Line Drying Your Laundry: Frugal or Foolish?
I’ve had the joy of using a new HE washer and dryer for the past year, but life wasn’t always so plush. In fact, there have been times more recently when I have washed by hand and line-dried — out of necessity, not due to a love of energy conservation. I will admit, however, that line-drying has made sense in some instances, and the perks cannot be replaced by any mechanical means. But is it for everyone and every situation? Here are some facts on the perks and put-offs of letting it all hang out. (See also: Kilowatts a Killer? Tips for Air-Drying Clothes)
Line Drying Saves Energy
According to the website Flex Your Power, it costs California residents nearly “30 to 40 cents to dry a load of laundry in an electric dryer and approximately 15 to 20 cents in a gas dryer.” That may not seem like much, but if you have a large family or work a dirty job, it can really add up in costs and drain on the system. Line drying, however, is free after getting the line and pins.
In less-than-ideal situations, you can use more energy line drying. Laundry exposed to the elements has a higher chance of getting soiled again (bird droppings, dust from vehicles, an unexpected rain shower), and may need to be re-washed. Be sure to carefully monitor the weather and conditions of your drying area to avoid having to rinse and repeat.
Line Drying Smells Fabulous
There really is nothing better than the scent of clean sheets on laundry day — provided they are free of chemical perfumes and have been allowed to stay in the sun for at least an hour. While the causes of your laundry smells will vary by location, sun-dried clothing generally rocks.
On the other side of the coin is the laundry that can become stinky from being outdoors. Laundry hung near cattle operations, certain bodies of water, or high-traffic areas, for example, will take on the scent of the air around it…and that may not be a good thing. In addition, pollen, dust, and mold spores can adhere to laundry dried outside and cause sickness in those with sensitivities. Even if you personally aren’t bothered by these allergens, bringing laundry into the home after being outside can wreak havoc on others living with you.
Line Drying Can Extend the Life of Your Clothes
As Andrea already discussed, there are many things you can do to make your clothes last longer. Line drying can be one of those things, especially if you are concerned about keeping your dainties dainty. Shrinking is never a problem with drying on the line, and you won’t run into dryer snags or melted Sharpie pens, either. Anything left in pockets can pretty much stay there when hanging from the line.
While line drying can extend the life of things like blue jeans and t-shirts, it can also stress out other items. Certain hand-made or dyed items may bleach in the sun, and sweaters may fall victim to birds (which have been known to pick a thread for a nest.) Depending on the area, bird droppings can permanently stain light-colored clothing (especially if you are located anywhere near a mulberry tree.) There is also the matter of clothing thieves, which I have not encountered, but who are certain to exist.
If you need another reason to carefully consider line-drying, how about the fact that it could make you a criminal? Some have dared to compare the simplicity of hanging laundry with the art of keeping chickens in your backyard, and laws abound to keep those criminal driers in check. (In all seriousness, you should always check to see if it is legal to hang your clothes. Housing authorities, especially, have more laws concerning this than other populations.)
I’m all for line-drying under the right conditions. You won’t catch me doing it in subzero temps, and I tend to save my best towels for the dryer — I’m not a fan of the exfoliating properties of crunchy towels. I do understand why it’s a good thing for many, however, and for at least four months out of the year, it is my go-to method.
Do you line dry?