Instructables
Clothes dryers are among the biggest energy hogs in a typical home*. Line-drying clothes cuts the energy use down to zero, but who has time for that? Here's how you can line-dry clothes without extra work.

The key is to handle each item as little as possible. You can do that by hanging clothes on plastic hangers once, while they are wet. Once the clothes are dry, you just grab the batch and move it to a closet, without any of the folding, hanging or sorting that takes time when you take stuff out of a dryer. A drying rack can make socks and underwear even easier to dry.

People talk about about recovering the lost art of line-drying clothes the way our grandparents did it. But after experiencing modern convenience, it's hard to go back. My goal is to make line drying almost as easy as using a dryer--low energy for me as well as for the power plant.

In addition to saving energy, line drying has lots of other advantages. It can actually work better than a dryer for busy people, because you don't have to worry about being around when the dryer finishes to avoid clothes wrinkling. Clothes can last longer because they don't get overheated--this particularly helps preserve elastic. And rather than using detergents whose chemical scents try to mimic the fresh smell (or lack thereof) of line-dried clothes, you can have the real thing!

For more about the advantages of line drying, check out Project Laundry List, a non-profit dedicated to promoting simple ways of saving energy--such as line drying.

In this instructable, I'll describe strategies and equipment for hanging different kinds of clothes with minimum work, discuss setting up a clothesline (choosing a location, etc.), and finally describe options for minimizing dryer energy use if you do use a dryer. An appendix explains the small effect that drying clothes indoors can have on heating or air-conditioning energy use.

*For more on appliance energy see this summary; dryer energy use is typically 900 to 1000 kWh per year for an electric dryer.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
maessy23 days ago

Get this guys, if I'm feeling lazy, I'll line dry rather than use the dryer. Why? Because you put them on hangers and an hour later its dry(I live in the desert Southwest). Take the clothes on hangers and put them straight in the closet. If you use the dryer, you have to put the clothes in, take them out, fold them, take them to the bedroom, find the hangers, put the clothes on the hangers and finally, hang them up...too many steps for me. I'm too lazy for that. Even in winter you can still dry you clothes by the end of the day or dry them indoors.

lisa1265 months ago
I live in England, and when I was young my clothes were dried on a clothes rack on a pulley (search for a "kitchen pulley clothes airer" and you'll see what I mean) over an Aga (a solid fuel cooker) in the winter or when it rained, and on a clothes line in the summer. When I lived in a tall house I used to dry clothes over the bannisters of the stairs, and an outdoor washing line. I now have indoor clothes lines in the hall upstairs under the picture rails for the winter, and an outdoor washing line. Everything inside dries overnight or in a day, as hot air rises! Tumble driers have only been common here recently, and although I have one I hardly ever use it except in an emergency. The pulley clothes rack is absolutely brilliant, and you don't need a solid fuel cooker either, just a high enough ceiling and a normal indoor temperature. I know someone who put it in her stairwell and it works just as well.
redletter6 years ago
Put damp clothes on hangers, put hangers on clothes line -- great idea! My Mom loves to line-dry stuff in the nice weather. I'd like to find some kind of clip to hold each hanger on the line in breezy weather. Regular clothes pins can't handle it. Any ideas?
I used to put pegs on the line beside the hangers to hold them in place. Of course, if it was breezy I sometimes had to peg the clothes on to the hangers as well.

maybe if you used wire hangers the hooks could be bent over? not completely, or it wouldn't come off the line, but give it more of a loop to make it more likely to stay on?
string a chain between two posts and hook your hangers in the links. they won't slide, won't blow off.
Between two posts should work well if the posts are well sunk. I had the bright idea ( or so I thought) of using a chain strung between a pair of wall shelf brackets. Unfortunately the weight of the clothes caused the chain to pull at the shelf supports from the sides causing them to loosen and the chain to sag. The weight actually partially pulled one of the shelf brackets from the wall. I replaced the chain with a piece of alumnum pipe (conduit?) . I have been using it f or some years now but only for a place to hang already dried clothes. Since reading a couple of these instructables I think I may try using it to dry some of the clothes. Something someone may try, if they wash more than one load at a time is to hang the first load in the laundry room then put second load in dryer. In my laundry room running the dryer heats the room up considerably. Two loads of laundry dried for the cost of one.
paqrat paqrat1 year ago
Update to the aluminum pipe hanging rod. It works beautifully. I haven't used the dryer in many months. Shirts, socks & underwear tends to dry within one day. Jeans and pants can take two. If you like your clothes all kitten fur soft then this form of drying isn't for you. Clothes definitely come out stiffer but is not uncomfortable to wear.
More durable than clothes line and will probably make people think twice about stealing your unmentionables.
D'oh, of course! Great idea.
Pipe foam insulation cut into small 2inch pieces over the line will keep the clothes on the line separated and stopped from bunching up. Any help?
paqrat oldbird2 years ago
Great idea!
LowEnergy (author)  oldbird6 years ago
Good idea--thanks.
Try large binder clips they hold 120 sheets of paper and are strong metal with folding handles. I got mine at Office Depot on sale 12 for $1.00..I use them for all kinds of stuff..
paqrat WILL622 years ago
I hung a small Persian rug from a door usiing the large binder clips. I used three of them and I think if I'd only used two the weight of the rug would have pulled it free of the clips. As was, a gentle tug (as when positioning the rug) was enough to dislodge it.
I found some 'bull dog clips' at staples that were super cheap (certain colors only... who cares about color???). They are super strong, and I can even clip the nice plastic hangers to clothesline. They also work great for reclosing non-resealing food bags..
LowEnergy (author)  redletter5 years ago
I have a new instructable on dealing with wind with an added tighter wire hook.
LowEnergy (author)  redletter6 years ago
Stay tuned for a new instructable with a system for holding hangers on a pulley-based clothesline...but that system is a little overly complex. For now some simpler ideas would be to try these plastic clamps or something similar from a local hardware store, or binder clips from at stationery store. I haven't tried either, but I imagine the plastic clamps could prevent it from blowing off, but wouldn't keep it in place on the line. The binder clips are cheaper, and could be used to clamp it in place, but are probably a little more awkward to use.
LowEnergy (author)  LowEnergy6 years ago
As WhosWho points out, my ideas of plastic clamps or binder clips are pretty silly when clothespins would work better. I also like Grady's idea of bending wire hanger hooks inward. Some difficulties with that: You need to bend it back out to fit on a closet rod, and if you do that enough times eventually it will weaken and break. And the hanger might eventually rust and stain the clothes. Plastic coated hangers are an option, but the plastic is usually vinyl which doesn't have a good environmental reputation.
Grady redletter6 years ago
Redletter If it's windy, use the wire hangars & just bend-in the hook at the time, so they can't blow off. Florida is really hot, so I wash out my uniforms at nighttime & hang them on nails on my porch. When I get up, the next morning, they-re dry & don't need ironing.
HelenaTroy1 year ago
I've been doing this for years! the main problem is that if there's a bit of breeze, the hangers side and clump together, which doesn't aid drying: one way to avoid this is to put a clothes ped by each to act as a brake, to keep the hanger in place.
paqrat1 year ago
I work in an antique store and we came across an interesting device some months ago. It was a rack that consisted of 3 wooden rods in a framework that was attached to a pulley system which was attached to the ceiling. To use it you lowered the rack, hung your clothes on the rack then used the pulley to elevate the whole rack up to the ceiling where the air was much hotter. It would be most effective in houses with high ceilings but in one of them I believe it would be a very efficient way of drying. I think it should be fairly easy to build one of pvc. One in each room and you could dry a huge amount of clothes.
KYjane2 years ago
How young are you guys n gals? In Ky we hung clothes outdoors because we had too, we hung them inside when it rained, when it was bitterly cold the laudry still went on the line- I guess it freeze dried but they hung out all day. Back then it was out of necessity to have clean clothes, now I do it to be green. If you have too many clothes hanging & bogging down the line, you make a prop out of a slim pc of wood with a nail bent over the line allowing me to adjust the height, move it b/c of large items. As a young child we had 1 coal pot belly stove that required round the clock maint. so clothes where hung as close as we could get then on a wood rack I still have & use with our wood stove. It is nice if I am ill to toss them in the dryer but in the 60's you had to do your job at home or the whole system broke. We also canned our garden food which I still do but my freezer is handy! It takes a lot of effort to save our environment & ease our wallets,,,funny I did it then & now for different reasons. You guys give great tips too! Hmmm old dog learns new trick! thanx
250525_228131840531499_100000040552810_1023081_2747188_n.jpg
Another way to dry clothes faster (and thus saving money and / or energy) when using a dryer is to use tennis balls. *Notices your puzzled expression* The tennis balls (two works well) kept the clothes separated to allow the air from the dryer to reach more surfaces of the clothing instead of the clothes just clumping together. OR you could shell out the extra money to buy the "dryer balls" from the as seen on tv section of your local retailer. They work the same, but tennis balls probably cost a lot less. My laundromat even keeps a box of tennis balls for customers to use. I'll admit I was puzzled for a moment the first time I saw it, but I had already seen the dryer balls, so it just clicked. Oh, okay, I understand.
I bought the dryer balls and haven't noticed a difference. Another possible advantage of the tennis balls is they might possibly collect lint.
Zoo992 years ago
I love your instructable, it takes a simple thing like line drying and adds humor to make a point about saving electricity.

I haven't used a dryer in five years here in Central Florida. I hang dry everything. The only problem is when it rains for several days straight..then my house resembles a chinese laundry because I am forced to use drying racks and other places to lay the clothes out.
dtorallo3 years ago
Good thing Philippines is not that advance. Filipinos buy washers with dryers but we only use the washers. Our country is too hot so line-drying is still widely used here.
Here, dryers are considered as lazy. But I still use it, rinsing and drying. Btw, most dryers here are spin dryers, no heating features.
mob13 years ago
So its a rope between two trees. AMAZING !
peacepiper3 years ago
How well woud drying my clothes indoor work when it's very humid here in summer and winter? Even in the summer, it takes my clothes 5-7 hours to dry outside because the humidity is 80% or more. In the winter, it's the same. It rains all the time. Inside the house is humid too in the winter. Would my clothes even dry or would they just be damp forever?
Humidty isn't that great a problem for drying clothes. What you need is airflow around them to help speed the drying times. ALL my clothes are dried using either an indoor line or outdoor line and I live in tropical north Queensland where the average humidty is 80% most of the year. When it is pouring with rain my clothes are dried with the aid of a small pedestal fan set on the lowest speed and pointed at the indoor clothes line.

People have been brainwashed into believing that clothes lines are somehow old fashioned and don't work.

Nothing could be further from the truth.
The smell of fresh sheets/clothes dried in the sun is something to look forward to.
LowEnergy (author)  peacepiper3 years ago
That can be tough. Sometimes you just have to accept that it might take 24 hours to dry. Some other ideas to try:
-Let the clothes dry for say 8 hours--perhaps overnight--and then put them in the dryer to finish them off and make sure they are completely dry.
-Get a good energy-star dehumidifier, and dry the clothes in the same room as the dehumidifier.
Lezah3 years ago
You can also run your washing machine a second spin time which is like a wringer to take out more moisture.  It works great for towels, jeans etc.  I LOVE my solar dryer...
khalednm3 years ago
 At the swimming pool that I use, they have a high speed spinner that takes about 30 seconds, and your swimsuit comes out completely dry.  Are there any options like this for domestic use?
LowEnergy (author)  khalednm3 years ago
 Yes!   Actually the best energy-star washers now have capability like that built in, but you can also buy a stand-alone unit.  There's an expensive one called spin-X and some cheaper ones as well.  

Don't expect them to get everything as dry as they get a swimsuit--cotton holds moisture a lot more than synthetics used in bathing suits.  But they can still make line-drying faster or cut way back on the energy needed for a tumble dryer to finish the job.
ginamarina3 years ago
I hang dry everything - inside all winter (for the humidity!) and outside all summer. To get rid of fur, hair, tree seeds, lint, and bugs. And the "crunchy" feeling that my SO hates, I tumble them in the dryer for 15 minutes or so with no heat, then fold them. I guess if you were even more worried about bugs maybe blasting some heat through them in the dryer would "fix" that. ??  :)
ScotDeerie4 years ago

If your laundry hangs low to the grass and you're in tick country, don't forget to check for ticks before you bring in the clothes.  In Indiana, I first saw the ticks on the white sheets/clothes and I realized I needed to hang the laundry far from trees and over low cut grass.  But it's worth the trouble.  Nothing smells better than laundry dried outside.

Great instructable. Regarding sheets, I find I can drape a sheet from the washer on the bed(on top of the bedspread), turn on the ceiling fan, and its dry in an hour or two if the heat or AC is on. Towels likewise. Sometimes I put rolled up t shirts underneath them so air can get under the wet cloth.
 Love the idea for the sheets it never occured to me before.
Ok if you dont have alot of space this is so simple. GO and get some old racks from a stove or fridge( any scrap yard has them but you might need to spray paint them) and mount them on a wall with 2 plumbing straps over a heat regester, any kind will work ( electric or gas) and make a support ( like this \...) so you can fold it up and down when you dont need it. Just cut a piece of wood the right length and cut big enought slots into it to fit around the metal racks and put a screw in the wall low enough to hold the bottom of the wood, so you end up with a rack that is 90 to the wall. Now just hang up your clothes on hangers and your done. Your already heating your house so why not dry your clothes at the same time. If every room has one.. the clothes just need to be moved to the closet once dryed they are allready hung and wrinkle free and in the right room. 

 Tools needed1) saw 2) screwdiver COST UNDER 5 BUCKS

I heat with a wood stove and forced air with a couple of bathroom fans (cheap to run) and my hot water is just a old gas tank heated by the stove and I live in Canada so you know its cold
My disclamer if useing electric heat make sure the rack is well above the heater so as not to cause a fire and check often to make sure your not over drying. If heating with forced air, make sure you change your filter often you save both ways your furnace works better and your clothes wont get dusty. K if anyone else trys this let me know .It works great for me
Retirement14 years ago
 I developed another time saving and less hassle tip as hangers are usually in short supply in my house.  When I remove an item from the hanger in my closet I place the hanger in the laundry basket, that way I always have hangers with me when doing the laundry.  Of course, it only works when I know I will be washing the item after I wear it. 
WILL624 years ago
My house was built in 1957 and my family has always owned it and now that my parents have passed I own it, and I like my sainted mama still use the clothes line that came with the house (only one on the block) everyone else had theirs taken out to waste money on dryers. I also put a line in the garage for bad weather.....as for shoulder points on t-shirts I lay the shirt over the line in half (where ya fold it anyhoo) and when ya where it for 5 mins the line comes out due to body heat.....same with towels they dry just as fast and ya have a nice fold line. 
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!