Living Large Tip of the Week: Hanging Clothes out to Dry

We all want to save money these days. Most “green” tips will actually help save you money and this one is no different.

I’ve been hanging most of my laundry out to dry for a long time.

It not only saves our clothes from wearing out as fast by fading and shrinking, it saves us on energy.

I didn’t realize how much until I did a test for an article I wrote. (I do dry some things such as towels and furniture covers.)

When I looked at the electric meter during that test, it was spinning way too fast and I knew each head-spinning whirl was costing us big bucks.

How much?

According to the Consumer Energy Center, the dryer is the second most energy using appliance, next to the refrigerator. It costs an average of $85 annually to use and over $1,500 over the course of the lifetime of the unit.

The bonus is that it is a very environmentally friendly thing to do and when using wooden clothespins instead of plastic, completely green.

If it’s cold outside or you cannot hang your clothes out to dry due to silly Homeowner Association rules, hang your clothes inside.

During the winter, this adds valuable moisture to the air. It also makes our house smell fresh and clean!

Do you hang your clothes out to dry? Why do you prefer it?

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23 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    While researching backyard chickens, I was shocked to discover that my neighborhood covenant prohibits both poultry AND clotheslines.

    Back when we bought our house, nearly ten years ago, we were first time home buyers and we didn’t know much about the process. Not that anyone rushed to tell us that the neighborhood we were buying has extra restrictions put in place by the developer!

    I admit, when I discovered that we had a covenant and went to city hall to get a copy, I suspected poultry would be prohibited, despite the fact that it is legal in my city… But clotheslines?! Those monsters!

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, Sarah, most HOA covenants prevent clotheslines. I’m not sure where America went wrong in the American Dream of homeowner ship when we allowed the developers, who are long gone, dictate how we live. Surprisingly to me, the little “neighborhood” at the end of our road, where the lots were sold off in 5-acre plats, have similar rules. Thank goodness we don’t live at that end of the road!

  2. patty says:

    I hang my clothes out all the time. I’m sure it disturbs some of my neighbors, but so does their barking all the time dogs, and late pool parties. Line dried clothes smell great and it very GREEN!

    • Kerri says:

      Good for you, Patty. I like that attitude! “I’ll stop hanging my undies out when you stop your skinny dipping at midnight!” 🙂

  3. Deb Berning says:

    I forgot to mention that propane is much cheaper for dryer use. We put in propane prior to Y2K for dryer, hot water heater, and range.

  4. Deb Berning says:

    I hang clothes outdoors quite a bit, but it isn’t always so convenient. When we had 5 of us here I used it more as I hadn’t room to dry it on racks. We heat with wood and that’s a fast way to dry indoors. I wash ALL shoes/boots and they even dry overnight if we have the stove going pretty hot. I use wooden clothespins mostly, but have some plastic ones thta are bigger for jeans/coats. Dryer sheets aren’t really good for your skin, environment either. There are some natural ones, but it’s best to avoid those. Shake clothes out before hanging or use the dryer for 5 mins. to get the worst of the wrinkles out. My mom had to dry diapers outdoors or inside all the time as he had no dryer. I use cloth diapers, but have to admit I used the dryer some of the time.

  5. Susan says:

    I would only line dry unmentionables indoors because our yard is small enough that neighbors could see them on a laundry line (you probably don’t have that problem since you so much space). There’s a little ledge behind the shower that is perfect for a drying rack and surprisingly, that area doesn’t get very wet, even when someone takes a shower.

  6. sarah henry says:

    I come from a culture where clothes hanging is commonplace. When I first moved here 25 years ago now, people thought the practice either qauint, odd, or reflective of some kind of lower-class roots (none of which are true).

    And now look: It’s the groovy green thing to do.

  7. Kerri, lucky you. I sure miss my clothes line. They always smell so fresh and clean.

    • Kerri says:

      Mary, are you not able to hang your clothes out in your neighborhood there in Lakeview? I don’t really have a clothes line. I hang all of mine out on the deck from hangers!

  8. mat says:

    We hang dry in the summer.
    When our son was first born, there was a LOT more laundry to do and the costs were substantial. Now that he’s a older (read: not peeing out of his jammies twice a night), there’s so much less laundry to do and we save even more money. My wife tells me that with the space we’ve got, she can hang 1.5 out of every 2 loads she does (she feels funny about hanging out the…incidentals). And she says that as long as she uses fabric softener, it’s a superior way to dry clothes.
    I’d also like to point out that there are diverters that you can install in your dryer hose that allow you to direct all that nice, hot, moist air into your basement rather than out the wall. We’ve got one and it seems to work nicely–you just have to plug the driver vent hole in your wall with some insulation in a plastic bag.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks for the tip, Mat. Somehow, we forgot to include a dryer vent in our plan and our hot, moist air goes down there when I do use the dryer anyway! 😉 Thanks again for sharing with our community.

  9. Heather L. says:

    What do people use to dry clothes indoors? Do you just find places all over the house to lay them or is there a special rack? It sounds like a good idea, but outside here in the Northwest is only an option about two weeks out of the year.

    • mat says:

      We have laundry line strung in our basement, but you can only get so much on a 20′ line. You can also buy (or build) folding wooden drying racks. The store-bought ones seem to have about a 5-year lifespan. We’re getting to the end of life with our second one and I’m thinking about building the next one out of some lathe and dowels.

      • Kerri says:

        We used to use a drying rack at my parents house, as well as one of those open wardrobe things (I never have liked my shirts shrinking in the dryer). No room for that here. We have a clothes pole built over the washer and dryer in the laundry closet. I also lay sweaters on the table and over towel racks and chairs. In the city, I just hung clothes all over the basement and on the stair rail. Very good in the winter, as it gives your house extra moisture. I need that as I get bloody noses down here, especially with the wood heat.

  10. Olivia says:

    I have always line dried my laundry. Mom always did it as do most Islanders – most Maritimers, actually. One advantage of living on a windy little island is that line dried laundry never needs ironing – the wind blows everything dry wrinkle free. In the winter I hang dry indoors – the only things I might toss in the dryer in winter would be sheets and towels, due to lack of hanging space indoors, but even they go on the line outside when weather permits. DH tends to use the dryer which makes me c-r-a-z-y, especially since he always seems to run things through 2 cycles because “something” is always “damp” – once it was ONE SOCK!! As soon as I discovered it I took it out, of course.

    I have always used wooden clothespins but recently I bought some of the silicone tipped plastic ones for hanging knit fabrics such as t-shirts, etc. because they don’t leave the “funny marks” on knits that my kids always complained about. If it were a good sweater, of course, I would just lay it flat to dry.

    • Kerri says:

      Ugh, men. They do the darndest things! 😉 My husband will complain about a light being left on, but will then leave the television on all night as he falls asleep. Makes me crazy.