“Bring the washing in off the line, it’s about to rain!”
This phrase was often echoed throughout the small community we lived in during our 3-year stay in Scotland.
It never ceased to amaze me that in a part of the world that received enormous amounts of rainfall, people were line drying laundry outside on a regular basis, despite how easy it to make an indoor clothesline.
They hung their clothes outside in backyards the size of a credit card. Rain or shine, sleet or snow. Sometimes they would even leave the clothes outside while it rained and let them dry all over again. No biggie.
Why is this such a common tradition in a place where it would be much more convenient to use a dryer?
From my observations, people were more frugal in this area because they had to be. Utilities are astronomically expensive in that part of the world. To heat our very small Scottish home at the peak of winter, it could cost up to $150 (70 British pounds) per week!
This was a very good motivator for keeping utility costs to a minimum and line drying laundry was free. With the enormous cost to simply heat a home in the cool climate, I’m sure Scots made it a priority to line dry laundry to save money, but there are other benefits too!
4 Benefits of Line Drying Laundry
1. It saves money.
This one’s a no-brainer, but let’s break it down. Electricity expert Michael Bluejay says:
A clothes dryer accounts for a whopping 12% of electricity use in a typical household. And clothes drying is one of the easiest places to save energy, because you can erase 100% of the cost by simply hanging your clothes up to dry. At a sample rate of $0.15/kWh and 7.5 loads per week, we’re talking a savings of $196 per year by line-drying instead of using an electric dryer. That’s hefty.
I agree – that is hefty! An extra $200 per year just for line drying laundry? Image what you could do with the extra money!
Of course your exact cost will vary depending on your local rates and electric and gas providers, but this handy calculator can help you find out how much you’d save per load hung on the line versus put in the dryer.
Related Articles: The Easiest Way to Save Money on Laundry
2. It gets you outside.
Nowadays, people don’t go outside nearly as much as they did a couple of generations ago. In times gone by, people had to be outside just to make life work. They gardened, tended animals, and yes, did the washing!
There’s also new knowledge about how physically coming coming into direct contact with the earth (such as going barefoot) can be beneficial to our bodies. The concept is called earthing, and it can reduce inflammation and free radical damage. Yes, it’s an actual thing!
According to Dr. Josh Axe, the idea is that by being in touch with the planet, the electrical force coming off the earth is able to help lower inflammation and fight free radicals. Katie (from Wellness Mama) also has a great write-up on the benefits of dirt.
It sounds strange, but it couldn’t hurt, right? Line drying laundry is a great way to get more of that outside earthing time.
Related Article: 6 Practical Tips for Getting Outside More
3. It’s healthier.
Maybe I’m a weirdo, but I think there must be some health benefit to wearing clothing that’s been dried outside. That smell of fresh air… there’s something very therapeutic about it, much more so than any perfume-y fabric softener.
Line drying laundry freshens your clothes perfectly, so there’s no need for all those heavily fragranced detergents and dryer sheets – many of which contain harmful ingredients.
You could switch to a non-toxic or homemade laundry detergent and never have to worry about adding fragrance because line drying ensures your clothes will always smell great.
4. It’s good for your clothing.
You know that massive ball of lint you pull out of the dryer every day? Turns out that’s a chunk of your clothes going in the trash.
Using a dryer is hard on clothes and makes them wear out faster. And those lint balls on your favorite shirt are not pretty.
Line drying laundry is gentler on fabric and makes your clothes last a lot longer… which means more money in your pocket!
Aside from homemade bleach alternative, the sun is also great for whitening those whites. Sunshine is a natural disinfectant and a perfect solution for those towels harboring a mildew smell, too.
A side note: It’s also possible to air-dry your clothing indoors if the weather is bad. However, this article explains a possible health hazard when doing this. Indoor drying causes moisture levels to rise, which can be create breeding ground for mold spores.
If you’re going to dry things indoors, use a dehumidifier in the same room to rid the air of excess moisture or choose a well ventilated area.
With all of the great benefits and savings of line drying your clothes, you may be excited yet overwhelmed at where to start. You may be thinking, “This sounds wonderful, but how will I find the time?”
If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to cut corners when it comes to household chores.
Related Articles: Saving Money on School Clothes
If you’re overwhelmed, here are some tips for getting started line drying laundry:
1. Start with large items.
If the thought of hanging all those little socks and pairs of underwear drains you, start with only line drying larger items like blankets, sheets and towels, for a time. You may enjoy it so much that you decide to line dry more often.
2. Enlist help with smaller items.
There’s no shame in getting help from people or inventions. Whoever invented the clip and drip hanger is my hero forever, and it’s easy enough to use that my kids can be in charge of hanging up the socks!
3. Air out second hand buys.
My mom doesn’t line dry, but every time she purchases something second hand, she lets it hang outside for several days to get that “smell” out. Who wants to carry around the fragrance from some mystery person’s laundry detergent? Not this gal.
This concept works great with second hand shoes, too!
4. Not EVERYTHING needs to be folded.
Yes, you heard me right – I’m a huge advocate for not folding items that won’t be seen in public (washcloths, underwear, etc.). Refraining from folding certain items will free up time for you to invest in line drying!
Remember – line drying is beneficial for your pocketbook AND your health. Why not give it a try this summer?
Would you consider line drying, or is it too much of a hassle? Do you have any additional tips?
This post was written by Mary of Simply Nature Plus Nurture.