How can I reduce my use of our clothes dryer?

drying-socksThis “Reduce This” follows on from Tuesday’s “How can I make this?” question: “how can I make a outside washing line cover re-using/recycling stuff?“.

I read a lot of green/simple living blogs by people in the US and it amazes me, utterly amazes me when people say that their local homeowners association or the like doesn’t let them dry washing outside on washing lines. It seems crazy to me that people aren’t allowed to take advantage of the great solar and wind-powered dryer that is the big blue room.

If you can’t dry outside – because you’re not allowed or because you haven’t got any outside space – what do you do to avoid using an electricity-guzzling tumble dryer?

Do you have any tricks to speed up the drying process (extra spinning? ironing?)? Are retractable washing lines the way forward?

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10 Responses to “How can I reduce my use of our clothes dryer?”

  1. louisa says:

    We’ve inherited a tumble dryer from the old owners of our new house and I really want to get rid of it so I’m not tempted to use it at all.

    Drying clothes was a bit of a pain in our old, small, cold house – the garden/yard was north-facing so never got any sun, and inside we didn’t really have enough floor space for a clothes horse. But there was room for a ceiling-mounted drying rack on a pulley in the kitchen and I got a little portable peg rack thing for our socks & undies – more than enough space for two people.

    In our new place, we get sun in the garden until about 2pm and there is some dead space in the hallway on the way up to the attic room, perfect for an upright collapsible airer – or perhaps something more permanent. I also turned the spare cupboard space around our boiler into an airing cupboard at the weekend: a super easy job with some 2by1 wooden batons – I even made the shelves removable in case we need better access to the boiler in the future. Certainly no need for the tumble dryer as well.

  2. Frank says:

    If you are looking for a new dryer, buy a heat pump dryer. They cost twice as much as normal dryers, but consume half the energy. Therefore the cost over the lifetime of the dryer is lower, and of course a lot of energy is saved.

  3. Cipollina says:

    Wash your clothes a bit less, is also a good option. Sweaters and jeans can be used several days, provided they are properly hung so they get some airing, and not folded or balled up on a chair at night.

    When I lived alone I used to hang my sheets folded three times on clothes hangers in the doorways. In colder weather I had to turn them (unfold and refold them the oposite way) a couple of times, but they dried nicely in a couple of days.

    Now I have three different portable racks for indoor use, where there’s room for tons more than I’ll ever will need in one laundry session; one small to hang on the radiators, one regular, and one really towering thing for long stuff like sheets and trousers. I never use them all together, though, because I prefer to spread the laundry over several of days.

    In winter I hang loads with only small items and single handwashed items directly on the heaters. Not only do they dry really fast – sometimes while next load is being washed – they even help humidify the dry indoor winter air.

    I also have a ceiling-mounted rack in the woodshed – and if one has high ceiling, I can’t see why one can’t install one of those in the bathroom (over the tub) or kitchen – or any room, really. Or several. On mine there is room for ten doublebed sheets folded only once lengthwise. That’s several months’ worth of sheets dried in one go.

  4. Gladys says:

    The only things I regularly dry in the dryer are towels. I have a small drying rack that usually sits on top of my dryer – but will get moved to the patio on sunny days. I’ll also hang things over the patio furniture when the sun is out. Most clothes are put on hangers to dry, and are hung on the shower curtain rod, over door knobs, wherever I can find room. Makes it easy to put them in the closet when they are dry! My bicycle often has clothes draped over it to dry. The biggest thing I learned – you have to spread out the laundry. You can’t do it all in one day unless you have plenty of space to hang it.

    As an American, the impression I’ve gotten from the homeowners association restrictions has to do with appearances. Hanging laundry out to dry is something “poor” people do – those who can’t afford to buy a dryer or run it. The neighborhood doesn’t want people to get the impression they are “poor” or messy. My mother always hung laundry when I was growing up, so it doesn’t seem that unusual to me…but I think for a lot of people they don’t know how to dry clothes without a clothes dryer. It will be interesting to see if attitudes change in these tough economic times.

  5. Bobbie says:

    A compromise would be to damp-dry in the machine, then finish out on a hanger. I do this with my clothes. I wish I had an outdoor clothes line, but can’t seem to get hubby motivated…any hints?

  6. Fergus Brogan says:

    We do a second spin in the washer and then hang the damp clothes in the polytunnel. In winter the polytunnel is pretty bare – no tomatoes – so there’s a clothesline down the centre. It’s important to leave the doors open at each end or you’ll end up with mildew or tomato mosaic virus.

  7. Mary says:

    You really do need a good spinner for your laundry before you hang it on your clothes drying rack. I have also learned that a good brisk shake or two also helps with drying time and wrinkles. The shake helps to remove some of the wrinkles before hanging so they don’t dry in and the shake seem to seperate the fabric front from the backs so there is more air circulation.

    I also found that just a little air circulation really helps dry when inside. I am lucky enough to have ceiling fans. So clothes dry much faster when the ceiling fan is on.

  8. Alice says:

    Whoever tells you not to hang washing outside, make it a political issue.

    Write to the association, explain the environmental cost of tumble dryers, ask a dryer manufacturer how much electricity they use per cycle then multiply that by how many times a year you have to use it to show how this adds up over time. Multiply this by the number of other people who can’t dry outside in your area.

    Recruit other residents to your cause, go to meetings where policy is decided, see if you can get any local press interest.

    Persist, keep bringing it up, make sure everyone at least knows that the No Line Drying policy is controversial.

    If they do eventually change the rules, you’ll not only solve your own problem but allow others to stop using their dryers too. Either way you’ll make lots of people aware that they should be reducing their use, including many people who would never otherwise have thought about it.

    Good luck!

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