My clothes get to hang out (Day 230)…


That, above, is my dryer (and that little striped piece of cloth at the bottom is my reusable anti-static dryer sheet). The clothes sitting in there are the last this appliance will see until Day 366 of my challenge because from now on, I’m hanging all my clothes on a drying rack instead.

This is another big change for me — I love my dryer and I hate stiff, crinkly underwear. On a cold winter’s day, there’s nothing more comforting than pulling on a freshly cleaned, hot-out-of-the-dryer hoodie and tucking into some homemade mashed potatoes with lots of organic butter.

Plus, now that I’m barely using my iron anymore, it means there’ll be even more wrinkles to contend with.

One catch to this, though: I’m still going to use my dryer for towels and bed linens. If I was able to hang stuff outside to dry, I wouldn’t make this exception, but my condo regulations clearly state that we’re not allowed to hang anything off our balcony rail — and I’m probably not allowed to string up a clothesline in our courtyard, either.

35 Responses to My clothes get to hang out (Day 230)…

  1. Alina says:

    Nice one. But wait… do your regulations say you cannot hang anything off the rail or are they specific to clotheslines of any kind? Because you could string some lines on the inside… What I mean is this .

  2. pat farquharson says:

    Clothelines are not allowed in the city!!
    Why not throw other stuff in with the towels and sheets. The dryer is on for a certain amount of time so use it wisely!

  3. Janet says:

    I hang my clothes up to dry also and I also hate stiff clothes. I’ve found that, after they are dry, if you throw them in the dryer for a few minutes, even without any heat, they’ll…..un-stiffen?….de-stiff?….get softer. So, if you’re drying your sheets and towels anyway, throw your other clothes in for the last couple of minutes to soften them.

  4. Britta says:

    Ditto to Janet. We also make the exception for one load of socks/underware/towels, plus another load for sheets/blankets. Those are our only two dryer loads. I know you can go further than this, but it’s what we’re currently at.

  5. ashley says:

    I live in an apartment in the city and dry my towels inside…we have an indoor clothesline!! So easy. Also — check this out, it’s super helpful, I tried this advice and it worked>

    “Listen carefully, because here is the secret of soft clothes without drier or softener: DO NOT OVERDRY. Big mistake. That is the very cause of cardboard stiff jeans off the line. I can’t really describe it better than this: clothes should not feel wet, but should feel cold to the touch. A little moisture should still be left but not too much.”

  6. Alina says:

    Oh cool. Someone other than me is promoting me 😀

    -Closet Environmentalist

  7. anon says:

    Shower curtain rods are good for drying sheets – the trick is to hang one sheet only at a time along the whole length of the rod. It’s obviously easier with single sheets, but I do it successfully with queen sized ones.

    Another trick is to dry shirts, etc on hangers, at least if they’re going to be hung in the closet. Saves you an extra step putting the dry clothes away.

  8. limesarah says:

    If you have two drying racks, you can hang sheets up across them. Giving pants and shirts a good stiff shake while still wet will get some of the worst wrinkles out.

  9. birdandbee says:

    I also read somewhere that your sheets will last longer if you dry them in the dryer until they’re still slightly damp, and then hang to dry. I’ve been doing this on my shower curtain rod, like suggested above. it only takes maybe 20 minutes and they feel a little softer somehow, plus there are fewer wrinkles because it’s weighing itself down. taking the sheets out of the dryer a little early also either leave room for you to toss in a few extra things like suggested by other people, or if just your towels are in there, they’ll dry more quickly and maybe you can turn the dryer off early because of it…

  10. Chile says:

    I’ve mentioned this other places but haven’t heard if anyone has tried it. Yes, the air-tumble in the dryer helps soften stiff line-dried clothes and towels. But the real secret to soft as machine-dried is to air-tumble them for 5 minutes before hanging them on the line. It doesn’t make sense that tumbling them wet would do any good, but it does. I discovered this only because I was trying to get more of the dog fur off the clothes!

  11. emily says:

    Ooh, I’m so glad you’re doing this! I hope that it will work out better than expected for you, so you decide that it rocks and you can keep on doing it after day 366. 🙂

    One thing that I do is wash and dry everything inside out (all socks, underwear, pants, shirts), so that when I fold, I have to turn back rightside out, shake, and sometimes fiddle with the seams. That helps the fabric feel flexible again. And if it doesn’t–I guess I’ve just begun associating that feeling with cleanliness.

  12. Oh, well done! I dread being without my dryer. I don’t think I could dry all the kids’ stuff and my stuff – let alone towels and bedlinen – without it. But I feel so bad about how much I use it…

  13. dinsky says:

    I agree with Chile, I put everything in the dryer for five minutes before hanging it on the line. It makes all the difference in the world!

    It kinda irks me that clotheslines are BANNED in certain places, they’re so pretty, and so much better for the environment. I’m sure people out there have their reasons for not liking them, but really, what’s the harm of having a clothesline?

  14. Kate says:

    My husband and I have been doing this for a while now, except for sheets and towels (we really only have 1 set of sheets, and we usually want them back on the bed ASAP for a nap since we do them on the weekend).

    We determined that 4 loads of clothes exceeds the capacity of our apartment; We have enough space for at least 3 loads of clothes to hang up. I broke our drying rack in an incident that crushed it to pieces and was unfixable, really. We use our curtain rods (we have blinds as well) in the living room and bedroom to hang underwear and socks, and put everything else on hangers, basically, even if it doesn’t stay there. Then things get hung on the shower rod, the divider curtain rod, door knobs and everywhere else we can find space to hang. Overnight, most everything is dry and you can take it down so your place no longer looks crazy.

  15. rejin says:

    I’ve been doing this for a while now, too, usually inside. This summer I took my drying rack outside for the first time and added a clothesline. Everything dried so quickly and smelled so fresh, especially on a sunny day. You get used to the stiffness – I don’t notice it anymore.

  16. Great work, Vanessa. I’m encouraged by all of the little steps you’re taking to become more green – and cumulatively, yet!

    Sheets and towels are a challenge, for sure. I also live in a small condo/apartment that has banned outdoor clotheslines so I hang my things inside (I live in dry-Cochrane, AB, so this adds much-needed moisture to my air, but since you live in humid ON, I don’t think you’d feel the same way). Have you seen the ceiling-mounted clothes lines that are oh-so ubiquitous in Europe? They might just fit the bill for you. The link I’ve included here should lead you to some that are sold (and made!) in Canada.

  17. Marcie says:

    I dry my clothes on a drying rack, but just can’t do towels on a drying rack. They turn into paper and its a little uncomfortable….Let at least a soft towel be the ONE luxury in your bathing experience!!!!

    PS. I use those silly dryer balls (you could use tennis balls) to help dry the towels faster. I don’t know if it really works, but it makes towels more fluffy.

  18. Carrie says:

    I’ve been trying to dry most of our clothes on a drying rack inside too. The funny thing is they are NOT crispy, and I’ve been trying to figure out why! I guess it must be the cold, rainy weather we’ve been having. It takes around 2 days to dry and I guess at that rate they just dry too slowly to get crispy? If they’re not dry over two days though I chuck them in the dryer for 5-10 minutes. I figure that’s still better than a whole cycle!

  19. Sarah says:

    Why are clotheslines banned in some US cities and what would happen if you put one up anyway? I can see the headlines now…….

  20. kim says:

    i would worry too much about wrinkles and stiffness. i dry all my clothes by hanging them (i figure the dryer’s just going to shrink or stretch fabrics out, fade the colour, make fabrics pill and waste energy). what i do for wrinkles is that i hang my laundry immediately after the washer is done. the more it sits around and dries in a crumpled pile in the machine, the wrinklier it’ll get (yah, i make up words 😛 ). then i shake it out, and i’ll gently tug on each article of clothing along the seamline to pull out the kinks and wrinkles without deforming the shape. so for example, with jeans i’ll hold onto each end of a leg and pull it out straight and then hang everything to dry. towels and sheets can hang on railings, over the tops of doors and on shower rods. i’ve also seen people put up temporary clothes lines inside their apartments (like just tie up a string across your furniture and take it down the next day when it’s all dry)
    oh, and with stiffness, the fabric usually softens up a bit once you put it on and it conforms to your body.
    good luck

  21. Leah Ingram says:

    Why not find a happy medium for using your dryer less and having the softer clothes you prefer?
    That’s what I’ve done. First, I make sure that I don’t skip the spin cycle in the washer, because that extracts a ton of moisture from my clothes, thus lessening the drying time. Next, I put the clothes in the dryer on high for five minutes. Then, piece by piece, I take them out, put them on hangers and hang them up to dry. No worries about clotheslines or items hanging over railings–I’ve got them hung up in my laundry room and bathroom. (Also great for introducing moisture into dry winter air, come winter, that is.) Overall, I’m using the dryer on everyday clothes a lot less. Like you, though, I do draw the no-dryer line at towels and sheets. You can read more of my frugal and green laundry tips here:

    Leah Ingram

  22. magda says:

    Yay! I am so glad that you are making this change. Congratulations! Clothes dryers really are ridiculous energy hogs and major contributors to global warming. And the clothes get dry by themselves. Once you do this for a bit, it really becomes no big deal. I have not noticed this crinkliness of underpants of which you speak- it is true that the towels are not as soft, but you get used to it. It is INSANE that clotheslines are banned in most communities. Maybe as another green change, you could start a letter writing campaign to your condo people and/or your city to allow clotheslines….

  23. Toby says:

    I taught English in Korea for a year and found an odd thing. South Korea is a technological paradise. They make and use all sorts of advanced gadgetry. But despite all this shiny technology, they don’t use clothes dryers. They make fabulously advanced washers and driers, but there are no dryers to be seen in peoples’ homes, even the large homes of wealthy families. This annoyed me to no end. I wanted my soft clothes and warmed sweaters in the winter.

    But eventually I realized what a ridiculous device the dryer is. Spending money, using energy, and polluting for something that can be done for free with the air around us and (if you’re lucky) the sunlight. I’ve recently switched to air drying everything, although I will give my towels a quick tumble to soften them up from time to time.

    I applaud your decision to start air-drying. I’m surprised that it took until 230 for you to get to this. I agree with magda, though. You shouldn’t just accept the rules of your condo. It is insanity that we live in a society discussing biofuels and hybrid cars when many places BAN something as wonderful and green as the clothesline. Greening isn’t just about changing the way you live, it’s about changing the world. We should all work to repeal rules and laws against clotheslines, etc. That will really help the planet.

  24. Victoria says:

    I live in Glasgow and dry everything in the flat. If you have things that you really can’t wear creased try drying it on a hanger. My husband does this with his shirts and it works quite well. You can dry sheets and towels without them turning to cardboard, just don’t leave them up too long. You can hang them over the doors to get them off the floor. Plus, I have found not tumble drying my clothes makes them last longer and the clean clothes will make your flat smell lovely!

  25. nichole says:

    I would LOVE to start doing this more! But come winter, even the towels I use when I shower don’t dry. We don’t turn on the heat unless we’re home and sitting by it. Anyone live in a similar climate to Seattle and can show me the way?! : )

  26. Rachel says:

    I’m here to say that line drying can be done even in families with children. I always sporadically used the clothesline, so when our dryer broke almost a year ago we didn’t replace it. I have three children, two cats, and a dog, so there have been challenging times, but I kept at it because I didn’t have the option of “cheating” with the dryer. One caveat, I do live in the desert SW, in a windy area, so often my clothes are dry quicker than they would be n a dryer. It would be a lot harder if I lived in a humid climate. And for towels- I’ve found that while my cheaper, older towels dry stiff as a board our newer cushier towels stay soft while drying. Also, everyone in the family has a bath robe, so we don’t really use towels on a daily basis, and the bathrobes don’t get washed all that often (we’re clean when we use them, rignt?) so they stay soft.

  27. Cricket says:

    The dryer doesn’t save clothes, so much as the sun will wear them out faster. It fades them (the part that sees more sun fades first) and the sunlight breaks down the fibres. However, given all the other things that wear out clothes, as long as you take them in when dry, you won’t see any difference.

    Even in Ontario, our homes are dry in the winter. Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air, so if you take cold air that’s saturated and warm it up, it gains room for more water. Drying the clothes in the house helps. (Venting a dryer into the house is not good. Hot fabrics, especially elastics and synthetics, give off nasty gases, and if your house is nicely sealed, those gases hang around.)

  28. sylvia says:

    Here in the UK we cannot understand all the fuss about hanging out washing on a good drying day. This make financial & environment sense as well as being quite fun on a nice day. I have done this for over 30 years, as have all my friends. have not found clothes have faded – more likely to shrink in a dryer. However when the weather is bad just use a dryer. COMMON SENSE is all that’s needed. In the UK most people use an umbrella style dryer, you can always put clothes likely to fade in the centre if you want to.

    In the UK even people living in quite up market properties use a washing line. No one thinks anything of it. In the pretigious Times newspaper a person asked for advice about an “annoying” neighbour who hung out washing in front of house. The complainer was accused of being the annoying one – in these days of global warming they should shut up a put up!!

  29. Sally says:

    If hanging washing on lines are an issue there are always rotary washing lines these are unobtrusive and take up little space I use these in the back garden and the clothes dry fine, I try not use a drier I prefer the fresh air on the clothes as they dry.

  30. Hi, I am the inventor of the Tibbe-Lines, an easier more efficient way of doing laundry (air dry). The Tibbe-Line is multi-functional in that it not only can be used to air dry clothes on an already existing clothesline but also can be made into a PORTABLE CLOTHESLINE, that can be used at home or taken with you, use it just about any where (camping, traveling, vacationing etc.) HANGERS ARE USED INSTEAD OF CLOTHESPINS AND YOU CAN HANG 21 PIECES OF CLOTHES IN THE SPACE OF 39″. To make a portable clothesline simply (1) attach a length of rope, twine, cord or bungee from point A to point B (go to my website at (WWW.TIBBELINE.COM) to see portable clothesline shown between 2 trees), (2) slip the Tibbe-Lines onthe rope or bungee, (3) hang clothes on hangers and (4) slip hanger on Tibbe-Lines.

    You can use a clothes dryer, but it is not necessary.

    This is how I do my laundry: I wash a load of clothes, put the whole load in the dryer for 5 to 15 minutes, take the whole load out of the dryer, shake each article of clothing and hanag on hanger, then hang on Tibbe-Line. (THE TIBBE-LINES CAN BE USED INDOORS/OUTDOORS) And while my laundry is air drying, I am free to do something else and because the clothes are already on hangers I just have to bring them in the house.

    The Tibbe-Lines can also be used to transport clothing in a vehicle: Slip a Tibbe-Line on a 10″ or 11″ bungee, hang clothes on hangers, slip hanger onto Tibbe-Line and hang vertically on clip provided in vehicle. The Tibb-Line can also be used as a space saver in a closet (home, camper, motorhome, college dorms) GOOD FOR SMALL SPACES. They can be especially useful for people in wheelchairs, giving them easier access to their clothes in the closet. To make a space saving closet extension: attach a 24″or 36″ bungee on the closet rod, (bungee will hang vertically, slip on a Tibbe-Line, put clothes on Tibbe-Lines. The clothes will then hang down lower in the closet, giving easier access to clothes.

    I have cut my laundry time by more thanhalf as well as cutting down on my electricity consumption and my electric bill has gone down as well. So every time I use the Tibbe-Lines I save time, space, money, energy, our environment as well as adding longevity to my clothes.

    Due to the state of our economics and environment, people are looking for ways to save money, time and help to keep our environment from deteriorating any more than it already has.

    If you have any questions or comments please feel free to call or email me 719-544-7673 or http://WWW.TIBBELINE.COM

    , energy, our environment as well as adding longevity to my clothes.

  31. Chelsea says:

    I’ve been doing a lot of research on drying racks and airers etc. and put all my findings up on a wiki page. Check it out if you’re thinking about purchasing and indoor or outdoor drying rack and add your wisdom! –>

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  33. Audrey Greve says:

    I maybe use a drier once a year.

    Can someone please tell me why you want soft towels and then buy those scratchy things to scrub with in the shower?

    And have you noticed how sweatshirts, including hoodies, shrink in the drier?

  34. Melissa says:

    Our dryer broke about a month a go and I have resorted to hanging up all of our clothes to dry. One exception is towels which I take to the laundromat. For sheets I give a good shake, and use a clip hanger. I clip one side and then loop the other side and clip it as well. The sheets usually dry faster than the clothes 🙂

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