The Lost Art of Line-Drying Clothing: Benefits and Tips

Line-drying clothing isn’t the money-saver it once was, but there are several other benefits to rediscovering this seldom-used clothes-drying method.

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It seems not too many people line-dry clothing anymore.

I’ve been hanging my clothes outside and in the house for about 30 years. I seldom use the dryer.

I live in a dry climate, and I love hanging my clothes. They smell so good after being out in the sun all day.

Here’s a look at the benefits of line-drying clothing and some tips that can help make it an easier, more efficient experience if you decide to rediscover the lost art of line-drying clothing.

Some Benefits of Air-Drying Clothing

As dryers become more energy-efficient, you no longer save as much energy line-drying clothes as folks once did, but it does have a number of other benefits:

  • Longevity of Clothes: The tumbling process in dryers is often hard on clothes, leading to wear and tear over time. Line drying, on the other hand, is much gentler, which can extend the life of your clothes.
  • UV Sanitization: Sunlight has natural sanitizing properties and can help to kill bacteria and other germs on your clothes. This can be particularly beneficial for items like towels and bed linens.
  • Reduced Fire Risk: Clothes dryers, particularly those not properly maintained, can be a significant fire risk. Line drying eliminates this risk.
  • Fresher Smell: Many people enjoy the fresh, clean smell that comes from line-dried clothes, particularly those dried outdoors.
  • Whitening Effect: The sun can have a natural bleaching effect on some clothes, which can help to keep whites bright without the use of chemicals.

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A Few Drawbacks of Line-Drying Clothing

Line drying can take more time than using a dryer, and in humid or rainy weather, it may not be practical. Also, some clothes may also feel stiffer after line drying, especially towels and denim.

Tips for Line-Drying Clothes

Here are some tips for effectively line-drying clothes from some of our frugal readers who still practice the art:

Avoid Clothespin Marks

To avoid too obvious clothespin marks on t-shirts, hang them wrong side out from the shoulder where the ribbing and shoulder seam meet. This keeps them from fading as well.

For shirts that button up the front, fold the collars forward and clothespin them there. Not only does this hide the marks, but also it keeps the outside collar from fading. Plus, if your old clothes pins leave marks on white shirts, it’s hidden when it’s being worn. It’ll wash out next time.

Reduce Wrinkles

I don’t iron. Therefore, when I hang clothes, I straighten all cuffs, hems, pockets, etc., so they need no ironing when they are dry. If they do, I use a spray bottle of DIY wrinkle releaser. Plain water works great, too.

Also, shake out each piece to help remove wrinkles.

Hang sheets folded in half by the outside edges, not in the middle. By doing this, there’s no major crease in the middle.

Hang Clothing Properly

Hang clothes in a way that minimizes creases and speeds up drying.

For example, shirts can be hung by the hem rather than the shoulders to prevent shoulder marks. Pants can be hung by the cuffs.

Time of Day

If possible, try to hang your clothes out in the morning to allow them maximum sun and breeze exposure throughout the day.

Check the Weather

Always check the weather forecast before hanging your clothes outside. You don’t want your freshly washed clothes to get caught in a sudden downpour.

Turn Clothes Inside Out

To prevent colors from fading, especially in the strong sun, turn clothes inside out before hanging them.

Leave Space

Make sure you leave enough space between each piece of clothing on the line. This improves airflow and helps your clothes dry more quickly and evenly.

Don’t Overload the Line

While it might be tempting to hang as many clothes as possible, overloading your clothesline can cause it to sag or even break.

Think About Sequence

Hang heavier garments, like towels and jeans, on the outside lines. They will benefit most from the stronger sun and wind there. Lighter items can go in the middle lines.

Be Conscious of Birds

If birds are a problem in your area, consider using an umbrella-style clothesline that can be folded and covered when not in use.

Be Careful Leaving Clothes Out Overnight

You can leave clothes out overnight if needed, but be sure to shake them out before bringing them in. This will awaken any flies, moths or other wildlife and encourage them to stay outdoors.

Remember that line drying is more of an art than a science, and you’ll likely develop your own methods and tricks over time. Enjoy the process and the many benefits it brings!

Reviewed May 2023

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