One of the guilty moments for anyone trying to live in a green and sustainable way is when you’re emptying a damp load of wash into a gas or electric clothes dryer. You know it’s going to use a lot of BTUs – but it’s just so convenient. In fact, clothes dryers use more energy while they’re running than any other household appliance, except for your water heater!
Note: Other heavy energy users, including the washer, fridge, dishwasher, and hair dryer, typically use less than half the energy of a clothes dryer!
For several years, my wife and I have been cutting back on the use of our clothes dryer. It only takes a few minutes and is generally a pleasant exercise – unless it really cold outside or the mosquitoes are biting. Here are some of the things we’ve learned that make hanging the wash easier.
1. Drying Pole for Larger Items
Hang closet poles in your laundry. When you take large articles, such as towels and bathroom mats out of the washer, simply drape them of the pole. The next day they’ll be dry, even if your laundry is in the basement. A very simple way to hang the poles is to buy some large screw hooks (large enough for the pole to fit in the hook). Drive the hooks in the ceiling joists (no just the drywall) and rest the poles on them.
You can achieve the same results with screw-eyes and loops of rope in which you slip the pole. The poles are also handy for drying shirts and dresses hung on hangers.
2. Drying Rack for Smaller Items
Install a drying rack near your washer and/or in a porch. Most models are inexpensive and fold up when not in use. They’re ideal for hanging small garments, such as socks and underwear.
3. Take it Outside!
Install a clothesline outdoors. They come in many styles, including line and pulley systems, umbrella, and parallel line “tree” type dryers, and racks that fasten to exterior walls and fold down when not in use. We have a rotary umbrella style that spin slowly with the wind for improved drying. Heavy-duty designs can be raised with a crank and hold up to 4 loads of wash.
4. Accessories are Key
Treat yourself to quality laundry accessories to improve the clothes-hanging experience. Wood clothespins hold up better than plastic ones and have a nice feel to them. We leave ours on the lines to save time when hanging the next load, but many people – especially those who live in rainy climates – prefer to bring them inside to prevent the pins from becoming discolored and possibly staining clothing.
Buy nice wicker baskets, but make sure they easily fit through doorways and stairways. Flexible plastic baskets are a smart idea as well. The handles can come together to make carrying easier and safer (you can see where you’re stepping).
Choose non-slip hangers. We like the slim ones with the velvety coating. Keep a small table near the clothesline that you can rest your basket on while hanging clothes or to use while folding them.
A common misconception about clothes drying
Laundry does not need the sun or heat to become dry. It’s more a question of the relative humidity of the air around the clothes. While the sun and heat help, clothes will dry in the shade or at night – or even in a basement.
Do remember, however, to bring your clothing inside when it’s about to rain!