Using a Dryer? How About Hang Drying our Clothes!

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Our everyday life is packed with opportunities to choose greener ways and options, and make a positive impact on our health, the environment, reducing waste… doing things in a more sustainable way really. To add onto the benefit list, most of such changes also save us money. And now that some of us entered the warmer seasons, it’s the perfect time to talk about our dryer and how to live without it. No, it is not going against modernity and yes, it is as easy to do as it is beneficial on so many levels.

The convenience of warm, dry clothes in less than one hour may seem really hard to forego, why refusing the comfort of modern appliances? Well, in this case, there are so many good reasons to rethink our use of this specific appliance, and, it is oh so easy to get on the hang dry bandwagon that at a minimum, we owe it to ourselves to give it a try…


So why would we ever want to retire our beloved dryer?

1- Dryers ruin our clothes!

First and foremost, our dear dryer literally sucks the life out of our clothes. Each time we empty and clean a dryer’s filter, we get the visible sign of how much fiber is taken away from our clothes. Yes, all that fluff moving from the filter to the trash is mostly fabric fibers from our favorite sweater and top… Considering that we all run lots (too many?) of loads weekly, it all adds up really fast and contributes to reducing the life of our clothes. Might be a good excuse to shop for more clothes, but not that green of a practice, and well, we just showed it has an indirect cost.

2- Progress in appliances somehow did not reach dryers

Most of everyday appliances are more energy efficient than they were 20 to 30 years ago. Well, except for our dryer. Per the Natural Resources Defense Council, a new dryer can consume as much electricity as an efficient new clothes washer, refrigerator, and dishwasher combined! That amounts to $9 billion a year on the electricity we in the U.S., use to dry our clothes, compared to $4 billion in Europe, Australia or Asia.

3- We typically do not use our dryer optimally

The way we use our dryer is also very important. Setting it on a lower temperature likely slows down the drying a little, but it significantly cuts energy use and makes it a worth-it choice. The same goes with checking on our clothes while they’re in the dryer, and stopping it before the pre-set timer as needed. Depending on what’s in our load, the types of clothes will affect the drying time actually needed. So selecting say, 1 hour,  no matter what we have in it isn’t a good way to go. It wastes energy, money and doesn’t do any good to our clothes, especially the fragile fabric types. The longer they’re exposed to harsh heat, the faster they’ll get damaged.


How to hang dry our clothes successfully?

1- A simple planning ahead to allow drying time is the key

From experience, an average washing machine load with a mix of all types of clothes takes about 12 hours to dry during the cold seasons, and only about 6 hours during the warm seasons. So running a load of laundry at the end of a fall or winter afternoon will get us dry, ready-to-wear clothes in the morning, and in the spring or summer, running an evening load will get us the same result overnight. It is really easy to get into the habit of thinking about the x hours ahead of time notice based on the season. Think afternoon load with cold seasons and evening load with hot seasons. Bonus: Hanging dry does not require ironing. When, as it many happen to some of us there’s no time to fold and put clothes away, picking up clothes from the drying rack (or outside for the lucky yard owners) as we go, will always get us ready-to-wear items. In comparison, whether unloading a dryer into a laundry basket or leaving all the dry clothes inside the dryer will get them wrinkly in no time, requiring the extra ironing step.

2- Buy a sturdy clothes rack… and/or use your surroundings

We’re talking an upfront investment of about $30.00 for a sturdy clothing rack that will last years… Creativity is definitely an option too, for additional or alternate hanging surface: think shower curtain bar, towel hanging bars, back of chairs, armchairs (those with fabric, not leather covers)… We should also note that an efficient spinning cycle at the end of the washing will get us almost dry clothes. So even if running several loads in a row, the volume of clothes to hang remain manageable because most often than not, the average drying time needed is much less than mentioned above.

3- Enroll helpers and multi-task!

You may say that it takes time to hang dry a load of clothes. Well, not that much really, plus it does take time to iron the wrinkly clothes that we don’t immediately fold and put away when using a dryer… Also, no one will argue that it takes much brain power to hang dry a few clothes, so make it the perfect activity to multitask: catch up on TV, talk to your partner, children, even better, enroll their help! Before they know it, they’ll also be expert at folding…


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