I Love Line Drying


I've been meaning to line dry for a long time.  Now I'm finally doing it! -- thanks to my engineer husband (and a very inexpensive nylon line).  When my first was in cloth diapers, I frequently dried the diapers on a rack, but drying them like this on a line is way more awesome.  In a matter of weeks, I have gone from a reluctant foot-dragging I'll-get-around-to-it-someday line dryer to a true believer.

This week has been rainy, and when I realized I needed to wash cloth diapers but might not be able to line dry them afterwards, I nearly had a conniption.  I even ran out and bought another crummy rack at Target to use inside because I was so distraught at the thought of drying the diapers in the dryer.  When my husband saw the crummy rack, he opted to put up another line in our garage instead.  Hooray!  Now I can return the crummy rack and line dry my laundry in the garage when it rains.  Nothing beats drying outside in the sun and fresh air for getting rid of unwanted smells (and stains), but drying my cloth diapers on a line in the garage is still much preferred to drying them in the dryer.

So, I don't line dry everything, folks.  But line drying cloth diapers is THE BOMB.  These days, I only need to wash diapers every week or two, because my 2-year-old is nearly potty trained (more on that...someday).  In times past, I never would have considered going so long without washing diapers, because the stink factor would just have been too great.  Or I would have had to do 2 washes and 6 rinses to get the overpowering ammonia smell out of the diapers if I waited this long to wash (I find that the overnight urine from the older toddler is particularly potent).  But thanks to my line drying, I do one simple wash in warm (no pre-rinse, no post-rinse, and just detergent), and that's it.  After hanging outside for a few hours (or several days -- sometimes it takes me a while to get around to taking them down), the diapers don't smell at all.  Even after 2 weeks in the pail. It's like magic.

I've found it takes me about 5 minutes to hang my cloth diapers.  I leave the clothespins up between loads and that speeds things up quite a bit.  I've also tried line dyring my kids' clothes and my load of "whites" (underclothes, kitchen towels, rags, etc.).  I'll admit, sometimes I'm too lazy to hang out a load of laundry, especially a particularly large one (I tend to wash only very large loads that completely fill my front loader).  It's important to keep in mind, though, that while it takes longer to hang laundry to dry than to toss it in the dryer, line drying makes sorting and folding quite a bit easier.  When you line dry, you can sort as you hang up, or just take all like-items off the line at once.  I like that.  You can also hang up items destined for your closet right onto the hanger (and then hang the hanger on the line), and then you haven't really lost any time at all.

I thought I might need to put the diapers or shirts or pants or underwear in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them up just before or at the end of line drying, since some things feel a little like cardboard straight off the line.  I asked my friend Heidi (who line dries nearly everything) about this, and she said her family is used to their stuff straight off the line and nobody cares.  So I haven't bothered with using the line/dryer combo at all. I've found that no one at my house notices or cares either about the cardboard factor.

In short, if you cloth diaper, you absolutely should be line drying because of the huge payoff in smell.  As with so many green changes, it turns out that line drying is, in fact, not a sacrifice, but actually far superior to the conventional alternative.  In addition, I am saving energy and money, as well as extending the life span of my cloth diapers and whatever else I line dry.

Do you line dry?  


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15 comments:

  1. I line dry anytime its not raining. Started off with a small 4ft line in a rental and years later (currently) I have 4 lines. I am able to do 2 loads of laundry at a time.
    Your right, nothing beats line dry. Since I live in Oregon I cannot do it all year round which sucks.

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  2. Heck ya!!! I have to say, though, that I don't always line dry. We don't have a line up outside, but I have a bar out on my back balcony that I hang clothes on after putting them on hangers. Towels and t-shirts go in the dryer, though, because they take too long to dry and t-shirts need dryer time to get wrinkles out.

    With winter coming I found a retractable line for inside, so I vow to line-dry this winter. It's great for humidification, too, and the central heat dries everything quickly.

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  3. Once you are used to line drying you almost feel guilty using the dryer! Quite truthfully, I enjoy the time outside to just think and ponder. It's my therapy time.

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  4. I live in Tasmania, Australia and I line-dry all year round outside. Very occasionally I have to dry stuff inside and it is just not the same. I love the fresh smell of line-dried laundry, and sleeping between line dried sheets is heavenly!!!

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  5. Line drying is must for any moms using cloth diapers.

    Dani @ ONNO Organic Clothing

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  6. I line dry everything that we don't want to shrink: t-shirts, work-out gear, pants. I definitely haven't completely converted. You have inspired me. I could probably do it May - October. I have no excuse. Off to buy some line.

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  7. I line dry a couple of loads every week. I do not line dry my husband's work pants because I've never found anything that works on static....going to work in a professional office with your pant legs clinging to your legs looks a little odd LOL!

    Not only are you saving the environment you are saving wear and tear on your washer and dryer.

    I've gotten into the routine of throwing a load in, reading/quiet time for 15 minutes, 15 minutes in my zone and then it's time for me to hang my laundry.

    Wish I would have figured that out years ago!

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  8. I'm from the UK where line drying is the norm. However, since moving to Texas I've been amazed how rare it is for people to hang their washing out to dry! Even though my HOA has a rule banning outdoor line drying, I recently bought a portable clothes line for my backyard... and have HALVED my gas bill since doing so!! I reviewed the dryer I use this morning ... http://mamawithideas.blogspot.com/2011/10/review-portable-umbrella-clothing-dryer.html
    Keep up the good work! Mx

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  9. I looove line drying my laundry. Line dried sheets? THE BEST. And I love line drying cloth diapers -- makes them so fresh and gets all the stains out (not that I really care that much about stains -- they are diapers after all). I'm totally fine with the cold weather months, but I do get bummed that I don't get to use my clothesline!

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  10. I've always line dried(or rather shower bar dried) certain items. However this summer I moved to completely air drying everything. While I don't anticipate this being possible during the winter, especially with sheets and towels, I've really liked it thus far. I've found that t-shirts and stuff have far fewer wrinkles after line drying than if I dry them in the dryer and forget about them. As for the cardboard factor, after reading around a bit, I found that if I reduced the amount of detergent I was using, but still used enough to get the clothes clean, the cardboard factor was pretty much elminated.

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  11. I'm happy to have joined the ranks of those who love line drying. Sounds like I need to try my sheets, for sure! Maybe I'll try less detergent too, as Sass suggests. I think how cardboard-ish clothes get is also a function of how fast the clothes dry -- on very hot dry days when the laundry dried lickety split, I think it's crunchier. Stuff dried inside (in my garage, for example) or just hung over the shower is almost never crunchy.

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  12. I don't line dry but I'd love to. We always did when I was growing up. I find with work, it's hard for me to do but I also think it would be a great project for my husband to work on and then I'd have it ready to go...

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  13. I find that the smell comes out with my washing / rinsing routine, but the diapers smell strongly while my son is wearing them after he pees. I line dry mine inside, but I should make more of an effort to do it outside. But we have stalled on potty training because of much potty resistance on his part, and I am tired of the stink, despite much effort to use vinegar and baking soda, to strip the diapers, etc. Sigh. I am jealous of your progress! :-)

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  14. My husband came up with a great idea when I requested a clothesline on our balcony: he took two of our many, many unused old computer network cables and strung them from the corners of the balcony to the center, tying knots every 12 inches or so in case I want to slip a hanger in. He used small bungee cords to secure them around the balcony railing.

    Now that it's cooler I find my clothes don't finish drying by nightfall, but I can just stick the whole load in the dryer for 15-20 minutes instead of a full cycle, and they still smell pretty fresh. (Note: I haven't gotten around to getting clothespins so I don't know how they would work with the cables.)

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  15. Agrigirl, I think you will find that some things don't take too much time and have a big payoff. I hung up my bathroom carpets the other day -- that took 2 seconds, and normally I have to run the dryer for a couple of hours to dry them b/c they are so thick, so that was a big payoff.

    Kelly, the stink of the older child diapers is really tough. Until I started line drying outside, my husband and I were both getting really fed up with it. Same thing too -- even if I could get the diapers to smell OK after washing, they stank to high heaven once peed in. I think you'll find that improves with drying outside, atlhough, seriously, older toddler pee just stinks. A lot. Good luck with the potty training -- I'll be posting more on the topic soon (I hope!).

    Nice repurposing, Larisa! I think clothespins would work fine with the cable, and would probably decrease your drying time. When I hang something over the line (folded in half basically) instead of pinning it, it takes nearly twice as long to dry.

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