Drying laundry can be expensive! According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, most households wash and dry up to 300 loads of laundry a year. What does that cost you in energy and money?
♦ A clothes dryer can consume over 4% of a home’s energy usage! (If you’re in the market for a clothes dryer, make it ENERGY STAR certified. Here’s the one that I got.)
♦ In addition to hiking up your energy bill, gas and electric clothes dryers add to your carbon footprint. Yes, your clothes get clean, but the planet gets a little bit dirty each time we turn the dryer on.
♦ Clothes dryers take a toll on the clothes themselves. Washing and drying adds to the wear and tear on fabric. Clothes may shrink if they’re subjected to hot temperatures. And who doesn’t hate the static cling that clothes get from spinning around in hot, dry air for an hour or so?
Here are six ways you can dry your clothes without using a lot of energy, racking up big bills, or wrecking your wardrobe. They still use natural resources to get the job done, but those resources — sunlight, and air — are completely free.
6 Better, Energy-Saving Ways to Dry Laundry
1) Old-fashioned Clothes Line. Sunshine and fresh air are the best ways to naturally beat back germs and odors – which is why so many parents hang their kids’ cloth diapers on a line, along with kitchen towels, sheets, underwear and socks. Line drying t-shirts, dress shirts and pants works great, too. Just turn them inside out to protect them from the fading powers of the sun.
You can use a rope you already have, but make sure it’s thin enough to be able to clip a clothes pin to. Otherwise, you’ll have to throw things over the top of the line, where they could blow off. You should be able to find clothes line at your local hardware store. We also sell this 100 ft cotton braided clothes line in our green Amazon store.
NOTE: Most lines stretch over time, so when you see yours drooping a bit, re-tie it on one end or the other.
While some community Home Owners Associations have banned neighbors’ rights to dry their clothes on “unsightly” outdoor lines, a national movement is afoot to overturn these bans and promote line drying.
2) A Foldable Clothes Line – Foldable clothes lines collapse into each other, then fold flat against a wall so when they’re not being used, they’re out of the way. When you need it, unfold the frame and voila. This could be a good solution if you don’t have two poles to attach a regular line to. Just use the back wall of your house or garage.
3) A Rotary Line Dryer – In this style, a central pole that’s permanently sunk into the ground opens up like an umbrella. A mesh of lines unfolds, making it possible to hang an entire load of laundry. A hand crank on the pole makes it easy to raise the load a few feet above the ground, where the clothes can catch the breeze and dry quickly.
4) A retractable clothes line in your bathroom or laundry room. These lines can’t accommodate a lot of laundry at once, but they’re great for socks and underwear.
5) Dryer Rack – Dryer racks can’t be beat for convenience, and many of them are large enough to handle an entire load of laundry at one time. I use a light-weight rack I put on my sunny back porch in the summer. My washer and dryer are in a big utility closet behind louvered doors in my master bathroom; in the winter, I just set up the rack in there. The humidity from the clothes helps humidify the dry winter air. You can get racks made from wood, but mine are lightweight steel with rubber feet and
By the way, if you’re using a line of some sort, you’ll need clothes pins to secure the clothes. Use the sturdiest clothespins you can find. Choose wood, not plastic, and store the pins inside and away from the elements when they’re not in use to keep them from getting dirty or wet if it rains.
6) The Shower Stall – I regularly toss shirts, blouses, sweaters, pants and dresses over the top of my shower.
If you hang your laundry in the sun…
Line drying is terrific for sports wear, underwear, jeans, pants, towels, sheets, blouses, socks, and shirts. But towels? They can get a little stiff or crunchy when they line dry.
Some people find that adding white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser helps soften their towels. I prefer to dry mine on the line almost completely, then toss them into the dryer to fluff up for ten minutes or so.
What about pet fur?
My throw rugs collect a LOT of fur from my dog and two cats. Tumble drying is still the most effective way to capture all that fur, even when I shake my rugs out before I wash them. I let the rugs dry almost completely outside, then tumble them for about 15 minutes to capture the fur. See what works best for you.
Dry drier clothes. The wetter your clothes are when you take them out of the washing machine, the longer it will take to dry them.
We use the highest spin cycle on our washer to get as much water out of our laundry as possible before we hang it up to dry or throw it in the dryer.
It shortens the drying time significantly, which saves us money.