Last week, my electric clothes dryer stopped producing heat. It still tumbles the clothes. We think/hope it’s just a faulty thermostat. We were able to order the part online for around ten dollars—MUCH cheaper than buying a new clothes dryer. The part should arrive in the next few days. In the meantime, I don’t want my laundry piling up in the clothes hamper. I usually do a load of laundry every day or every other day—to keep things manageable—rather than having one designated “laundry day.”
Now, this feels like a “first world problem,” but I’ve never had to air dry my clothing (with the exception of bras and a couple of my sweaters). Strike that! I’ve never been ALLOWED to air dry my clothes outside. I live in the United States. For some reason, we may cry and whine about protecting the environment, but we don’t like to see laundry hanging outside on a clothesline or drying rack. In fact, due to neighborhood ordinances and restrictions, I could get fined for drying my clothing on an outdoor clothesline. Ridiculous? Probably. It’s also the dead of winter with temperatures in the single digits, making the idea of air drying clothing in the great outdoors a moot point.
So, what’s a person to do? Well…I could go to the laundry mat—there’s one close to my home—or I could air dry my clothing indoors.
Here are 7 tips to living without a clothes dryer:
- Plan ahead. Air drying takes longer than machine drying, especially if the air is humid. A pair of jeans could take a couple of days to air-dry indoors. Keep this in mind when planning out your washing routine so you won’t get stuck with nothing to wear but damp clothes.
- Don’t use an excessive amount of laundry detergent in your clothes washer. One of the main complaints of air-dried clothing is “crunchiness.” Machine-dried clothes tend to feel softer than their air-dried counterparts. If you’ve avoided air drying your clothes because they came out too stiff and scratchy in the past, you may have simply used too much laundry detergent and your machine wasn’t able to rinse the clothing thoroughly enough. You could put your clothing through an extra rinse cycle, but it’s MUCH eaiser—and more economical—to be less heavy-handed with your soap in the first place.
- Use white vinegar in your rinse cycle. If you have hard water/are heavy-handed with your laundry detergent, you could pour a 1/2 cup to a full cup of white vinegar in your rinse cycle. This will help rid your clothing of excess detergent and make them feel softer when dried. Don’t worry, your clothes won’t smell like salad dressing! I have a lot of calcium and lime in my water, but I also use dye-free/scent-free laundry detergent which seems to rinse out of my clothes easily enough without any extra steps. I only use this white vinegar hack on new, dark jeans to get the excess dye out. Anyone who has ever experienced “blue legs” from a new pair of jeans bleeding excess dye will appreciate this hack!
- Don’t overfill your washing machine. Clothes need space to wash, rinse, and spin properly. If your air-dried clothes feel “crunchy” and take forever to dry, you may have overfilled your washing machine.
- If your clothes are still sopping wet after machine washing them, add an extra spin-cycle. The more water you can spin out of your clothing, the faster the items will dry. This hack works with machine-dried clothes as well.
- No drying rack? No problem! Lightweight clothing like t-shirts and button-down shirts can be dried on clothes hangers. (Make sure they’ve been spun-dried well or the weight of the wet clothing might leave hanger indentation marks on the shoulders.) Hangers can also be used with clothespins. For example, you can pair up socks and hang them off of a hanger line a mini-clothesline. Jeans can be hung from their cuffs off of two hangers to provide more surface area for air to circulate. Thick sweatshirts can be clothespinned to a hanger upside-down, folding the waistband around the hanger to minimize indentations.
- Tension rods, portable clothes racks, and shower rods can all be used as a temporary place to hang damp clothing. Just be sure that your items are spaced far enough apart for air to circulate. You don’t want your clothes to mildew! A box fan could be placed in front of your wet clothes to speed the drying process along.
So what if you live in a dorm room or small apartment and don’t have a clothes washer or dryer? Or maybe you just have a few items to wash, what then? I found this hack for re-purposing a salad spinner to wash your clothing:
It really isn’t that hard to air dry clothing indoors. It’s better for the environment and my electric bill. If the new thermostat doesn’t fix my machine, I can still go to the laundry mat for big, bulky items like comforters, but it’s nice to have some at home alternatives available for everything else.
Do you have any laundry hacks? Share them in the comments below!