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Living (mostly) without the dryer

A number of years ago, when I was newly married, I was reading The Complete Tightwad Gazette and I came across the part about line-drying. I’ll admit that I kind of rolled my eyes and thought how ridiculous it was to give up using a dryer. Of course, at that point in time, I was using the landlord’s washer and dryer once a week for a fixed rate, so line drying wouldn’t really have saved me any money.

After we moved out of the apartment, we lived in a townhouse (and I could do laundry more often than once a week…hallelujah!). I used my dryer for everything, but our electric rates were pretty darn decent then, and so I still lacked motivation to let the air dry my clothes.

We moved to our current home three years ago, and as I’ve mentioned (just a few times!) our electric rates have recently skyrocketed. This has been enough to make me kick my dryer-habit, at least for the most part. I never thought I would be a line-dryer, but I’ve been doing it for well over a year now.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned over the last year…things that might help work at least some line-drying into your life. 😉

Don’t look at it as an all-or-nothing proposition.

While I line dry most of my laundry, most of the time, I still do use my dryer some of the time, for some things. Try as I might, I really cannot bring myself to love air-dried bath towels and the same goes for kitchen washcloths and a few other items. So, I set aside washcloths and those other items and once a week, I wash them and dry them with my towels.

Also, sometimes I get really behind on laundry. That happened just this last weekend, as a matter of fact. When that happens, I have more laundry than I can manage to hang on my clothesline and my drying racks, so I use my dryer to help me catch up. It’s not the end of the world, financially speaking, and it’s certainly cheaper than using it all of the time.

Use the dryer to help remove wrinkles and soften clothes.

This was one of my biggest worries about line-drying…I dreaded the thought of wearing wrinkled and stiff clothing. Some judicious use of the dryer really helps with these problems, though! I take my clothes out of the washer and put them straight into the dryer. I run them on air dry for about ten minutes(the air dry cycle uses very little energy since it creates no heat), and then I hang them out to dry. Once they’ve dried out on the clothesline, I will sometimes run them in the dryer again on the air dry setting, to help soften them a bit. I find that this is very helpful with things like jeans but is not so necessary for things like knit shirts.

Stay caught up on laundry.

Despite my best efforts to do this, I do sometimes get behind (see the first tip!). However, by doing a load or two of laundry every other day, I can usually manage to stay relatively caught up. If you’re wanting to maintain your 10-loads-on-the-weekend laundry schedule, line-drying is probably not going to work out very well for you (unless you have miles of clothesline!).

Think outside the box when it comes to drying.

I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Oh, I can’t line-dry because I don’t have space for a clothesline.”, or, “I don’t have any outdoor space”. While a clothesline and some outdoor space do make this easier, it’s not impossible to air-dry without them. I only just got a clothesline this summer, which means I air-dried my laundry for nearly a year without one. Here are a couple of suggestions:

-Buy a drying rack. These take very, very little space and can be moved to prime drying locations(in the sun, if you have outdoor space, or by a fan, or an open window). I would recommend buying a sturdy metal one. The cheapie wood one that I have is starting to fall apart after only a year.

-Hang clothes on hangers to dry. This isn’t a good idea for very heavy clothes or for things like sweaters, but most children’s clothes and some adult clothing can be put on hangers and hung on doorway moulding or door handles to dry.

-Hang clothes on deck railings or patio chairs. Obviously, this is only helpful if you’ve got a deck but no clothesline. Even though I have a clothesline now, sometimes I have more laundry than clothesline, and so I use my deck and patio chairs to dry the rest.

And again, see the first tip. If you’ve got space limitations, you may not be able to air-dry all of your laundry. Even if you just air-dry a few loads a week, though, you’re still going to be saving yourself a fair amount of money.

I think I still have a few other things to say about air/line-drying, so I’ll hopefully be back tomorrow with more on that.

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Saturday 25th of January 2014

I use a drying rack also. I see this is an old post. You can hangup shirts(except sweaters) on hangers. Don't forget to use shower curtain rod. You can also get the tension shower curtain rods and put in any area that will work. My parents had space between wall and a cabinet in their laundry room. I put one up high in my hallway. I have to step on a single step stool, but it hangs them higher so we don't fully walk through wet clothes. (It's a tiny apt and just me and my five year old)

April Jo

Monday 17th of May 2010

I have bcome a clothesline fanatic! Dont ask me why but it almost seems theraputic to me!! And they have to hung in a certain way and all! Wrinkles? When something is wrinkled, I simply toss in the dryer for maybe 5 minutes-it does like a charm! I usually take all my shirts when I wash them and put them all in the dryer to toss them about.


Monday 2nd of November 2009

I live in Massachusetts and hang my clothes out ALL year long. I have had to put boots on some days when the snow is a foot deep. Many times the clothes freeze dry, which just makes them more soft. Yes, sometimes due to the shorter sunlight days, the clothes are not quite dry. I just hang them around the house to finish. The house smells wonderfully outdoor fresh and the moisture from the clothes helps eliminate the dry air in the house. Add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse water to ensure soft clothes. I will compare the softness of my line dried towels to the dryer/chemically saturated dryer sheet finished towels any day!!


Saturday 25th of January 2014

I always wondered about hanging in freezing temperatures. I saw how the Amish do it. I figured it takes longer. I wondered how long and how do you tell ....?? I do realize this is a pretty old post. I use drying racks and hanging shirts on curtain rods.

The Frugal Girl » Monday Q&A-My siblings, my childhood, and my clothesline!

Monday 2nd of November 2009

[...] How To (mostly) Give Up Your Dryer [...]

The Frugal Girl » Why I’m looking forward to warmer weather.

Monday 13th of April 2009

[...] -hanging my laundry outside again. I’ve been air drying at least some of our clothes all winter, but I really don’t have the patience to wait for things like jeans to dry indoors. Outside, though, even a heavy pair of jeans can be dry in a couple of hours, so I hardly use my dryer at all when it’s warm outside. [...]

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