Air-dry your laundry

Drying clothes on a line can take a little longer than throwing clothes into a dryer, but it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant task. In addition to cutting down on energy use, other benefits can include enjoying the outdoors or humidifying the air in your house (when clothes line-dry indoors).

**How this helps**

Air-drying some or all of your wet laundry could save you $135 in energy costs every year, prevent tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere, and result in less wear-and-tear on clothes.

**More information**

– Read the full tip at GreenYour.com
– Cheap Green Laundry at NYTimes.com

**Related tips**

Run your appliances at night
– Wash your clothes in cold water
– Wash only full loads of laundry

Author Bio

greenyour

Comments Disabled

  1. sue - October 15, 2008

    I’ve been line drying about 1/2- 3/4 of my laundry loads for about a year now. A family of 4 with active kids makes for a lot of laundry, but it’s worth it – we save $25+ per month here in Connecticut. There’s an added benefit, besides cutting down on carbon emissions and clothes lasting longer: It’s corny, but I swear I feel a wonderful connection with my mom and grandmother as I hang the clothes. Some sweet moments were spent hanging laundry with them way back when. So, line drying for me feels good on a lot of levels! Other benefits: There’s that great smell of clothes dried outside, and folding clothes off the line is easier and faster.

  2. michael - October 15, 2008

    …unfortunately, zoning laws in many areas prohibit outdoor laundry lines…sad but true.

  3. sue - October 15, 2008

    Maybe that will change over time. In the meantime, there are some great drying racks of all different configurations and sizes that can be found on the internet for drying inside. In winter, clothes dry amazingly fast indoors, especially if you place the rack near the heat source. All the same great benefits I mentioned earlier, just not that great outdoor smell.
    By the way, Europeans have the best rack supply — they’ve been doing this forever. Everywhere but the US it’s culturally accepted, originally out of necessity due to higher energy costs. I had a British visitor recently who saw my laundry outside and commented on how great it looked and how it gave her a warm feeling, reminding her of home!

  4. Diana - October 15, 2008

    Also, it’s not necessary to go super fancy with your drying contraption. I bought some twine and it works just fine :)

  5. Trent - October 15, 2008

    I too try to air dry at least one load per week on my drying rack or outside weather permitting in illinois. I have trouble this time of year though. The temp isnt high enough and humidity is high. The
    heavy clothes smell moldy because they take too long to dry. I put them in the dryer for approx 15 to 20 min and let them air dry the rest of the way.
    Once it gets colder and the furnace is running I can go back to air drying all clothes.

  6. Conservation Matters!! - October 15, 2008

    Please take the minute needed to read the following brief; which identifies the only solution to our energy crisis, and is available NOW. America Wastes over 70% of the Energy it Consumes ! The Energy Waste is Everywhere !
    (1) 100’s of millions of lights are unnecessary used every day and every night.
    (2) We consistently over heat and over cool our homes, offices, schools, businesses, churches, etc…
    (3) Landfills are busier than ever. Over packaging with plastics is the norm. Recycling is an option and thereby inadequate.
    (4) Most Americans do not minimize their driving. Therefore,
    congestion on roads is horrendous.
    (5) Road construction is the ultimate contradiction!
    Until the price of gas is $7 to $8 per gallon, Americans will not significantly reduce their waste and over demand for energy. The economic impact of taxing energy is the way to eliminate energy waste and over demand. Only with a tangible dollar reward / consequence will America care and act to conserve. Crude oil must be taxed at $200 per barrel (55 gal) and ‘offset’ by making Federal Income Tax begin at $70k. High energy costs are also the incentive by which sustainable energy supplies will be developed. In the mean time, the USA continues its incredible energy waste and gives away its economic and political wealth to the Islamic Middle East via OPEC.
    Know that the Islamic dominated OPEC cartel is glad to allow supply and demand market forces to drive energy prices to $8/gallon. Our hedonist energy waste empowers the Islamics who desire our demise.
    China, India, and other ‘developing countries’ have only begun to compete for the world’s remaining fossil fuels. Unless global demand for fossil energy is dramatically reduced, world war is inevitable (future geopolitical unrest will be directly related to global competition for energy and natural resources).
    Ford and General Motors are headed for bankruptcy, which will leave 100,000,000 Americans unemployed, ruin our economy, and lead to anarchy. America can no longer continue to ‘do business as usual’. The world cannot continue to support all the automakers. We are running out of petroleum! Ford and GM must quickly transition to the lucrative business of building solar and wind ‘energy producers’ for the world’s 6.7 BILLION people reason$.
    Mass transit must reward those who reduce their driving and thereby become FREE, SAFE, CLEAN, and CONVENIENT.
    The incentive necessary to create renewable and sustainable energy supply can ONLY occur when we implement the economics of TAXING ENERGY in lieu of income taxes.

  7. Vickie - October 15, 2008

    We hang dry all our clothes and linnens all summer outdoors; and in the winter we hang about half of it inside. We have a small set of lines in the basement. This indoor clothes line is “original equipment” to our 80 year old Iowa home. I feel a real attachment to the original homeowners when I use this and I also think of my mom.
    My mom has told me many times how she would hang clothes on the line out the window of her flat in NY when she was a new wife and mother. She even did this in the dead of winter. She said she would just shake off the ice, fold the clothes, and put them away.
    We often think of things like this as hard nowdays, but for women like my mom it was just another day of laundry.

  8. patricia - October 15, 2008

    I have been hanging my clothes on an umbrella type clothes line for years. I turn dark colors inside out to avoid the bleaching affect of the sun, but the light colors are beautifully bleached this way.
    I bought a nice big wooden drying rack at a yard sale and in winter use it for drying. Here in dry California, the clothes dry over night.
    I have a brand new dryer but use it for towels (for softness) and sheets exclusively.
    My dryer is gas operated (propane) so these methods of drying really save me money and help to save the enviroment.

  9. LunaLady - October 15, 2008

    I’ve been hanging my clothes to dry for years—found some very cool metal rods that rest on the top of teh shower surround and clamp onto the shower curtain rod. It can accommodate a lot of clothes hung up to dry.
    Hanging clothes up cuts down on ironing (for those of us who still iron!) and uses less electricity. Clothes also last longer, as the dryer destroys clothes and shortens their life.
    Try it, you’ll like it!

  10. enaudit - October 15, 2008

    If you have or will tighten your home to save energy watch for excess moisture; run exhaust
    fan(s) or a dehumidifier to take excess away/out to prevent mildew, mold, odor & associated problems. The tighter the house the more potential for this problem.

  11. Jacquie - October 15, 2008

    Wow, this is going to sound corny, but I started to hang my clothes about a year ago because my drier was starting to act up. I had all kinds of excuses before about hanging clothes outside, mostly it was not convenient. One day, sudden insight…one eyebolt and 2 small boating cleats and I hung up a thin kernmantle rope in the garage. Since then all towels, blanket, jeans, any heavy ect go one the line after the wash, the next load goes on and then there is a semi skip cycle. Ultimately, the heavy stuff dries over night and gets 5 mins in the drier to soften up. Wow!!! Save money, save energy, save carbon, save wear and tear, and super easy.
    Just for FYI, I just got a new washer and drier (after hunting and bargaining) and still doing the same. there is just no reason to run the drier needlessly. Whoo Hoo!

  12. Natalie - October 15, 2008

    Drying clothes outside is standard practice in New Zealand, where I live. Another benefit of it is that the sun’s rays disinfect the washing.

  13. TimG - October 16, 2008

    I wash my clothes on the cold water setting and hang them in my spair bathroom over the bathtub where I have installed a portable clothes rod for drying. I put the clothing on a plastic hanger to dry and they go streight to the closet when dry.(Iron if needed). My clothes feel better not being burned by the dryer.

  14. jen blue - October 16, 2008

    I line dry in the summer and save about $15 per month on the electric bill. It gets me outside and really doesnt take that long to hang. I’m going to line dry inside this winter and vent my dryer inside so that when I do use it, I’m gaining heat.

  15. Vickie - October 16, 2008

    Venting your dryer back into your home is ok for electric, but not gas. You will also want to monitor your humidity level. The dryer will add quite a bit of moisture to the air and you would not want to develop mold.

  16. Mary - October 16, 2008

    I dried my family’s (6 at one point) clothes on a line for about 26 years! Of course, I didn’t ‘always’ like it, but I do have to admit that it was nice to have some time alone with the outdoors. I hung them out even in the winter when my fingers would turn red & ache. But, living in northcentral Florida meant that I wasn’t hanging them out in snow, but almost frosty! Summertime meant having to watch for the almost daily afternoon rains. All in all, though, I didn’t mind. Plus, it did save money & get me outdoors! :-)

  17. mimi - October 16, 2008

    I began hang drying my clothes two years ago. I saw real changes in my utility bills. It also makes the clothes look newer longer. I learned that you can use vinegar in the wash cycle as a more natural fabric softener. The towels don’t end up like stiff sandpaper when you hang dry them using this method. Vinegar also supposedly helps to wash the detergent out of the clothes better.

  18. Ted O'Neill - October 17, 2008

    What amount of (clear/white?) vinegar is used in an average load? I had not heard of doing that, but it sounds like it would help breakdown detergent and rinse clothes cleaner.

  19. Corey - October 18, 2008

    A spin dryer is also an excellent alternative to the tumble dryer for those
    who wish to reduced their carbon footprint and save money. They are not well-known in the
    USA, but spin dryers use about 1/100th of the energy that a tumble dryer does,
    and are gentler on the clothes. Line drying is the best of all of course, but
    in many cases it’s not allowed, the weather can be rainy, too damp, etc. You
    can read more about spin dryers at http://www.laundry-alternative.com/drying.htm.

  20. Dina - October 19, 2008

    We (family with three kids) lived in Germany for eight years, and for the first five of those we didn’t even own a dryer. My American friends all thought I was nuts, but Germans don’t consider a dryer a necessity – it’s a luxury for those cold, damp winter days when drying (even inside) can take more than 24 hours. But we simply got used to the fact that you have to plan ahead: if something you want to wear is dirty, you wash it well in advance. Germans also iron most of their clothes after line-drying them, which helps take out any stiffness. Now back in the States we’ve fallen a bit into that permeating trap of convenience, but one of our first purchases was a front-loading washer that spins 1200rpms along with a dryer that can be run on a low setting – clothes don’t need to be bone dry when you put them away.

  21. CJ Bomar - October 20, 2008

    I too love to hang out my clothes, I grew up doing this and now I have this beautiful setting to enjoy while hanging out the clothes. The vinegar works great as a fabric softner. I am looking for a drying rack that I can put on the wall in my laungry room for the winter months. BRAVO to everyone that has gotten in touch with
    the wonderful experience of hanging their clothes out side. I live in a development that discourages clothes lines…actually it is against our bi-laws. However I was able to place mine in a very discrete location and no one is the wiser.

  22. Debbie - October 22, 2008

    Here in New England moms with jobs outside the home have difficulty getting clothes in before rain. And yes, there are many neighborhoods that forbid outside lines.
    A strange exception to these by-laws occurs in most senior housing complexes. Go figure.
    Covered porches with some form of window shade keep the neighbors and by-laws at bay. My cats play with anything that is actually hung in the house.

  23. A.C. Luthus - April 9, 2009

    I hope whomever is near & dear to you has told you they love you.. because your commentary is EXACTLY how I feel and 99% how Id’ve worded it.. Please: post more!- spread the truth!

  24. Mark Spicer - June 17, 2009

    Take a look at the unique Ceiling Drying Rack at http://www.airdry.org
    AirDry does not need any floor space. It comprises of six rods that can be individually raised or lowered, and can accommodate a full load of laundry. Imagine how simple it will be to lower the rods and hang your damp laundry right out of the washing machine. Raise each rod and let the warm air trapped near the ceiling finish off the drying.