How to Line Dry Clothes and Why You Should - Retro Housewife Goes Green (2023)

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By Lisa Sharp 22 Comments

There are many benefits to line drying your clothes but if you’ve never done it you may not be sure how to line dry clothes. These tips will have you drying your clothes the right way in no time.

How to Line Dry Clothes and Why You Should - Retro Housewife Goes Green (1)

When I was a kid we moved out to the country to a home on 40 beautiful wooded acres. I spent so many hours walking through our woods, paddle boating on the pond, riding my bike, and playing with our dogs. It made for a lovely childhood.

Shortly after moving there, my dad put up a clothesline. It was my first experience using one. Soon I found I loved the chore of hanging the clothes on the line. It was relaxing and the clothes smelled amazing when you brought them back in. Plus it was an easy chore that could be done outside, my favorite place to be.

When I got married I moved back into town. I dreamt of having a clothesline again but we never got around to putting one in. That all changed when we bought a new house. The home was built in the early 1960s and still hadthe t-posts for a clothesline. Before we even closed on the house I was dreaming of hanging clothes on the line again.

Having a clothesline again has been great. There are so many benefits to line drying clothing. It’s really sad that it’s something so few do anymore, at least in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong I still love that I have an electric dryer but there are just so many benefits to line drying clothes that I’d rather rarely use it.

10 Benefits of Line Drying

How to Line Dry Clothes and Why You Should - Retro Housewife Goes Green (2)

  1. It saves money. In the U.S., it costs approximately $0.45 to dry a load of laundry in anelectric dryer. I do about 5 loads of laundry a week, during some seasonal cleaning even more. That’s more than $117.
  2. It whitens your whites. The sun is one of the best ways to naturally bleach your whites. This will help save you even more money and helps keep harsh chemicals off of your clothes.
  3. It’s a good form of exercise. Putting your clothes in the dryer from the washer takes little effort. However, carrying a basket of clothes out to your line and putting them on the line can help get you moving and the arms up and down movement can help get your heart working a bit more.
  4. Say goodbye to static cling and dryer sheets. Drying your clothes on a line gets rid of the need for dryer sheets helping reduce even more harsh chemicals on your clothes and saving you even more money. Dryer sheets are full of harshchemicals and build-up on your clothes, especially towels. When you ditch the dryer sheets you may find your towels are fluffier and dry a lot better. That’s because that build-up is making your towels less effective.
  5. Great smelling clothes without harsh chemicals. When I get a new-to-me vintage clothing item it always spends at least a day outside. The fresh air really does wonders for reducing any odors it may have. The same is true for all of your clothing.
  6. Your clothes will last longer. Line drying is far more gentle on your clothes. It also will prevent your clothes from shrinking. This is yet another benefit that will save you money.
  7. Fewer Wrinkles. I’m not a big fan of ironing or steaming and since I wear a lot of cotton skirts and dresses I can end up doing a lot of both. Line drying reduces wrinkles naturally. I still have to do some ironing/steaming but a lot less.
  8. It’s better for the environment. With all the ways it helps you reduce harshchemical use and the energy saves it can really help reduce your environmental impact. It’s just another example of how being environmentally friendly also saves you money.
  9. It gets you outside. More time outside has been shown to provide all kinds of health benefits from weight loss, to increased vitamin d levels (which helps keep you from getting sick as often and is important for bone health), improved brain function, less depression, better vision and so much more.
  10. Better mental health. Many people report that line drying clothes is relaxing. I know this is true for me.I haven’t found any studies on what about this activity makes it relaxing, it’s likely a combination of things. Whatever it is, more and more of us are dealing with chronic stress and the many health problems that can come with that so any stress relief is a good thing.

How to Line Dry Clothes

How to Line Dry Clothes and Why You Should - Retro Housewife Goes Green (3)

Set Yourself Up for Success

While you can just tie the clothesline between two trees, this is what I grew up with, it’s best to not have your clothesline under trees to prevent pollen, bird poop, and other debris from falling on your clothes.

I love the set up I currently have which is a t-post style line but there are many options out there.

If you need a rope with your chosen style of clothesline you’ll want to make sure you pick the right kind.

It can be tempting to use any rope you have around the house but old ropes will rot in the sun and can even shed fibers into your clothing.

Instead be sure to get a weather-resistant rope that is made for line drying. It will hold up a lot better.

Keep Your Clothesline Clean

Before you hang your clean laundry on your line it’s a good idea to give it a quick wipe.

I like to bring out a damp rag and just give it a quick wipe down before I get started. You don’t want to hang up your clean clothes and take them down later and find there was something on the line.

How to Line Dry Clothes Properly

How to Line Dry Clothes and Why You Should - Retro Housewife Goes Green (4)

If you want to get all of the benefits from line drying your clothes you want to make sure you are doing it the right way.

For all items be sure to give them a quick shake before you put them on the line. This will help make you have less wrinkles and help items to dry faster.

  • Towels, Washcloths, and Pillowcases: Hang by the corners for faster drying.
  • Pants: Fold in half with both legs pressed together and hang with the waist hanging down. If you have a lot of room you can separate the legs and pin each up on their own.
  • Shirts: Pin shirts by the bottom hem at the side seams. You can also hang them on hangers and pin the hanger to the line.
  • Socks: Pin pairs together with the pin in a corner of each sock.
  • Sheets and Blankets: Fold the items in half and pin at the corners. This will prevent a crease down the middle. You may need extra pins in the middle of the item.

Items That Shouldn’t Go on the Clothes line

  • Sweaters and other stretchy clothes that say to lay flat to dry. Hanging these items on the line can stretch them. It’s best to dry these items laying flat inside or on a drying rack outside.
  • Very delicate items, especially on windy days. You don’t want them to get snagged.
  • Some vintage fabrics. Line drying is great for high-quality cottons that are in good shape but more delicate fabrics or ones with rips or tears and some heavier items are best dried on a drying rack.

More Tips for Line Drying Clothes

  • Don’t overfill your washing machine. Clothes need to be able to move to get clean and if it’s too full they won’t spin very well and will come out very wet. You can also do an extra spin cycle for heavier items that are too wet.
  • Sort your laundry. I know that people are starting to do this less but I’m still a big believer in sorting laundry. You should sort by color and how heavy the items are. Mixing heavy work pants with light weight dresses can mean more wrinkles.
  • Put your socks in a lingerie bag so they are all together when you are hanging them up, plus no more lost socks.
  • Check the weather. You don’t only want to avoid rain but also a high humidity day will mean a longer dry time so be aware of that as well.
  • Check the pollen count. If you have allergies it’s best to avoid days with high pollen levels.

Have other concerns when it comes to line drying? Read The Problems with Line Drying and How to Fix Them.

More Cleaning Resources

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