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winter clothes drying

How to Dry Your Clothes During the Winter Without a Dryer

By Tobias RobertsRise Writer
Oct 31, 2018

Homeowners across the United States are collectively throwing away over 4 billion dollars annually to dry their clothes. Unfortunately, clothes dryers are one of the more energy-intensive appliances in the home. They often use as much energy as your refrigerator, clothes washer, and dishwasher combined. This simple energy use calculator shows that a 3,000-watt clothes dryer used on an average of one hour per day could cost your household $110 each year.

The sun and wind are free, and air drying your clothes is a simple strategy that will radically reduce your household energy bills. During the warmer months of the year, clothes will generally air dry outside in about the same amount of time that it takes you to dry a load of laundry. However, during the winter, a pair of recently washed jeans might turn to ice if you attempt to hang them outside to dry when temperatures are well below freezing.

While cold and wet winter months create a challenge for families seeking to live without a clothes dryer, it is possible to avoid the energy-intensive tumble dryer during the winter. Below, we offer a few hints and a few innovative products to help you continue to air dry your clothes during the wintertime.

Do You Need Heat to Dry Clothes?

Heat is not the only factor in the drying of clothes. While a warm summer day might seem perfect to dry bed sheets and blankets quickly, other factors contribute to the science of air-drying your clothes.

Clothes Drying With Precipitation and Humidity

It is hard to dry your clothes if it is raining or snowing. However, high levels of humidity in the air will also significantly lengthen the overall drying period. In many cases, a cold and dry winter day might dry your clothes quicker than those warm and humid dog days of summer.

Clothes Drying With The Sun

Also known as sunshine, solar radiation is important for drying clothes as it provides a source of free energy to evaporate the water in your clothes. While warmer air temperatures can help dry clothes, solar radiation is the most effective way to evaporate water when hanging your clothes to dry.

Clothes Drying With With Wind

The wind is another essential element for effective clothes drying as it will whisk away the humid air around your clothes. On the contrary, during still and windless days, the humid air will saturate around your clothes, and drying will take much longer.

Tip: It may seem challenging to dry clothes outside around the freezing mark, but given enough time, your clothes will dry!

expandable wood clothes rack
Photo Credit: Clotheslines.com

Indoor Clothes Hanging Tips

When temperatures dip into the teens, there is also the risk that recently washed clothes can form ice crystals if hung up outside. Also, the thought of putting on your winter boots, coat, gloves, and hat to hang up the laundry isn’t very appealing.

Place Clothes Near a Window

If you live in an area where winter temperatures can be bitterly cold, it is possible to air dry your clothes inside your home. When hanging wet clothes inside the house, you should always find the sunniest part of the largest room in your home. This will maximize the amount of sun that the clothes receive while also allowing for the most airflow.

Don't Hang Your Clothes to Dry in the Basement

Hanging your clothes in the basement, for example, is almost always a bad idea. This is because there are less sunlight and airflow in basements. In addition, the excess water on your clothes can intensify some of the problems with humidity and poor air quality. If you live in an area where high humidity is common even during the winter months, investing in a dehumidifier will increase air drying clothes' speed while also improving the indoor air quality.

Use Retractable Indoor Clotheslines

Most people don’t want to put a permanent clothes hanger in the middle of their living room throughout the winter months. Retractable clotheslines, such as this one offered by Household Essentials, provide large amounts of drying space for clothes and can be pulled back and put away when not in use.

Spread Clothes out on the Drying Rack

When you hang your clothes inside, it is essential to organize them not to touch. Foldable drying racks are designed to maximize the amount of space available for drying garments of different sizes. Bamboo stands or racks are another alternative for indoor clothes drying.

Leverage Sources of Air to Dry Clothes

You can also take advantage of the sources of air inside your home. While opening a window to let in the winter breeze might quicken your clothes' drying time hung up in your living room, this strategy would also compromise your home's energy efficiency and significantly increase your heating bills.

Use Radiators and Other Indoor Heating Sources

Homes with radiators or boilers can take advantage of this source of heat and air to increase the efficiency of drying inside. Portable radiator drying racks can be attached directly to the radiator not to block the airflow but still takes advantage of the heat it provides.

A Few Innovative Products

When it is too cold outside, and indoor drying is not convenient, there are two options to help you avoid using a dryer.

VonHaus Heated Clothes Drying Rack
VonHaus Heated Clothes Drying Rack

VonHaus Heated Clothes Drying Rack

While this neat little invention does rely on electricity, it claims a $0.04 cost per hour to run, which is much lower than the most energy-efficient tumble dryers on the market. The 300 watts of electricity that it uses is about a tenth of the energy that a tumble dryer needs. Also, at $123.99, it is much more affordable than a full-size dryer.

This heated drying rack offers up to 68 feet of drying space and can hold 33 pounds of wet laundry. It also has several customizing features that allow you to adapt the rack to whatever you are trying to dry. So whether you want to dry a pair of jeans quickly or hang up towels and sheets, this drying rack accommodates almost everything you would put in a dryer.

Richelieu Clothes Lines Ceiling Mounted Drying System
Richelieu Clothes Lines Ceiling Mounted Drying System

Richelieu Clothes Lines Ceiling Mounted Drying System

Hot air rises, so the closer you can get your wet laundry to your ceiling, the quicker it should dry out. Richelieu offers several innovative ceiling-mounted drying systems that, when not filled with your clothes, actually look a bit stylish as well. You can also purchase fashionable mounting brackets and a hand winch to rotate your clothes without having to climb up on a chair. Their ceiling-mounted drying systems start at $199.99.

While a traditional dryer offers ease and comfort for clothes drying, it is a significant energy hog in your home and costs you a good chunk of money. These ideas for drying clothes during the winter are a simple strategy to increase your home's sustainability and frugality.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-06-16T15:48:53+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.