“Lint: It’s all the rage”

Did you see this Pearls before Swine comic strip this morning? It definitely made me chuckle. It also gave me an idea for today’s post.

As someone who line dries almost everything (except cloth diapers and an occasional load of linens) I don’t see much dryer lint in my house. But I have thought about recycling lint-not into fashionable new clothes like Pig does in the comic strip, but adding it to my compost pile. If your clothing is all cotton, its supposed to be OK to compost it. But you don’t want to go adding polyester to your bin. That won’t break down anytime soon.

Initially I started line drying my clothes because I am pretty tall for a gal and my sleeves and pants would get too short over time from drying in the dryer. Then I started line drying almost everything when we lived in Southern California and there was plenty of warm dry air, and our apartment had a bunch of railing around the staircase that was the perfect size for drying clothes. In the summer it took just slightly longer to line dry than to use the dryer, plus it gave us a little bit of moisture back into our dry air.

Laundry takes a lot more time for me nowadays, not because of line drying, but just because of the sheer volume I have to do for a family of four. Gone are the days of only doing laundry every other weekend before we had kids. However, it barely adds any time to my laundry routine to skip the dryer. I might spend an extra 8 minutes per load for the time it takes to walk the wet laundry to the drying racks and get it hung. The drying racks are in the basement, just a few feet away from my washing machine. Loading the washing machine, and folding the dry clothes takes the same amount of time whether you line dry or use a dryer. I guess the clothes sit on the drying racks longer than they would get spun in a dryer, but since I am pretty much doing at least 1 load per day, its just part of the daily routine to fold yesterdays’ laundry right before I hang up today’s load. I rarely have an instance of needing a specific garment washed and dried in less than 24 hours. If you keep up on laundry daily, your clothes aren’t out of rotation for more than a couple of days at most.

If you haven’t jumped on the line drying bandwagon yet, consider the many benefits:

Economic savings: You will most likely save over $100 in energy costs a year for switching to line drying. You will also save money over the long run because your clothes don’t wear out as fast, so you don’t have to replace them as fast. Also, you can save money over the long run if you save clothes to hand down to younger children, because you’ll get more mileage out of them. Additionally, if you sell your clothes at garage sales or to consignment shops, you will potentially do better because your clothes will look much newer than dryer dried clothes.

Environmental benefits: You are conserving energy, thereby reducing pollution from energy producing power plants. If you live in a dry climate, you can increase the humidity in your house if you line dry indoors.

Another advantage to line drying is that I almost never have to iron. If you shake your clothes out well before you hang them, they don’t wrinkle much at all. When I use the dryer, the clothes usually end up more wrinkled because I can’t get them out of the dryer the instant they are done and hang them up. There’s no rush when you are line drying.

This is my unimpressive bank of clothes drying racks in my basement. (The basketball hoop sometimes gets used to dry larger items.):

line drying

I do have the space to keep these up and in use pretty much year round. For some, space might be an issue, but most people probably wouldn’t need 3 racks at a time. All 3 of these racks fold down flat for super compact storage, so I think anyone could find enough space to dry with at least one rack like these, even in the tiniest apartment. I got my racks free as hand me downs, or at garage sales and thrift shops, so I only paid a few dollars at most for each. But even new, you can pick one up for less than $20. Your investment would be paid back in less than 6 months, depending on how often you do laundry.

Sometimes people ask me if my clothes feel stiff from line drying. They don’t feel stiff to me at all, but maybe that’s just because I am accustomed to it now? I think shaking the clothes out as you hang and then again as you take them off and fold them probably reduces some of the stiffness. Another hurdle to line drying that one might have is living in a humid climate. I have always lived in very dry places, so humidity has never been an obstacle for me. I think even if you live in a humid climate, you would be able to line dry out of doors at least half the year, which would still be a considerable energy savings. If you have to run a dehumidifier in your house because of line drying, you are probably not going to save money in the long run.

That about sums up my thoughts on line drying. Any questions?  Do you line dry your clothes? If so, do you do it for the money savings or for environmental benefits, or are you tall like me and can’t stand wearing short pants?



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