Life Without A Clothes Dryer

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.

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Comments

  1. Lucy says

    I don’t know if anyone else has had this issue, but when I try to visit Kendra’s main website I get a message that says it may be downloading harmful software onto my computer.

    In regard to the post though, I have always wanted to do this. I’m currently a college student, but it’s my goal to get a biology degree and live as simply as possible once I get my own place.

  2. says

    Very much enjoyed this post. I’ve been looking for the perfect drying rack because the doorway over my laundry room is the collection area. It’s not so attractive. I love the encouragement and extra bits of information from Kendra. Thanks!

  3. Lynda says

    I worry about a couple things (outside of my laziness to take the laundry outside). 1. Colors fading as our sun is very strong and hot. 2. The wrinkliness. 3. blowing dirt. We live on property with nary a blade of grass and while the nice breeze (sometimes wind) would help dry stuff, it also carries a lot of dirt if horses run around or our cars coming and going.

  4. Elizabeth says

    This system would work great in a drier climate…we live in extreme humidity and struggle with molds, etc. all the time!! I miss living in a nicer climate!!

  5. Katie says

    I live in New Hampshire and line-dry almost exclusively!

    One benefit to heating with wood is that it makes the air really dry, so line-drying is (A) faster and (B) helpful to the humidity issues! :) I do like having my dryer as a back-up (for my lack of planning or when hubby needs something quick-like), but it does sit idle most months of the year.

  6. says

    I looked up a couple of our past bills and figured out that we’re paying 75 cents a therm for natural gas. According to michaelbluejay.com, when you run a gas dryer for 45 minutes at this rate, it costs roughly 20 cents per load to dry your clothes. We do about 7-8 loads per week, including cloth diapers, so our monthly costs would only go down by about $6 per month if we line-dried everything. I think for us it doesn’t save that much money to line-dry, and I like the softness of a dryer, but I’m sure that some people have much higher rates. But I will probably line-dry my pre-folds this summer every now and then to sun bleach them.

  7. Sickbay Mom says

    I think it’s worth it to have a dryer if for no other reason than the middle of the night loads (and loads and loads) when your kids are sick. I have said many 3 AM prayers of thanksgiving for my washer and dryer when all the bedding/toweling in the house is in need of a turn in the “sanitize” wash cycle, followed by a run through it’s trusty companion dryer.

  8. Leandra says

    Crystal could you let us know when Kendra’s blog is safe to access? I would love to read more about her experiences homesteading but don’t want to get a computer virus! Thanks!!!

  9. Kassi says

    I dry everything. I would love to get to the point of hanging everything. Really I would. So to start small. I am going to start hanging my whites out. Our whites don’t look white for very long and it really annoys my husband.

    I cloth diaper and I knew that the sun took out stains on diapers. I should have made the connection to whites as well but I didn’t. So sincerely thank you for this post!

  10. Paula CornNoell says

    Love this post! When my husband and I moved into our home 6 years ago, I began hanging up/line dryer all of our clothing. And its true – its not easy, not particularly fun, and its time consuming. Finding a good fit for your family is key. As much as I loved saving money, when I gave birth to our fourth child, I decided (as a full-time work out side of the home mome), that, for my sanity, and for me to be able to spend the necessary time with my family, a dryer was worth the cost for us. As we are now expecting our fifth child, and (God Willing) preparing for me to be a SAHM, I will be reconsidering the dryer more. Gotta love all those baby socks! Thanks for the great read!

  11. Chrissy says

    The link in this post gives a warning that says “Warning: Reported Attack Site”. I did not click on the link…

  12. jennifer says

    Thank you for the hint about using vinegar as an alternative fabric softener. I have extremely sensetive skin and even the fabric softener for sensitive skin turs me into a mess. So I will have to try vinegar the next time do laundry.

  13. Nancy says

    We started indoor drying the bulk of laundry this winter. My husband is not sold on the ides of an outdoor clothes line, but I can get about two loads of laundry on my folding rack and another small load on accordion rack. Another thing I do is put shirts that go on a hanger on the hanger straight out of the dryer. I live in the desert so the extra moisture in the air is nice. :D

    I can’t wait to see how not using the dryer in the summer affects our electric use since we won’t be heating up the house with the dryer.

    • Amy says

      I started using racks, or letting things dry in the doorways on hangers, inside. I had a problem with mold when I tried to dry in the basement, so I moved the racks upstairs into the bedrooms. It makes the house smell so good, like clean laundry! I will move the racks outside on a nice day. The only thing I use the dryer for now are heavy things, like towels or blankets, but only during yucky weather. I save at least $30 a month on my electric bill. I will always keep a dryer for emergencies and for times when I hang hang the big stuff outside on yucky days.

  14. Denise says

    Having moved to Florida over 20 years ago, the “Sunshine State” … I was amazed to find that no one used clotheslines! … Most of the ladies that know that I use a clothesline look at me as if I am living in the dark ages … In most subdivisions here they are not allowed … however, in mine I have broken the rules without a complaint … I have a 5-line retractable clothesline which attaches to the back of the house and is pulled out to a post when needed. We created a patio in this area out of concrete stones that we made so that no matter how wet the grass is I can hang clothes comfortably. All is hidden behind our 6 ft. privacy fence. I have not gotten rid of my dryer completely but it is used very little. We have saved alot on electricity … Our closed in back porch has support posts on it in which we have installed single retractable clotheslines between each post … I painted them to match the house and they are hardly noticable but this allows me the opportunity to dry clothes out there when the weather is bad and I simply store the line away when not needed. I also have installed an additional tension shower rod in both of my bathrooms … T-shirts, etc. can be put on hangers and hung from these rods … I also use the accordian style wooden dryer racks for socks, underwear, etc. When we lived up north we had clothes lines installed in the unfinished part of our basement and dried our clothing there in inclemet weather … yes, it isn’t as convenient as using a clothes dryer but sometimes you have to give up convenience to keep your ahead above water financially … the benefits? sheets that are soft and smell fresh … so comforting to sleep on fresh air-dried sheets … and I, too, have stopped using fabric softener … I use white vinegar in my rinse water … clothes still come out soft, smell good (not at all like vinegar) and my towels are more absorbant now … fabric softener keeps towels from absorbing like they should … I have been married for 40 years and hav lived using a dryer and also with a clothesline … I so much prefer the clothesline … hoping more young wives will give it a try …

  15. Toni says

    Just wanted to let everyone know who tried to visit the guest writers website and got a malware warning.. that I visited her website and had no problems at all. She’s got alot of great ideas!

  16. says

    How are folks getting air-drying to work for cloth diapers? I have 2 babies in diapers and about 6 months ago moved to the country, to a house without a clothes dryer. When I tried to line-dry the diapers (only 1 baby in them at that point; the 2nd is a new addition!), they ended up feeling like shingles. Not something I’d want to have nestled up against my bum.

    So I ended up giving up and accepting our handyman’s offer of his spare dryer. This house is utilities-included, so it’s not an extra cost to us (and the landlords, who are also parents, did not increase our rent, which was nice). But if we move again before finishing potty-training, I’d love to know the secret to making it work!

  17. Meredith says

    What I find fascinating is how everyone’s situation is different to save money. With our tiny house and an hoa that would never allow a clothesline, I prefer my dryer. I have a folding rack I use for some things but not everything. I just don’t have the room. Yet, I don’t use a cell phone (keep a tracfone in my car for emergencies) because most conversations can be talked about at home or over Skype. I don’t get the cell phone craze at all and how people need them….then I read these how people are doing without dryers (I’m not poking at the writer, in fact I wish I could do it). I just think its interesting.

  18. Pat says

    I have used a clothesline my entire life, except when I lived in an apartment. Right now I’m waiting for hubby to build me another clothesline pole as our house only had one pole when we moved in, the other end fastened to the brick garage wall, which it pulled out of and he didn’t want to make any more holes in the brick. But, they did leave an umbrella clothesline which I found out that I love!

    I do put heavy clothing like jeans and towels in the dryer for 10 minutes before I hang them out to dry. That way they don’t dry stiff! It really works.

    I also started buying the quick dry towels. I never liked the huge, heavy towels (I dry myself with a hand towel anyway, use the large towel for my hair). I cannot stand heavy towels anymore and they take forever to dry.
    I don’t have room for drying racks or lines in my basement, wish I did!

  19. Lori B says

    We didn’t replace our dryer two years ago when it died, and have *loved* hanging our clothes! I live in Ontario (very cold winters) but with some indoor folding racks I am still able to keep up with the laundry just fine.

    A note about crunchy clothes- it’s usually the damage done to fabric by the dryer that causes clothing to be ‘crunchy’ after line drying. All of our old towels are stiff when dried on the rack, all new towels are beautifully soft.

  20. says

    I actually asked for a clothesline for my birthday two years ago. My Dad thought it was the strangest thing to ask for EVER, but not only did he get it for me, he installed it. That’s love. ;)

  21. Carrie says

    I’m getting a “malware” warning today when I try to visit her site, so it looks like the issue isn’t fixed (based on the comments that were posted yesterday about the same thing).

  22. Michelle says

    Last spring I did an experiment. I usually used the dryer 15 times per week, so I cut back to 2xs per week (towels and sheets) and the rest I hung dry around the house (I do have a front load washer). Our bill was $30 less for the month. That was a nice savings! I hang our clothes on regular hangers and then hang them from doorways we don’t walk through often. I’ll wash 1 load at night and they are dry by the morning (unless it is super cold in the house). I found this made laundry more manageable as well.

  23. Tracy K in Illinois says

    Many have mentioned crunchy clothes. Use white vinegar instead of fabric softener. Your clothes will not be “crunchy” no matter what the season. I hang clothes indoors and out all year round. The vinegar will keeps the clothes from freezing on cold days.

      • Tracy K in Illinois says

        Carrie: Re: amount of vinegar – I just fill to the “line” within the fabric softener slot within my machine. I’m guessing it equals about 1/4 cup.

  24. Abigail says

    I hang my close out in the summer and on the warmer days in the winter. But we have been trying to go as self sufficient as possible and I have been pondering better ways to manage our damp dreary winters. I’ll I have to try some of your ideas. And I love love love having a short close line for the kiddos to help! This one will be happening this spring!

  25. says

    Do you have an ancient dryer? You mentioned not replacing this one when it goes. So, I wonder what the difference is with using an HE dryer, such as the one we have. Over the summer, I hung our clothes to dry in the laundry room and on hangers on the shower rods….we aren’t allowed to have clotheslines in our neighborhood yards….and I didn’t notice any difference in our electric bill during that time. I wish we could have clotheslines, because I would for sure use it in summer/spring.

  26. Kelly says

    Well I have to start off saying I am going with the minority here..not giving up my dryer. My husband and I both work full time and with commuting we are gone 50+ hours a week and while I have plenty of room in my house for drying racks, lines in the basement etc. To me the money that I save is not worth the extra time. Not to mention I do not want to look at laundry hanging all over my house to dry! I do hang most of our work clothes, mainly because we don’t want them to shrink. We have been blessed with an extra large walk-in closet that I reserve a space for our drying area for those.
    As for the rest of our laundry and the kids clothes, its mostly done on the weekend. Every Saturday I usually do at least 3 loads and 1 or 2 on Sunday. Without the convienence of of a dryer these 5 loads a week would literally take me all week!

  27. Jerilyn says

    One year I primarily hung laundry (inside in our apartment) and did all dishes by hand (no dishwasher) and didn’t notice much of a change in our electric bill. Right now we keep laundry to a minimum anyways and it’s worth the cost of the dryer. We stay in our gas and electric budget and that’s alright with me :) My time is worth something too!

  28. says

    Hi everyone,

    Yes, unfortunately my site was recently hacked. I have worked on getting the malware all cleaned up, and as of today it looks like Google has removed the warnings. Some of my images are still missing, but I’ll be working to get them restored asap. I’d love to have you come say hello to me when you get a chance! Lots of fun stuff going on at the homestead :) Thanks for your patience, and I truly apologize for the inconvenience. Gotta love those hackers.

  29. Amie says

    I grew up in the N. East without a dryer. We just didn’t have the money for it. I always enjoyed the fresh smell from the outside, but I hated it in the winter and I hated having my clothes outside for all the neighbors to see. In the winter, we’d put the racks over the forced air register and it was a real pain. I would never choose to go without a dryer again. I now live in the S. East and did cloth diapering and line drying over the summer. It was okay, but my problem is that my kids are allergic to so much of the pollen that was brought in on the clothes. I finally gave up on it. I wish it worked for us because it is a great way to save money and I do love that fresh smell, but a dryer is nothing I’d ever want to do without.