Line Dry your Clothes

Clothes Line

This idea is so simple that it didn't occur to me until I moved in to my current house. I had used a clothes dryer for years out of habit and inertia until I moved into a home with a clothes line. After buying a package of clothes pins I was ready to dry my clothing the simplest, cheapest and best way I have found yet. Of course, my grandmother has been drying clothes on the line since before I was born, but some things are rediscovered by each generation.

The advantages to line drying clothing are straightforward and numerous.

1. Line-dried clothes last longer. The next time you run a clothes dryer check the lint filter. The lint filter is holding fibers of your clothing that have been beaten and abraded away by the tumbling action of the dryer. By line drying your clothes they will last longer before they are sent to the rag pile.

2. Clothes and sheets smell better when line dried. I use a low/no scent detergent and after line drying my clothes have no odor. Open air and sunlight are highly effective at deodorizing fabrics.

3. Line drying conserves energy. A clothes line will always use less (effectively zero) energy than a clothes dryer, regardless of how efficient it may be with moisture sensing, multiple temperature settings, etc. A clothes line uses free solar and wind power while electricity and gas prices continue to rise.

4. Line drying saves money. See items 1 and 3.

5. Clothes lines encourage outdoor activity. Hanging clothes on the line and bringing them back in is one more reason to take a step outside and enjoy the air and sunshine.

6. Clothes lines are safer than clothes dryers. According to the U.S. Fire Association clothes dryer fires account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually. Of course, you should pay attention when playing catch in the backyard, but clothes lines are still less hazardous than a dryer.

Possible Drawbacks to Line Drying Clothes:

1. It may take longer for your clothes to dry. Living in the arid Southwestern US clothes dry VERY quickly on the line. Except when it rains, then you just have to wait a little longer and your clothes get a second rinse for free.

2. Some delicate fabrics may need to be dried indoors. Some clothes, especially sweaters, may not be suited to hanging on a line in the strong sun and wind we have in the Southwest. Or some folks may prefer to dry their lacey undergarments out of view of the neighbors.

3. Cold Fingers. You may want to wear gloves when hanging clothes on the line in the winter, but clothing will still dry in temperatures below freezing. An indoor clothes line or rack may be a more pleasant option in the colder months.

4. Neighborhood Covenants / Municipal Regulations / Nosy Neighbors. If you live somewhere that disallows outdoor clothes lines you have my sympathy. I believe that rules and ordinances that outlaw clothes lines are misguided at best and encourage wastefulness. Visit Project Laundry List for info on how to overturn anti-clothes line rules. In the meantime, you can use an indoor line until you can change those silly rules.

More Info on Line Drying Clothes:

Project Laundry List

Clothes Dryer Fires in Residential Buildings