The Best Way to Line Dry Clothes

Nothing beats the smell of line-dried clothes.
... Maria Teijeiro/Photodisc/Getty Images

Electric clothes dryers make modern life convenient, but they're also real energy hogs. A single dryer, depending on your energy rates and appliance efficiency, can cost $100 a year or more to run. Line-drying is completely free once you've set the clothesline up. It's not as foolproof as tossing your garments into the dryer, as you must hang clothes properly so they don't get creased, wrinkled and stretched out.

Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the washing machine when laundering clothes. The vinegar keeps clothes and towels soft after drying them outside.

Schedule your line-drying time in the morning hours, and avoid line-drying if it's raining. If your clothes do get wet in the rain, just leave them on the line and wait a bit longer for them to dry.

Set up your clothesline so that it doesn't hang below trees. If you hang clothes under trees, they can get soiled with bird droppings and other debris. If you plan to line-dry colored garments, set the line up so that it hangs out of direct sunlight. Sun has a bleaching effect on fabric.

Position a fan to blow air at the clothes if you're drying them on an indoor line. The fan helps them to dry faster. Hang clothes a few inches apart to allow better air flow and faster drying.

Shake each garment a few times before hanging, then smooth your hand over it once or twice to remove wrinkles and lint.

Turn pants pockets inside-out before hanging to allow them to dry faster. Hang jeans up by the waistband with at least two clothespins. Fold slacks or dress pants down the middle, then hang them by the cuffs.

Hang underwear, panties and bikini bottoms up by the waistband. If you're concerned about privacy outdoors, hang them on an inner line so they're hidden from view.

Pin shirts up by the hemline, not the shoulders. Hanging by the shoulders can cause the fabric's shape to distort. Hang skirts by the hemline as well, but pin dresses by the shoulder seams.

Hang socks by the toes, using one clothespin for each sock.

Fold blankets and sheets in half, then pin up each end. Fold towels in half, then drape them over the line at the fold. Use two clothespins on each towel to keep it from sliding off.

  • If you live in a community with a homeowner's association, ask if it's acceptable to set up a clothesline before you commit to the project. Some associations do not allow line-drying of clothes.
  • If you don't have room for a clothesline or can't set up a permanent one, you don't need to miss out on the benefits of line-drying. A portable laundry rack works too. Some racks are retractable, so they'll take up less space when you're done with them.

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.