How To Line Dry Clothes

Do Laundry

Knowing how to line dry clothes will help you save money on electricity and also help your clothing look new for longer.

There are a lot of reasons to line dry clothes. It’s cheaper than running a dryer, for one thing, especially if you think about how hard your AC has to work to cool the house down after you’ve been doing laundry on hot summer days.

It’s easier on your clothes, too. Once you know how to line dry clothes, you can say goodbye to shrunken t-shirts, snagged blouses, or sheets tumbled into a wrinkly wad. Plus, your laundry will have a glorious sun-dried fragrance that smells amazing — there’s nothing quite like it!

Still not convinced? How about this: when you know how to line dry clothes properly, you can put your iron away because clothes come off the line wrinkle-free.

*iron drop*

How To Line Dry Clothes

How to line dry clothes - Wooden clothespins work best

What Equipment Do You Need?

Before you start hanging clothes, you need the proper equipment. What works best for you depends on where you’ll be hanging 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. I got around the 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 put it in the hole. As soon as I’m done, I fold the thing up and put it away, so my neighbors have no reason to complain.

Proper clothespins are also essential. The plastic ones are cute but can break if they’re dropped, say, off a deck. (That happens more than I care to admit.) I’ve found the wooden ones clamp more tightly, too, which is important when you’re drying heavy things like wet jeans or towels.

You might also want a clothespin bag that hangs on your laundry line and keeps the pins within reach. Personally, I usually wear a kitchen apron when hanging clothes to dry, so my outfit doesn’t get damp, and just fill the apron pockets with clothespins.

How to Hang Laundry to Dry

Shirts: I now cringe when I see someone hang shirts on the line by their shoulders. I know, from experience, they’re going to be wearing wrinkled shirts with funny bumps on the shoulder from the clothespins. Don’t be one of those people! Hang your shirts by the hem, letting the sleeves dangle. If there’s a breeze, it will catch your shirts and blow out any wrinkles as they dry.

Pants and shorts: I used to hang pants and shorts by the waistband with the pockets turned out. That led to pockets which never tucked in smoothly. Now I know to pair up the legs of dress slacks and chinos then hang them from the cuffs, so they dry with a nice crease down the leg and spare me from ironing. (I hate to iron.) For jeans or shorts, it’s fine to hang them from the waistband.

Skirts: Hang from the hem but note that full skirts need a chance to blow around in the breeze to keep from wrinkling.

Socks: Hang individually by the toes.

Leggings or tights: Hang from the waistband.

Washcloths and towels: Hang from the short edge. If you use parallel laundry lines, hang towels so the sun and breeze can still reach other clothes.

Sheets Fold in half and hang it from the corners, pinning them 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. If you’re brave enough, hang yours from the waistband on the line.

Tips on Line-Drying Clothes

• Watch the weather. The best days to line dry are sunny with a slight breeze that will blow out any wrinkles. On hot summer days, it can take as little as 20 minutes to dry an entire load! But just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t line-dry — your clothes will still dry, they’ll just take longer.

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

• Be sure your laundry line doesn’t droop or sag in the middle, or your clothes will bunch together. You can avoid this by hanging heavier items on the ends of the line, lighter ones in the middle.

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

• If someone in your family suffers from allergies, be sure to give their clothes a 5-minute tumble in the dryer to remove pollen.

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

8 Comments

  1. Mummy Pig says:

    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.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      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!

      UPDATE Aug. 2017: I’ve tried training my cats to do the laundry. They went on strike. Working on training the dog now. Will check back if/when I’m successful.

    2. Samantha H says:

      I live in an apartment without indoor laundry. My cat chews on the laundry mountain and my dog uses it as a bed.
      I have started my ‘Laundry Hell’ today (otherwise known as tackling said mountain.
      I have never been to this site. I’m looking forward to the tips.
      I appreciate your humor and sense of community.

    3. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you, Samantha! I hope you’ve made it through “Laundry Hell” and that the dog and cat have found other things to do.

  2. Kimberlee says:

    Hi everyone!! I have a question. What do you guys do for lint? I wash them in the washer and hang them but after they are dry i find lint in them. Is there a way to get it out in the washer or when they are drying?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      A really strong flick (so strong that the clothing kind of “snaps”) when you’re hanging and after removing it from the line will help enormously, Kimberlee. 🙂

  3. Check state laws about clotheslines and Hoa. In Colorado the HOA cannot ban clotheslines or other products to improve the energy efficiency of a house. I found this out bc I’m on our hoa board. Even though our hoa rules from say 1966 saw no, state law in 1992 says yes. And state law beats hoa rule.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      That’s an excellent point!

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