Have you considered hang drying your laundry? While there are many pros for the earth and your family, there are also cons to consider! Get the lowdown on this eco-friendly practice to decide if it’s right for you!
When we lived in Uruguay, we had a washing machine but no clothes dryer in our apartment. So, we hang dried all of our laundry on clotheslines on our back balcony. There are some reasons I love hang drying our clothes, and there are others that make me hate it some days.
The Pros of Hang Drying Laundry
There are some really great benefits to hang drying all of your laundry for both people and the planet.
Natural Stain Remover
The sun is a wonderful stain remover. Much better than toxic bleach. Sometimes I have to leave things hanging for a few days in the sun, but I’ve gotten some tough stains out this way. Some of Zoë’s clothes that I thought for sure were going in the trash when she was a toddler came out looking close to new.
We have 1500 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. And they’re white. They’re wonderful, but they show dirt so easy and with kids crawling in and out of the bed constantly, they get dirty fast. And because they’re so thick, they really hold in the dirt and discoloration. I could never get them looking completely white with bleach, but as soon as I started hanging them to dry in the sun, that wasn’t a problem.
The sun also has antibacterial properties, so your laundry is sanitized when you hang it to dry. That’s something your clothes dryer definitely can’t do for you. And clothes that have been hang dried smell fresh when they’re dry.
Energy & Cost Savings
Another great benefit to hanging your clothes to dry is the energy savings. According the California Energy Commission, clothes dryers use the more energy than any appliance in your house, including the refrigerator.
There are now Energy Star certified clothes dryers available. These dryers use about 20% less energy and along with features that combine less heat with sensor drying to prevent over drying. That way you can save you energy and reduce unnecessary wear and tear on your clothes.
So how much energy can be saved by hang drying your laundry, and does that translate into cost savings? The Simple Dollar did a great calculation showing how much money is saved by hang drying laundry vs using most clothes dryers.
She found that yes, it does save some money and time for her as well. So, air drying your clothes is another way to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle and save a little money at the same time.
The Cons of Hang Drying Laundry
Like I said, there are definite cons to hang drying laundry, especially when you rely upon it.
When it’s raining, it’s a lot more difficult to do laundry. Our back balcony was covered so the clothes just got extra damp rather than soaked, but it took an extra day for the clothes to dry when it would rain. And who wants to go outside to hang clothes when it’s raining?
Even when it was sunny, I could only do two loads of laundry per day because the balcony was shaded. This was especially frustrating when I was behind on laundry for whatever reason and I had a sudden burst of motivation to get it done.
Now that we live in the mountains where it snows and stays pretty cold even on days where we don’t have snow on the ground, it’s really hard to air dry clothes outside. We could never rely on it as our sole source of drying clothes in the winter.
Pollen and Allergies
I discovered another con to hang drying laundry that comes with living in the mountains – pollen. The fabric soaks all that pollen right up and brings it into our house to aggravate our spring allergies.
I have a small rack in the garage where I can hang dry a handful of things, but during allergy season, clothes can’t be hung outside to air dry. Otherwise, we’ll have a house full of snifflers!
A lot of communities and developments in the US have banned hang-drying clothes. Apparently it brings down property values and just looks tacky. Somehow I don’t think that’s a good reason to prevent people from reducing their environmental impact, but it’s something many people have to consider.
As you can see, there are many pros and cons to hang drying laundry. I hope I’ve given you some good information to help decide whether air drying your laundry is the best choice for your family.