How Much Do You Really Save By Air-Drying Your Clothes?

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When I was growing up, my mother always hung clothes out to dry, sometimes even in the winter. Where I currently live, there’s not really a place to install a clothesline that would catch any wind at all (I could put one at the edge of our property where it would catch a little wind, but this would really disrupt the open area our children use to play). A clothesline is one thing I definitely wish to have when we eventually move to the country.

So I sometimes use an alternative solution. I simply hang up a clothesline from our laundry room over to the guest bedroom, taking up part of the hallway in our basement. On that line, I can hang quite a few clothes without a problem. It takes most of a day to air dry them – this is aided on windy days when I can open all of the windows and doors in the basement to help the process.

Given the time that this takes compared to just tossing the clothes into the dryer, is it really worth my time? Let’s run the numbers a bit to find out.

The “Saving Electricity” website reports that the average dryer uses 3.3 kilowatt hours of energy and estimates an average of 11 cents per kilowatt hour. A small load of clothes takes about 45 minutes in the dryer, so the cost of that load is $0.36.

When I hang up my own line, I can hang up about three small loads of clothes at once on it. This is on average – I can do a bit more if it’s mostly my clothes and a bit less if it’s mostly kid’s clothes, but the three loads per line is a good calculation. That means that filling up the line and letting it air dry saves about $1.08.

Is it worth it? The real question comes from how long it takes me to do it. I can string up the line in about fifteen seconds, and I can hang a load’s worth of clothes in about two minutes or so – it’s really not that hard. I probably spend another fifteen seconds opening up doors and windows to maximize air drying, so the total extra time investment for that $1.08 is about six and a half minutes.

This means that if I repeated this exercise about nine times, I’d end up devoting about an hour to hanging up laundry and I’d save $9.96. As always, that’s $10 an hour after taxes – you don’t have to take income tax out of those “earnings.”

There are a couple other factors worth considering here.

Dryer sheets If you’re hanging up the clothes, you’re not using dryer sheets. I usually use a quarter cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle as our laundry softener, so this isn’t really a concern for us, but if you use dryer sheets, you’ll either be abandoning them (a savings) or switching to something else. I encourage you to try vinegar – it seems to soften really well and doesn’t add any smell to the clothes.

The environment Anything that cuts down on home energy use is a good thing and dryers certainly suck down the juice. Of course, if you’re opening windows for the purpose of air flow, you might also be doing this to help you keep the air conditioning off, which is another big environmental (and financial) boon. We try to resist using our air conditioner except during the day on particularly hot days, so opening the windows here is a natural thing to encourage air flow.

To put it simply, hanging up laundry is a decent but not world-beating saver. It’s worth doing particularly if you have environmental concerns for doing so, but other factors can easily trump it (like air conditioning, for instance). I, for one, like the smell of air-dried clothes quite a lot and it’s a good, repetitive activity that lets my mind wander in creative directions while doing it, so I think I’ll continue to hang laundry on a fairly regular basis.

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77 thoughts on “How Much Do You Really Save By Air-Drying Your Clothes?

  1. I have a metal drying rack that I bring set on my back porch that folds up when I’m not using it.

    I live down in central Florida, so provided it’s not raining, my clothes will be dry in a few hours.

    If it is training, I bring it indoors. I only use the dryer if I need something dry quickly. I do it becuase it helps keep my clothes from wearing out as fast.

  2. Drying clothes in a dryer is really hard on them. You’re basically breaking down the fabric fiber. That’s what ends up in the filter. So, in addition to saving electricity, your clothes will last a lot longer by line-drying. I dry my clothes outside in the warmer months under my porch. They dry pretty quickly in an hour or 2, and I can leave them outside if it happens to rain. In the winter I have a clothesline set up in my basement close to my furnace. They usually dry overnight, including heavy cottons.

  3. Trent, this also depends on energy prices where someone lives and how good the dryer is, but for laundromat users, line/rack drying saves time and money. For apartment dwellers, line drying may not always work due to space constraints but some things can always be dried better on a rack or line, such as collared shirts and lightweight pants. I recommend a good in-between for some minor savings, dry the clothing items halfway and if there’s room to rack/line dry it, dry the rest of it that way. It doesn’t save a ton but the clothes aren’t stiff after being run through the dryer for 10 mins.

  4. I feel like a lot of of my pieces explicitly say to line dry so I always have a drying rack set up next to the washing machine. Do people just ignore the instructions on garments? I will machine dry undergarments and cotton tees since it makes them more comfortable but I don’t machine dry most things.

  5. Not sure how you would calculate the wear and tear on the dryer, but that should factor in too.

    My parents used to air dry in the warm months and use the dryer in the winter. I guess you could say you are doubling the life span of your dryer working that way.

  6. Like amateur says, this varies a lot by where someone lives. In my apartment with shared laundry, hanging a load to dry saves me the $2.25 dryer charge, considerably more than your 36c.
    Also as Karen points out, clothes last much longer when they are not subjected to the damage from the dryer, so I need to replace items, far less often.

  7. Funny you mention this, because my husband was making fun of me this morning for standing outside hanging up my work clothes on the line before work (and it was COLD this morning!) He said they’d freeze before they got any sun.

    Oh well, I did it anyways. I bet the clothes are dry as we speak ( just 5 hours later).

  8. We don’t even own a dryer – in the winter we just hang the clothes on a rack in the bedroom, and in the summer the rack is moved outside. Of course they take longer to dry in the winter, but since you don’t have as many clothes to wash in winter in the first place (less sweat, so most clothes can be reworn once, but in the summer we wear 2 outfits per day because it gets really hot) it’s not a big issue.
    I’d look at it more in terms of loads. Assuming you use the dryer daily, that’s about 100 dollars saved per year, not to mention the savings on replacing clothes that get worn out with the dryer, not to mention the savings on having to replace the dryer every few years.

  9. I think it’s interesting that with the question of flushing the toilet it was all about the money saved, but with the line drying you considered the environmental impact.

  10. Your abs get a nice workout from all the bending involved with hanging your clothes on the line too.

  11. Clothes don’t just last longer when they are line dried – they look better too. Colors stay more vibrant. And if wrinkles are a problem, I just toss in the dryer for a few minutes before I hang them up to dry.

  12. Now your excuse for not installing a clothesline is because it won’t catch any wind? Last Spring it was because it wouldn’t be socially acceptable in your neighborhood because clotheslines are a sign of poverty…

  13. Sunk costs for a dryer:
    Assumptions on the spendy side -
    1) Lasts 15 years doing 3 loads per week
    2) Initial cost $400

    Results in each load costing 17 cents.

    Your results will vary depending on dryer cost, loads per week, and lifetime of the dryer.

  14. I also vote for a drying rack in places where you can’t line dry. I live in a home where we can’t install a clothes line. My drying rack gets lots of use, but I still use my clothes dryer for larger things that I can’t fit on a whole load on the rack, like sheets and towels.

    I can put the drying rack out on the back porch on nice days. I can also rig up a low clothes line by stringing rope between my two porch railings – it doesn’t require any hardware to install, and it keeps things out of sight.

    Outdoor clothes lines are especially great for cloth diapering, as letting the diapers dry in the sun helps remove stains and odors. Unfortunately, the diapers can end up kind of crunchy, but they loose the stiffness after a bit of handling.

  15. I grew up hanging up laundry and swore it was something I would not do as an adult.

    We have a gas powered dryer, the gas also heats the house. Our gas bill is generally around $30 on average (a little more in the winter, closer to 15 in the summer). $10 of that bill is fixed– we pay it no matter what. Therefore at most we are paying $20/month to dry clothing, probably a lot less. From previous experience, I know I would spend more than 2 hours/month hanging up laundry… so our figure is definitely less than $10/hour. (Though my time is worth more than that anyway.)

  16. I am with Nicole. I spent all my childhood hanging up laundry. I just can’t stand to do it now. However, I do line dry my work clothes because they tend to be more expensive and I want them to last longer. My casual clothes wear out faster from the dryer.

  17. I don’t mind air drying, but you do make a point. The energy saving might and bill might not be a grand saving, but it is definitely still a saving. If it was $10 a month, you’d save $120 a year. But nowadays, people do not promote air drying clothes.. some landlords don’t even allow it because they fear it would make their building look “poverty” and no one would rent out. I find that ridiculous.

    And it does take a while to hang, which is why only my grandparents do it in their backyard, since my grandmother doesn’t work. Since I have to do the laundry at the laundromat, I probably pay a lot more drying clothes in a month than a person with a dryer. It’s about $2.25 a load, every week.

    So the thing is, if you’re home all the time, then it’s always fun to give air drying a try, if you’re into moving out and want a little exercise. If not, then a dryer is a lot easier.

  18. You don’t need a good breeze to line dry clothes, sunlight will also dry them or even just the heat of summer air, you’d be suprised how quickly clothes can dry without a breeze, don’t use “not having a breeze” as an excuse to not hang clothes outside on a line but you hang them up inside…can you honestly tell me the breeze inside your house is better?

  19. We have two drying racks (for clothes) and two clotheslines that can be strung up in the office/guest bedroom in a jiff, for sheets. Filling things to capacity means doing about 3 loads of laundry at a time.

    It’s nice to have sun-dried sheets and stuff. I miss this during the (cold/wet/rainy) winter. Things dried in the sun have this heavenly smell to them that dryer-dried things just can’t match.

  20. Trent, you didn’t factor in the cost saved on wear and tear of clothes — air-drying them is significantly more gentle, prolonging their life dramatically. I say that probably increases the savings at least another $10 per hour.

  21. If everyone line-dried most of their laundry, then energy consumption would decrease, and less demand=lower prices. And less pollution means lower clean-up and disposal costs. Less chemical in dryer sheets, means less water pollution.

    If you want to add it all up over the long term, think of communal costs, not just personal cost to energy and chemical use. Eventually all communal costs end up hitting you in the wallet anyway. Just look at how much we sepnd on bottled water, because pesticides gave us “cheaper” produce. In the end, we always pay for the things we use up, or taint. Air is still free, and so far, replenishable!

  22. I’d like to hear more about using vinegar as a fabric softener please. I have tried it and found it didn’t work in the slightest, plus it made our clothes and laundry room smell of vinegar. This was also only using a capful (c.tablespoon) per load, not half a cup!

    Even using such a comparatively small amount I wasn’t convinced it was cheaper than traditional fabric softener so I’d really love to see your Maths for that too.

    But mostly I’d love to know specifically what vinegar you are using and whether you have the same problems as me. I’m guessing not since the smell alone made me stop using it very quickly!

  23. Oh and I line dry/air dry too, mainly because it’s better for the clothes and the planet, but also because you can’t beat the smell of laundry that is dried outside. It’s so fresh.

  24. My favorite clothesline was half in sun, half in the shade of a big pin cherry tree (that did not shed stuff on the clothes). Whites went in the sun to get bleached; colors went in the shade so they would not fade.

    Ah, the smell of laundry dried outdoors.

    Though, anyone with allergies should be aware that damp clothes can collect pollen, and dry clothing indoors when the pollen counts are high.

    Carmen – I’m not sure vinegar is cheaper than regular fabric softener, but it does not leave perfumey grease on your clothing. Dryer sheets “soften” by making clothing slightly oily, which personally I dislike.

    Your clothes might smell a little vinegary when they come of out of the wash, but the smell evaporates as the clothes dry – did they still smell vinegary when dry? You may be more sensitive to the smell of vinegar than a lot of people; I’ve found people just really dislike it.

  25. Line-dried clothes usually smells better, I find. Of course, there are some days when the wind is blowing off the farms in my area – I prefer Bounce to fertilizer.

    Rack drying inside is something I also do sometimes, however it doesn’t give clothes that “outdoor fresh” feeling. They end up feeling more stiff and stale. However, a quick 5-10 in the dryer softens them up!

  26. Trent,

    As some of the commenters have mentioned, you forgot to mention how much better line-dried clothes (and sheets and towels) smell! So worth it! =)

    I tend to line (or rack) dry my delicates — especially expensive unmentionables and dressy shirts — because the dryer destroys them. That reduces my clothing turnover and saves me tons of money, much more so than what you’ve calculated here.

  27. Trent,

    Just noticed that you did actually mention the awesome smell of clothes hung out to dry — my comment was premature. Sorry!

  28. I occasionally use white vinegar in my wash, to soften and get rid of odors. I havn’t had the patience to measure–just a few glugs out of the gallon bottle (about $3.50 at Costco.) It works great and the smell is gone when the clothes are dry.

    Also, just mixed up some (half and half) white vinegar and water, with a couple glugs of lemon juice to use as a shower spray. The lemon helps the smell, but again the smell is gone by the time it’s dry. Not sure yet how well this will work but I’m hoping to replace my pricy daily shower spray. Plus, I have severe allergies so it’s nice to know what’s in the air.

  29. @ Kerry D. — Thanks, I’ve been looking for a way to replace my shower spray! The water is horrible where I live.

    The dryers in my building just went up to $2.00 for 60 minutes (which doesn’t get a large load fully dry). I use drying racks for 3 out of 4 loads, so I save about $12-16 a month. Plus, my clothes retain their shape and colour so much better. (Important for ladies’ clothing!)

    I don’t count the time hanging up — it’s not like I’d be getting paid to work overtime for the 5-10 minutes it takes!

  30. Does adding the softening agent (like Downy) really prevent the clothes from feeling stiff after they’re done air-drying? I pretty much would never consider air-drying because every time I’ve done it, the clothes look like they’re a solid piece of cardboard — super stiff.

  31. I too spent my childhood hanging clothes up, inside the basement in the winter as well as outside in the summer. I would go without food to avoid doing this for all my laundry. I use the dryer for towels, underwear, blue jeans and tee shirts. I use hangers and a portable closet rack for the dress pants, collared shirts and anything made out of real cotton. Also anything with sequins, beads etc. This saves on ironing, another expense when you figure in the cost of equipment and electricity. And considering I live near a steel mill, there is no way I would get that old time sunshine smell !

  32. You should see the Amish clotheslines where I live, they are a marvel. They run a double clothesline right from the back porch out around a pulley mounted high on a pole and back. Then they stand on the porch, hang an item, pull the line around the pulley to hang the next item without taking a step off the porch. I bet my neighbor’s pulley is mounted about 30 feet up a tall pole in their yard. It’s really something to see on wash day.

  33. You could also factor in the folding time. When I line dry, it takes less time to fold from already being flat, and, since I despise folding clothes, they actually get folded and put away in a reasonable amount of time. ;) There are some things that take more time, but are better overall: for me, this is one.

  34. I can work so much faster by line drying (inside &/or outside) because my dryer is sloooooow while my washer is fast. I’m not up for springing for a new dryer right now so this method works for me. I don’t mind it a bit.

  35. Clothes dried outside may smell nice, but clothes that take too long to dry inside smell horrible. My in-laws don’t have a dryer and dry their clothes in the basement; and if my wife sneaks some of my clothes into their laundry, I have to rewash it when I get home just to get rid of the off smell.

    My wife grew up hanging her clothes and is always afraid using the dryer will make them shrink. This is regardless of what the labels say. So we hang most of her clothes on racks and dry most of mine.

    We have visited other countries where dryers are basically unheard of. Even in Iceland where electricity is practically free.

  36. … and as to what I save by air-drying, the answer is “my marriage, which is priceless” :)

  37. My mother line-dried everything when I was a kid, and I hated it too, so when I was on my own, I used a dryer all the time. But as time went by, I begrudgingly went back to it to save money and lessen by carbon footprint. I hated the hanging, unhanging, and folding, so I figured a way to air-dry my clothes and avoid those aspects as much as possible.

    All of my shirts and pants are hung on hangers, eliminating the need to fold 80% of my laundry. They make hangers especially for hanging pants.

    Instead of a clothesline, I have a two clothes racks. One has a single bar, like you see in clothing stores). The other is foldable (when it opens up, it looks like a two big X’s with bars across the tops). I also have a small, foldable clothesline rack for items that can’t be hung on hangers.

    I hang the wet shirts and pants on hangers, and hang the hangers on one of the clothes racks, spacing them evenly. Once they’re dry, I just take them off of the rack and hang them in the closet. No folding!

    Whatever is left like socks, underwear, and other small items are clipped onto one of those multiple-clothespin hanging thingies. When those are dry, the socks are paired and tossed into the sock drawer.

    Underwear are not, I repeat not, folded–they are simply thrown into the undies drawer willy-nilly. There’s just not enough time in the day to worry about folding undies!

    The clothesline rack is about waist-high and unfolds to reveal about 5 short, parallel clotheslines about 4 feet long, with two clothesline “wings” about 2 feet long. These are used to hang towels and pillowcases. The wings are used to dry sweaters flat. I can’t figure out a way to avoid folding those, but I’ll take suggestions if someone’s got any ideas.

    I used to dry the clothes outdoors, but I realized that I don’t always take them down when they dry, and leaving them hanging out there for days is unsightly. So I dry them indoors, usually in the hallway–then if I forget to take them down, I have to look at them until I can get around to it. I like to do laundry in the evening, and hang it to dry all night, and put the dry clothes away the next day. Jeans, towels, and bathrobes take until the next night to dry. In the summer, I open the windows, and the wet laundry helps keep the house cool as well.

    Once the laundry is dry, I fold all of the racks and put them away until next laundry night.

    I feel pretty good about my laundry efforts, but I can’t seem to get my husband on board. I think he is willing in spirit, but if it is inconvenient in any way, he won’t comply.
    He likes to do his own laundry because if I do it, I use my homemade laundry detergent w/vinegar in the rinse, and he wants to use Tide–full scoops–with Downy in the rinse–full scoops! He doesn’t like the inconvenience of hanging up clothes, so he uses the dryer for everything, even his jeans. I’m also getting the idea that he doesn’t like having to dodge the full clothes racks in the hallway, either, but he has kept quiet about that so far….

  38. I can’t wait to do this! Though I don’t have much wind in my yard I am willing to commit. Right now I don’t have the time but in about 5 months I will be a mother and will be home with my baby. I’m hoping to begin this at that time.

  39. I don’t have a dryer connection in my 1950’s house, and there isn’t room next to my washer (in the kitchen) and I don’t have a basement (ground is made of limestone).

    On a warm, breezy day, clothes can be dry in time to hang the next load. So weekends can be a good time to catch up on laundry.

    But normally I use a drying rack in the bedroom. This way I do not have to get dressed and put on shoes to hang the laundry, I don’t have to worry about clothes pins or fading or bird poop, and I don’t get that dog-playing-outdoors smell. (I think that’s the same smell others have referred to as “heavenly” “fresh” “ah” “outdoor fresh” “awesome”—my nose is not so kind to me.)

    This means the laundry takes 8 – 24 hours to dry (turning on the ceiling fan and flipping the clothes over when half dry can really speed things up) and I have to keep the rack away from walls and furniture or mildew could start growing. Most things that seem stiff quickly soften once you wear them. The only exception for me is hand towels. And the vinegar does not help (maybe because I have hard water?). (Carmen, I only smell the vinegar while I’m pouring it—once the laundry is done, I don’t smell it anymore. Apparently your nose is the opposite of mine.)

    Since I’ve been without a dryer (13 years), nothing with elastic has ever stretched out. So even when I renovate, I still don’t want a dryer. I will want a screened-in porch to put my drying rack on, though, so I can get the breeze without the birds and so I can stop worrying about mildew. I’d still have to put on something decent to go out there, but not shoes.

  40. For stiffness, I just shake my clothes out once or twice. It’s really never a problem. My jeans might be a touch stiff when I first put them on, but that goes away in 30 seconds or less of walking around.

    I dry indoors and I’ve never had a problem with smell. Steve, maybe the “smell” is really a lack of scent? If I have to use scented detergent (at the in-laws’), I use just a tiny bit. If the MIL washes my clothes, I feel like I have tide perfume on. But I’ve never, ever had a musty smell. I wonder if it’s from drying in a damp basement? I’d blame the environment rather than line drying.

  41. I probably do 4 loads of laundry every 3-4 weeks – darks, lights, whites, and “everything else”. The “everything else” load is tee shirts, jeans, socks, underwear, and towels. All of that stuff can go into one dryer load. The other loads are the more delicate cold or hot water wash stuff, and I just hang that stuff on hangers and hook the hangers over the rafter beams in the basement, spaced about a foot apart. The next day I just take it all up and hang it in the closet. Easy as pie, and already sorted by color. For me, there’s no economic incentive for this, I just think the dryer would ruin that stuff after a few times. Do most people really put enough stuff in the dryer that it makes a difference?

  42. Here in central Texas, as in other hot climates, turning on a clothes dryer in the middle of summer is very unappealing. I’m in an apartment and the extra heat is quite noticeable.

    I dry clothes on a couple of racks year-round, but in the summer, towels dry on the racks too. Only bedding always goes in the dryer, partly due to space and partly to remove the cat fur.

  43. Leah, I think I know that smell Steve is referring to. In humid climates, bacteria (or something) will grow on damp clothing if it stays damp long enough. If it takes too long to dry, it will get funky before it is dry. Like bath towels do if they don’t dry out between uses.

    Or the smell laundry will get if your husband forgets it in the washer for a week and then discovers it & throws it in the dryer without washing it again … and then you don’t notice it right away, until you’re already at work and your body heat warms up the clothing and releases … THE SMELL!! :-)

    I agree, it’s the basement, not line drying itself, that’s the problem. I’ve had clothes get a little funky before they were dry even outdoors, in a very humid climate with little air movement.

  44. We live in an apartment that recently upped the cost of drying (to $1.50, which I thought was bad – yipes on $2.25!!). Plus the dryers in our building don’t seem to ever get clothes completely dry, regardless of the size of the load, so we were having to hang them anyway. But we are not allowed outside clothes lines, so my husband hooked up a double clothes line in our bedroom, and that along with a clothing rack allows us to dry up to two loads at a time. We open the windows when its seasonal, and turn on a fan, and the clothes are dry in a couple of hours (longer for those on the rack, as there is less air flow).

    As for the vinegar, I’ve tried it, once, but noticed no difference in the softness of the clothes (I also never noticed a smell, either). My husband does not like fabric softener, so we just deal with the scratchy of the line dry. I’ve found that the only thing that is truly rough after line drying are bath towels – everything else seems fine.

  45. Well, I like to hang clothes out to dry on the clothesline in the spring, summer and fall months. We live in northern New England and the winters tend to be very cold and we usually get quite a bit of snow, so I don’t dry them outdoors from late November through early March, as I don’t want to have to walk through a snowbank in my backyard to get to the clothesline! LOL. I do have a small drying rack that I could use in the winter months, but I just never think to get it out of the closet…

    I love not running my old dryer all day, and enjoy getting outdoors anyway. Plus, I have noticed that the dryer does wear out our clothes sooner and I have ruined some of my favorite jeans by using the dryer repeatedly on them.

  46. You didn’t take into account the initial cost of the dryer. I’ve never owned one and don’t intend to. Sometimes in winter here it rains for days on end and it’s hard to get stuff dry inside but I figure if I’m really desperate I can always find a laundromat. So far I’ve never had to.

  47. HebsFarm- not just the Amish. My great grandmother, and my grandmother, did exactly the same thing, line with pulley. The 40 foot high line went back to the forest at the edge of the land, suspended from the porch, which was already 15 feet up on a hill. When I think of the initial climb my great-grandfather had to make up that mammoth tree to put the other pulley in place…!

    We hang ours from the exposed hot water pipes running along the ceiling of our basement. Not nearly as fun!

  48. While you hang up your laundry,
    * you exercise your body
    * you develop ideas for your blog or next book
    * you protect the environment, and
    * you save a little bit of money in addition.

    Who said there is no free lunch?

  49. I don’t know what’s happened to us. I’m a boomer and have never owned a drier. The sun is cheaper; it’s also better. Trent talks about buying electric “gadjets”. He wanted to and now has stopped. I never wanted to, still don’t and wonder why he did. What has changed in America? I was raised to think if you want a bicycle, you work (cutting neighbor’s lawns in my case) until you’ve saved enough to buy it. Today it seems I want it and I want it now. Put it on a credit card and think about paying for it later.

    Something has changed in America and the world. I don’t think it’s good. Life is not easy ,,, I say after 65 years. Sorry, and think on it.

  50. I totally LOVE drying clothes on the line. Even when it is freeze dried on chilly days–real winter hits and it hangs inside. I think it encourages us to be prepared. Think ahead. My kids learn that if they need something for a certain day/certain time, they have it done ahead of time. It means a lot more than saving money and energy, though those are important to me.It also means taking time out in the sun and fresh air, and daydreaming, remembering my grandma hanging laundry out. There is just nothing like it, of course, I have not had the experience of trying it in the city, always had a small town home with a generous yard. Anyway, I just heard the washer timer, I need to head outside….

  51. Here in breezy Michigan, I start hanging clothes outside as soon as the weather permits. When our electric dryer isn’t running at all in the Summer, thats a $40 a month saving for me. Nothing to sneeze at!

  52. I love the smell and the environmental impact. I do use fabric softener in the washer. But I keep an empty bottle of fabric softener and when I buy a new one, I 1/2 it in the other container and finish filling them up with water to dilute the softener. I don’t even notice the difference in the clothes and it saves more money. We also put in a windturbine last year and adding solar panels in the next few weeks…so it’s all about using less electricity for us….and I love hanging clothes. Very peaceful!

  53. Hanging laundry means springtime, clean sheets drying in the fresh clean air, and it’s very good for the soul. I’d hang out towels and sheets even if it didn’t save me money. It just feels good to slip into fresh-aired sheets. And you don’t really need to have a breeze, they will dry on their own. But I do know it saves money. we don’t do small loads, and we have a large family, so that savings is an extra benefit. OK, I am logging off to go do some laundry!

  54. You neglected to mention the savings if a laundromat is used. The cost per load for me is $1.00 at my apartment complex’s laundry room. To eliminate this cost, I simply use two wooden racks, which I bought for ten dollars each at walmart. After the first 20 uses, they are free, and I can use them anytime of year. I simply open the windows, like you said, and sometimes use a ceiling fan as well. What I like about the racks is that they are portable ( I can put them outside on our porch if I want to) and collapsible so they take up very little space and can be moved out of sight very quickly if we have company (our ceiling fan is in the dining room so that is where we usually put them). You also forgot to mention the fact that air drying is much better for your clothes, as it eliminates the stress of all that heat from the dryer. On a complete side note, I don’t understand why everyone seems to be so against hanging clothes to dry in the winter; they dry ten times faster because of the low humidity, and if you use racks like i do, you can just hang the clothes up indoors. Thanks for a great post Trent!

  55. In my family of four we more or less each do our own laundry. I hang mine all year — inside when necessary, outside when possible. In summer I wait for a sunny day before doing my wash.

    The wife, who came from a background of no appliances, really likes the dryer, but she will hang hers outside in warm weather. The two teens mostly use the dryer unless directed to hang them out.

    We have a long clothesline with pulleys. The near end is about six feet up. The far end is high in a tree; and I did that to keep the rope high enough to avoid having anyone get hung on it.

  56. I have severe pollen allergies and the clothesline is really not an option for me except in winter. I compromise by purchasing clothing which dries fast and requires no ironing. Jeans are super-fashionable, but with an hour in the dryer and ironing, they are just not worth the environmental and energy expenditure, except in the blackberry patch, where they won’t need the iron.

  57. Some years ago I took a long road trip to southern Mexico. When I stopped for the night I would hand wash three or four items of clothing (in the morning) and lay them flat in the back window of the car on the back shelf. That place is amazingly hot in the Mexican sun, so very shortly that day’s laundry would be dry.

  58. I definitely hang my clothes. I have 3 drying racks and set them up for this purpose. When I quit using my dryer the electric bill in my 1 bedroom apartment was cut in half! (My heat was on a separate bill.) After seeing those savings, and the obvious environmental benefits, I’ll never go back to the dryer!

  59. I think the important thing to remember about hanging out laundry or even washing out zip top bags is that it puts us in a frugal mindset. You may not get a larger return for performing one of these frugal activities but when applied over a variety of tasks the cumulative effect can be very substantial.

    It also gets you thinking in the directing of reducing your energy and product consumption. Who knows, just being in this particular mind set may lead you to thinking of an idea that could save you a major amount of money in the long run. Say for instance someone who uses a good amount of pricey hair care products who decides to go “no-poo” and discovers they love the results! This reaps them a huge savings in their particular situation.

    It is just like the kid sitting in calculous class who thinks “I will never use this stuff.” Classes like that taught us so much more than just how to do calculus. They taught us how to learn difficult tasks, how to persevere, how to approach a problem logically, and many other skills. You may never have used the calculus but you have used all the other skills you learned every day!

    It is the same with any minor way you choose to reduce your expenses every day. You won’t get rich on any one activity but the trickle effect can turn into a snowball that can net you a tidy sum eventually. Even if you never realize the monetary rewards you were shooting for the other skills you learn during the exercise will be things you will use every day of your life!

  60. I’ve read that the dryer is one of the most energy sucking appliances we have in the modern world. I’m a member of the clothesline brigade, and really enjoy the fact that I’m not giving my $$ away to an electric company whose electricity is about 75% coal generated.
    I own 2 racks (one a tall, which holds 2 loads of clothes…check out IKEA for this kind)and a smaller one. I also have my washer in the basement, where there are 2 clotheslines permanantly installed. I hang 5-6 loads per week, and do the majority on Monday and Tuesday and fold everything on Wednesday, and the drying racks get folded and put away. As we have an all electric house, this gives us humidity in the winter, and for that fresh sheet smell, I take a rack outside on sunny days and hang my sheets on the rack..they seem to dry w/in a couple of hours.
    I’m pretty sure I calculated out saving about $150-$200 per year once, but the real savings is to the environment, I think. Huge amounts of carbon footprint per load, I’ve read.

  61. WOW! Going back to basics: Planting gardens as led by the White House & talking to neighbors and finding common solutions in order to strive for modest living in this new area. Here in the Northwest Rainforest around the Seattle area,there is report after report of mold in homes from too much moisture. Air drying indoors while closing things down in inclimate weather leads to big problems in a few years. Remember the fresh air folks & while some areas of the country may not have this problem, it’s certainly a concern here…

  62. #40, Cynthia: when you renovate YOU may not want a dryer, but in all likelihood your buyer will. Be sure you have the outlet and space available or it will be very difficult to sell your house.

  63. I agree with other posters that a breeze isn’t necessary to dry clothes.

    It is slightly more time consuming to hang out clothes, but it gets you outside, the children usually follow you into the garden and play, you start doing some pottering gardening tasks like dead heading and watering. You listen to the birds. It’s not a bad way to spend 10 minutes.

  64. If you asked me to stand at a sink and wash dishes for 10 minutes or go outside and hang laundry, you wouldn’t have to ask me twice for the basket of wet laundry. I love being outdoors since I work inside at my computer all day. Laundry time is a welcome diversion from the home office. Plus it does give you a nice mental break where you can think about anything you want and appreciate the flowers, trees and fresh air. Sure my time is worth more than the money I save, but there are so many other things like the environmental savings and a bit of mental and physical exercise that make it one chore I don’t mind doing.

  65. Does anyone have a solution for those of us with environmental allergies? I would love to hang my clothes up outside or inside, but I read that the dryer kills dust mites and rids of pollen and dander. Any suggestions would be welcome!

  66. Wow, I’m really surprised by the comments here. I don’t know a single person who line-dries their clothing – not one!

    I live in a nice neighborhood where outside drying of clothes is not allowed – period. And frankly, I like it that way. I have no desire to look at clothes people have failed to bring in day after day.

    Also, I don’t like the stiffness of clothes when they aren’t at least partially dried.

    I have a wonderfully energy-efficient dryer. To keep clothes from shrinking and wearing out, I dry them partially, then hang them up on an extra rod in my closet.

    But I also wonder how commenters here have so much time to hang laundry. I have a couple of kids, so hanging clothes, sheets, etc. for 4 seems like a huge waste of my time.

  67. The other benefit to hanging items outside is that sunlight disinfects. We use the dryer fairly often, but I try to hang towels & sheets out on the outdoor clothesline whenever I can.

  68. Anyone who plans to hand clothes to dry indoors should invest in a humidity monitor. Some versions of atomic clocks include that. All the water that leaves the clothes as they dry is going into the air in the home. If there is not enough air circulation to the outside, or if the weather is already humid, the risk of mold and mildew damage to the home is considerable, and will cost a lot more to repair than will be saved in energy costs.

    I have a dehumidifier in my basement that I use during the summers to keep moisture under control. Within 24 hours, that little sucker will pull a gallon of water out of the air in a 400 square foot basement! And then do it again day after day sometimes.

  69. I hang my clothes on clothes racks over my shower curtain rod. In the winter when the heat is on they’re dry overnight. They also dry overnight on hot summer days if they air is not on super cold. When they are dry I just hang them in the closet. I only use the dryer for linens and undies to soften them after they have air dried a bit. As for wrinkes, I haven’t ironed in 10 years. I try to select fabrics that don’t wrinkle. As for jeans, while they are air drying I shake them out a couple of times. I usually do this when I use the bathroom. This takes little time. It’s worth it when I see my $39 summer/$150 Winter electric bill for a 3 bedroom 2 bath house.

  70. Hi, I feel you left a few figures out. I live in the South. I can line dry about 9 months a year. My dryer will thus live 4 times as long. Also the heat produced by a dryer will raise my AC cost in the summer. Thanks, Angela

  71. I guarantee you that I save more than $10 a month during the spring summer & fall hanging our clothes up to dry. We are a family of 5 so there is alot of clothes to wash… I like to hang everything but socks, towels, and jeans.

    I have a retractable clothes line with 3 or 4 strands on it we got from Home Depot. It stretches nicely from one side of my laundry room to the other. I keep it up all the time. My laundry room is small, with one window. But things will dry very nicely in one day. I simply take my clothes straight from the washer and hang up to dry…the shirts I put right on plastic hangers so when they are dry they are ready to go straight into the closet. This takes no longer than drying in the dryer then folding/hanging.
    The plus side in the Summer is the heat from the running dryer isn’t heating up my home making it harder to keep cool. (But I do use my dryer during the winter) I was very diligent about this last year and I am sure I saved atleast $25 a month off of our electric bill. That is an easy choice for me! Plus my clothes will look better, and last longer!

    I too use vinegar in the rinse, and I really haven’t noticed any of our clothes being stiff. It really depends on the type of fabric I guess.

  72. @#62 Tall Bill

    We live in the NW and don’t use a drier. I hang everything down in our garage which isn’t air tight like the rest of the house. The garage is unheated and everything still dries within 24 hours max, and this is in winter. There are no issues of moisture in my home. Thing is… people I think personally look for excuses NOT to line dry because they simply just don’t like to do it. If your house is insulated too tight, yeah I can see humidity maybe being a problem but in general no. Try the garage, and you won’t have an issue with too much humidity in the winter months.

    We haven’t had a drier in over 2 years. I only line dry in the winter and the rest of the year they go out on a parallel umbrella line in the back yard. To be perfectly honest, It takes me no more time to line dry than use a dryer. I can do several loads in a row in which my washer if faster than a drier. So, I hang them all out and go about my day and I am not a slave to the dryer with switching loads. I can hang a large load of laundry in less than 5 minutes flat. Once you get in practice, the work of hanging goes quickly.

  73. I really enjoyed reading this. We currently live in China and it is very common to use clothes lines indoors to dry clothes. I have a folding rack that I use and all my clothes dry in a couple of hours. The only real drawback is things don’t “shrink” back into shape like they do in a dryer (such as bluejeans, underwear) They seem to just get bigger! LOL! When we return to the states I will definitely use the clothesline more!

  74. I used to think line drying clothing was awful when I was growing up. My mother would hang items on the clothesline, most of the time. In the winter months she would bring in an apartment dryer put a stocking over the round tube vent and use it to dry and heat the house up when the weather got cold. Now that I have gotten older I find myself wanting to do the same thing. Its funny how life works. I find myself becomming more and more like my mother everyday.

  75. I like to hang dry most of the larger items, when I can, because when a sheet-quilt-or even towels is put in the dryer (gas is what we have now) they ball up & just spin their circle clumped up without the middle ever getting air. I tend to always hang dry (outside when I’m able, inside when the weather is not favorable) any of my cd’s & covers, that have PUL in them, but will put the all cotton flats-prefolds-& stuffers in the high heat dryer, if it is not sunny &/or windy out. I do not have a line, but have this long rack with plastic hangers(clippy pants kind & regular shirt type) & a t-rack from an old thrift store, plus I have a hundred++ feet of porch railing off my back deck, where I sling the larger items over, like towels, sheets, quilts & heavy jeans. On average I wash 3 loads a day, then every other day another cd load, & twice, or more, each week a load of towels & linens & sometimes blankets & quilts. Even if I saved .50cents per load, to me, it’s worth it, because that’d be $2.+- per day savings & for my family of 9, that will add up!

  76. I have recently started to hang up about 85% of our laundry. I actually like the way that line-dried clothing and towels feel. Also, in a pinch, I’ll line-dry until almost done, and then toss in the dryer for a quick 5 minute spin. Softens things up and saves money. Rock on! -NCN

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