Laying on the line: how to air dry your clothes in all weathers | life and style

AAs the year continues with a troubling combination of unpredictable weather and rising energy prices, when and how to dry laundry has become increasingly complicated. While there is a time and a place to use a clothes dryer, line drying is much better for the environment, the longevity of your closet, and your electric bill.

According to experts, your preference should always be to dry your clothes outside in the shade. But when the weather does not allow it, a rack in a well-ventilated space will suffice.

The basics

Start by removing as much excess moisture as possible. As long as your garment can handle a spin cycle, Ashley Iredale of consumer platform Choice says you can use the highest spin speed on your washing machine. For delicate or woolen garments that need to be hand washed, gently squeeze out as much water as possible or lay them on a flat towel and slowly roll them up, applying pressure.

Never stack clothes on top of each other – give them as much room as possible. Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty Images/Tetra Images RF

When hanging out your laundry, George Chan, a fashion technician at RMIT University, recommends spreading out your clothes as much as possible and staggering your clothes by weight. Thicker clothes should be hung higher and clothes should never be placed on top of each other.

The details

The smoother your wet clothes are on the rack or clothesline, the crispier they will be when dry. This includes making sure shirt cuffs and socks are fully turned out and collars are smoothed flat. It will also help them dry faster. Knitwear should always be laid flat and shaped, either on a rack or on a towel, especially if it is particularly heavy.

Hanging certain garments like shirts or pants on a hanger with the buttons closed and the legs or sleeves smoothed out can reduce (or eliminate) ironing time. Chan says to make sure your hangers are strong enough to hold the weight of any wet garments and wide enough to accommodate their width to avoid misshapen shoulders. Remember to hang wet clothes on stained wood, stained fabric, or metal hangers, as dye transfers and rust can both cause stains.

Installation of a line

Gary Nickless, owner of Lifestyle Clotheslines, says the main thing to consider when installing a clothesline is space. Although a Hills hoist can have a nostalgic or romantic appeal, he says, “it’s not a practical option, which is why folding and wall-mounted options have become the most popular models.” Another great option for a balcony or if you’re short on yard space is a retractable clothesline.

Next, Nickless says to make sure whatever you choose has enough drying space for your needs. For example, if you tend to do larger loads of laundry (which is recommended to save resources) or if you only do laundry once a week, you will need more space. “Generally, 35 to 40 meters of space is good for a family of four, and 45 to 50 meters is ideal for a family of five,” he says.

He also recommends Australians buy locally made clotheslines to ensure they have been designed with Australian weather conditions in mind. Given the off-season rain some parts of the country experience and the sunlight can fade or age your clothes, he suggests getting a cover for your clothesline, like these from ClevaCover. “This allows for year-round drying, as they are fully waterproof, and provide a great shade area in the hot summer months to protect your clothes.”

Finally, Nickless suggests investing in some clothespins to keep your clothes on the line – like a hardy stainless steel variety that lasts much longer than traditional plastic dowels.

And inside?

A portable clothes rack is the next best thing to line drying. Since most of them are designed to be folded and stored, look for one made of sturdy but lightweight materials so that it is easy to maneuver but not flimsy. It also needs to be waterproof, so steel, aluminum or sealed woods are ideal.

A clothes rack
A clothes rack may meet your needs, but can vary wildly in terms of durability, price, and quality. Photography: sandramirey/Getty Images/Room RF

As with a clothesline, you need to consider the space available in your home and the capacity you need for the rack. A rack with lots of cross bars at different heights will be fine for underwear and t-shirts, taller bars are better for bulkier items like towels or pants and flat bars or shelves will be good for drying the knits.

Drying racks vary wildly in durability, price and quality, so it’s worth spending some time reading reviews of different models online before buying one and seeing what’s available from them. opportunity. A high-quality used dryer can outlast a more fragile option purchased new.

Manage the heat

There are two drawbacks to drying clothes indoors. The first is that water vapor from your clothes can exacerbate condensation and mold in your home. The second is the time it takes.

A dehumidifier might be a better option for your space than a heater to dry clothes without the risk of fire or mold.
A dehumidifier might be a better option for your space than a space heater for drying clothes, because they don’t pose a fire hazard and use less electricity. Photography: mady70/Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s tempting to deal with the latter by placing your rack near a radiator. Iredale says: “As a general rule, it’s safe to point an electric heater at a hair dryer, provided it’s not too close – you don’t want water running into the heater, and you certainly don’t not that your clothes get so hot they’ll catch on. Fire.”

Chan says if you want to do that, you have to be aware of the content of the fabric. He says don’t put anything flammable, like 100% nylon or 100% polyester fabrics, near a heater or leave them to dry nearby unattended for a long time.

Never lay clothing directly on the heater as this presents a serious fire hazard. “You don’t just risk the fabric or the heater itself catching fire – the heater could potentially overheat and warp, falling on a child, pet or something potentially highly flammable,” says Iredale.

He says a better option is a dehumidifier that can blow hot, dry air over your laundry. Dehumidifiers are designed to remove moisture from the air and should “speed up drying time nicely.” An electric fan can also help circulate the air, which is useful in particularly humid environments.