Our Hang-Dry Laundry Strategy

I mentioned our reduced use of our clothes dryer when I was discussing our last electricity billFor the last year we’ve been (mostly) hang-drying our clothes to save the cost of running the dryer, and I think it has made an impact on the scale of a few dollars per month.  It’s actually a bit labor-saving, too!

 

Our (apartment-friendly) hang-dry method

 

We wait until we have three loads of laundry to wash, which for our clothing ratios is usually two colors and one whites.  For each load, we separate the wet clothes into those for hanging and those for putting in the dryer.  We leave the hanging clothes up overnight and run usually about one load through the dryer.

 

When we first considered hang-drying our clothes, we bought a clothesline and clothespins and Kyle affixed it to run diagonally across our screened-in balcony.  That didn’t really work out!  The line wasn’t long enough to get a whole load on, and as it was out on the balcony it was sort of “out of sight, out of mind” for remembering not to pop the wet clothes into the dryer.  Plus, it was a bit of work to get all the clothes pinned up on the clothesline and then unpin all of them after they were dry.

 

So one day we just decided to put our wet clothes on hangers and put them on the shower rod in our second bathroom to dry.  It worked very well!  The clothes dried overnight, as long as we spaced them out a tiny bit from one another, and when they were dry we just moved them straight into our closet.  We liked the strategy so much we bought extra hangers to accommodate the clothing items that ultimately end up folded or in drawers.

 

clothes hanging in our second bathroom last week

 

Our observations

 

Depending on the material, clothes dried indoors like this can end up stiff.  My understanding is that clothes dried outside won’t have this problem as they should be blown around in the breeze or whatever.  We have stopped hang-drying clothes that get particularly stiff and just use the dryer for them.

 

Items we hang to dry

  • shirts
  • Kyle’s underthings
  • workout clothes
  • dishcloths
  • skirts

 

Items we put in the dryer

  • pants/shorts
  • Emily’s underthings
  • socks
  • sheets and towels

 

Socks and other small items are way too much of a pain to hang-dry, plus we would have to pin them, so they end up in the dryer.  I bet stiff socks would bother me!  Shirts really take up the largest volume of what we wash, though, so it works out well to hang-dry all of them.

 

Try it out!

 

All you need, really, is a rod and the hangers the clothes came off of in the first place, or perhaps a few extra for items you don’t normally hang up, to try out this method.  Of course, it won’t work well if you ultimately fold most of your clothes – in that case, stick with your dryer or a clothesline.  Here are some other advantages:

  • It really isn’t any more work to take a few items down from hangers to be folded than to move clothes in and out of the dryer.
  • The dryer is stressful on some of your clothes so hang-drying them should improve their lifespan.
  • Clothes you hang-dry don’t end up sitting in laundry baskets for days on end, wrinkling up and waiting to be put away (tell me I’m not the only one who does this…)!
  • I think this method is possible even if you only have one shower rod in your house, since most clothes dry within a few hours or overnight.  It’s actually an incentive to get them put away.  🙂

 

What do you think of this drying method – have you ever tried it?  What offbeat methods do you use to reduce your utility bills?

 

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35 Responses to "Our Hang-Dry Laundry Strategy"

  1. bogofdebt says:

    I might have to try this out. I do a few big loads per month but that’s because I do shower curtains/rugs and towels bi monthly. Work clothes get worn a few times but I do know I have enough work out clothes to try this every week.
    bogofdebt recently posted..Friday’s Link Lovin’

    1. Emily says:

      I guess it doesn’t matter what frequency of washing you use. If you wash all stuff that can be hung up together then you don’t need to run the dryer until you get to a different type of clothing. We just save up our loads to have enough socks and such so that it’s worth it to run the dryer.

  2. We have a glass shower door and I end up just throwing things over the door to dry. I like your way better!
    Lauren @ Lbee and the Moneytree recently posted..My dog has a panty fetish…among other things.

    1. Emily says:

      Haha, I forgot about shower doors! Any type of rod would work for hanging, though, if it can accommodate the hangers. Even the closet would be OK if you can clear the space and have some air circulation – the clothes don’t drip or anything.

  3. I hang dry all of my dress clothes. It keeps them nicer, longer. I do a LOT of laundry since I have two little kids. I try to get everyone to reuse towels…but it doesn’t always work that way!
    [email protected] recently posted..I Need to Lose Weight

    1. Emily says:

      I guess it’s probably too much of a hassle to hang small children’s clothing – you probably put it away folded? But I agree hanging dry is much easier on clothes.

      I used to not like to reuse towels – until I started washing my own!

  4. Justin @ The Family Finances says:

    My wife and I may just have to try this out and see what kind of impact it has on our electric bill. I’ve heard of people doing this; we’ve just never taken the time to give it a try.
    Justin @ The Family Finances recently posted..Our College Savings Plan

    1. Emily says:

      It’s difficult to tell on top of the noise of heating/A/C variation but I think it’s made a small impact. And it’s a lot easier, IMO, than unplugging electronics every day.

  5. Suz McA says:

    If stiff clothes bother you (like me!)… I’ve learned that if you put your wet things in the dryer for a couple of minutes (just to get them warm) and then hang them up (while they are still very wet – just warm) 1) the wrinkles fall out (just be sure to hang them right away) & 2) they’re not as stiff as when you just hang them up straight from the washer. We hang everything but towels and underthings and rarely have to iron anything! Hope this little tip helps!
    Suz McA recently posted..Farewell for now…

    1. Emily says:

      That is a good tip – thanks Suz!

    2. Beth says:

      I do the same thing for cottons, although I have a bad habit of getting distracted during the “just a quick few minutes in the dryer” phase, lol.

      1. Emily says:

        I would totally wander off and forget about it, too! I’d probably set the alarm on our oven or something to bring me back as it’s easy to miss the dryer’s beep.

  6. Beth says:

    My husband and I hang dry probably 2/3 of our clothing as well, but we do it solely for longevity of the fabric. I also save up ~3 loads of clothes per wash cycle, but I separate them before washing into what gets tossed in the dryer and what I need to hang up (this way no sneaky sports bras wind up wrapped in one of my husbands sweatpants and land in the dryer). Separating before washing makes it easy for me to take better care of our higher quality clothes, and only dry clothes that need to be shrunk or are for lounging. I hang everything but shirts on a collapsible drying rack that I keep either in the bathroom room guest room, shirts go on hangers so they don’t crease. It takes longer, but I think our clothes stay in better shape this way 🙂

    1. Emily says:

      Very good points. I don’t have many clothing items that I hold in much esteem at the moment but I’m sure that will change post-graduation!

  7. […] Our Hang-Dry Laundry Strategy at Evolving Personal Finance […]

  8. […] from The Family Finances included Our Hang-Dry Laundry Strategy in his friends of the […]

  9. This fall, I’m probably going to put up some t-posts to hang clothes-line. For now, I use a folding wooden drying rack that lives in the laundry room.

    I line-dried clothes outside for years and outdoors drying creates clothes that are just as stiff as indoor drying. It’s generally only an issue for me with jeans and towels, though. For them, I do pretty much exactly what Suz syas, although I just put the timer on 10 minutes and set it to no-heat.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..5 Ways to Save Money on Lawn Care

  10. […] commenting… and then double down again!Evolving Personal Finance talked about her system for line drying clothes in her apartment. Which reminds me that I need to do my laundry.Modest Money had a guest post about How to […]

  11. Leigh says:

    I put towels and sheets through the dryer, but I hang dry pretty much all of my clothes. I don’t do this to save on electricity from running the dryer, but to help the clothes last longer. I also wash all of my clothes on cold so that I don’t have to separate colors. I used to put my pyjamas through the dryer, but they weren’t drying very well, so I’ve started air drying them too. I use the closet in the second bedroom to hang the shirts and then put up a drying rack in my room with socks, underwear, and tank tops.

    Guys I meet seem to think that this is a crazy system, but I’ve gotten into a nice routine with it!
    Leigh recently posted..Would I take a job I hated for double my salary? Triple?

    1. Emily says:

      Not crazy at all! I’m glad we’ve found a closet-dryer!

  12. holly says:

    I hang dry all of my clothes with a rack I got from Amazon, which holds a TON of clothes. Anyway I use liquid softener, well 1/3 softener with the remainder vinegar and my clothes hardly every come out stiff. The rare things that do I just toss them in the dryer on the fluff or low setting for about 10 minutes. Soft as ever.

    1. Emily says:

      That’s a great tip – thanks!

  13. Heather says:

    Great post! I love these tips because saving energy and lowering bills are proportional! We follow some of the methods mentioned by Beth and Leigh. Not sure what affect it has had on our electricity bill, but it sure makes for a quieter/cooler kitchen not to have all the appliances running as often.

    This summer we are stretching our dollars when it comes to AC: If it’s less than 85F indoors, no AC. If it’s cooler outside than inside (85F or lower) we open all the doors and windows and turn on fans (usually each night). During hotter days we keep blinds closed to trap the cool air. So far our electricity usage has been 10% lower than last year (normalized for fewer “cooling degree days” this summer–the cooler summer accounts for another 10% drop in usage).

    1. Emily says:

      That’s a pretty strict/high rule! I’m glad you’ve realized some savings from it. I think we’re currently keeping out place at 78F when we’re home, 82F (basically, off) when we’re out.

  14. […] Our Hang-Dry Laundry Strategy was featured in the Festival of Frugality #349. […]

  15. […] in debt but honestly I’d say we’re pretty lucky.Emily @ Evolving Personal Finance writes Our Hang-Dry Laundry Strategy – We found a way to dry our clothes without using the dryer or a clothesline that also is […]

  16. […] presents Our Hang-Dry Laundry Strategy posted at Evolving Personal […]

  17. […] presents Our Hang-Dry Laundry Strategy posted at Evolving Personal […]

  18. […] been doing this for a few months now and have definitely noticed a drop in our power bill.  We hang up all our clothes to dry except jeans, socks, my underwear, and towels.  We live in an apartment and don’t have a […]

  19. Lauren says:

    I dry my clothes at home as well because it saves energy and is easier on the clothes. To reduce the stiffness, use a little bit of plain white vinegar in the wash to soften the clothes. Also let your hang-dry clothes get almost dry (say 90%to 95% dry) and then put them in the dryer with a dryer sheet for a short time to soften them up.

    1. Emily says:

      Good point that hang-drying is also better for the clothes! And thanks for the tip about dryer-finishing them. A few of of my T-shirts do get quite stiff when hanging dry.

  20. […] time, if habituated, maybe a large one). Examples could be spending less on electricity costs by hang-drying laundry or eliminating vampire power sources. Food spending is another kind of typically small win if you […]

  21. Fiby says:

    I find that putting a little bit of vinegar into the wash cycle prevents stiffness.

    I’m surprised your shower curtain rod was able to handle that much weight! They’re generally not designed for much weight at all, and the ones in my previous apartments have flexed a lot when I gave it a tug to test them.

    1. Emily says:

      I think our current shower rod wouldn’t hold the weight that our other one did. It’s come down once already over nothing. I think it just depends on how it’s fixed to the wall.

  22. […] the diapers over the shower and towel rods in our bathroom and turned a fan on them (similar to our hang-dry laundry strategy). This was effective, but we’ve since bought a proper drying rack. There’s plenty of room for […]

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