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5 reasons to line dry your laundry

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

I love the response this post got when I first published it in summer 2009 — it really show the vast diversity of all our living spaces and cultures.

I‘m not a luddite—I love technology. I love the ways it enhances our home life in so many ways, from storing our food at adequate temperatures, to washing our clothes so that we don’t have to work our hands raw with a hand-cranked wringer. We have much to be thankful for in our generation.

But there’s something rather soothing about line-dried clothes, I find. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but during these warm summer months, I enjoy hanging our laundry out to dry daily, watching it flap in the breeze and shine whitely in the sun’s reflection.

Here are some of my favorite reasons for line-drying clothes during warm weather.

5 reasons to line dry your laundry

1. It saves money.

This is the obvious one. Dryers use up a lot of electricity—almost more than any other household appliance. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that an electric clothes dryer accounts for almost six percent of a household’s annual electricity consumption.

That may not sound like a lot, but consider how many items in your modern-day dwelling use electricity. If you average $100 a month for your electric bill, your clothes dryer accounts for $72 per year. That’s almost another month of electricity in your home.

All I know is, since we’ve been line drying almost exclusively, our electric bill is considerably lower than it was last year. That’s a good enough reason for me. It cost us $20 for a drying rack and $4 for a ton of clothespins. Not a bad deal.

2. It saves the clothes.

Yes, dryers make your clothes softer, but they also weaken the fabric’s fibers much faster than if they had been air dried. All that lint after a cycle in the dryer? That’s fabric slowly wearing off of your clothes. It’s gradual, for sure, but in our family, we prefer buying fewer quality clothes, so I want them to last as long as possible.

3. We go through less laundry.

Since line drying takes a (tiny) bit more of my time, I’m a bit more aware of whether our clothes actually need to be washed, or whether they could be worn another time. I don’t know what it is — I think it’s because the act of hanging out our clothes to dry is a more active activity than tossing them into the dryer while I start something else.

When life isn’t crazy, I usually do one load of laundry about five days a week (which includes two loads of cloth diapers). It’s truly a pretty quick and painless process — a toss into the washer with Soapnuts and a few drops of essential oil, and then a trip on the clothesline.

A few hours later, I take down the clothes, fold them immediately, put them away, and… that’s it.

4. It uses fewer chemicals.

The sun is a natural whitener, so when you put thoroughly wet whites out on the line, the stains fade naturally. No need for bleach. In fact, I hear putting wet whites on fresh grass to air dry gets them stunningly white.

The dryer causes static cling, and the ingredients found in dryer sheets is like a criminal line-up of carcinogens. Line drying takes cares of this need.

5. It’s therapeutic.

I genuinely like hanging our clothes out to dry. Most of the time, it’s a few minutes of peace with my thoughts, doing something basic and methodical with my hands. It’s one of those acts of quotidian liturgy that, for me, is a simple act of service for my family. I enjoy praying for each person who wears the clothes I’m hanging.

Other times, my kids join me to hang clothes, and that can be just as fun. My four-year-old hangs the clothes in all sorts of artistic ways (which I often have to re-do later), and my toddler giggles at the feel of damp, cool clothes brushing his head as he walks under the rack. He also loves emptying and restocking the clothespin basket, handing me one as needed.

Much like showering, I get some good thinking done. While my body is busy doing something rote and routine, my mind is free to wander. Where do you think I came up with this post idea?

Tips for clothes drying

• If you don’t like the stiffness of line-dried clothes, you can give them a quick spin in the dryer for five minutes after they’re dried. It’ll soften the fibers a bit.

• Plan your laundry colors with the sun’s peak. I aim to have my whites drying in the late afternoon, when the sun is at its brightest here.

• Clothes will line dry even when it’s cooler or wetter. Simply put them under a roof, like a covered patio or balcony. And if you have a drying rack (as opposed to a permanent clothesline), you can bring your drying laundry inside overnight.

• If you really want to dry your clothes in the dryer, use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. They can be rubber with little stubby spikes, or they can be all-natural made of felted wool. Basically, they bounce around in your laundry load, separating the clothes and fluffing them up, so that you don’t need to reduce static cling chemically.

Do you line dry your clothes? Why or why not? What tips do you have for effective drying?

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Comments

  1. We just recently moved to South Africa and I came to the realization that most places in the world line-dry their laundry. We do have a dryer which I still use for towels because I like the softness, but I totally love line-drying!

    You are right, there is something therapeutic about it! I love the look of clothes drying on the line plus I love the smell.

    By the way, I also love your site! Just found it the other day and can’t stop reading posts! I’m about to be a first time mom and really need the hints you have here! Thank you!
    .-= Kristin Evans´s last blog ..Dinner Guests =-.

  2. avatar
    Folks call me Dill says:

    I enjoyed line drying this past summer. I didn’t do it with each load, but did it as much as time permitted. Our electric bill was 1-2 hundred dollars less than others in our neighborhood. But what really sold me was when I hung our pillow case covers out and how white they turned out!!! I had tried bleaching them and even oxy clean to try to get them white. NOTHING worked, except the sun! Amazing!

  3. Tsh, are you still using Soapnuts? How do they work on odor…my husband can stink up a shirt like nobody’s business!

  4. I absolutely adore the smell of clothes dried on the line in my garden. Even when I’m folding it at the end of the day, I take a few seconds to smell each item (I know, weird!), it’s something unique, you can’t reproduce that smell with chemicals! Here in Quebec, Canada, we can dry our laundry outdoors and every house has a clothes dry line. But we can do it only in summer, our winters are very, very long and very cold with 5 to 6 meters of snow… I must admit that I even have a “mental picture” of clothes drying outside that I use in order to relax in my office when it’s get too stressful. I close my eyes for a few seconds, I see an orchard in bloom with clothes on the line moving slowly in the wind…helps instantly.
    .-= Yasmine´s last blog ..Longing for one more journey =-.

  5. My wife is a huge fan of air drying. If she’s having a bad day, she’ll wash a load of laundry and then hang it out to dry. It invigorates her and completely changes her mood. This is so much so that last year for Christmas her gifts included a 40lb bag of cement, an in ground clothes line and a big black tub. Since we moved to Vegas, she hasn’t had a clothes line. I was able to make her a portable one that sits on our zeroscape patio. Now she’s a happy girl again.
    .-= Syvar´s last blog ..Welcome Ashoka to the conversation. =-.

  6. avatar
    karen martindale says:

    light colours reflect light, dark colours absorb. (Test this on a sunny day by putting a dark towel and a white towel on the line together.)
    Why am I saying this? Well apply this to your laundry choices so that on a sunny day do your white wash first give it longer on the line, do a coloured wash second.
    On a sunny but damp day choose a coloured wash. It will often get dry or near, even in light rain.
    In good weather hanging the washing out quite wet last thing at night gives it time to drop out any creases, especially if there is a bit of a breaze. No ironing!

  7. We are a family of seven (5 children) living in the S of France. I wouldn’t dream of buying a dryer for all of the reasons you have listed above. It means that the first thing I do every single day of the week is get up, go downstairs, feed the dogs and while they are out, I hang, unhang, load laundry. It is a huge task, but it’s one that I am accustomed to. For those who have always had a dryer, it would be hard to convert. But when you always have and there are a million financial and ecological reasons to continue, it is just natural. And yes, the clothes last WAY longer!

  8. I love hanging clothes out to dry at my mother’s place–the smell, the process, and yes, the peace! We never did toss them back in the dryer, as they were folded straight off the line, so we wore a lot of cardboard sweaters. ;)

    First time at your blog–lovin’ it!

  9. These are really great reasons. I specifically like reason #5- it’s therapeutic. What a great way to take 5 minutes for yourself- while doing something good for your budget and the environment. Thanks for sharing this!
    .-= Tori´s last blog ..DailyGrommet: @mombloggersclub New undertakings are always exciting- congratulations! =-.

  10. avatar
    Heather says:

    I don’t live in the US, I’m from the UK. I understand that there are various bylaws that unfortunately prevent many residents from line-drying laundry in their areas. It seems to me that outside of the Americas- I’m talking UK, Australia, and Europe, it’s common to see laundry drying in the breeze on a clothesline or “Whirly” on the lawn.
    Even in apartments and flatted dwellings, there is usually an area designated for the washline, and residents share the space.
    I had never heard of clothes being dried in a tumble-drier throughout the year….
    Yes, in the UK during the winter months it can get very cold, and almost impossible to completely line-dry. What do we do? We take the almost-dry clothes in, pop them in the drier for a few minutes, air them and then they are done.
    In Grandma’s Day, everyone made us of free, eco-friendly natural resources to take care of this often huge task.
    I have four children, and I do about four laundry- loads a day. Yes it is a lot. So in order to be as eco-friendly as possible, I was at 30C, use quick-wash cycle, spin well, then hang them out on the line as early as possible, and take them all in at night.
    Couldn’t imagine my electricity bill if I had to rely on my tumble -dryer….!

  11. We use the dryer :(
    We used the line for several years until our oldest son was diagnosed with pollen allergies, hay fever, etc. Think of your clothes and clothesline being a giant sweeper that cleans the sky by collecting the pollen on your clothes. After he went away to college we started using the line again, but because the other kids have allergies, though not as sever, we have to run everything through the dryer to try and clean off the allergens.
    I’ve noticed that the stuff even bothers me and while I’m willing to put up with the aggravation of sneezing and such, I don’t think it is fair to submit the kids to the torture. I suppose I could give them medications, but if the dryer fixes the problem…

  12. I love to line dry my clothes! Grew up in Fl. where it was possible to line dry year round. Now live in Maine and it was an adjustment, I so looked forward to the days when the laundry could go out on the line. I’m the only one in the neighborhood who line drys. Unfortunately my allergist has nixed my line drying. As I’m allergic to many pollens.

  13. Hi there,

    I would LOVE this … if I didn’t live in Seattle – where we are having the most horrible summer weather EVER! Rain every day… not above 65. YUCK.

    But I love your site! I just saw something that my friend posted and now I am hooked. Thank you for all that you do – it is inspiring!

  14. avatar
    Cassandra says:

    I put things like comforters and sheets outside as none of us suffer from allergies. We live on a busy road so they don’t alway smell as fresh as I would like. One of the biggest problems, at least the last few years is the weather here in Oregon. Today for example, it was pouring when I woke up and continued to rain until late this afternoon. Maybe summer will get here next month…

  15. Love this. My husband was putting a clothes line up for me this past weekend, while I’m out of town. I can’t wait, especially for hanging cloth diapers and sun bleaching them. Sometimes a few moments to yourself each day – whether it’s praying, running or just hanging clothes, is priceless.

  16. I love line drying my clothes, with the exception of jeans and bath towels. I compromise. I laundry day I line day almost everything but I run one load through the dryer of items that we prefer tumble dried. I sometimes throw line dried prefolds in there too to soften up a bit. It is a little hard to put a stiff as a board diaper on a baby. I do love the way it makes my diapers smell, though I doubt our city air is all that fresh. Since we do most of our laundry one day a week, I wish I had more clothesline space. Sometimes I have to wait for things to finish drying before I have room to hang up another load. Plus, if I’m lucky I get six months of the year to hang out clothes before it gets too cold and rainy. But I too find it relaxing.

  17. So glad you re-posted this! My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him to stop by costco and pick up their drying rack ( a long clothes line won’t work for us), but he did it anyway. I am so excited to start using it! I love line-drying my jeans, so I don’t have to SQUEEZE into them when they are fresh out of the dryer. They tend to stretch out so much after 1 wear that they fall off. Not so much with line drying.

  18. Great post. I grew up with line dried clothes every summer in Oregon; my mother had a clothes line installed in our backyard that included six lines. The comment about your toddler giggling made me smile and remember how much I loved to watch my mom hang the laundry so I could then go running through it with my brothers. I also remember the towels drying quite crispy; but a quick spin in the dryer softened them up… I really need to get a line up in my backyard – if it ever stops raining here in Washington! :)

  19. Hi Tsh!

    Hahaha really good tips. My grandmother still uses that kind of method of drying clothes. And our clothes lasts longer like 6 -8 years. Imagine that. nothing beats the natural method of doing things. Aside from that, as you see you clothes hanging… it feels rewarding because oyu have to put effort on cleaning your clothes and not relying it all on machines from cleaning to drying.

  20. avatar
    Lea Stormhammer says:

    This is a VERY interesting discussion.

    We have talked about line-drying at our house here. I don’t have a clothes line and can’t put one in (per housing codes for our city, if we had one we could leave it but we can’t install a new one). I do have a large, portable drying rack that I use for sweaters and other things that don’t do well in the dryer and I did use it for drying things when my dryer was down and out a couple of years ago.

    My question is this: My experiences with drying line/rack have mostly been negative. Spots/bugs/bird poo on feshly washed clothes. Taking 4-5 days for clothes to ‘dry’ to damp and musty smelling. I’m assuming the bugs, etc are due to living on a lot with several trees and very little direct sun but my grandmother, who line dried everything except in the very dead of North Dakota winter, had the same problem with tiny black spots appearing on her clothes that I do.

    I’d love to save some ‘extra’ money and extend the life of my clothes, but we honestly don’t have enough clothes to wait 4-5 days after washing for them to dry and I don’t want to have to re-wash and re-dry everything to remove spots, bugs and bird poo (which is VERY hard on the clothes)!

    Any suggestions?
    Thanks!
    Lea

  21. All of the above Top 5 reasons in the blog
    but the main two for me would have to be enviromental and money.
    It makes you more conscious, more aware.

  22. I have been hanging my clothes out all summer and it makes me so happy! I told my husband repeatedly that it makes me feel like I’m on a farm and takes me back to my youth. Not that my mom hung our clothes out often, but my grandma did and it makes me feel that carefree feeling of summer days past.

  23. We have a large family & when my hubby set up our clothesline with 8 lines on it , it made all the difference in the world. Now, I can get 4 loads done by 10 am. Much faster & more peaceful than being cooped up in the house, stuck doing laundry.

  24. Have you ever lost any laundry in the wind? I suppose it’s no different than the dryer eating socks!

  25. I REALLY wish we could line-dry our clothes, but DD and I both suffer from pollen allergies (and related asthma) 3 seasons out of the year. I switched to dryer balls several years ago, and they work great–thanks for mentioning them. I’ve got a few other suggestions for ways to reduce dryer use, for those who are like me and can’t line-dry:
    1. Set up multiple drying racks and/or install a wall-mounted retractable clothesline in your laundry room or bathroom, if you have the space.
    2. If your washer has an adjustable spin speed, set it to “fast” to wring more water out of the clothes.
    3. Dry several loads in succession to take advantage of residual heat in the dryer. To be the most energy-efficient, dry low-heat loads first, then medium/high-heat loads.

  26. Can anyone come up with a disadvantage for line drying :)

    Havent got the chance to read all the other tips by everyone. but will do soon.

    Meanwhile I have one — dry the clothes inside out. If you live in a place where there are birds, this comes very handy to combat the bird droppings. Also it helps the pockets and seams dry faster.

  27. I’ve always wanted to get a clothesline set up, especially to naturally bleach out my cloth diapers. You’ve motivated me to make it happen! :)

  28. Love line drying!! I tend to leave stuff in the dryer and then forget about it. When I walk by the sliding glass door and see the clothes on the line I am reminded I need to take care of them. I can be a little scatter brained around the house so this keeps me on track.

  29. We moved about 7 months ago to a new home. It took about a month to realize what the thing hanging outside the house was.(It was a retractable clothesline!) I thought I’d give it a try and I was hooked. I immediately saw $50.00 shaved off of our monthly electric bill. That’s HUGE! We pay a lot for electricity here in Florida and in the Summer the A/C runs a lot! I will admit that it’s been harder to do now that it’s scorching outside and the afternoon thunderstorms roll in. I’ve had to use the dryer a few times lately and I honestly don’t like it. I really enjoy hanging the clothes out. To me it’s very therapeutic. But the mosquitoes are eating me alive out there. *sigh*

  30. avatar
    Stephanie Pease says:

    I used to line-dry all my clothes, and I miss it. My good habits got killed by a lot of things, including my active boys, but the thing that’s really stumping me is the location of the line. The line is in a part of the yard that’s shaded after about 1pm, and it slows down the drying process a LOT. If the clothes are left on the line overnight, they get this weird smell that I have no explanation for – I use homemade powder detergent. So if they don’t get out first thing in the morning, I feel like its impossible. Of course, this is a bit limiting with two boys to get out the door for the days activities… Any ideas for what the smell might be and how to get rid of it? I think that’s my Waterloo…

  31. avatar
    Betty-Jo says:

    I would love to hang my clothes out. My aunts always did and to this day my 70 year old aunt still does. I think it was her therapy as us kids were growing up ;D the only reason I don’t hang my clothes outside is spiders lol I have arachnophobia. Do any of you have the problem with spiders getting on your clothes as they dry? We live in the country…there are places in our yard that have no trees though so it would be nice to have line dried clothes. I am enjoying your blog immensely.

  32. avatar
    Jennifer says:

    I have no idea if this has already been mentioned (no time today to read through the comments;) but I will check later and see if anyone has any tips about hang drying in townhouses – not a lot of space, pretty sure the strata won’t allow lines outside, and I live near Vancouver BC and we get a LOT of rain), but I DIY’d three dryer balls out of some old holey socks and they seem to be working pretty well…

    Instructions:
    You will need about 4-6 men’s tube socks for a single dryer ball.
    Take three of the socks, fold them together into a rough sphere and shove them into the toe of Sock#4.
    Twist the toe to “seal” off the socks and then turn the sock inside out. Twist and repeat until you have a “sock ball.” If you think the ball should be bigger, just toss the sock ball into the toe of another sock and repeat until it looks finished to you.

    Taadaaa!!!!

    Jennifer

  33. I so want to line dry my clothes. The problem is that we have a TON of trees on our property. I can’t come up with a good place to hang a clothesline. I may be able to do the kind where you dig a hole and cement the pole into the ground. But with all our trees and birds and squirrels, I’m concerned that I’ll have tree crud, bird poop, and rotting apples bits on our clothes. I need to pursue this a little further.

  34. Before I started visiting US blogs, I didn’t realise that people actually used a dryer ~all the time~ to dry their clothes. As in… didn’t even HAVE a clothesline… that really ‘spun’ me out (no pun intended!).

    We are in Australia, have hot summers (can kill the elastic, fade clothes) and freezing winters (rain for days on end, temps in the single digits (celcius)). We have birds here, and trees and mad ants and other stuff but line drying has predominantly been the norm. You work around whatever challenges there are.

    We have a line under cover (we don’t even own a dryer), and that’s what we use, but most people dry out in the open. I do know in the tropics up North of Aus where my parents are, that the humidity and endless rain can be a problem, but people simply line dry inside on racks or under the verandah as needed.

    It just blows my mind that it’s a ‘novelty’ or extraordinary in some countries, for people to line dry and that running yet another appliance full time (more emissions, consumption) is seen as ‘ok’ and perfectly normal. Which is not a… whatever the word is, it just surprised me, is all. Good luck to all those giving line drying a go! :)

    A bunch of nappies flapping on the line is enough to make me grin :)

  35. eta our spiders only tend to take up residence in clothes if you leave them (dry) on the line too long.

  36. I’m guessing some commenters have already mentioned; but for an Aussie like myself it seems extraordinary to read an article about line-drying. Here it’s just normal, the done thing, just what you get used to doing from a young age. I guess a great deal of Aussie households would own a dryer, but it is viewed [in this household anyway] as a luxury to be used only in the direst of circumstances. Cost is the main reasoning I guess, but also tradition – our houses are not really built with big laundries to accommodate a whole inside drying operation.

    An observation from what I’ve learnt. We live in the tropics where summer is the difficult time for us as far as getting everything dried. During that time I use my own system that doesn’t require a dryer. The clothes go on racks, sometimes on the patio, sometimes inside, and are positioned under or beside an electric fan. With the fan going at it highest setting, the clothes dry really quick. And yes, it does use power, but WAY less power than a dryer; and we would generally have the fans running anyway to prevent the growth of mould in the house. [But I have to admit that sometimes when everything gets too much, sometimes a load of washing will get 1/2 hour in the dryer just to ‘finish’ it off.]

    My routine over the last few years, for when things are busy, is to make a habit of hanging one load of washing on the line last thing at night. It feels a big strange hanging the clothes out in the dark! But this means that as soon as the sun is up, my washing is starting to dry, and it frees my morning when I am often busiest.

    I am also loving a routine I have been using the last year or 2 is that all school uniforms/sports uniforms go on a rack that the children can access. I used to find that I was often asked “Where is my ……….?” only to discover that the item in question was on the line [wet with dew], or in a basket somewhere waiting to be sorted. Of course, the children can’t yet reach the line, and I was sick of hunting through baskets in a mad rush in the morning, so now the children know to go straight to the rack and find what they need themselves. It has made things SO much easier for us. [And I have to admit that my husband’s uniforms are also in the same system, because he also was one to ask “Where is my …………..?” ]

    Thanks Tsh for a great article.

  37. avatar
    Tiffany Larson says:

    I was taught to line dry my clothes (inside) so I don’t know anything differently. The only things that go in the dryer for a full dry are towels, sheets, socks and undies. Everything else is hung up. I definitely notice that it keeps our clothing in better condition. I’m a huge proponent of it!

  38. I’ve tried line drying before but it just doesn’t work here. I live in San Francisco, where it’s “damp” year-round. Stuff just doesn’t dry here! Plus, I live on a major bus route so whatever I’ve hung outside to dry gets covered in black particulate. So not only are my clothes & linens covered in black gunk, they’re still wet! It was maddening.

    After giving it a good try (about a dozen times!), I gave up. The dryer is my friend!

  39. avatar
    catlin Evans says:

    I’m an American living in Australia. It’s amazing how line drying is just what most people do here. If people use the dryer they usually feel like they have to explain that it’s been raining for days or something. They’re amazed and mystified when I tell people that it’s not even allowed many places in the US. I get lazy sometimes, but I’m getting there!

  40. I like the smell of line dried clothes. Somehow the scent of fabric softener does not smell so great when clothes come from the dryer. Plus drying the sheets outside is so retro. It reminds me of my childhood.

  41. There is real skill in line drying; Know your line, which bit gets the most sunlight, a taller bit of line may be best for a long sheet or towel. A bit which goes over a plant is good for short things like dusters.
    Use those dangly devices with pegs attatched to get lots of small things together in little space (also easy to bring them in quickly if it rains).
    Match your wash to the weather, wash towels on a windy day and they will be as soft and fluffy as any conditioner laden, tumble-dried softy. (Even on a damp but windy day you can get washing amost dry.)
    Dark clothes on a sunny but damp day ( black absorbs the suns warmth, white reflects )
    In really hot weather hang very wet washing out in the evening, it will dry flat and need no ironing and will not be faded by the sun.
    A line slung over a paved area drys washing so much quicker than over a lawn. Here in high rainfall, Lancashire in the NW of England, a housewife pondering if the weather is condusive to drying, might quote the traditional saying ”is it drying th’ flags?’
    She would not mean the star & stripe kind of flag flapping on American porchs, but the stone flags that traditionally paved the back yards and alleyways of our tiny terraced houses. If they were still wet then it was not drying weather.
    I once lived in an area of London where the ground landlord was the church, covenent forbade the hanging of washing on a Sunday.

  42. I line dry (when it isn’t cold or raining) and one thing I like is that it doesn’t set in stains like a dryer does. If a stain didn’t come out the first time around I get a second chance to get rid of the stain.

    I do hang inside sometimes and when I do I hang all my shirts on hangers so they can be transferred easily to the closet afterwards.

    My mom hangs clothes year round. She has to shake snow off of them sometimes. I’m just not that dedicated. lol…

  43. avatar
    Sarah in GA says:

    growing up in Nigeria my mom had no other option but to line-dry clothes. when we moved to the Netherlands we found that even though the weather was often damp and rainy people still always line dried their clothes. they had ingenious racks that hang over the stairwells so that the clothes had plenty of room to hang inside. even in damp, they were able to patient and wait a day or 2 for the clothes to dry.
    i now live in the South of the US and i still try to line-dry as much as possible. IKEA has great drying racks for inside on rainy days. however, i noticed i must have gotten lazy when my mom came to visit for a month, was in charge of laundry, line dried every thing, and we noticed a significant decrease in our utility bill. that encouraged me to get back to line-drying again! :-)

  44. avatar
    Trinity says:

    A great tip I found for softening line dried clothes is to add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle. I have done loads with and without (when I miss the rinse cycle) and it works great. I buy it buy the gallon but I have a small bottle I use to fill my measuring cup fast without lugging the gallon around or having it on the counter taking up space.

  45. Since I live in a rainy place (and live in an apartment) I don’t line dry. But in the future when I have my own home (and maybe live in a warmer place) I’m definitely planning on line drying.

  46. I’ve never wanted to hang our clothes to dry simply due to them not being soft afterwards. Embarrassingly enough, It never occurred to me that I could put the clothes in the dryer later, or when they’re almost dry. I don’t use fabric softener in the dryer. Living in the extreme dryness of Southern Nevada, clothes will probably dry as quickly outside (or maybe even inside) as they would in the dryer!

  47. hanging my clothes out to dry on my balcony was my favorite household chore when we were overseas. it was so peaceful and i loved listening to the sounds of the city. we didn’t even own a dryer and i only missed it for a couple months in the winter when things took a long time to dry (long time, as in 3 days!).

    we don’t have a place to hang our clothes up here (i don’t know if it’s legal or not, either), but i’ve still been hanging most of our clothes on a drying rack inside. they just last so much longer that way. and i’ve been hanging our wet shirts directly on the hangers. they dry just as well and i don’t have to hang them up later (i’d much rather fold than hang, personally).

  48. and i think it’s so funny that that dry rack is on amazon for almost $50. ours was like that, but so much bigger, and probably about $10! (of course, no stainless steal, though.)

  49. During the summer vacation from school, I would clean house and wash clothes for my mother. The favorite part was hanging clothes out to dry, especially the sheets and towels. At one time I did not have anyting to wash, so I took the clothes pins out of the bag and washed that, just so I could hang ‘something’ on the clothes line :) Now, many years later, I still enjoy hanging clothes out to dry; not on the type of pole clothes line my mother had ( could hang a couple loads of clothes + ) but in a small squared section on my patio.

    **Still Hanging** :)

  50. Another reason to “hang dry” is to get a lot more years of life from a pricey appliance. My electric dryer is 28 years old and has lasted so long because I line dry clothing outdoors except for the winter months. And in winter I hang some clothes in my basement to dry. It just makes sense on so many levels.

  51. avatar
    Sharon W says:

    I have never seriously considered line drying because I’m creeped out at the thought of bugs getting into the clothes and me bringing them back into the house. Is this an unfounded fear???

  52. How about 2 reasons NOT to? Sort of said tongue in cheek, but a complete reality where I live.
    1. Fine grain red silt and wind. ‘Nuff said.
    2. House within 45′ of a major roadway thru our small town-you know that saying about airing your laundry….

  53. We live in an apartment without a washer or dryer, so hanging clothes on the line saves us a lot of money (probably more than what we would save just paying the energy bill), and some time at the Laundromat. My only hang up is getting enough line put up to dry a whole load of laundry. Right now I can only dry 1/3 to 1/2 of a washer load at a time. I’m working up the nerve to ask our manager if I can run a line on a pulley system to my neighbor’s balcony…

    I’ve discovered that eco-friendly laundry soaps, like Seventh Generation and Full Circle leave line dried clothes less crunchy than mainstream brands.

  54. avatar
    Devon Cole says:

    I’m so surprised how many people line dry their clothes. I also line dry my clothes as often as I can, although hauling out a heavy basket of wet clothes right now 8 months pregnant is not easy and I’m using the dryer mostly. In the south I’ve noticed that some days it’s just too humid to line dry since the clothes have to hang so long in the humidity they fade too much. Haven’t noticed a reduction in my electricity bill but compared to others I know our electricity bill is significantly lower. Cottons do stretch a lot and like someone else mentioned I hang them by the shoulder seams and that helps immensely. Personally I couldn’t live without a clothesline.

  55. In Texas it dries faster on the line then in the dryer during the summer.

  56. avatar
    Cabbage says:

    I hang all my clothes to dry, but not by choice. We live in Japan, where dryers are expensive and usually inadequate. Since I’m a working mom, I don’t like the time it takes, but I (secretly) find it therapeutic, too.
    The drawbacks are there, too. Clothes do come out stiffer, so you have to compensate with liquid fabric softener in the wash. A few tablespoons of white vinegar in the last rinse mode also does wonders. Also, hanging things out on a dry, listless, windless day will also end up with crispy clothes, towels and sheets. Plus, I’ve noticed my nicer cotton tees don’t have the same bounce, but stretch and wear out faster. My husband and kids’ clothes don’t have this problem. Doing laundry during Japan’s rainy season is like running up a sandy hill.
    And, the biggest problem for working parents, you have to hang it out in the morning, and get it in before the sun sets.
    But one benefit is that we use fewer clothes. I’m constantly in a cycle of wash, hang, put away, wear. Sometimes we just skip the put-away part. I don’t have dirty laundry sitting around for a week in the basket, so we wear the same 3-4 shirts over and over. Over a few years, I’ve learned that we just don’t need to OWN that many clothes, which was a heavenly revelation for a penny-pinching family with twin boys. (twins = double the price of everything you buy, no hand-me-downs.)

  57. I love this post! Yay for clothes lines!! Forgive me if this has already been covered, I don’t have time to read all the comments, but if you hang your clothes on the hangers and then put them on the line this way it will save you time. You only touch your clothes twice, coming out of the dryer and then going into the closet, opposed to coming out of the drying, going on to the line, coming off of the line, going into the closet. Your only adding the step of walking the clothes out and back in again verses, pining and unpinning, then folding/hanging and putting away. The more things you can hang on hangers the better this works. I even found that I can hang shorts, skirts, and pants with belt loops if I use a cheap shirt hanger from walmart. You put the hanger throught the back belt loops. Works great! I also keep some pants hangers for the others that don’t have belt loops. This way everything gets dry without creases from folding over hangers.

  58. avatar
    Christie says:

    We saved $50 the first month I tried line-drying, so I was hooked. The bill went from $160 to $110.

  59. avatar
    Evaleen Locke says:

    I love line drying clothes! It gives me satisfaction knowing that I can do it for free and that my clothes come off the line smelling so good! I live in Texas and in the height of summer (and sometimes in the spring) a load of laundry can dry in minutes. I grew up in upstate New York without a dryer and dried my clothes next to a wood stove. It was always a nice change to hang them on the clothes line in the summer. I get great pleasure from seeing everything hanging orderly on the line.

  60. Wow … its interesting tips. I also agree if the clothes dryer will spend a lot of electricity. I prefer to use solar energy because I believe the sun will not be left behind stains on our clothes. Clothes dryers also we will quickly lead to tangles and will save our spending.

  61. I line dry all my clothes in the summer, but I especially like line-drying bed sheets. They end up so nice and fresh, and a little stiff — which makes them feel fresh to me. Plus, I find that when I do need to put my sheets in the dryer (in winter time), they usually end up balling up and don’t get dry in the middle.

  62. My husband and I installed 2 posts and 2 lines in our backyard because I wanted to start line drying our laundry. But every time I do our clothes smell… and not in a good way. I’ve tried researching it but EVERY site is just talking about how wonderful line dried clothes smell, so of course if everyone else’s clothes are smelling great then there’s not much need to go into detail about why mine stink. I know line dried clothes usually smell fantastic. But mine do NOT. They just smell like dirt or something.

    They’re definitely not sour. I keep coming across that situation… I am taking them immediately out of the washer and hanging on the line. They’re not too smushed or doubled up either. That was the other “answer” I have come across.

    So does anybody have any ideas as to what the problem is or how to fix this? I don’t want to have to use they dryer all the time, especially in the summer. I just don’t know how to get that ick smell out or what’s causing it in the first place. It’s definitely not pleasant though. And it’s not faint, either. It’s a “I’m here and I smell weird” statement that I’d rather not have my family be known for.

  63. Yes, i’ve been line-drying for a few months now. Since I like numbers and I was curious about the actual financial impact of this, I monitored the change in my electricity bill: month over month, turning off the dryer has reduced my electricity bill by 15%.

  64. As far as I know 6% of $100 is $6 not $72, or I misunderstood something

  65. I really enjoyed reading this and i’m so excited to see how many other people are into to line drying. I have been so sick of running my dryer I am planning on putting up a clothesline ASAP! I’ve been using what i can outside to dry my cloth diapers and even doing that, there’s something therapeutic about it.

  66. Line drying is great if you live in a country that has somewhat reasonable weather year round. We live in Alberta, Canada and are lucky if we have 1 months of summer a year. And even during those 2 months, the days are very unpredictable, it can be sunny and beautiful one minute and raining the next.

  67. You guys are sadly right about Canada, I was really sad when my sister (very green person) wasn’t allowed to set up a clothesline and received complaints over clothes drying racks. When I bought my home it had an old clothesline setup and since I saw it I KNEW I wanted to use it. My husband lived in Sweden for 8 years so he’s used to line drying. He does think I’m a bit crazy for wanting to indoor line-dry in the winters but if I’m going to start off with a 1 month goal and keep building until that machine is not needed (well ‘wanted’) anymore. My area has tons of old clotheslines in yards but besides me I’ve only seen 1 elder lady using hers (I’m 25).

  68. I line dry about half my clothes. As an apartment dweller I have limited drying space so I do a dryer load about once every ten days and hang the big stuff out on the balcony. I hate the way laundry smells when coming out of an aging, shared dryer, doubly so if someone has used a dryer sheet recently. So the towels always get the air dry treatment as do the jeans, aprons and kitchen towels. Actually I like the scratchy feeling of air dried fabrics and would happily dry everything outside if I could figure out a workable solution.

  69. I just found your blog, so I’m months late in commenting on this but I couldn’t resist. Like so many have stated already, I LOVE my clothesline. I wrote a little appreciation about it last summer http://www.songbirdcabin.blogspot.com/2011/09/clothesline-therapy.html

  70. I love hanging up my laundry for all the reasons mentioned above and more. The smell, the meditative time, the sounds of birds, the economy, the connection with my grandmothers, the sunny bleaching factor, the connection with Spirit, the sense of responding to nature and realizing when it’s a good drying day, maintaining sustainable skills, etc.

    I have tried every drying rack and line system known to humankind! I have a retractable line, an outdoor synthetic line, cotton lines in the basement, folding metal racks, folding wooden racks, etc. I’ve always wanted to try the kind that is on a pulley that can be raised up to the ceiling! I’m lucky — down in my basement, our furnace helps dry the laundry hung up on lines and racks down there. Almost nothing (jeans, towels, quilts) takes more than 24 hours.

    Even when cheap folding racks break, I’ve hung up the good sections with eye bolts & string, and keep on using them. Most of my racks, I’ve gotten from thrift stores, second hand. The only one I bought new was from Ikea — love that one, it holds an entire load.

    Some realizations: I used to tumble towels in the dryer (used the old liquid detergent cups for “dryer balls”), but frankly, I just don’t care enough — in fact, I kind of like the stimulation on my skin of crunchy towels. Making my own soap is easy and I can make it smell pretty (ylang-ylang). Always make “pockets” as you hang up the items, to catch the breeze — it makes everything dry faster. Thus, I hang knit boxers from the waistline, with one side drooping — the breeze opens them up. I hang men’s shirts from the hem with one button fastened — they balloon out in the lightest breeze. I hang jeans pinned inside the back placket (above the rear pockets) with the zipper open. Most casual pants and skirts are hung that way to catch the wind. Synthetic men’s pants are hung with the crease, from the cuffs (no pin marks). I usually hang tees from the hem — but yes, sometimes they stretch. Since they’re mostly super casual wear, I don’t mind — I like ‘em roomy. But if it’s a tee-shirt that I want to remain “nice,” I hang em in half, with the pins just under the “pits,” to hide the pin marks. They still dry plenty fast, folded over like this.

    I kept the dryer around for more than 3 years while I decided if I was REALLY committed to line drying and, finally, I just had it hauled away.

    I really resonated with the person who said clean clothing used to accumulate in baskets, getting wrinkly and never getting folded or put away — YES. Now I fold as I remove it from the line, it goes right into the basket and right into the drawers. (I’m less good about it in winter — tends to hang around on the racks until the next laundry day…)

    Someday I’d love to replace our creaky nasty 25 year old washer and get something more efficient! Someday!

  71. I use a Wonder Wash which costed me $50, and a spin dryer that takes most of the moisture out of my clothing. Hanging them up for an hour leaves them damp enough to get the wrinkles out, and I don’t have to wait more than an hour or two for dry clothes. I dry my dark colors overnight (even though they probably dry faster) in my bathroom and my light colors and whites outside in the sun. Since I make my own laundry detergent and wash my comforter every so often at my parent’s house, laundry costs me about $150 to start it up and $20 a year and it’s ZERO work.

  72. Hey, awesome points thank! Was wondering what you do in the winter? Do the clothes still dry in <50 degrees F?

  73. I started hanging my clothes to dry about a month ago. I expected it to be a drag, but I LOVE it. I don’t use a clothes line- I use a massive drying rack & a smaller one in our basement. After my clothes are finished washing I run them through the dryer for 10 minutes & then I hang them on the rack to dry.
    Things I don’t hang to dry: sock & undies (I did at first, but they felt stiff & don’t hold their elasticity) & linens.
    What I love that I didn’t expect: it totally keeps me up on our laundry!! I used to wash & dry & stick stuff in baskets & it would sit, sit, sit for days (often longer…) until I would fold it. Now I fold it when I take it off the racks & I can’t put more on the racks until I remove the previous load. Also- I don’t really have to iron anymore! The stuff doesn’t sit & get wrinkled in the dryer & hanging it dry eliminates most of the wrinkles. Win-win. :)

  74. I have always line-dried my clothes, as has my mom and my grandmas on both sides. I’m from Wisconsin, USA, and nearly everyone in the neighborhoods I’ve lived in has had clotheslines. Usually, you just find sheets on them, but my family likes to put up jeans, sweaters, etc – everything but underwear – on our outside line. The intimates go on our indoor line.

    Even when I went to college (and now in my little bitty apartment) I’ve had a clothes rack to line dry what I could. Admittedly, I only met one other person who didn’t think that was weird (and she was also a Wisconsinite).

    I absolutely LOVE the smell of summer sun dried sheets. :)

  75. Hello All – just happened across this article and thought I’d post. There’s a really big resurgence of interest in line drying at the moment in the UK. We manufacture rotary washing lines and we’re seeing 20-30% growth in sales. The reason is two-fold: firstly, the cost of electricity here is growing each year and secondly, people just love the smell of naturally dried clothes.

  76. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  77. I just put my first load of the year on the makeshift line I have. I love that I can take a chair and a book an sit inside the little fort of damp clothes to cool off and relax. I also loving that I’m not pumping heat into my already hot humid home and I can keep the central air off.

  78. I just started air drying (via a clothes drying rack) and love it! I live in CA and find my clothes dry just as fast on a warm sunny day as they would in a dryer. On those overcast days, I still air dry the clothes, it just takes another hour or so to dry. We have a tiny (and I mean tiny) back porch, that exactly fits three accordian style clothes drying racks. I put the clothes out before I leave for work and they are beautifully dry and so fresh smelling when I come home in the afternoon! I have been using soap nuts for the past three years and will not go back to traditional detergent. I feel good reducing our carbon footprint and have a little extra money in my pocket, not the utility company’s!

  79. i think in terms of the clothes stiffness when air dried depends on the cloth… this usually happens to a pure cotton shirt but not with the mix materials shirt…. the “stiffness” of the clothes however softens when it’s already worn as far as i noticed.

    i think the advantage of line drying clothes is the fact that it doesn’t make a person’s clothes stink nor the sweat of the person make the clothes stink.

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