How To Line Dry Clothes

Knowing how to line dry clothes won’t just help the environment, it’s easier on your clothes, too. You’ll save money on A/C costs in the summer as well, since you won’t be paying to chase away all the heat the dryer adds to the house. As if that’s not enough reasons to consider line-drying, here’s one more: hang your laundry the right way and you can get out of ironing, too!

The Basics Of How To Line Dry Clothes

Decide where you want to hang your laundry. Will you run a line indoors, or do you have room for one in the yard? Some homeowner’s associations don’t permit permanent laundry lines (mine doesn’t), so check your HOA rules first. We got around our restriction by drilling a hole into a corner of the railing on my deck. Come laundry day, I haul out my umbrella-style laundry line and slip the base pole into the hole. As soon as I’m done, I fold the thing up and put it away, giving my neighbors nothing to complain about.

Buy good-quality clothes pins. The plastic ones like those in the picture are pretty, but I’ve never had good luck with them. I find the wooden ones clamp more tightly, and they don’t break when I drop them off the deck onto the cement patio below. (That happens more than I care to admit.)

Don’t put your line near a tree. Birds love trees. Birds poop a lot. Get the picture?

Watch the weather. The best days to line dry are sunny with a slight breeze that will blow out any wrinkles. But just because it’s cold outside, don’t let that deter you from line-drying: your clothes will dry, it’ll just take longer.

Flick your clothes before hanging, and smooth them as you hang. This will get rid of stray threads and lint. Smoothing means you won’t have to iron, either.

Clip the line to the clothes, not vice versa. This sounds strange, until you’re standing there with your clothes and the clip, but remember the point is to bring the line to the clothes and clip it there tightly. You don’t want your clothing bunching up as it dries, so make sure the clothes pins can’t slip.

Give it space. Clothes dry more quickly when there’s plenty of room for air to circulate. If you’re using an umbrella-style line like mine, try to stagger the clothes so there’s space between as well as in front of each item.

Take clothes down when slightly dry and tumble them through the dryer for a few minutes. This will remove any pollen, lint and other airborne stuff, and will eliminate any crunchy feel to your clothes, too.

Remove it from the dryer properly. Don’t just haul everything out of the dryer and shove it in a basket. That will wrinkle clothes. Remove items one at a time, laying things that need to be hung (versus folded and put in drawers) on top of the closed washing machine. Put everything else in the basket. Immediately hang the clothes that require it, then move on to folding the rest.

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How To Line Dry Clothes By Type

Shirts: Button the collars and cuffs, then hang from the hem, letting the sleeves dangle.

Pants and shorts: Fold so the crease runs down the leg and hang from the cuffs. Turn pockets out for faster drying.

Skirts Full skirts look best when spread out and hung by the hem, although this takes up a lot of space. Straight skirts can be hung by the waistband using two to three pins.

Socks: Hang individually by the toes.

Wash cloths and towels: Be sure to give them a very good snap before hanging and they’ll come out softer. (White vinegar in the rinse water will also reduce the crispy feel of line-dried towels.)

Sheets Fold in half and drape over the line, pinning in place.

Underwear, and other unmentionables: I run ours through the dryer, figuring that our neighbor just doesn’t need to know that I have huge pink granny panties with a black poodle on the rear end. Come to think of it, you probably didn’t need to know that, either.

And remember: the laundry isn’t “done” until it’s all been put away!

Equipment I Use and Recommend:

  • Mummy Pig

    You mean putting all the clean clothes in baskets and allow them to form a mountain behind the sofa for a week or so isn’t the way to go?

    Argh. Now I know where I’ve been going wrong!

    Seriously though, trying to stay on top of my laundry is possibly the hardest household task for me. I am a gardener and have a husband who mountain bikes several times a week, sweats buckets in his sleep, works in an office & drives long distances in the heat. Plus two pre-schoolers who garden, ride bikes, play in the mud, sand, paint, glue and draw with colouring pens every day (in between fighting dragons, hunting for mammoths and running their mud cafe) and are still at the stage where dinner mostly goes down their front. Come to think of it, so is their daddy!

    I find that being home to do the laundry is hard and actually getting it sorted correctly, soaked, washed well, dried, ironed, folded, hung or put away is almost impossible.

    Generally we go with the mountain until I crack because the kids actually practice mountain climbing on it, then I quickly sort everything into a basket for each person and put my own clothes away. My husband will leave his in the basket forever, mixing in his worn but clean and dirty clothes for good measure and then complain he has no clean clothes.

    My girls are better and enjoy the chore, using their beds to sort into little piles of the same things and put them in their drawers.

    Only mine ever gets folded, none ever gets ironed or hung, and most of our things are covered with stains because I stopped soaking before wash when my eldest pulled a basin off the laundry counter and over the floor.

    My clothes are in fact sorted into ‘unstained’ and ‘stained – wear only at home’ shelves.

    Sure could do with some tips on removing old stains, refreshing clothes that are a bit past their best and training cats on how to do the laundry when everyone else is out.

    • Katie Berry

      Your wish is my command!

      Here are my tips for refreshing previously worn clothing (as well as doing less laundry), and you may find some help dealing with stains in this entry, too.

      You may also find my article about how to sort laundry, as well as one on how to keep up with laundry (both have printables) of help. My best advice on the latter is to simply do at least one load per day. I have a machine that lets me start the load based on a timer, so I fill it before going to bed and set it to run 9 hours later. By then we’ve all showered and I’m usually on the school run, so I come home to clothes ready to swap to the dryer. That makes it SO much easier!

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