Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hang Dry Laundry Year Round- Even In Seattle

how to dry laundry

Dryers use a lot of energy to run, and reduce the life of your clothes. As a teenager I realized that all the lint that the dryer collected was evidence of my clothes gradually falling apart, and I started using a laundry rack to hang dry anything I really cared about. Generic socks, t-shirts, and towels still went in the dryer, but if I wanted something to last a long time I would hang it up instead.

This continued for years, until we bought our house and could set up a larger outdoor drying area, with space to dry a whole load of laundry on two fold-up racks:


how to hang dry laundry
The bungee cord keeps a wobbly rack from tipping over.

While dryers do suck the life out of your laundry, they also fluff it up nicely, leaving items softer than they might be when they hang dry. I find this is really only a problem with towels, and occasionally with jeans and socks. Most everything else still ends up being pretty soft after haning dry. If the stiffness bothers you, you can always toss a few things in the dryer for about 3 minutes, on an "air" cycle, just to fluff them up. For me, I've come to accept of bit of stiffness and no longer expect my towels to be "downy soft". Usually after one use, or right after I put the stiff jeans on, they soften up on their own anyway.

While we don't live in Seattle proper, we "benefit" from their notorious weather patterns. It's wet. The typical clothesline setup would only work for about 3 months a year here, so we have to hang laundry someplace where it's protected from the weather. For a while, our only covered outdoor area was the front porch, and in the wet months I dried our laundry there. Not the most inviting sight for a front porch, but I was committed to this energy-saving method.

Seeking a solution that was somewhat less visible, Nik built a fiberglass extension to our roof on the back of the house. The light comes through, but not the rain. Now we have a dry area, on the sunny southwest corner of our house, where a whole load of laundry can hang in relative privacy. 

How to hang dry laundry outside

In winter, it can admittedly take a couple days for heavier things to dry, but in summer they will often dry faster than they would in a dryer. When the wind blows the rain sideways, they can still get wet or get blown off the racks, but all in all it's very effective and easy. 


covered outdoor area

The roof extension also provides handy dry storage for bikes & trikes, and other outdoor kid toys as well as Nik's motorcycle projects. It's been very handy!

Update: I have upgraded from these flimsy wooden folding racks, to one that I absolutely love. It is so clean and sturdy, can hold an entire large load of laundry, and folds up easily when not in use. I've been using it for over a year now, and am so happy with it. It feels like it will last forever. I'm linking the ad for it below; if you decide to purchase it through my ad link, I will earn a little income. Thanks in advance!


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September 1, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Just found you blog through Frugally Sustainable. Where did you find the larger clothes rack? I have found some online that I would like to have, but they are quite expensive. Right now I make do with a small rack and a clothesline in our basement, but only dry about half of our clothing that way. I would love to do all of it if possible!

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Anonymous
September 1, 2012 at 12:13 PM

We live in the Seattle area too and I hang dry most of our laundry in the garage. I have two clothesline hung up high and I hang a lot of stuff on hangers to dry--I can reach up and hook the hangers over the high up lines easily, but they are high enough we can duck under the laundry and the car hood fits under too. I hang jeans on the pant hangers with clips and socks over hangers too. You get more space on the line with hangers I've found, so I can get large loads of laundry all hung on the two short lines that way. I try to keep the garage door open as much as possible to let fresh air in.

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September 1, 2012 at 12:15 PM

My mom gave the wooden one to me, I'll have to ask her where she found it. The metal one we found used at the thrift store. The big one really is better for getting a whole load dry!

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September 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM

That sounds like a great idea! Is there some way that you keep the hangers from sliding together, so there's still space between the clothes? What a great use of garage space.

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Kat
September 4, 2012 at 10:15 AM

hi there, just found you (from an oregon cottage!) ! i will be your newest follower when i get done with this comment! :) i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE to hang my clothes outside....being from l.a. and moving to nevada i utilize the las vegas sun, now the boulder city sun to dry my things! at 114 deg this summer, lets say things got really dry really fast! sharing my latest find! a clothesline pole from True Value! it was in a icky box...i laughed cause i didnt know what it was...the salesgirl said it was a clothesline pole with all the attachments, all in tact too, been there about 30 years! what a crack up! i was laughing it said 17.28 on it! needless to say it was in the basket, have to order a new one at the tune of 30.00 bucks! wow but they will match! i cannot wait to get it into the ground! love your blog!stop by for a visit sometime? I also love seattle area, i would live there in a heartbeat if someone would help move all my stuff up there! lol i'm only one woman!!! lol :) hugs kat =^.^=

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September 4, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Funny - I also just shared my post on air-drying laundry! We live in an apartment with only a small balcony so I dry everything inside. I use a couple of metal folding racks and an indoor clothesline that I installed in our second bedroom (sort of like a garage, since it also holds our freezer and dehydrator). It works really well for me. Your setup looks great, too. I guess it goes to show that there are a lot of ways to get around using the dryer!

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September 4, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Great solution! Hanging clothes out is such a relaxing endeavor. Enjoy!

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September 4, 2012 at 12:20 PM

I love this! We got rid of our dryer about a month or two ago and put out a clothesline on the balcony. We have a drying rack inside for the underwear. I am just so excited that more people are doing this, I feel like I am part of a movement or something. :)

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September 4, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Nice, that's a great way to look at it!

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September 6, 2012 at 7:21 AM

Just wondering if your clothes sour when they take more than a couple hours to dry. And if not do you know why? I hang clothes up sometimes, too, but if they aren't dry quickly enough they sour and then smell terrible.

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September 6, 2012 at 8:43 AM

Do you hang yours outside? I think the fresh air and breeze probably help. I'm also a big proponent of spreading out clothes neatly, so they're not overlapping and they'll really dry quicker. In the first photo above, my partner had hung the laundry, and you can see it's kind of haphazard. It takes longer this way, and you kind of have to rotate things so every part of them dries. He does it his way, and I try not to complain ;) When I hang the laundry, none of it touches, and everything is as spread out as it can be. I've only had clothes get sour if I left them in the washer overnight. I try to only wash a load if we'll be around to hang it up soon after it's done.

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September 6, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Yes, towels are the one thing I don't like dried outside.

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September 6, 2012 at 9:49 AM

I like your covered but non-light-blocking laundry drying area! I line-dry all my laundry in the basement. Since it's a dry basement with no odor problem, it works very well. In a space with exposed rafters/joists on the ceiling, like my basement or your roof extension, you can hang clotheslines by taking two scrap boards, cutting a notch in each side a couple inches from one end, and nailing the other end to a rafter/joist so that the board hangs vertically. Tie the clothesline around the two boards through the notches, creating two parallel lines.

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September 6, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Sometimes I overlap them, so maybe that is the cause. Usually in the summer I have no problems, unless I forget them in the washer, but I understand when that is the cause. I know the sun has helped get the sour smell out of towels and washcloths and other things that stay damp inside if not hung carefully.

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September 6, 2012 at 2:56 PM

My partner has built something similar, a line-strung frame that hangs from the roof. I'll get pics of it up soon! It's definitely better than wobbly racks!

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September 6, 2012 at 10:56 PM

What a great post. I have been asking my hubby for a clothesline since last year. My birthday is coming up. Maybe I can get that clothesline. Thanks for the added motivation to put a fire under him. I love your racks and the snazzy shelter your hubby made. Thanks for sharing.

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Jen
September 7, 2012 at 6:40 AM

Because my dryer just died I have been hanging my clothes lately anyway. But I am contemplating keeping up this method. (Still will have to buy a dryer for resale value of our home as we may be moving soon), but I love that I am saving on electricity and not killing my clothes. I do miss the soft towels though. That is my only complaint. I've had to dry my clothes indoors as I live in an HOA community. I'm pretty sure I would get a notice if I tried to put it outside, which is too bad because the weather here is perfect for outside air drying. It might even make my towels fluffier. Thanks for the tips!

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September 7, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Maybe that's a rule that can eventually be changed with the HOA, if you and a couple of neighbors approach them. There are possibly more visually attractive ways of doing it. I really think we are moving in the direction of everyone needing to consume as little energy as possible.
Make sure you have plenty of ventilation if you dry clothes inside in the winter time. We dried our clothes inside our last apartment during winter, and had a bit of a mold problem on some walls. I don't think the mold was solely due to the laundry, but it certainly didn't help. I wasn't aware back then that moisture needs a way out!

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September 7, 2012 at 7:15 AM

If your hubby's crafty, you can ask him to build an even better rack. I no longer use the racks that I photographed for this post, since Nik built a wonderful hanging clothesline frame. The clothesline crisscrosses back and forth between the frame posts, and it's all suspended from the roof he built. Then, there's a pully to lift and lower the whole rack. It's great, and holds a lot more clothes than those folding racks. There are lots of ways to hang clothes though; maybe you guys will come up with an even better solution!

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September 7, 2012 at 11:03 AM

I'm in Philly, and it's been raining for a week here. I have been using the dryer even though I hate it. Our basement is just too damp, and with the humidifier running, I didn't want to add to the load.

In the winter, when the furnace is on, I have drying racks set up by the furnace. Even diapers dried much faster in that spot.

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September 7, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Oh I am in Ontario Canada and use clothing racks all year long. I bought an old antique huge one at an auction and it actually holds a whole front load washer full of clothes best $25 I ever spent. I use a bungee cord to stabilize also:) When the weather is bad in the winter you know snow freezing rain or just cold I put them in my basement near the wood stove. I hardly ever have to turn on the dryer maybe only a couple of minutes in the winter for towels they get a little hard drying by the wood stove. B

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September 7, 2012 at 3:23 PM

I'm in north Georgia and there's a lot of humidity here - not to mention constant rain.
I dry most of my clothing by hanging them on hangers and then hanging those hangers on my shower curtain rod. I even bought a tension-spring shower rod and put that inside the enclosure for the shower/tub, spacing it half-way between the wall and the original rod. It gives me two rods to hang my laundry. I also bought a $1.00 little device that's made of plastic. It has octopus-like arms with clips attached. It hangs upside-down when not in use, so it takes just a little space. Turn it right-side up and the arms hang down and you can clip your laundry to it. It hangs over the shower curtain rod with the rest of the clothing. Since my house is small and my bathroom doesn't get a lot of air exchange, I turn on a small fan and let it blow on the hung laundry so it circulates the air. Usually, if I hang it in the evening, by morning the laundry is dry.

This setup lets me do two full loads of laundry and I don't have to worry about whether or not it's going to rain. And as a added bonus, my clothes don't fade from being in the sun.

As to the laundry going sour when hanging - not only hang things so they aren't bunched up, but make sure you're not using too much laundry detergent. My clothing was more likely to sour until I started using homemade laundry soap and using white vinegar to rinse the clothes. For some reason, commercial detergents seem to build up in clothing and seemed to make my clothing more likely to sour. Even in the GA heat and humidity, I can let the clothing sit in my washer for about 24 hrs and it still hasn't started getting musty. For heavier things like sheets that I use a drying rack, I fold the sheet in quarters and then hang over the rack (so it fits the rack). I let it dry for several hours,then turn the folded sheet over so the other side has a chance to dry. I check it again in another couple of hours to make sure the "inside" half that hasn't been exposed to the air is dry. If it isn't, I unfold the sheet and refold it so that the inner section is exposed to the air to dry.

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September 10, 2012 at 7:13 PM

I really should do better about hanging laundry. We must have a huge washer because a loaf of our clothes I do not think would fit on two of those, but perhaps I should try.

Thanks for linking up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday, hope to see you there Wednesday.

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September 10, 2012 at 11:53 PM

Great idea! We have even worse weather in our area, but I have a well ventilated foyer, so that is where I put my drying racks. As do many of my neighbors. You can walk through the neighborhood and see everybody's laundry drying through the front windows. :)

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September 11, 2012 at 7:13 AM

I've been wanting to hang my laundry outdoors to dry, but weather has always been a concern. Of course, here in the southern United States, weather is ideal for line drying... most days. I do have a covered patio that I could utilize if it rains, though... You've got my wheels turning. ;)

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September 12, 2012 at 9:13 AM

How creative. What a great idea. Thank you so much for sharing with Wednesdays Adorned From Above Link Party last week. This weeks Link Party is opened at
http://www.adornedfromabove.com/2012/09/reeses-smore-brownies-and-wednesdays.html
from Wednesday until Sunday.
Hope to see you there.
Debi Bolocofsky
Adorned From Above
www.adornedfromabove.com

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Anonymous
September 12, 2012 at 1:10 PM

I live 2 hrs. north of Seattle. I've been hanging our family laundry dry for about 25 years now, all year long, except I do have space in a separate inside living area to put up to 6 laundry racks (one is an extra large, 6 foot tall, 4 or 5 foot wide rack I found in Lehmann's catalog) at once. It will take about a day to dry with the warmer indoor temperatures, and I fluff in our gas dryer for about 10 minutes to make sure all the moisture is out of the seams and creases. I get all our laundry washed and hung in very little time, then the next day in about an hour or so, it is all fluffed and folded and done.

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September 13, 2012 at 5:09 AM

I love your dedication to hanging your laundry out! I pinned and featured this on Your Green Resource!

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September 13, 2012 at 7:23 AM

Until I get a real T string type clothes line, I've been doing the same thing with my two folding racks. Except I use milk jugs filled with water to anchor the bungies. :)

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September 15, 2012 at 1:38 PM

It still knocks me out when I read about places in the US where you are not 'allowed' to dry laundry outside in your garden WTF. I have never used a dryer and hang mine outside on the line in the summer and dry on an airer in the winter. So it stands in the corner of the living room and gets in the way, so what, it's free.
Nice to see the idea is catching on :-)
thanks for sharing
martine

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September 17, 2012 at 3:56 AM

For those of you looking for a good pop up dry rack, IKEA makes an AWESOME one that is really inexpensive (considering how great it is). http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50095091/

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November 23, 2012 at 12:45 AM

Thanks for giving such a nice post on Seattle garage door. In this post, you gave very valuable information for Garage Door.

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December 26, 2012 at 10:43 PM

Hi, What an awesome post ever. its very nice and informative. Thanks for sharing.

dry clothes gold coast


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January 8, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Great energy saving ideas! Thanks for sharing on the Winter on the HomeAcre Hop!

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January 8, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Isn't it awesome? I dry clothing through the winter too. (I'm in Maine.) It saves me about $15/month on electricity by doing so. My old wooden rack finally broke down in December, so I got an umbrella-style metal one from Amazon for $35. It holds about 2 loads. It's awesome! Folds up when not in use, and pops up when I need it! I have it near heating vents and in less than a day my clothing is dry. Stopping by from Winter on the HomeAcre blog hop. First time linking up!

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January 8, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Those metal ones seem really great! Nik recently built me a very cool hanging rack, so I no longer use the folding wooden ones either. I haven't got pictures up yet of the new system, but I will soon!

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January 22, 2013 at 10:34 AM

These look great! Can't wait to try them out. Found you from the Growing Home blog hop we both did! I'm your newest follower. Hope you'll return the favor and follow my blog and/or FB fan page!
http://www.countrifiedhicks.com
http://www.facebook.com/countrifiedhicks

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January 22, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Thanks, I'll check it out!

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January 22, 2013 at 6:26 PM

I hang our clothes on hangers in the doorways of the bedrooms in the winter months. The heat dries them in less than a day, and since we're not in and out of the bedrooms much during the day, it's only a minor inconvenience.

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January 22, 2013 at 7:14 PM

I like that idea- but we have to be careful about excess moisture in our house. We used to hang our laundry in our old apartment, and one winter we got a pretty bad mold problem, not just from the clothes drying inside, but I'm sure that didn't help. I really want to avoid mold in our house. If your house is drafty or kept pretty warm it probably won't be an issue.

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Anonymous
January 24, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Use clothespins on the line as "stops" to prevent the hangers from sliding together. I do this on my line outside. It keeps the breeze and gravity from clumping the hangers together. I also put hangers in between other items that are pinned to the line.

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January 24, 2013 at 6:42 PM

That sounds like a great idea. I've got to start using clothespins to keep delicate things from occasionally blowing to the ground!

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January 31, 2013 at 10:04 AM

I just came to this post again via Your Green Resource. Since I last commented, I have posted pictures of my clothesline hangers. It's the kind of idea that is hard to picture from a verbal description.

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April 24, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Nice work .Thanks for the share. Keep up writing so that we can get more informative blogs like this one.
Seattle Roofing

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May 23, 2013 at 1:52 PM

We hang a lot of our laundry inside!

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June 6, 2013 at 1:47 PM

It seems like a well thought out set-up! I do the same, air dry my "good" tops and some other things. I do sometimes throw them into the dryer on the air dry setting, as you said. It softens up anything that isn't feeling soft.

Thanks for linking up to The Creative HomeAcre Blog Hop!

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July 16, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Oh great idea!!! Thanks for sharing with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! I hope to see you again today! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/07/eco-kids-tuesday.html

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July 27, 2013 at 9:37 AM

I actually enjoy the stiff feeling of line-dried clothes and towels: that and the sweet smell fabrics get from sun exposure is the obvious proof that things are _clean_! (And it does save a bundle on electricity. And reduces your carbon footprint. A winning strategy all around!)

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Anonymous
January 4, 2014 at 6:20 AM

It usually is down to overlapping, which causes poor air circulation. Hanging on a line is better. The covered area shown above is great, but would probably work better with a line rather than using airers. I use a 4-line retractable airer (like the one here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/12ft-Retractable-Clothes-Line-lines/dp/B0046GWSAO). These are widely available in the UK (so I imagine would be also in the US) and is ideal for any area like this. In yours, it could be mounted on the shed, and then the hook attached to the opposite rail. Although the lines look quite thin, it's actually quite a strong gadget, as long as it's mounted properly.

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Anonymous
May 12, 2015 at 9:54 PM

I am originally from France, there, to this day driers are hardly found or seen. Floors are usually tile so in the winter clothe get hung in the bathroom to dry or where ever there is tile flooring. I was a huge fan of driers, until I went back and realised my clothe would get damaged and look less than new very fast. Yet, my family of girls were still passing clothe around older than I am that had returned to fashion 20-30 years later. Those clothe looked brand new! I thought maybe the clothe were better quality? Nope, turned out the only difference was the drier/vs. air drying!!! The stiffness does bother me though but not enough to go back to the drier as I love the look of "new" clothe (you know with out those fluffy balls you get when clothe get worn.)

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Anonymous
May 12, 2015 at 9:55 PM

By the way, I have a hard time finding blogs that I enjoy and yours is really wonderful!

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