Ask the Readers: How do you air dry your laundry in the winter?

Today’s questions is from Darice:

Does anyone hang their laundry inside during the winter? I am looking to minimize our use of the dryer this winter to cut back on our
electricity usage and would appreciate any techniques, tips or tricks you may have for drying your laundry inside without a dryer. Thanks! – Darice

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  1. says

    When I lived in Alaska we used to put a drying rack in the living room next to the fire place but never too close and keep the grate closed. It made them warm and snuggly.

  2. Phyllis says

    I have line-dried our clothes for probably over 30 years. WOW! I never thought about that. Just a small way of helping our electric bill and also, more importantly, cut back on ironing. As others have said I line dry everything except sheets, socks and undies, oh, and towels. The items I do line dry I put into the dryer (before hanging) for about 5-10 minutes. Less for cotton dress shirts, longer for jeans, cotton twill, etc. Doesn’t take any more time and I can be done w/that load a lot sooner than if I had to wait for it to dry and then hang them up. Just a good way to do laundry, in my book.

  3. Maureen says

    I have a retractable clothes line that has 4 lines that I have in a bathtub that is not used except for guests. It holds 8 t-shirts. Under that I have a wooden drying rack to hang some additional t-shirts and small items. I have pants and heavy things on hangers on the shower curtain rod. We use a wood stove in the winter so the wet clothing adds a tiny bit of dampness to the air.

  4. Angie says

    Here in NC it stays fairly temperate most of the year so I still hang clothes out on the clothesline outside. As long as it’s not cloudy (or raining obviously) they’ll dry just fine even when it’s freezing outside. When it’s too wet to put them outside I usually just hang everything on hangers and hang it from our shower curtain rod. It takes longer to dry inside compared to outside though.

  5. says

    Yes, I hang my laundry year round. I stick in on drying racks in the bedroom and put the ceiling fan on. If it’s really cold I might stick a floor fan on it for an hour also.

  6. Amanda Y. says

    We hang clothes (except socks and underwear) on their hangers and hang the hangers on the doorframes–it works like a charm! And clothes are already hung to put away. We learned to do this even in summer because our backyard has too many trees to dry cleanly.

  7. says

    We use a large wooden drying rack purchased at Lehman and Sons. Sturdy and Amish made . We haven’t owned a dryer in 2 years. We use our spare room in the winter time by just setting the rack up in there. The large one was around 90.00 but has more hten paid it self back. I can get a large load of clothes to fit on it that includes jeans. The dowels are spaced for maxium air flow.

  8. michelle says

    I have hung clothes from my shower that I didn’t want to shrink. But dose it really make that much of a difference in the elctric bill? I like the idea and if it save I will deffinatly give it a try.

      • Andrea says

        I should clarify…line drying saves me at least $200 per year because propane is expensive. I wash 12 to 14 loads per week and line dry at least half, which adds up to more than $200 over the course of a year.

    • Lisa says

      I have all electric heating and cooling in the south. I do everything I can to reduce my bill. In the summer the A/C is set at 78 and in the winter we keep the house at 65. My highest utility bills are in the winter. Even then, I was able to save 10-20% each month (depending on the season) by getting rid of my dryer and line drying my clothes.

  9. Michelle says

    I bought two extra shower curtain rods at target (when they had a bath accessories coupon recently). I hang my clothes on plastic hangers in there. If I need them to dry quicker than 24 hours I take a small fan and have it face the clothing. I also have an awesome drying rack that I set up (got it at CostCo this summer). Again, I put a fan on the clothes to help speed the process.

  10. says

    I actually do not have a dryer so I hang my clothes all the time. When I was using the laundry mat, I would dry them for 10 minutes to release the wrinkles, and then hang dry them.

    I find that my clothes dry faster in the winter because of the heat. I use a drying rack from IKEA and hang the clothes on hangers from the ends, then fill in the middle with smaller stuff. The little “Octopus” you can get at IKEA with 16 clips on it is great for socks and undies too.

  11. Caroline says

    We have two wooden drying racks that we use both inside and out. We don’t have a laundry room, just a closet, so we hang anything that can be hung up in multiple doorways. My mom got us a special drying rack that’s made just for bathtubs but of course it doesn’t fit ours! It’s pretty funny in the winter on laundry days because we have clothes hanging from 3 or 4 doorways! We just hope people don’t stop by! We have to hang my son’s clothes inside all year round because he has excema and any allergens in the air could get in his clothes and make it worse.

  12. says

    I have a rack I bought at The Container Store. I put it over one of my floor vents, and it dries my clothes overnight in the winter time. Don’t try this if the furnance is in floor though. :) I also hang up clothes in the bathroom.

  13. Paula Walter says

    My husband built me a drying rack from PVC pipes (cheap @ Lowes or Home Depot) the good thing was it was sturdier than the wood ones you buy and the pipes were larger than the wooden dowls on the wood ones so the clothes laid nicely across it and did not wrinkle. After seeing it loaded with laundry (we just sat it in the warmest room while drying) everyone wanted him to make them one too! We should have patented it since he made it up! It was very simple and frugal.

  14. Tara says

    While drying clothes inside does save electricity it also adds moisture to the air in your house. If you have heat that makes your house dry then this can be a good thing, however if not the moisture can cause young children to become sick, create mold, or even cause breathing issues. I was having reoccurring bronchitis and pneumonia and never could figure out why until my doctor asked me if my house had a lot of moisture or if I hung up wet clothes in the house. Best thing I have done is put a dehumidifier in the laundry room where I hang my clothes. They dry faster and no more breathing problems.

  15. says

    When I lived in a tiny apartment with no dryer and 2 ceiling fans, I would hang my clothes on hangers, and squeeze as many hangers as I could onto the ceiling fan blades (towards the center). Then turn the fan on low. Clothes would dry pretty fast. Ijust had to remember they were there when company came over! I would also drape clothes over the towel rack and shower door of the shower and turn the fan on.

  16. Janeen says

    I grew up hanging my clothes up outside 0n clothes lines year round unless it was raining or snowing outside. In that case we hung clothes on drying racks in the house near our forced air heater vents. My husband and I now hang clothes in our basement on drying racks (we don’t have enough room for a clothes line outside) where there is a dehumidifier. We also hang put the drying racks outside on nice days.

  17. Betsy says

    Winter is where my heavy wire IKEA drying racks ( save the day. I have two (they’re only about $20) and each one will hold a full load of laundry if not more. They’re light-weight, fold up to take only a couple inches space behind a door or in a closet and with their flexible design I can move the “wings” up to a higher position that enables me to drape sheets over the rack while still drying tons of clothes underneath.

    I’ve “sold” so many of these to friends and family over the past several years, IKEA should start paying me commission!

  18. Lisa says

    Last January I replaced my dryer with a Charming Spinner.
    This spins extra water out of the clothes so they take less time to dry. For the rest of the winter I dried clothes on shower curtain rods hanging over the washer and in the bathroom over the shower. I hung clothes on hangers, and smaller items on 5-tier pants hangers. In the bathroom I ran the fan to reduce humidity. Everything dried in 5 to 8 hours, including towels and jeans.

    I noticed unexpected benefits of the spinner after I started using it. It reduced stiffness in towels and jeans. They’re still stiff from air drying, but noticeably better. Second, clothes are cleaner because the water that spins out of them is still tinged with dyes, dirt, detergent. It’s a dingy gray that builds up in your clothes if it’s not removed. And the greatest benefit was the savings on my utility bill. I saved 10-20% off my bill depending on the season. Savings was greater in the summer here in the south. This spinner has been well worth the money I spent on it and will pay for itself in less than a year.

  19. Jennifer C. says

    I have a retractable line in our downstairs bathroom. (It’s a long skinny room). We have to maneuver around when laundry is on the line…and remember to take it down when company comes!! :)

  20. Megan P says

    I air dry my children’s close indoors year-round. I had my husband make a DIY hanging drying rack we found on Centsational Girl’s blog and I have used it ever since. When I run out of room on that rack, I also have a shower curtain rod that hangs above our washer and dryer but under the shevles that I hang clothes on hangers to air dry.

  21. Patti says

    I love all the suggestions… I will definitely be cutting back on dryer loads this winter. I have one dryer rack and I put it upstairs in our second bathroom which is also nice and sunny. If I shut the door, the heat builds up in there so the clothes dry very quickly. In fact, I do lots of activities upstairs in the winter because heat rises naturally and it is warmer up there. I plan all year and “put off” some activities that I can do up there so I take advantage of it. Sewing, scrapbooking, filing papers, etc. or any activity that I can take up there to do – like paperwork. That way I can keep the heat lower and take advantage of Mother Nature’s heating.

  22. Shela says

    Socks & hubby jeans go in the dryer in the winter! Everything else is on hangers, drying racks, and I just read about using a tension rod in the bathrom tub! My drying space has just tripled!

  23. Angie says

    I haven’t used my dryer in almost 5 years… it’s completely unplugged and disconnected, so I have no intention of using it anytime soon!

    This is what I do: I use wire hangers and hang the clothing in doorways, over on the edge out of the walkway. I put two things per side, one on each side of the molding (that keeps them from swaying and turning into the walkway. So this means I can put four things in each doorway without obstructing the walkway). I use clothes pins to clip pants (by the waistband) on the hangers.

    I hang towels from hangers just like jeans…. except I fold them in half lengthwise. I use two hangers for heavier stuff like this; just put them together and use as if they were one.

    I also have a retractable clothesline that I use for sheets and blankets. They hang overnight and are usually good-to-go by mid-morning.

    And then for the little stuff I have two drying racks.

    This may seem like a lot, but I’ve gotten used to it and it seems like nothing to me. And I’d say it’s well worth it in the long run!

  24. says

    I had my husband put a shower curtain rod in our laundry room so that I can hang dry shirts, pants, etc on hangers in a spot that is not all over the house and out of the way. For larger items such as bed spreads and such I usually end up just tossing those over the curtain rod until they are dry.

  25. Martina says

    we have a gazebo over the patio part in our rental unit, so iam still able to hang my clothes outside even if its raining, if the not complete dry after hanging outside which sometimes happens to the jeans, i just hang them overnight over our chairs by morning they are dry. We are dryer free for about 3 month now and our electricty bill went from 100 to 52 last month… i probaly could lower even that but iam not willing to give up my dishwasher yet.

  26. Jake says

    just add a tablespoon of salt to your load and then you can hang outside to dry in the winter, clothes will dry but wont freeze, and you wont notice the salt on your clothes

  27. Haley says

    I have a laundry room as you come in from our garage. Gets great air circulation. I hang dry my clothes in there year around. I have a shower curtain pole that my husband hung for me between a wall cabinet and the wall. Then I have a rack that goes from floor to ceiling with these arm things that jet out that you can move around that hold clothes on hangers. Plus I also have to fold up drying racks that I use when camping too. Just make sure you leave space between the clothes so they don’t smell sour. And I like to put some things in the dryer for 10 to get the wrinkles out and make them soft before hanging up.

  28. Ecko Stein says

    Perhaps someone already posted this idea, but we use an extra large, extra sturdy wooden drying rack to dry our clothes. (I have used the small Walmart kind, but these only hold part of a load and seem to break easily.) My husband and I wanted to minimize drying costs and maximixe the life of our clothes, so this rack was our answer. This foldable, wooden rack is 80″ tall x 48″ wide x 13″ deep and can hold TWO loads of laundry. We keep this beauty in our bedroom for added romance, and is a great asset for my frugal growing family of five. I believe we got it over five years ago in Shipshewana, IN, for about $50. Looking on the internet for something anyone interested in something like this, was not profitable, but I was able to find a few drying racks that look like they are worth purchasing: for $79 for $109
    both free shipping

    Or if you are in the IN area, you can try calling Amish Sales at 760.768.7511. I tried calling around supper time, but didn’t get an answer.

  29. patty says

    1. I hang on a rack in the laundry room.
    2. I put up a portable rack to dry socks underwear can get at local store.
    3. They now have racks for towels for summer I use them.
    4. I also use my shower curtain rod in the bathroom
    5. Wash after 11pm when electric is cheaper might be different in your area.
    6. wash in cold cuts electric.
    7. Put the racks for socks in the tub to save on space.
    8. I put large quilts over chairs in the living room .
    9. Our biggest saving on our electric we put in a wood burning insert in our fireplace it drys clothes in nothing flat and we only had to turn on the heat in one room last winter.

  30. Alea says

    I have a friend who “freeze-dries” her sheets in the winter. She didn’t mention any vinegar or salt like some have here, but she just hangs them outside. I personally don’t like to stand in the cold that long!

  31. LINDA PAYNE says

    In Maryland the weather isn’t aweful so usually I hang clothes out year round – if the weather takes a turn I have some nice racks I hang clothes on in the house – my dryer is probably the most unused appliance in the house. It’s lucky if it runs 10 – 15 hours a year!

  32. Arcook says

    My husband hung a rod across my laundry room so that I can hang things on hangers all year round. It is great! I also use a drying rack, of course!

  33. Catherine says

    I don’t have anywhere to hang clothes outside, so I do this all year round. I hang clothes on their hangers in our second bathroom. I just turn on a small fan (or the exhaust fan for a little while) to keep the air circulating.

  34. colleen says

    I have also hung my clothes inside and out using the fan inside to help clothes from drying stiff. And outside in the hot summer I hang out stuff in the evening and bring them in the morning and this helps items from being stiff. If you have the room using a outside patio umbrella base stand up a umbrella clothes line usually used outdoors. Can be used outside this way if renting and can’t put up permanently. Glad to hear I’m not the only one with hangers and clothes pins in hand

  35. Courtney says

    I hang laundry inside all year. I like to put my drying rack in a room that I can shut off from the rest of the house, then I will turn the ceiling fan on high. It helps the drying process greatly!

  36. Flybabymom says

    A collapsible wooden clothes rack–it takes about 2 x 4 feet of floor space and holds at least one washer-load of clothes at a time.

  37. Heather says

    I put a foldable drying rack up in front of the dining room slider (the sun comes in even in the winter). We also have a permanent drying bar that is installed in the laundry room. I use hangers and let clothes dry there.

  38. Sarah says

    Our dryer broke a couple months ago and we haven’t gotten it replaced. I just add liquid fabric softener to the washer and then hang our shirts on hangers above the washer, put towels on towel racks in the spare bathroom, and hang everything else on our drying rack in the guest/junk room. I turn on the overhead ceiling fan to speed up the process a little, but it’s probably not that necessary. And for an added bonus, the heating vents are directly above all these places so when the heater comes on in the winter it dries the clothes at the same time! :)

  39. Beth says

    I live in Ireland and, like most households in the country, we do not own a dryer. We dry all laundry on the line, year round. However, rain and snow do demand indoor solutions. If your house is heated with radiators, there are drying racks you can order online that hook onto your radiators. There are also retractable clothing lines you can mount on the walls of your laundry room or bathroom. And of course, the traditional clothes rack in front of a roaring fire always does the trick. :) Stick with it and don’t give up. Line drying is better for the earth, your wallet and your clothes. The more you do it, the faster you will hit on a system that works for you. And don’t forget your steam iron! It will make “crispy” clothes soft again.

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