Summer is here, and abundant sunshine makes it easy to save electricity and money by using a solar clothing dryer (aka a clothesline or clothes drying rack). Here are a few tips to get you started drying your clothes naturally and for free. In the process, you may come to love that fresh, out-of-doors scent that only comes with drying in the sun.
Line or Rack?
There are many modern variations of the old-fashioned strung between two trees. If you have a large outdoor space and two trees, by all means go for a clothesline. This is a time-tested method.
Clothes Drying Racks
Chances you have an apartment, condo, deck or small yard and need to figure out how to use a tight space most efficiently. You may also need to adjust for season. If so, there are lots of great options available.
Racks are great for tight spaces and work both inside and out. There are many variations, but basically, racks consist of a wooden, aluminum or stainless steel frame with lengths of coated wire strung between the legs (or arms). When choosing a frame, consider where you’ll use it, indoors or outdoors, as well as cost. Stainless steel is typically more expensive than wood and more durable.
Racks can be freestanding, wall mounted, ceiling mounted or pole mounted; foldable, retractable or telescoping; and range in size from small enough for a single sweater mounted in a shower stall to large enough for a load of sheets in the yard.
Many excellent resources for clothes drying racks come from Europe and Australia, where apartments tend to be small, energy expensive and people more conversation minded. Shipping will be an additional cost, but one to factor into getting the right rack for your space that’s going to last. Here are just a few starting points (BTW, I have no commercial affiliation with or endorsement of any of these sites):
- Urban Clotheslines (Australia)
- Laundry Lift (US) with imports
- The Container Store (US)
- Joyful Spin Cycle (US) with imports
One handy gadget that I came across recently is a spinner (up to 3200 rpm) that dries clothes to slightly damp. It works like those machines at the gym, which spin down your wet bathing suit so you can take it home without soaking your bag. The same concept applies to laundry. A spinner could be very handy in tandem with indoor drying racks, in humid climates and during questionable weather. Treehugger.com has an informative post on these.
There is an art to hanging wet clothes on a line or rack. They key is to strike a balance between the maximum number of clothes and the minimum amount of drying time. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Don’t crowd the clothes. The more exposed each piece is, the faster it’ll dry.
- Overlap the edges of shirts, towels and linens to save space (and clothespins)
- Dry jeans upside down. The waist dries faster with more air flow.
- Use a tie hanger to dry socks and underwear. You’ll save space and keep them from flying away
- If indoors, open the windows for more air flow.
- Take advantage of existing space, like benches, patio chairs, shower curtain rods and towel bars, to spread out the load.
- Store clothespins in a bag inside to keep them clean. Dirty or rusty pins make for dirty or rusty clothes.