul of the law: painting your house in Passaic, New Jersey; filling nail holes with putty in Schenectady, New York; mowing your lawn in Santa Fe, New Mexico; or disturbing the peace with a leaf blower in Hawaii.

There Oughtta be a Lawn

Illustration by Douglas Adams

It's not just wasteful to water your lawn while it's raining in Savannah Beach Georgia. It's also against the law.

As if we didn't have reason enough to dislike weeds: You can't let thistles grow in your backyard in Maryland.

Don't set a timer to water your lawn in the middle of the night in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where irrigation is permitted only during daylight hours.

And Finally…

Illustration by Douglas Adams

In Iowa, a man can bar his mother-in-law from his home without explanation.