Your clothes dryer sucks your money away. After your basic HVAC, fridge and freezer it is the biggest and most expensive energy hogging appliance in your house.
You are a NW Edible reader, so of course you know a clothes dryer is totally optional. People have, can and do line-dry their clothes 100% of the time. You may also, like me, be a busy mom with a canning problem, messy rug rats and a laundry pile that will not quit. So maybe going 100% line-dry is a bit more than you want to commit to.
Your Mini-Money Challenge
Here’s today’s Mini-Money Challenge: for the rest of this month – a week and a day – unplug your dryer.
If you have a separate Washer/Dryer set-up this might be really easy. I can reach over my drier and unplug it without moving anything. If your W/D is combined or if your plug is unreachable behind the machine you may have to get creative and find some other way to make it inconvenient to dry your clothes in the machine….maybe some blue painters tape across the handle or something.
Because that’s what this challenge is about: deliberately inconveniencing yourself.
Note I did not say you couldn’t use your dryer. You totally can. Whenever you feel like you really, absolutely need too, you can plug that machine in and dry a load. As soon as that dryer load is complete, put it away and unplug your machine. Try not to be gratuitous.
Make Your Laziness Work For You
“Why? Why unplug my dryer just to irritate myself?” you might ask.
This is all about making our own laziness work for us instead of against us. Most of us (not all of us – maybe not you – but most of us) are basically lazy, at least when it comes to things that don’t show a pretty immediate return-on-investment.
When an opportunity to work less comes up, most of us take it: power windows, escalators, Cuisinarts, paper plates, clothes dryers, finding the absolute closest parking space at the gym because we signed on for 30 minutes of treadmill time, not 30 minutes plus a walk across the parking lot. We generally prefer to do things that are easy even if those things aren’t necessarily the best for us or our wallets.
If you just accept this tendency towards natural laziness you can use it to your advantage by setting up your life to make it easier to do those things you should do anyway and harder to do those things you should maybe do less.
Set up situations which increase difficulty in areas where it’s better for you to work a little harder: unplug your dryer, park at the far side of the parking lot, put the chocolate in the back of the freezer.
Set up situations which minimize difficulty in areas where it’s better for you to do as little work as possible: set up automatic deductions to fund a savings account, make your lunch the night before, keep your running shoes ready to go by the side of the bed.
We unplugged the dryer at the beginning of the month and I’ve found that I’ve been way, way better about hanging my clothes up on my awesome wall-mounted clothes drying rack simply because the act of having to plug in the machine gives me pause. And in that moment I can say, “Oh, I’ll just hang these shirts. This isn’t that big a deal, come on – suck it up.”
And when it comes time to do a load of towels, which I prefer to tumble so they don’t end up the texture of scratchy plywood, I plug my dryer back in and machine dry the towels.
I have realized that line drying my clothes doesn’t actually take a lot more active time than machine drying. The most time consuming part of the laundry process is folding or hanging everything up, and since the majority of our line-dried clothes are dried right on their hangers, those items net out to an active time win over machine drying. Most of the clothes we dry loose on the drying rack are socks, diapers or undergarmets that just get shoved into a drawer when they are dry anyway. Time neutral. The only items that really add active time to the process are pants, which have to be taken off the drying rack and then hung. But it’s so quick to hang pants this is hardly a deal breaker.
These little drips and drops of savings and effort can add up, but usually after we’ve managed the “terrible horrible inconvenience” of doing something the slightly slower way for awhile we find that it’s really not that terrible or horrible after all. We might even come to prefer it.
If you already line-dry all your clothes, reward yourself by spending the next ten minutes wasting time on Pinterest looking at clothes drying racks ’cause you are awesome!
How do you feel about manipulating your own laziness to work for you? Do you already line dry? Will you take the Unplug Your Clother Dryer Challenge and deliberately make your life a little less convenient (maybe) for just eight days?2
Oh, I so need this challenge! Line-drying my clothes is something I’ve been meaning to do since we moved into our house (months ago!). I’ve hung our clothes to dry a total of… once. Womp womp. The trickiest part for me will be remembering to wash our diapers soon enough to time for them to dry before my son needs them. I love the idea of inconveniencing ourselves to override our engrained habits and make us actually think about what we’re doing. Eight days? I can do this.
I was doing so well — line drying all spring and summer, rack drying if it rained. I even vowed on Facebook that I would unplug the dryer and use the lines or racks at least 95% of the time. Then canning season hit and it felt like throwing clothes into the dryer was all the time I could afford to give to clothes drying.
Time to get back into some better habits. Line drying season is nearly over for us, but those racks are just sitting there waiting to be used.
BTW, I am all for manipulating my laziness when it’s to my advantage. 🙂
Ha! I’d love to. I’ve tried, often, to line dry our clothing. My husband hates it so much. It makes him very grumpy. The expenditure is worth a happy husband.
I line dry 100% (0kay, 90% of the time). I’m 40+ and didn’t even own a dryer until two years ago at which time I instituted the “pay the dryer” rule….IF you are too lazy to hang them out then you pay the jar on the top of the dryer. I paid $1 a load and at the end of the year I had $16 dollars. I don’t pay if it is raining or if an “emergency” arises such as hubby needing his uniform shirts done for a business trip, but otherwise I pay.
I love the pay to dry idea. I have a 19 yo son who’s going to college and living at home, I haven’t gotten him on board to hanging clothes, but this may be a good motivation.
I haven’t owned a dryer in more than 20 years. I don’t have a clothes line either, have a wire fence instead. Works just fine. And the scratchy towels actually do a good job of removing dead skin. The clothes will dry faster and softer if you wait until the day is breezy. All that said, I live by myself and don’t have others to care for so I can understand busier lives than mine. My observation of my children/grandchildren is that 1) we have way too many clothes, towels, sheets, etc. in the first place. 2) Having too many creates the habit of taking them off tossing them on the floor to make sure they really get dirty. 3) Thus we wash basically clean clothes. Living on a limited income and trying to save $$ on my water bill, soap. electricity, I wear my clothes, except underwear, several days(well, maybe more like a week) before putting them in the wash. Less clothes also means less storage space needed. If anybody has lived in a 100 year house, as I have several times, will notice that the closet didn’t originally come with a pole for hangers – it was added later. Usually all they had was hooks around the inside of the closet. They could get away with that because they only had a few clothing items. Once advertising convinced us we had to have more clothes, we added the hangers and poles.
I have found the same thing, fewer clothes means fewer loads. I have a single set of sheets for each bed, so I never have to store them.
I have “uniform fantasies” for just this reason: everyone has 3 or 4 sets of their “uniform” and that’s it. I read about a woman who grew up during the Great Depression. Every morning she got up, folded her nightclothes, put them on her pillow and rewore them the next evening. Every afternoon she came home from school, folded her school clothes and put on her play clothes. School clothes were reworn days and play/work clothes were reworn evenings. This went on all week. Clothes were washed weekly and the whole cycle started again. Sunday clothes were worn to church. I’m trying to figure out how to implement something like this in my family without ruining my daughter’s life. As of now, we are very far away from even “hang your clothes back up.” My daughter wears clothes to school, often changes again in the afternoon, and then again in the evenings into nightclothes or whatever, and by the end of the day sometimes three or four complete sets of “dirty” clothes are presented to me for washing. Oh, and a robe and a towel, too. Trying to figure out how to curb this “disposable clothes” mentality without being too hard on her, because she’s really a very fabulous kid and I prefer not to be super-naggy-mom. Thoughts?
I just saw a friend’s facebook post that made me think of your comment. She said she had to put her daughter (6 yrs old) on “pajama restriction” meaning she has to wear the same pair of pjs for 3 nights before she can put them in the dirty clothes. Maybe something like that would work for your daughter. 🙂
A few thoughts on this, if I may – my mom must have known your Great Depression Lady because this is how we lived in the 60s/70s, Baby. Nightgown under the pillow, school clothes, play clothes, church clothes – and, never shall these subsets meet. Got us through childhood.
When my own daughter, at a very young age, started throwing her PJs in the hamper after just one ‘go’, at first I was shocked and appalled. Then I realized this wasn’t a sword I wanted to fall on. Let’s be honest – kids get sweaty when they sleep, especially if they’re going through a growth spurt. It would have been worse, I thought, if she never wanted them washed. *Ick*
We had a BAD routine for too long in high school. She’d throw her clothes on the floor after one use (or, sometimes, just after she’d tried them on), I’d beg her to clean her room throughout the week, on wash day the volume would increase, she’d eventually shove the sea of clothes from her floor out in into the hamper, I’d wash them, fold them, take the basket upstairs for her to sort & put away, and have to beg her to actually take care of it. I was truly tired of it.
Then she started dating a young man whose mom had been making him do his own laundry for years. What a GENIUS! I cut off laundry service and shut her room door so I didn’t have to look at the mess. If she wanted to live in a mess – her call. I was done yelling.
At first she didn’t totally take me seriously. She’d sneak a few items into the general hamper, trying to get back to the old system. I’d pick them out and hand them back. I could tell she was resentful about this, but she couldn’t really complain to her boyfriend and expect any sympathy. Eventually she got the hang of it. Not surprisingly, the organics of responsibility took over. The size of her weekly laundry pile decreased. As she started to take pride in her work, the level of room filth in her room decreased as well.
Whatever system you find that works well for both you and you daughter is the way to go. Would love to hear what that turns out to be.
Eek. My husband gets especially cranky if I have more than delicates hanging. We can’t hang clothes outside due to HOA regs, and I really, really hate crunchy towels and jeans. Also, I did a comparison with my neighbor downstairs – our gas bill is only about $7 higher a month than hers: there is just the two of them (elderly), and 4 of us (2 kids, once who still is at the end stages of potty training). I figure, for $7 a month…it’s worth my sanity, and my husband not being cranky. Plus…did I mention I hate crunchy jeans? 😉
I line-dried our clothes all summer, but when the rains started (fellow PNW’er), I gave up. We’re remodeling our basement (where the laundry room is), and I’m hesitant to put up enough infrastructure to dry an entire load of laundry down there. But maybe I just need to suck it up and, I don’t know, hang hangers from the pipes or something.
Ien in the Kootenays says
Towels are the item I am most likely to hang, because they take so long to dry. True about the sand paper effect. I have hard well water, and find some clothes require ironing after line drying, but not after the dryer. Solution: line dry and toss into the dryer for just a short finish. Five or ten minutes does it. It beats ironing. Right now I am temporarily in the Netherlands, where tumble dryers are not ubiquitous, even among people who can afford them. I do miss the convenience of having a favourite outfit ready to go again in a few hours.
Becca C says
I was going to say the same thing; for those who are hesitant to switch to 100% line drying or for things that take forever to dry on the line (especially in the PNW), “finishing” them in the dryer for a few minutes to de-crunch or a little longer to get them completely dry is my standby. I’m more motivated to hang things up to dry when I’ve got my racks all set up with enough space and good music playing, making the process more enjoyable. I made a long rack from old 2x4s cut into two 2x2s that I sanded and refinished and then put eye bolts in to hang from the ceiling and then a simple pulley system, so I lower them to hang things up on (including tents and sleeping bags, etc) and then pull the cord to raise the whole thing up and out of the way while they dry. It works brilliantly, and I can leave it there for days without it being in the way. I jsut discovered this blog BTW and am totally in love! Thanks for sharing!
I am stuck somewhere in the middle of this whole concept – I am certainly of the lazier sort when it comes to some of the items mentioned – I tend not to use paper cups and the like when I have a perfectly good, and preferred, ‘glass’ glass for my drinkables and such. I just give it a quick rinse if I drink something other than water and put it in the drainer in the sink until I need it again, etc, etc. – but to the opposite, I have a tape playing in my head that considers the value end of things – especially the value of today’s dollar vs the value of it down the road, timewise. I often get more value in the moment when I spend it now, as opposed to scrimping and stashing it away, only to find that it ‘may not buy what it used to’ when I do spend it later on. So, yeah, we run the dryer – but its gas, and its easy and convenient when finally getting to the laundry at 9:30 on a Sunday night, and Hub’s work clothes come out so nice that I don’t have to iron them. I do have a line, and I do use it on occasion, but I also toss the load on the fluff cycle for 10 mins before I hang them to pound out the wrinkles from the washer.
I don’t know – maybe its that I can only be so much of a slave to my wallet. Do I control my wallet or does it control me? I prefer to have the upper hand with my money as most of us do; therefore, I am somewhere in the middle, still.
I think being a slave to the wallet is a matter of perspective. When I spend out of convenience (such as using the dryer, auto car wash instead of doing it myself at home, a restaurant meal just because I don’t want to cook, etc.), that’s when I feel more enslaved. When I put in some elbow grease to keep spending at a minimum, or at least under control, that’s when I feel more financially free.
But I think that’s what Erica’s lessons are about — identifying your own personal values and then spending accordingly.
This is exactly right. I am, in certain areas, kinda a huge spender. I put way more money than is necessary into the “pretty” side of my garden, for example. We spend $2-freaking-grand on our chicken coop (gulp). I don’t think miserliness is anything to be proud of – but frugality is. And to me the difference is knowing how and why you spend the way you do. That is the big thing, and I think both of you (Lady Banksia and Annie) are doing that. The huge tradeoff everyone has to confront is the time/money trade off because often it just takes longer to opt for the money-saving option. This is what gets me: “I can do this thing myself or I can pay $XYZ to someone else and be able to use those hours in a different way, like writing or seeing my kids or husband.” There are LOTS of things more important than money. We want to make sure the majority of our dollars are spent or saved in accordance with our values, to promote those things that are “more important” for us. That’s what these challenges are trying to nudge people towards.
Wholeheartedly agreed to on both responses.
I don’t hesitate to invest in quality whenever possible – tools, food, life’s necessities. Heck, I’ll be ‘willing’ my cookware to my kids one day – not only because of how much we spent on it, but also because it’s still gonna be goin’ strong.
Needs over wants first; then wants when its right.
Oh, and the $2k chicken coop – I saw the pictures – don’t be one bit dashed by the cost – it’s an investment and it’s awesome! Now, if it were taped together with materials that wouldn’t last long, then that’s one thing; but you’ve put a lot of time, money, work, and sweat into that poultry hotel – you’ve got a system that works for you and for itself, so all is well…wish I could even have one!
We too live in the PNW (Portland) and our laundry room is in our basement so hanging things down there means they never dry or it takes up to a week at which point I am really missing my jeans… I had been line drying all of the cloth diapers last winter in our upstairs living room over the air intake for the heat and the diapers still didn’t get dry enough and all of them ended up getting black mold. We now have to do a combo air dry and then a 40 min topper in the dryer just to make sure that they are dry all the way.
I grew up in Colorado where the clothes are dry on the line before you are finished hanging them up so this was a new lesson for me.
I do line dry all summer outside since I love the way it smells and it does a great job of bleaching out stains but the winter proves to be much more challenging for us. Some is better than none right?
Morgan, I know exactly what you mean. At our old house stuff with laundry room in basement stuff would start to mildew if I let it sit in the washer for a few hours before moving it to the dryer. It’s embarrassing how many loads had to be re-run. Some situations are easier than others and Pac NW winter is…challenging. Our laundry space in this house makes indoor drying easier (at least it seems too….). I found the last few weeks to be the worst but still do-able. Interior humidity was way up but we had not yet turned on the heat. Now we have finally relented and turned the furnace on, which seems to both heat the house and dry the air, and the rack-dried clothes aren’t taking quite so long. Good luck!
Debbie M says
In the winter, if I keep the ceiling fan on and flip the clothes over after about 12 hours, my clothes are always dry in 24 hours. If you don’t have a ceiling fan, you might look into a box fan. It does use electricity, but not as much as a drier.
Perhaps a dehumidifier might help–I haven’t tried it and also don’t know how the energy use compares.
It’s nice to see someone in this boat with me 🙂
I also live in Portland and line dry all summer, but as soon as the rains start up I use the dryer. We have to run a dehumidifier in the basement (where the laundry area is) to prevent mold even without having lots of wet clothes on the racks. We do hang all of our sopping rain gear down there (we are 4 adults, a toddler, and a teenager who primarily bike, walk, skateboard) along with the diaper covers and delicates.
Honestly I don’t think I could find the space inside the house even if I wanted to give it a go and run extra fans along with the dehumidifier. It takes all 4 of my clothes lines to keep up during the summer.
Oh, and I also grew up in Colorado!
The first few years in the Pacific NW sure were an adjustment. (“This towel still isn’t dry??? But I hung it up an HOUR ago?!?!)
I see this with gardening too. There are instructions like: “leave onions to dry a few days to a few hours, depending on temperature” and I think – that must be for Texas or something because I cure my garlic and onions at least two weeks!
We line-dried all winter long in the basement in Saskatchewan and I don’t remember having mold problems… the worst problem was all the ironing required. I like to line dry but in a small condo with HOA restrictions I can really only do it with about 20% of my laundry.
This is perfect timing. I just unplugged my dryer last week. I have hung up every load of clothes I’ve washed since March. I try to do one load per day, except Sundays (2 kids, plus hubby and me). If it is raining, I usually wait to do laundry and do extra the next day. Sometimes, like this morning, it rains 30 min after I get everything hung. So, they will hang until tomorrow.
I’ve actually reduced out laundry in the past couple months by reusing our towels for a few days and rewearing my jeans. And we actually prefer scratchy towels, we feel like they get us drier.
Brenda W. says
I have a big clothesline outdoors and have used it since we moved in over 4 months ago. DH just hooked up the drier properly today so we can dry a load of jeans (wet and rainy in NorCal). I line dry mostly to keep my power bill down, but also because it’s just better, imo. I love everything off the line, except for towels and black clothing (they’re so linty!). It’s a meditative task, and one I try not to rush through – sorting the load, hanging them just so, then watching them blow in the breeze.
I really liked Annie’s comment (“I think that’s what Erica’s lessons are about — identifying your own personal values and then spending accordingly.”) as I was starting to feel guilty about my dryer use. I LOVE line-drying clothes, but I work part-time and my work clothes need to be relatively wrinkle-free. I think the energy expense of the dryer outweighs the time/energy expense of ironing my work clothes. For me, it’s about making conscious choices re my energy use.
“I was starting to feel guilty about my dryer use.”
Anyone who is thoughtfully considering the things brought-up during these Mini Money Challenges and making those changes that are appropriate for their values and real, honestly-considered long-term goals is hereby totally exempt from any and all guilt. I am quite familiar with quilt, and in this kind of situation I just don’t think it’s particularly useful. I say we all chuck guilt in favor of values-based decision making and the actions that are right for us. Who’s with me?
Here, here!!! Am all in on that one! Chuck the guilt because it isn’t worth it… it can be caustic from the inside out. Yes, a sense of guilt is proof of conscience; but once it has been used as motivation for improvement, it has served it purpose and just becomes ‘draggage’ (dragged-baggage).
Draggage! Good phrase!
I got rid of my dryer 10 or more years ago, because it was very old, and I wanted to put a chest freezer in its space. I was already hanging most of my laundry to save energy and money, so it was an easy transition. I have a small house with a loft room, which is the warmest place in the house, so I strung two lengths of clothesline the length of the room, right under a ceiling fan. I hang wet laundry up there a lot, and then turn the fan on low–really helps in humid Southeast weather, so things don’t take forever to dry. It’s easy to take down the clothesline–it’s retractable and attached to S-hooks in the wall–in case I want it out of the way. If I don’t feel like carrying wet laundry upstairs, I have a large drying rack next to the laundry closet, and I can hang some hangers from a shelf in the closet too.
The worst problem is mild, wet days, when there is no heat or air conditioning running and the air is very humid. I usually don’t wash anything on those days, but wait for dry days. Otherwise, things can mold.
The only time I have seriously missed the dryer was when my dog was very old and ill. Incontinence in a large dog requires a lot of laundry. I have a big collection of waterproof, washable pads, but they don’t dry fast.
I think HOA’s should lighten up a little and accept clotheslines in backyards.
Though I need to make a rack for my laundry room, I’ve been line-drying all summer long (luckily only having had two or three rainy laundry days) and LOVE it. As in cat with a ball of string love. Mostly I think it’s that I’m outside with the sunshine and birds and fresh air for a little bit during my hectic days, but the clothes smells so good—and yes, it’s a money-saver.
That said, I don’t hang socks or underthings—everything else, though, is fair game. I think for me the ‘hardest’ part is that my washer works faster than the sunshine and breeze, but I’m learning to stagger it out.
Denise’s comment is right, too, though; on at least one day, I had a major appointment pop up in the afternoon and had no choice but to use the dryer. Feeling guilty about it is something I refuse to do, though. We’re all individuals with even more ‘individual’ days, needs, and events going on; no one has any right to condemn us for using what is, truly, a pretty fantastic modern convenience (my grandmother thinks my line-drying is absolutely hilarious, and she lovingly teases me about it—and she line-dried ’til the 70s!).
I have been line drying for a few years, my hubby wasn’t too keen on the idea at first, it seemed a little too old school for him (translation= what will the neighbors think). I don’t find it takes much more time or effort than putting it in the dryer. But I do live in a low humidity area where the summers get hot enough to dry jeans faster than the dryer ever could. Now that the rainy season has started I have to plan my washing by the forcast, and will start to use the dryer occasionally. I have found that white vinegar in the rinse cycle can take some of the stiffness out of jeans and towels, that and not leaving them in the sun too long. I personally hate matching socks and find when I line dry them it’s much easier to put the pairs together when hanging them up, when I use the machine they tend to go into a basket and get matched up when the boys start to complain.
I have been considering an indoor drying rack and love the one you posted, I think I have a place to put it so maybe I can line dry all winter.
I lived in Korea and Japan, countries where dryers are a rare thing. My current living situation doesn’t allow for line drying (except for my hand knit socks, of course) but once I’m in my own home I plan to have an arrangement for drying everything on a rack or outside on the line. Line drying is much quieter!
Caught me! I have just popped the dryer on as it is a dull, damp, still-air day here. I would think that in a year I dry outside about 80% of the time. I have a whirly-gig line out up on the top garden. I gets plenty of sun and so much wind that I am often to be seen wrestling with sheets – literally 3 sheets to the wind! and trying to stop them making a bid for freedom off to the coast of France! The lavender and herb bed is just to the side of the line and so there is an added bonus.
I am using the dryer today but it is one that I purchased after much research into which one would be the “greenest”. Most things will get a short time in there and then on to the concertina type dryer rack which is in the conservatory (sun room). If after ironing there is any doubt that they are dry enough to wear or put into drawers then they are hung in the airing-cupboard – the cupboard that houses the hot water tank.
I always worry about the damp issue and will not dry on the radiators for that reason. Also I think that it is counter-productive to run the heating or air-conditioning to dry clothes when there is a perfectly useful tumble dryer in the garage and it was specifically designed to dry clothes. Also I can line dry light items in the garage especially if the front and back windows are left open.
Incidentally the electricity to run the dryer is provided (a good 80% throughout the year) by our solar electricity system.
I applaud the drip driers, whirly giggers, and anyone else who has a strategy for reducing the financial and energy costs of drying. I also like tricks and shortcuts. Leaving two towels in the drier at all times reduces drying time by almost half. So, when you have to dry fast, dry super fast.
No, do not line dry outside. I work all day, can’t hang out when get home after 6p. I use the dryer except for husbands dress shirts and things like cotton items and hand wash and bras, tights, nylons. I am also not going to tie up my Saturday doing laundry just so I can hang it outside. And we don’t do chores on Sunday. Also only place I can hang outside is down a hill and I can only get around on concrete areas easily.
Now my co-worker does like the line and hangs out every day before goes to work, pretty much year round, but she is only a couple blocks away from office so sometimes has to run back home and take down if looks like rain.
To each his own.
Great post! I live in the UK and for years I have been shocked by the amount of tumble drying that goes on in the US! Glad to see you are trying to do something about it. Here in the UK it is very common for people to hang laundry outside. It smells fresher when you bring it in. I also live in hard water area but scratchy towels are more invigorating! When my son was a baby I did a few minutes in the drier to soften them up for him.
I have spent time in Tucson where it is clear blue sky most of the time. The laundry dries in a couple of hours; yet you never see laundry hanging out!
The challenge is what to do when it rains… I tend to plan laundry taking into account the weather forecast. Sometimes, like this week, the weather is bad for several days so that’s when I crack and use the drier.
Hanging out the washing on a line is a very soothing actvity first thing in the day and it only takes a few minutes.
I enjoy reading your blog and found it via MMM.
Likewise Caroline this is probably why we Brits are so interested in the weather! Looks like a good drying day coming up tomorrow. I also really enjoy this blog having found it via MMM and the Simple Living site.
I had wondered whether you lived in the UK when you mentioned France as a destination for your laundry! but then the same could be true from the US I guess… yes,, simple living is another good site!
I do agree Carolne that hanging clothes outside is very soothing, plus the sun works as disinfectant; so it doesnt only dry the clothes but disinfect them too.
You are so right about not seeing laundry hanging out in the US; I lived there and noticed that. I also lived for 6 months in Canada with my Canadian friend who had a huge garden and she always tumble dried the clothes!
In UK I saw people dry their clothes hanging near or above central heating, when it is raining outside.
Hanging clothes in the outside is an art here in Italy 🙂
Assuming you have a garden, building a drying canopy is a worthwhile investment. Very easy to do – basically a pergola with a roof. Good protection for patio furniture and other things too. The majority of houses in Ireland have them – it’s odd that it’s very rare in the UK, given that the weather is similarly dire.
When I was living in London, UK, I used a dryer because my flat was so tiny and there was no where to hang clothes to dry; no balcony. What I noticed was drying clothes accelerated the aging/fading process of clothes. Anyone else notice this? Or is it the drying machines people use in the UK are not as efficient as those in the US?
Then I moved to Italy and I lived for 3 years without a washing machine. It was hard at the start, especially washing sheets and big towels, but then I mastered the art of hand washing, hehe, like soaking the stuff in hot water for a day and other tricks. I just got a washing machine, a courtesy of my landlady. Now, I’m trying to adjust to the new comfortable life of just popping dirty clothes into a machine then just hanging them out in the sun to dry 🙂
Yes, US drying machines are much better than domestic ones in the UK; larger drums in general. But also I have found too many clothes here say “do not tumble dry” on the label. I think the aging and fading is down to the detergent and the washing machine. My old washing machine used to wear holes in clothes every once in while!
Damp again in the UK so waiting for the coming clear weather but hope others have a great drying day!
I’m an expat currently living in South Korea. Here most households do not own dryers. Instead, the super-efficient washing machine has an extra powerful spin cycle that wrings your clothes out pretty well. Then everyone hangs their clothes in their living-rooms or on their balconies – right through the (-20 degrees Celsius) winter. Most families live in tiny studio or one bedroom high-rise apartments, but they have invented some amazing drying racks to deal with the space issue.
Korea appeals to my sustainable sensibilities in other ways too – they have wide-spread composting and recycling programs in most cities. They also do an incredible amount of urban gardening. There are zucchini, peppers, lettuce, beans, and other crops sprouting from every available piece of land. The tenants in my 5 story apartment building all grow something on the apartment grounds, and often spread the harvested goods out in the parking lot to dry!
I love your challenges Erica. Someone in the comments said they feel more enslaved when they pay for things than when they take the time to do it themselves and I have been feeling that way lately. I feel so good when I do something that makes me feel independent of the “system”. I love hanging my laundry to dry for that reason. I feel like it is such an easy way to not use electricity. We hang our clothes inside on racks because we don’t have a clothes line. I have become quite the expert at arranging the clothes on the rack to that the bulkier items get the most air movement. Then I flip them the next day so that they finish drying faster. Drying my clothes is one of my favorite tasks.
Elizabeth Terrance says
I always line dry my clothing, though I tumble my sheets and towels because I love the smell of them.
I don’t know how much electric it saves, but it saves a ton on the clothing itself–which is why I started it. The drier really beats up your clothes, leading to fading, pilling, shrinkage, etc. Also, anything with stretch, like stretch jeans, loose their shape quickly, because of the constant heating and cooling.
I love my clothes. I don’t spend a lot on them, and I admit to having more than I need (though I wear them all in regular rotation). My parents were NOT ok with having a lot of laundry hanging, but as soon as I left for college, though 4 apartments now, I have air-dried my clothing. (except for socks–too much of a pain to hang). Any clothing that I still have from college (assuming it still fits) is perfectly wearable. I am 33. I have pics of me in school wearing shirts that I still have, and still wear every 2-3 weeks. I have never had anything fade or pill to the point where it cant be worn, and my jeans don’t loose their shape. I really believe strongly that I owe this to air-drying.
Putting the clothes directly on the hanger to dry is genius! I’ve been using drying racks inside (plus chair backs when I have a particularly big load). Putting the clothes on hangers takes up much less space (in addition to making it more likely that you’ll actually hang them up later). BTW, if you use this method, you can just hang the clothes on the hanger over a shower rod. No fancy dryer racks required. No HOA nark anxiety either!
Heres one I just came across, do the hanging bit, but indoors in a sealed room, buy a dehumidifier they cost peanuts to run – like a fridge. Viola! dry clothes quickly. plus also the rest of the house doesn’t get that damp and smelly smell.
Nicole Handfield says
great post, as usual! I wanted to say that you can make a win for pants too. I store excess hanger in the laundry area. If an item of clothing will eventually get hung on a hanger, I put it on the hanger and then hang the hanger on my drying rack to dry (instead of on the rack). Then, when it’s dry I transfer to the closet. Of course, I still lay sweaters flat (or anything heavy that might get stretched out if put on the hanger while wet), but for things that will dry well on the hanger, it saves you a step.
Christine Faith says
Our washer/dryer stacked unit is getting ready to go out, so the debate is on about how to replace our appliance. I think we have settled on buying a front loading washing with a wicked spin cycle so our clothes come out dryer than we are used to, and not buying a dryer at all. We have a laundry line for the summer, and we think we can dry our clothes pretty well in front of our wood stove insert in the winter. Either way, it looks like the dryer is a goner.
I bought a portable clothesline that is on a tripod. When its sunny outside I put it in the backyard, but when its rainy I bring it into the dining room under the fan near the wood stove. Works great even for towels. BTW I live in the Pacific NW in Puyallup.
I love my clothes line. It was a Christmas present (one I requested) a couple years ago. It is occupied with our sheets and pillow cases every sunny weekend from early March until late November. Past that the lines freeze and are subject to snapping. However, I did make my daughter a promise – sheets and pillow cases only. Occasionally bath mats. A well-meaning, frugal widow who lived right next to her school playground used to put everything on the line. EVERYTHING. Housecoats (‘shifts’), of course, but also ginormous bras and flowered underwear as big as pillowcases. My daughter said there are some things that just shouldn’t be dangled in front of impressionable young kids. So, at her request, sheets and pillowcases only…at least until my unmentionables are show-stoppingly noteworthy. 🙂
I raised 3 children without a dryer in an apartment in europe many years ago. It was awful always fiddling with clothes, turning them and hoping they would dry before they started to smell in the damp winters or spreading them among the too few heating elements around the apartment. No, not something I would wish on my worst enemy. In the summer when the kids were bigger and the wind was blowing not too bad, but careful of the sun fading their favorite shirt or a sudden cloud burst raining sand on a cleanly hung wash. No, thank you. I am older now and use my dryer any chance I can get for the 2 of us, I will cut corners elsewhere. For fine or expensive wear I agree hanging inside (out of sunlight), but not for young mothers and not for the bulk of washing. Kris 🙂
Does anyone have any experience with linen towels? They seem very expensive, but maybe they would dry a lot quicker and be a worthwhile investment. Thick cotton towels take forever to dry. I am thinking of trying to sew some (not too complicated, just hemming).