Monday, May 21, 2018

Ditching the Dryer - The Advantages and Disadvantages of Air Drying Laundry

It's been over ten years since I owned a clothes tumble dryer.  In truth, never would have thought that going without one would be feasible and it certainly wasn't intentional, at least at first. It just kind of happened. I left a snowy wintery climate and moved to a hot, dry area (extra hot and dry with drought at the time) into a rental without room for an indoor dryer. Not that needed one since I could barely get the basket fully pinned to the line before the fist items were already dry and ready to take in! Sizzle! Line drying and rack drying became my norm and despite moving through many homes since and across different less-cooperative climates, I've never gone back to having a stand alone tumble dryer. We like the air dried clothes/sheets, it's good for the environment, and it saves a bundle of electricity/money. It's definitely got a few disadvantages, but it works for us. 

Thinking about making a change in your laundry habits?  Here's some food for thought:

  • Appliance savings on purchase, maintenance, and (if applicable) moving
  • Avoid the fire safety risks of clothes dryer operations
  • Space that would have been occupied by a dryer can be used for other purposes
  • Environmentally friendly energy conservation - tumble dyers are particularly power hungry appliances
  • Corresponding cost savings on your energy bill
  • Clothes last longer without the wear of tumble drying
  • Avoid the risk of shrinking or heat damaging items not suitable for machine drying
  • Fresh air help your laundry smell fresh and naturally clean
  • Sunlight helps your laundry dry cleaner thanks to the sanitising effects of UV
  • Sunlight can help brighten whites
  • No static cling all naturally and less ironing required (if you're careful)

  • Extra cost of purchasing rack(s) and/or clothesline(s) if you are going to both line and machine dry
  • Installing and maintaining clothesline(s)
  • Weather dependency for outdoor drying
  • Moisture issues of indoor drying
  • Longer time required to dry laundry
  • Space limitations for volume of laundry
  • Supporting big wet heavy items for drying
  • Can look untidy or messy
  • May be restricted by council rules or neighbourhood covenants 
  • Sunshine can cause bleaching or fading of coloured items
  • Laundry can sometimes be dirtied by pollen, bird poo, etc. or blowing onto the ground

Laundry at our place is dried using a combination of portable racks, hangers, an outdoor clothesline, and decking rails.  Most clothing is rack dried on a simple four-tier metal drying rack (on wheels, racks fold away for flat storage).  Whenever possible, I place it outside on the deck year round for fresh air circulation and (when we have it) sun.  I prefer the rack to the line as it's easy to load/unload, clothes stays in place unpinned (less work, fewer marks), and I can rapidly move it if the weather suddenly changes.  I have a pop-up mesh sweater rest for dedicates that can be placed on the rack or used alone. For larger items like jackets and clothing that I don't want to crease or wrinkle, such as dress shirts, we hangar dry.  The hangars then either go from hangar posts on the top of the clothes rack or we have a basic portable clothes rail where they can be hung en masse for drying.  It works a treat!  Larger items, such as bedding, bath towels, and pet blankets are trickier to manage. They take longer to dry, need more space, and/or are heavier to support when wet. Sheets are line dried and have taken to using our raised rear deck rails to support heavy items that risk stretching or breaking the clothesline. Rather shabby deck decor, but I try to avoid doing that kind of laundry when guests are expected. :)  If all else fails, our current washer can be operated in dryer mode (dual function machine, although we only use it as a washer) or there is a laundromat nearby if emergency drying was ever required.

The biggest struggles with not owning/using a tumble dryer for us, at present, are weather dependency and a lack of suitable dedicated spaces (indoors and out). If the weather is not playing ball, I will usually place the rack inside next to a sheltered window (rain can blow in, but moisture can escape) as the deck is uncovered and we don't have a garage. If it is cold and damp or I need to accelerate drying, I will place the rack near one of our heaters or for single items I sometimes cheat with our bathroom heated towel rail. No matter what the weather or position, drying laundry here is front and center, which isn't ideal for visitors or simply my own need for a tidy orderly looking home. Our new house is being built with "black space" open floor area in the laundry/utility room where racks can be placed, if/as required. There is also a small under cover area outside the laundry door.  We will be installing an outdoor clothesline (restricted placement due to covenant, but still functional) and I have requested hubby also build me a matching hard rail clothesline for outdoor drying blankets and other heavy items. I will share details here in a future post.  I don't usually have any issues with stiff fabrics (although I kind of like that feeling of fresh and clean) but that may be due to my affinity for using laundry add-ins like vinegar or Borax. For fabrics with texture like towels, a flicking "snap" before hanging can help raise the terry texture and repeating during rotation as it drys helps further fluff things up.  

What is your drying style? Tumble all the way? Seasonal switch-up? Air all the time?  What are your tips for making laundry drying more efficient? Share your stories, ideas, and suggestions in the comments. We'd love to hear from you!  If you have your own blog or a favourite related blog/site that you'd like to share, appropriate in-comment links are welcome, too.


  1. I've never used a dryer. We inherited one when we bought our house and after two years of non use sold it in a garage sale. Sometimes the baskets get a bit full when the weather is not co-operating but I think I can recall just 2 times I've looked for a dryer. I generally hang my clothes inside out during the hotter months to reduce fading. Luckily I'm not too concerned with clothes all around the house either!

    1. Awesome! I think it's just a brief hurdle of breaking the convenience cycle of being able to wash/dry at will, and after that I've never looked back. Husband is a total air dry convert too... although his convenience cycle is pretty intact as I seem to do the heavy lifting in the laundry department of shared chores and he just gets to enjoy the air dried goodness. ;)


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