The 4 Benefits of Line Drying Laundry

This spring when the weather started getting sunny, my first outdoor project was to set up an umbrella type laundry line. I put it right outside the laundry room door, so it would be convenient to step outside and hang my laundry. Since then, I’ve been hanging laundry every sunny chance I get!

People often look at me funny when I say I like to hang my laundry to dry. They wrinkle their noses and scoff at the fact that my towels can be kind of crunchy. Or that I would “waste” precious time in my day hanging clothes to dry, when it’s faster just to pop them in the dryer.

That’s true, but there are benefits to line drying laundry that outweigh the downside.

Line Drying Uses Less Electricity

For a frugal person, this is reason enough to line dry laundry. According to the electric use cost calculator at Saving Electricity, the average cost per load is $0.49 and average American family spend about $194 per year on electricity from the dryer alone.

Now the savings from not running the clothes dryer may seem paltry, but it adds up over the years. And when combined with the other benefits of line drying laundry, I think it’s worth it.

Line Drying Preserves Clothes

Another way line drying laundry saves money is by making your clothing last longer. Have you ever noticed how much lint a dryer picks up in the lint trap? And have you thought about how rough the dryer must be on clothing to pick up that much lint?

Line drying is very gentle on clothing, so your clothes last longer. Which means you don’t have to replace your clothes as often. Which means you spend less money on your clothing.

Line Drying Gets You Outside

For me, this is important. Since I do a lot of work from home on my computer, it’s good for me to take a break to get outside once in a while.

By making a commitment to line dry my laundry, I know that I will have periodic breaks during the day, where I’m getting out in the sunshine. And hanging clothing is very relaxing. As I was hanging my last load, I was thinking of all the things I wanted to say in this post. Sometimes I think of my plans for the day. Sometimes I sing. Sometimes I pray. But the time I use for hanging my laundry is also time where I’m alone with my thoughts. As a busy mom, I treasure that time.

Line Dried Clothes Smell Great

I love the smell of clothes that have been hung out to dry. It’s a smell that commercial laundry detergents and fabric softeners can’t replicate, no matter how hard they try.

So that’s why I line dry my laundry. How about you? Do you hang up your laundry? Why?



Author

By , on Apr 21, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{40 Comments}

  1. @ marci – I switched from Ultra Downy free & sensitive to vinegar over 2 years ago. I didn’t noticed any difference change in how soft/unwrinkled my clothes are. I’ll never go back!

  2. marci:

    Have done it off and on since I was a kid and being the oldest, it was my job to hang the clothes on the line growing up!

    Here in rainy coastal Oregon, it is a challenge… and I can only do it on days the lumber mill log yard is not running. I’m on the road to the mill and all the trucks going by stir up a bit of dust and my line is only 40 ft from the road :) The up side, is all the waves from friends driving log truck and knowing that they, and the mill, are up and running/working. So, Saturdays and Sundays are good for me, and now that the evenings are getting longer, I could actually do a load to hang out after 4 pm and that would work also!

    Have you tried the vinegar in the rinse option? Has anyone? It’s supposed to de-wrinkle, but I haven’t personally tried it yet.

  3. bobbi:

    We hang our clothes out and I love it for all the reasons you stated above! Our house is over 50 years old and when my dad built it, dryers were not a concern. You get used to it after a while & I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Thanks.

  4. Peggy:

    I do line-dry my sheets and clothes in the warmer months but not because I love the smell. I am the only person I know who does NOT like the smell of laundry hung outside. For some reason I associate that smell to stale clothing. I remember my sheets as a child smelling like that even in the winter, when I knew they had been dryer dried and put in the linen closet. It’s always been a stale smell for me (though I do not think that clothes dried in the dryer smell stale) and so now, while I can wear clothing dried outside (but not love it), I have to sleep on my back (I’m a side/stomach sleeper) when sleeping in a bed with line-dried sheets because I cannot bear to have my nose that close to the pillow. I know. I’m crazy. It’s funny what gets ingrained in our minds, isn’t it?

  5. I’ll never understand why just about everyone who references my calculator in a blog post misquotes it by giving the wrong figure — nor why they never bother to go to the page specific to the device they’re writing about (in this case, clothes dryers) to get the easy and detailed info about that item. I’m tempted to remove the ability to find out electrical use and cost for clothes dryers from the calculator and instead make people go to the clothes dryers page, like I did with clothes washers.

    As for what’s wrong with the figure quoted ($63), I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. But even that’s academic, because most people don’t use their dryers as much as cited in this article (2 hours a day, 5 days a week).

  6. Jo:

    I live in Alaska, so instead of hanging clothes outdoors during the cold months, I hang our clothes on a line in the garage. It’s just a step out of our laundry room–I bought the two reels and the clothes line at Home Depot and my husband installed it for me (thanks, Honey!) I hang many of our clothes, towels, etc., during wash cycles, and it’s perfect for hanging up wet, snowy clothes after playing outside. When we lived in humid southest Texas, I used the pop-up wooden clothes dryers set up inside our bathtubs to dry clothes and cloth diapers.

  7. Kaz:

    @Brian

    You know, your comment makes it sound like you throw your cats in the dryer. hahaha Funny image!

    I don’t own a dryer. I use racks inside when the weather is too wet or cold and an outside line for the nice days. My son suffers badly from hayfever but it never occurred to me that his clothes would have extra pollens etc due to line drying outside.

  8. Dawn:

    I’ve been thinking about doing this myself! I’ve been shopping for drying umbrellas recently and think I am going to get one. Thanks for the great encouragement.

  9. Luke:

    I can’t convince my wife to try this because the area we live in has a lot of pollen and dust this time of year, and our kids have bad allergies. Any ideas on how to not bring those allergens indoors after line-drying the clothes?

  10. Brian:

    I actually live in an apartment and “line dry” my clothes all year round. I just use plastic hangers and hang them up in the bathroom on the shower curtain pole! It works like a charm. Since we have 3 cats we throw them in our dryer for about 5 minutes to get off the hair and get rid of wrinkles. It works great. With our recent 14% increase in electric rates, it has really made a difference.

  11. Lynnae:

    @servant – I found my umbrella line at Home Depot.

  12. bob:

    When I was in college I lived in Boston in a tiny apartment. It was way too cold for half of the year to dry clothes outside. But the apartment was old and had a massive radiator in the corner. I bought a cheap wooden drying rack and would hang wet clothes on the rack and stick it next to the radiator. Those clothes would dry in 4-5 hours. In fact, I got so tired of lugging laundry back and forth to the laundromat that I bought a toilet plunger and some cheap detergent and would wash the clothes in the bath tub, wring em’ out and throw them on the drying rack. My clothes never looked “sparkling”, but they were clean.

    Now I live in California and it rarely rains. I have two large clothes lines and dry all the clothes that way.

  13. Colette:

    I have two wooden drying racks and they work like a charm. I live in an apartment, so there’s no way I’m going to pay .50 per load to use the dryer when this works just as well, without the wear and tear on my clothes. And as far as soft towels go…well, they feel the same after one use, so making sure they’re soft just seems tedious.

    I started using drying racks after I visited a friend in Norway and realized her family didn’t even own a dryer. Suddenly the idea of clotheslines and drying racks just made more sense to me.

  14. I think #1 and #2 are the keys, although there are downsides:

    It takes more time, earwigs(pincher bugs) that can find there way into your clothes, clothes out of the dryer feel nicer and softer IMO.

    We live in a condo currently, so the issue is a moot point, but hopefully soon we will wrestle with this question.

  15. Sandra:

    We have bad allergies in my household, so hanging stuff outside to dry is NOT an option for us .. but I absolutely utilize my drying rack and hang almost all our clothes indoors. :-) For now, our dryer is used for sheets/towels and undies and socks. :-)

  16. I hang about 1/3 of my clothes to dry, but I live in an apartment so a few times a month, my bathroom turns into the drying room! I turn on the exhaust fan, bring another fan into the bathroom and it goes pretty quickly and my clothes are saved the wear-and-tear of the dryer. I have very severe allergies during spring, summer, and fall, so I don’t think I’ll ever switch to hanging clothes outside.

  17. Heather:

    I put up a retractable clothesline this year. I LOVE using it!

  18. Lisa Fischer:

    I started line drying about two years ago. It’s still a bit chilly here in MN to start, but soon!! I don’t have my own line but my neighbor has one. After my first couple of times hanging, they noticed I was using it more (they were fine w/ me using theirs) & he actually put all new lines up! She said they were starting to rust & so she didn’t want my clothes to get rusty so had her husband up up to wires (plastic ones this time!) I have the BEST neighbors!

  19. I line-dry laundry all summer too. I love it!

  20. Kimi:

    In my family my oldest son has severe allergies this time of year so I normally hold off on using the outdoor clothes line for his sheets and shirts. also, one other benefit that wasn’t mentioned is exercise. My neighbor used to laugh at me about the time and effort I took in hanging my clothes on the line (as well as some other things). Yet, she would pay and take the time and effort to go work out in the gym. It baffles me how we can see things so differently.

  21. trek:

    But line drying isn’t an option for those with allergies: it brings all the pollen in on your “clean” clothes – which are then, by definition, no longer clean.

  22. Angie:

    I’ve seen clothespins at Wal-Mart, but where do you get the poles for hanging the string (or umbrella type hanging line)? I’ve only seen them at my grandmother’s old house! I’d like to do this.

  23. Amy:

    My favorite part about the warmer weather is getting to hang my stuff on the line. My favorite has to be our sheets though- there is nothing like that smell in the world!!

  24. Leanne:

    Line drying tends to be the norm here in Australia. It seems odd that people are considered “out there” for doing it. Free, efficient, green – who could ask for more. And if it takes more that 15 minutes a day I’d be very surprised. I love the smell of line dried clothes as well. One of the best bits for me though, is to get out of the house (and sometimes away from the kids) for a few minutes. Lovely quiet time in the fresh air :-)

  25. Great post! All valid points, but the last one is the clincher for me . . . the fresh smell.

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