By Contributing Writer, Erin Long
When I started my natural living journey so many things seemed beyond my capacity to ever master (especially line-dry laundry!).
Make my own non-toxic cleaners?
They’ll probably make more of a mess than they cleaned.
Brew my own kombucha?
I know I’ll do it wrong and end up poisoning myself.
Can fruits and veggies?
I’ll definitely poison myself. And my family.
Line dry laundry for a family of five?
We’ll never have clean, dry clothes and the kids will injure themselves of the plethora of drying racks that will take over our home.
After several years and a steep learning curve I’ve mastered all those skills. And the one that has surprised me the most?
Line drying clothes.
I’ve been amazed at how I’ve come to enjoy this simple practice that initially seemed like a huge inconvenience.
It’s easy to line dry all our laundry during the hot summer months when it takes the same amount of time as the dryer and even though we live in a small home I’m still able to line dry part of our laundry in the winter.
Here are my seven favorite reasons for line drying laundry all year:
1. It’s great for your budget and the environment
The average cost of using your dryer in the US is $104.46 annually (source). While that’s not a lot of money, it’s money that doesn’t have to be spent on electricity.
Especially if you’re pinching pennies, line drying clothes is an easy way to save.
But even apart from the money savings, the energy savings is big. Clothes dryers are one of the biggest energy users in the home. Line drying is a simple way to make your home more green and reduce your carbon footprint.
2. It’s easy
I first started line drying laundry when my husband and I moved to Europe, a land where dryers are viewed as an unnecessary waste of precious energy.
I expected it to be a huge inconvenience and would quickly grow to resent it.
Turns out it really wasn’t a big deal.
Even in cold winter months it only took about 24 hours for thicker laundry like jeans and towels to dry and less than an hour when I could get things outside in the summer.
As our family has grown to include three kids it has become more challenging but that also has its benefits (I’ll explain in #4). Now that we’re living in the US we do have a dryer but I still line dry at least part of our laundry simply because it’s a great practice that has more positive benefits than drawbacks.
3. There are no nasty chemicals
While you don’t have to use fabric softener if you use a dryer (wool dryer balls are an awesome alternative) there’s absolutely no need for them when you line dry!
Especially in the summer, line drying gives your clothes a wonderful smell that can never be achieved by synthetic fragrances.
Nature for the win!
4. You have to stay on top of laundry
We all love the feeling when laundry baskets are under control and not spilling their contents all over the floor but that doesn’t happen often enough, does it?
You get that feeling more often when you line dry.
Because it does take more time from start to finish, you have to plan ahead and be proactive. It’s like a much needed kick in the pants. Because if you want to wear clean pants you have to get them in the wash now.
5. It’s a great chore for kids
Hanging clothes on a drying rack is a simple chore for young kids. And when they’re dry they can pull their clothes off and put them away.
Older kids can do the whole routine start to finish.
It’s a great way for kids to learn about doing laundry without the risk of them shrinking your favorite sweater.
6. It’s a mini exercise session
Do you ever wonder how our grandmas stayed trim and healthy in the days before group exercise classes?
They lifted heavy cast iron skillets, didn’t depend on cars to get them around, and hung their laundry to dry.
By making line drying a part of your laundry routine you can burn a few extra calories and get muscle tone without hitting the gym. Yay!
7. It helps to slow life
In a culture that thrives on rush, busy and hustle, line drying laundry is a way to slow down.
Taking a few minutes to hang wet clothes on a rack can slow your body and mind and give you space to think.
It’s an intentional choice to pull back the reigns on a busy life and pause. And be patient.
It’s a deep breath. And you’re breathing in the wonderful smell of line dried laundry.
i am curious if you just adapted to the crunchy clothes feeling that accompanies line-drying or if there’s some magical tip/trick that reduces this? i have been finally more diligent about line drying this summer + plan to get our wood stove inside before the rainy season (in the pnw, outdoor drying is only an option about 3m out of the year) so we can line dry all year, but coming from dryer usage, my kids are like whatttt this is crunchy mom ? and i admittedly don’t love the feeling of crispy denim, either! practicing acceptance, but curious about your experience 🙂
I couldn’t agree more with this joy of smelling line -dried clothes but I need to move to an arid area to continue line drying my clothes. Where I am it rains or is damp and cloudy throughout most of the warm season and then freezing cold with gusty winds over the winter, enough to blow your clothes off and take down the line with it if they don’t freeze up beforehand. The winter is the only time I could dry clothes indoors if I have the heat on so much it’s crispy dry in here— but then I couldn’t thrive very well in here breathing healthily because I need humidity for my respiratory problems. I was considering the Midwest or southern west coast for successfully line drying clothes without the chance of mildew forming on them while they take forever to dry where it’s humid and shaded with nature forest as it is over here.
Good reasons to line drying clothes. It is common practice in Singapore. This can really save a lot on electric bill especially electricity is very expensive in Singapore.
Hi Erin, thanks for sharing.
Hi Jasmine, this is the same experience I have in Nigeria.
There is no reason people should not use the clotheslines to dry their clothes.
I’ve never used a dryer.
In fact, I’ve line dried my clothes all my life and will never substitute that for a dryer. Talk of the cost of managing it and the uptick in the electricity bill…
I love this. I line dry my clothes and cloth diapers in the spring and summer. Although I have to admit that I feel a little bad about how it makes our backyard look to our neighbors. Any ideas? We are messy so we go through way too much laundry to fit on one drying rack
Our yard faces our neighbor’s front door so I totally understand! I just have to get over it. And hang anything I don’t want other people to see inside 😉 When I line dry all our clothes in the warm months I do a load almost every day, otherwise it won’t all fit on the racks. I do also have two racks to make it easier. Hope this helps!
What about the incredible smell?!
I washed the sheets two days ago, and they still smell like sunshine and wind. Amazing.
I totally agree with number seven. Love that I get to spend time outdoors and I’m being “productive.”
And there’s also the tendency to wash less–to decide that I really need to (when I have to wait for a sunny day).
Where we are living now, there is no option to use the dryer at all–none in the whole village–but it’s been great!
Bonus: I find that line drying the laundry indoors helps humidify the house when it’s normally so dry in the winter. It also helps the clothes look better and last longer.
Oh great point! We get pretty dry winters where I am, so this is so pertinent!
I want to ask how you manage the resultant flowing of water when you line dry indoors. I’ve read somewhere that it really helps with the humidity level in the house but I have not been able to wrap my head around the free flowing water. If you care to shed more light on this, that would be great.
Why would there be water flowing? I’m confused by the question…
Something is better than nothing!
I like to line dry my clothes, but they never smell fresh when I do. I use unscented detergent and no fabric softener. I use wool dryer balls when I do use my dryer and my clothes pretty much smell like nothing, but when I hang them out to dry , they smell slightly unpleasant. Any thoughts?
I have the same struggle during the winter months – it just seems like some clothes hang onto a musty smell! Obviously, get your clothes outside as much as possible but when you can’t, flip them over and rotate them while they’re drying. That helps them dry faster. Also try throwing them in the dryer (if you have one) for just a few minutes once they’re dry. I was recently given an air freshener made with distilled water and essential oils and I’m going to try spritzing our laundry with that and hopefully they’ll hang onto the scent!
perhaps try adding vinegar to the wash? or a light vinegar (you could infuse it with herbs for a nice smell) mist toward the end of drying? 🙂
I always line dry my diapers but I am less faithful about line drying all the clothes.
Something is better than nothing!