One of the most economical means of drying clothes uses no appliance. A clothesline is inexpensive and easy to use. Using the heat of the sun and drying power of wind; clotheslines are making a come back in many backyards. But what if you don't have a yard? This Instructable details how to build a simple cereal box clothes dryer that can be hung over a door and used to dry clothes both indoors and outdoors.
This cereal box clothes dryer is made up of readily available materials; namely a cereal box and some clothes hangers. Other boxes can be used; but the dimensions of a large size cereal box produces a clothes dryer that is stable when applied to a door and has room to dry six to twelve shirts. It takes about 5-6 minutes to build a cereal box clothes dryer using simple tools or even kitchen utensils. When your cereal box clothes dryer wears out you can recycle it.
Step 1: Clothes Hangers
For the clothes hangers; your choice of either using metal hangers like those from the cleaners or plastic hangers should be based on the efficiency of your washer in removing moisture from clothes at the end of the wash cycle. If you have a washer that spins clothes relatively dry you can use metal hangers with little fear of any rust marks on your clothes. However if your washer leaves the clothes damp you should seek out and use plastic hangers.
In either case both metal and plastic hangers are also generally recyclable. I recommend taking worn metal hangers back to the cleaners. You should investigate with your local garbage folks whether your plastic hangers can be thrown in with your plastic recyclables if they break.
Step 2: CBCD Best Practices & Savings
Note that the cereal box clothes dryer works well for some garments and less well for others. I use mine to dry shirts and hoodies. In our house that diverts two loads of laundry from the dryer every week.
Unlike most other types of appliances, clothes dryers don't vary much in the amount of energy used from model to model. That's why clothes dryers are not required to display EnergyGuide labels. A dryer is typically the second-biggest electricity-using appliance after the refrigerator, costing about $.35 per load and up to $85 to operate annually. In addition the amount of CO2 generated to run the dryer amounts to approximately 5.6 lbs. per load. (Source: California Energy Commission, www.consumerenergycenter.org)
Based on these numbers I estimate that my cereal box clothes dryer costs nothing and is saving my family $36.40 per year and reducing the amount of CO2 our household generates by 582.4 lbs.
Step 3: Locate a Box
I found that the perfect box usually previous held breakfast cereal. These boxes are 12 inches tall by 8 inches wide by 2 inches deep. You don't want a shorter box because you'll lose hanging space. If the box is less wide or deep it might not be as stable when hung over the top of the door and loaded with hanging moist clothes.
Step 4: Measure & Mark
The first measurement is to determine where to cut the slot in the box that will make it fit snugly over an interior door. We hang our dryer over interior doors like the ones used for bedrooms and bathrooms. All my interior doors are approximately 1 1/2 inch deep so I measured out to cut a slot in the box that wide.
I wanted the box to have some strength left so I measured in a little more than 2 inches from the bottom to place that slot.
The depth of the slot should be slightly less than half the width across the front of the box. For my 8-inch wide box I cut the slot 3 1/2 inches. If this slot is too thin (less than 3 inches) I found the box would fall of the door while loading. If the slot is too deep I found the box would tear apart when loaded.
Next I measured out where I would put the holes that my hangers would go into. I had a little more than 8 inches of space left to work. I make the holes for the hangers at least an inch apart so that air gets between the shirts while they are drying. Making the holes 1 1/2 inches apart gives me six holes on either side of the box. After you have marked the holes on one side of the box stagger the holes on the other side of the box so that they don't line up. That leaves about 1/2 of an inch between the hangers when fully loaded.
Step 5: Cut & Fold the Door Slot
One trick I used was to cut a flap in the box that folds in. The flap in the back of the box folds in from the bottom and the flap on the front folds in from the top side. These two flaps then snug the box to the door.
I used a pocketknife to cut most of my boxes. An Exacto (razor) knife also works well. You could use a steak knife. When cutting the slot in the box be especially careful around the corners. You want the corner cuts to meet up. If you cut too far in either direction or if the cuts don't meet it weakens the box.
Step 6: Poke Holes for the Hangers
In step 4 we marked the spots for holes for the hangers. You want to poke holes that only just as big as the end of your hanger. If you use an Exacto or pocket knife cut a small X. If your pocket knife has a pointy blade (sometimes called a reamer) use that. Be careful. If you make the holes too big they will expand when loaded and eventually tear the box.
Step 7: Check the Fit and Try It Out
Once you have all the holes cut out check the fit of the box over the door and if you have a load of shirts ready load it up. I have found if you do a load of laundry in the morning and load it up before you leave for work; shirts will be completely dry by the time you get home. If your door is in a sunny spot even hoodies will dry in 8 hours. For interior doors sometimes you need to let the heavier hoodies hang overnight.
Bonus: If you have your shirt laundered and ask the Laundry to use medium to heavy starch You can often avoid any ironing.