Hang-drying Clothes

At my Grandad’s farmhouse, I remember there were these posts set up with three or four plastic lines strung from post to post. On these lines you would hang your clothes to dry. I have no memories of clothes hanging there on windy summer days, but I imagine it’s what my grandparents had used for decades before they got an electric dryer.

Hang-drying clothes is something that people have been doing for hundreds of years. Wind and sunlight are free, so why not use them?

A few months ago, I decided to set up a clothesline. I knew that our energy bill was only going to increase as the weather warmed up, and I wanted to do everything I could to negate the costs. When five people live in the same place, there’s rarely a day when the laundry room isn’t being used.

I can’t estimate how much money I’ve saved by not using my dryer. Our energy bills have increased since the start of the pandemic because everyone is in the house all the time, so more energy is being used than in past months. However, I can tell you that I personally feel better about hang-drying my clothes.

This won’t be ideal for everyone because not everyone has the space to do this.

At my home, I’ve tied a 50 foot clothesline between two trees and used a tall metal stake to give the line extra support in the middle. With my setup, I can dry a full load of laundry on the line at a time. My setup won’t work for everyone, so you would have to do some research to see what works best for your space.

Here are some things to consider:
1. Where should I hang my clothes to dry?

You can hang your clothes to dry inside or outside, depending on what you have available to you. If you hang-dry inside, there are things you can buy that can help you. For instance, you can buy mountable clotheslines that you can screw into a wall or a post. There are also bars you can attach in your windows.

Sometimes you can take advantage of your home’s heating system. My parents have a device mounted flat on the wall above a floor vent that is based on a popular design from the Victorian era. This is more suitable for hanging lightweight items.

2. Where should I hang my clothes outside?

The best place to set up a clothesline or a drying rack is an area that gets the most sunlight and easy access to the wind. You can set the line up in the shade, like I did; just realize that they’ll dry slower in the shade than the sunlight. My parents use their deck railing to dry comforters and blankets.

3. Always be aware of the weather.

Days with high humidity and low wind are the worst for drying clothes. Trust me; I just had a day when I didn’t check the weather, and my towels took several hours to dry because the humidity was so high! So there’s a bit of planning involved when it comes to hanging your clothes.

Days that are too windy may not be the best either because you might lose some of your clothes. So look up the weather ahead of time and keep an eye on your clothes!

4. Always read the laundry labels on your clothes.
Sometimes hanging your clothes on the line will stretch out your clothes, especially sweaters and other knit items. If your clothes need to be laid out flat to dry, then hanging them from the line won’t be the best option for them.

Those are just a few things to consider. I’m pretty new at this, and some things have been a little tricky for me. I learned the hard way that humidity plays a major role in the drying rate of your clothes.

If you want to lower your energy consumption, this is a great way to do so if you can. I understand that not everyone can do this, or do it efficiently enough to give up the dryer. For those of you who can, give it a try!

Not only have I not used my dryer in two months and don’t miss it, but I haven’t had the need to buy dryer sheets or things to get the static out of my clothes. Also, I’ve noticed that our pet’s hair gets removed from our clothes when on the line.

Some people claim that air-dried clothes smell better than machine dried clothes, but I haven’t noticed that yet.

There are some cons to this: you’ll have to plan your laundry around the weather, and you may need to factor more time into your laundry. It may also not be efficient to hang-dry your clothes depending on your space.

The pros, however, include less energy spent each month and therefore cheaper electric bills. You’ll also save money on dryer sheets or dryer balls to combat static, which also means less trash in the garbage.

Remember, this is just a suggestion. If you can hang-dry your clothes, I suggest giving it a try because you might find that you like it. If you can’t, I completely understand!

Everyone needs to do what’s best for them and their lifestyle. I don’t know your circumstances, but I trust that you’ll make the best decisions for you. There’s no guilt in saying no.