How to Line Dry Clothes in the Winter

One of the ways I keep down the high cost of electricity is by using my clothes line as much as possible. With an average dryer load consuming about 50¢ of electricity per load, line drying trims my electricity bill by $20 a month. So how do I manage line drying laundry in the winter? Through careful planning.

Even though I live in a high mountain desert, we get winter rain and snow like elsewhere in the US. The only time I don’t line dry clothes outdoors is when the weather report calls for precipitation. As long as rain nor snow are in the forecast, I’ll hang out my laundry even if it’s overcast, windy, freezing or only partly sunny. In most cases, clothes hung up at 8am in the morning are usually dry by 5 in the afternoon.

And what if rain is in the forecast for today but not tomorrow? I’ll postpone laundry chores until the weather is more agreeable. Here are some other tips that can help.

Five minute tumble in the dryer first. It takes longer for clothes to dry in the winter than in the summer due to increased humidity and colder temps. One way to speed up the drying time is to tumble the clothes in the dryer for 5 minutes before hanging them up to dry. This removes excess moisture while relaxing the wrinkles so clothes will dry wrinkle free.

Maximize the exposure to the air. When I dry clothes in the winter, I take care to avoid folding things over which also slows down the drying time. Shirts are hung open and unbuttoned, jeans are hung by the waist and unzipped, sweatshirts are hung by the waist band so the hoods will dry faster, and towels are hung by the corners.

Rotate half way through. If possible, flip the clothes half way through the drying time so that the back side has a chance to dry too. Even though the weather may be overcast, the UVs can penetrate through the cloud cover to disinfect the clothes and help with drying.

Bring in before nightfall. No matter if it’s hot outside or cold, clothes left on the line after dark will absorb moisture in the air and become damp. I remove my clothes from the line at dusk to prevent dampness. Clothes that aren’t completely dry are draped over clothes racks in the kitchen where they can finish drying overnight.

More by this contributor:
The right way to load a washing machine.
How to prevent laundry from fading.
Preventing bleach stains in family laundry.

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