Last week we had a guest post from a couple who has ditched their washer and dryer in favor of using the laundry mat. Today, I wanted to follow up with this great post on a family who has ditched their dryer and chosen to hang-dry all their clothes. What works for them might not work for you, but I hope this post will challenge you to think outside the box!
Guest post from Kendra of New Life Homestead
Over the past few years, I have been on a money-saving quest that has taken me beyond the coupon game and into a whole new arena — homesteading. We homestead for many reasons, but one of the biggest factors that got us on this journey was the realization that we could save a lot of money by learning to produce the things we need, and to be content to do without those things which we don’t truly need.
In an effort to keep our hard earned money in our own pockets, we’ve steadily worked toward a goal of self-sufficiency (or more appropriately, God-sufficiency, for in all things we depend on Him).
Although my husband and I are city kids and have no idea what we are doing trying to live off the land, we’ve continued to fumble our way through learning to garden, keeping chickens, milking goats, canning food, making soap, sewing, and everything else that comes with this homesteading, back-to-basics lifestyle!
The ultimate goal is to live off-grid. But we still depend on electricity for so many things! As I’ve thought about what it would take to attain this dream of ours there have been many times I’ve looked around our home and made a mental checklist of things that we can either use less often, replace with something non-electric, or even do completely without.
One of the power suckers I just knew I had to get rid of was our clothes dryer. I just couldn’t justify continuing to pay to have my clothes tumble dried when the sunshine and a gentle breeze are free for the asking!
I did have a clothesline, but it wasn’t nearly big enough for all of the laundry that comes with being a mom to four small children, including a newborn and a toddler. As I worked my way toward hang-drying all of our clothing, my husband was kind enough to build a new clothesline for me, with five lines about 25 ft. long each. And I loved it.
There is something so peaceful and satisfactory in hanging your clothes out to dry in the warm sun. Maybe it’s the fresh air, or the rejuvenation that comes from those glorious rays working their magic, or perhaps it’s just the simple joy of knowing that what I am doing is saving my family money?
Whatever it is that makes line-drying so enjoyable, it made it much easier for me to make the ultimate plunge and get rid of the clothes dryer for good. And when I re-modeled our laundry room (a $0.00 makeover), I jumped on the opportunity to make a little money by selling the dryer once and for all.
It has been a year now since I’ve been hang-drying every single article of clothing we own. And if I could go back and do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Is it always easy? No. Especially when it rains for a week straight!
Is it convenient? Nope. Not having a dryer right there to toss your wet laundry into really forces you to do some planning ahead in the wardrobe department.
But there is something so freeing about not depending on this appliance anymore! And it forces me to slow down and enjoy the task at hand, instead of a constant rush, rush, rush.
Another benefit I have enjoyed with being dryer-free is smaller piles of clean clothing to tackle. Before, I would wait to do all of my laundry in one day, and by the end of the night I’d have a massive pile of clean clothes taking over my couch, and no energy to put it all away!
But now, since my clothesline is only large enough to hold two to three loads of laundry, I am limited in how much I can do in a day. Instead of trying to get it all done at once, I now wash a couple of loads daily, and only have a couple of laundry baskets of clothing to put away when I’m done. This system has worked out quite nicely for me, and keeps me from becoming overwhelmed.
I do have a backup plan for bad weather. In the kids’ bathroom, hanging over the tub, is a five-line retractable clothesline. This handy helper has been a real lifesaver during the rainy season, and when temperatures dip below freezing. It’s enough to hold a large load of laundry, it’s easily hidden behind a pretty shower curtain, and can be retracted for overnight guests.
I also have an accordion style floor rack for heavier items, such as jeans and thick towels, (or a bunch of cloth diapers!) that can also hold a full load of clothing. The great thing about an indoor drying system such as this is that it’s something that anybody, anywhere can do!
Hang drying not only saves money on electricity, but your clothing will last longer as well. Have you ever wondered where all of that dryer lint comes from? Yep, that would be your favorite pair of jeans, slowly disintegrating with each round of high heat.
My point in sharing all of this is simply to encourage every one of you to consider taking a step back in time and at least give line drying a shot. I’m willing to bet you might be surprised at how therapeutic it can be! And your wallet will surely thank you.
Here are some tips to get you on your way!
- If you only have room for one short clothesline, make the most of it by hanging your shirts and pants on clothes hangers before putting them on the line. You can also pin smaller things, such as socks and washcloths, to the bottom of your hanging shirts or towels.
- Do a washer-full of laundry the night before so that you’ll have a load all ready to go out first thing in the morning. Doing this takes full advantage of the daylight and helps you to get as many loads out-and-in as possible before the sun begins to fade.
- Hang shirts upside down to avoid the pucker that can be left behind by clothespins.
- If you are worried about delicate clothing fading, either hang them indoors, or turn them inside out to dry.
- A half-cup of white vinegar added to the rinse cycle will soften your clothing just as nicely as any chemical fabric softener, for less money, less pollution, and no worries of what might get on your loved ones’ skin. (I promise, your clothes won’t smell like a pickle.)
- Did you know that the sun actually brightens whites naturally? It’s true! It even kills bacteria which can cause foul smelling odors in your laundry. Using less bleach and odor-eaters in your wash means money in your pocket and less chemicals on your clothing.
- Hang a pint-sized line and let your kids help with the chore by hanging their own laundry out alongside you. You might be surprised at how much they enjoy the pride that comes with this responsibility, and you’ll have the added benefit of spending quality time chatting together as you work.
So, what about you? Do you already line-dry your clothing? If not, what’s holding you back?!
Kendra is a 20-something year old, Southern California girl trying to learn her way around in the country. She is married to a wonderful Christian man, and has four beautiful children. She blogs about her homesteading journey over at New Life Homestead.