It’s Time To Ditch Your Dryer! Why You Should Be Line-Drying

It's Time To Ditch Your Dryer! Why You Should Be Line-Drying. in 2023

I’ve been line-drying clothes for years.  When I had babies and toddlers, I dried their cloth diapers outside whenever the weather permitted.  Sunshine kills all kinds of germs, and when cloth diapering, germ-killing without irritating chemicals like bleach is really important.

When my oldest child was a toddler, we took a trip to northern Europe to visit friends, and I was amazed to see that many well-off people over there didn’t even bother with dryers; they all had racks in various parts of the house.

Back in the States, when our electric dryer broke a few years later, we switched to completely line drying while we waited a month for the replacement part to arrive.  This was a little frustrating, because we lived on the Gulf Coast, and our dryer broke in the middle of a cloudy winter.  So it was humid, and the clothes took a while to dry.  But it worked; nothing got moldy.  I just had racks of laundry in the living room most of that month, in varying stages of dryness.

Then, we moved to the High Plains, where laundry often dries faster on the line outside than in an electric dryer.  I got rid of my electric dryer in 2019.  My house is very small, and I need every bit of space I can get with three growing children.  I’ve got three drying racks that take up far less space (and electricity) than my old dryer did.

Saving Money

There are a variety of great reasons to line dry.  The first, obviously, is that it’s cheaper.  You don’t even absolutely need drying racks; clothes will still dry hanging up over the backs of chairs or doors.  When I was little, my parents lived overseas in an area without dryers.  They just draped laundry everywhere.  And even if you do decide to get drying racks, you’re looking at $20 or $30, not $500.

Electric dryers are one of the most energy-hungry appliances in your home.  Some parts of the country have seen dramatic increases in the cost of electricity recently; if you’ve had skyrocketing power bills, cutting out your electric dryer can make a big difference.

Hanging clothes can help them last longer

Improve the Lifespan of Your Clothes

A lesser-known advantage of line drying is how much longer clothes last.  A lot of people love that nice, soft dryer feeling, but it is rough on the fibers in your clothes.  I found this most noticeable in sheets.  My kids destroy their clothes because they’re kids, but sheets with the exact thread count last noticeably longer if they’re line dried.  I used to wear out about one set of sheets per year when I used my electric dryer; the same brand started lasting me at least two years and often three once I started line drying.

Line-drying clothes also means far fewer wrinkles.  There will usually be one big crease if I’m drying something like a tablecloth; if I needed to iron it, it would take far less time than when I used to iron tablecloths that came out of the dryer.  Line-dried clothes need less treatment to look nice.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Depending on your climate, drying indoors can also improve your indoor air quality.  For example, when I first moved to the High Plains, my youngest child got nosebleeds so often from the dry air I thought about getting a whole house humidifier.  I ran the small humidifiers regularly in my child’s bedroom, but I wanted to improve the air quality of my entire house.  However, I had a very limited budget then and asked one of my older neighbors what he thought my options were.

“Well, you could look into a humidifier system,” he said.  “Or you could just dry your clothes inside and see if that helps.”

Sure enough, I started putting up clothes indoors, and the nosebleeds significantly decreased in frequency and severity.

And obviously, this isn’t an advantage if you live in Houston or Atlanta, but if you’re in an arid region, it’s something to think about.

My Favorite Kinds

I’ve used many different methods over the years.  When I moved into my current house, I inherited an outdoor clothesline originally built in 1954.  The people I bought the house from had six kids and did not have an indoor dryer, so they put up more than a hundred feet of outdoor drying space.  It’s great in the summertime.  I can have a load of laundry plus tents hanging up to dry.

In the winter, or on our rare rainy days, it’s nice to have indoor drying racks.  I had some racks when we lived on the Gulf Coast.  We didn’t have a clothesline; we just bought drying racks and set them up in the backyard as needed.  I first purchased a cheap bamboo one; it was pretty flimsy, and I got rid of it when we moved.

Indoor drying racks can help save money

I’ve had a few different kinds since then.  I have two of these.  They’ve lasted me more than four years.  They work well, though the screws get loose after a while.  I need to retighten them regularly; it’s not surprising my indoor drying racks get a lot of use during the winter, and the metal screws go into plastic connectors that eventually wear out.  Considering that the racks only cost $15 each when I bought them (they’re about twice as expensive now), I still consider them a good buy.  If they ever totally fell apart, I could probably find a replacement connector piece at Home Depot.  Or get my son to solder the pieces together.

Most people probably don’t want to spend $150 on an indoor drying rack (it’s not in my budget), but if you did want to get something like this one I’m guessing the connections are part of the appeal.  It’s entirely made of wood; the screws go through wood into more wood, which I’m guessing holds tight for far longer than metal screws going into plastic connectors.  My mom has had a wooden drying rack similar to this one for decades.

Utilize over the door racks to help dry clothing

I also have two over-the-door racks similar to this one.   I like these kinds because they are primarily solid; as I mentioned above, the connections seem to be where most drying racks eventually fall apart.  But this a solid piece you can put over any door in the home.  Sure, they’re advertised as towel-drying racks, but you can dry other things on them, as well.

I had to go to Japan for a family function a while back and traveled the length of Honshu by train.  Everyone in Japan uses line dryers, and there, on almost every balcony I saw, they dried laundry in a way that reminded me of dry cleaners in the States.  There would be a rack like this one on the balcony,  and then the clothes would be put on individual hangers to dry.  When I lived on the Gulf Coast, we had a chin-up bar in the backyard, and I used to put shirts on hangers and then hook those over the chin-up bar in the same fashion.  It worked well and was nice because, at the end, the shirts went straight from the rack into the closet.

Drying your clothes on a rack saves money, makes your clothes last longer, and isn’t that much extra work.  Inside, it’s easily done while watching TV or streaming something in the evening.  On nice days, it’s an excuse to spend time outdoors and still feel productive.  Many people in other First World countries consider electric dryers superfluous; if you’re looking for ways to save money, it’s something to think about.

Additional Resources:

It\'s Time To Ditch Your Dryer! Why You Should Be Line-Drying

Marie Hawthorne

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7 Comments

  1. Bellen on March 7, 2023 at 7:20 am

    In my mid 70s and grew up with drying clothes outside. Raised 3 kids using cloth diapers and no dryer. Now I have a dryer that gets used 2x a month for 30 min to dry my tops and 2x a month on no heat to fluff the towels that have been rack dried. I have 2 drying racks permanently set up in the guest room and 2 more stored in a closet if I need more. Is it more work? well, yes, but my electric bill is about 1/2 my neighbors. In today’s world of increasing costs for everything I won’t be changing anytime soon.

    • Grampa on April 22, 2023 at 7:32 am

      many cities actually have laws preventing people from hanging their clothes outside to dry. Usually, it is with homes that start in the millions sitting on lots that you can stretch your arms out and touch both houses. These are sitting on postage-stamp-size lots I guess I am lucky. My home is big enough to be comfortable. We could take in our grandkids without too much trouble. I can sit at my back door and watch the deer run across the woods. My lot is 1/2 acre so I could grow enough food so we won’t starve. Yes, we can put many of your articles into practice. I have no doubt that in the coming decade, I will be needing to use all these ideas. so keep all the ideas coming. as a retired electrical contractor I will try to answer any questions you send to me. Again many thanks for all the info you give. this site provides so many free books to download— (https://www.gutenberg.org/) I hope it is useful ————— I, Grampa

  2. keebler on March 7, 2023 at 7:33 am

    I love my Indoor drying rack. Hard to find them any more . my back porch Un Heated ( Mud Room) I put up clothes line 12 feet. plenty room now. towel rack above spare room use clothes hanger . more room to hang things.
    keebler

  3. Genevieve on March 7, 2023 at 2:00 pm

    I’ll dry my clothes out on the line if you’re gonna come over and pick all the stnkbugs off my clothes before they get brought inside. Nothing like putting on a pair of pants and you then sit on a nasty stinkbug and have that smell on you. Apparently you don’t have them there where you are….yet. lol

    • Joanne on March 9, 2023 at 10:40 am

      Bugs in the clothes is a game changer for sure!

  4. Grampa on April 22, 2023 at 7:16 am

    Thank you for addressing this. has anyone done any calculating on how much it costs to dry clothes in a gas dryer and electric dryer? how about the cost saving in energy for the nation? I know that baking your clothes to dry them bakes the odors into the clothes. then we buy more crap to make them smell good. I know the difference between air-dried clothing and clothes dried to a crisp. When I grew up in Detroit my Mother was lucky to have a second-hand wringer washing machine. she would hang them up in our back yard and they always smelled great. Today we must have two incomes to support a family of four. we have little time for the home and what is needed. I always had my chores to do each day after school. we walked the mile from school to home. we had no buses or a car to be picked up in. I would help to take the clothes down and my sister had to fold them to be put away. It was my job to take down the clothesline and store the clothes poles so they were handy for the next week’s laundry. with everything clear, I had to cut our grass for the next week’s laundry day. Today we spend too much on things we don’t need and are unimportant. We worry about our designer shoes or coat. we worry about if our teeth are white enough. if our bed is soft enough, or our pillow is the right height. Oh and we must have the correct foundation for the makeup we use or have the correct cell phone service to provide the way our school bus will go by the gps on our phone. as we dash into our house to get our I pad to contact the BFF that we talked to just moments ago and challenge them to a mind-bending video game while we turn up the air conditioner. our school homework is forgotten again because who needs to read anyway when we have so many emojis to send? then as we wait impatiently for Mom to get home to pop in the sodium-loaded microwavable meal that takes a minute to heat we flop upon our chair and watch the latest government mind-altering crisis they have averted ( only by spending(investing) our tax dollars) while ordering the latest weight reducing gummies on sale. yes, I never realized just how hard we have it. so many time-saving things that cost so much in energy use. what will happen when someone flips the wrong switch or someone with a grudge against America plants some explosives in a lucky spot that takes out our grid? thank god that we all are prepared by reading all your information and took your advice to prepare. or did they? With so little time they must plan for all their moments to party, having that woke brew to enjoy. well I know I am. what i worry about are the ones who didn’t prepare and will come to my home asking for a handout. well, that is something for me to figure out. I do thank you for providing me with so much that has made it much easier to prepare. Keep up the good work as you read all my smart-ass remarks that regrettably are mostly true. I know because I will have many inlaws and outlaws that fall into this group. all will come knocking for my wife and myself to give them food and shelter because they knew that a party was more important than some preparation. How about some instruction on how to say no to relatives that belong to a wife of over fifty years? Well, I know it isn’t an easy thing to do. so I will just keep reading and learning and hopefully, we won’t need it.———- I, Grampa

  5. Wayne on August 28, 2023 at 4:04 pm

    Hi, I live on a sailboat (24yrs).
    I always dry my clothes and bedding outside in fresh air.
    A section of 10mm Polypropylene line is threaded through sleeves and pants legs.
    Polypropylene is essential as it doesn’t absorb water allowing clothes to dry faster.
    Stuff like bandanas, sheets etc are clamped using those black plastic and orange pivoting tabs clamps bought at hardware store for building projects.
    Never lost anything using them.

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