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5 Tips for Line Drying Your Clothes

5 Tips for Line Drying Your Clothes

By Colleen Vanderlinden, Planet Green

We haven’t used our dryer in years. Literally, years. During the winter, we hang our clothes to dry on lines that run the length of our basement. During the spring, summer, and fall, our clothes are dried and freshened by Ma Nature.

We’ve loved the energy savings, the fact that we are lessening our impact on the environment, and the clean way our clothing smells — no overpowering fabric softener smell here! But I have to admit that I, especially, love hanging clothes outdoors on the lines, feeling the warm sun and gentle breeze as I smooth and clip towels, t-shirts, and jeans onto the lines.

Your clothes will dry on the line. That’s nature. But there are a few little tricks to line drying that will make the process run even more smoothly.

Tips for Line Drying Your Clothes

1. Use vinegar in your rinse cycle to avoid stiff clothing.
I often hear people complain that when they line dry their clothing (especially jeans and towels), it ends up stiff and scratchy. Using just a half to three-quarters of a cup of vinegar per load, added just before your rinse cycle starts, will keep your clothing soft. Don’t worry about any vinegar odor — it disappears as the clothing dries.

2. Hang your shirts by the hemline, rather than the shoulders.
This prevents weird bunching at the shoulders, which is a pain to get out after the shirt is dry. Use two clothespins at the hem instead, and you won’t have to worry about bunchy shoulders.

3. Don’t fold clothing over the line.
Use clothespins, and clip all of your clothes to the line. Folding results in longer drying times and fold lines in weird places once your clothes have dried.

4. Don’t crowd your lines.
If you’re like me, you just want to get the laundry done as quickly as possible, and you might, maybe, sometimes do larger loads than you have room to hang. Resist the temptation, and give your clothing room on the lines. Crowding results in wrinkles and longer drying times, as well as weighing down the line (which could make your clothes drag on the ground.)

5. Freshen between washings.
If you have an item that you’ve worn, but isn’t exactly dirty, go ahead and hang it out on the line to let it air out. For even more freshening power, make an all natural linen spray, spritz the item, and let it dry. Double energy savings!

Line drying is easy, effective, and (dare I say it?) enjoyable. I hope these tips help make laundry day a little simpler.

Fire Your Dryer
Letting It All Hang Out: The Clothesline Wars
Clean Clothes, Happier Planet

Read more: Conservation, Green, Home, Household Hints, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , , ,

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Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


+ add your own
10:29AM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

Good tips - ill have to remember the vinegar and hanging shirts by the hem.

10:47PM PDT on May 27, 2012

When you go shopping for clothes, most of the stores will let you keep the hangers. I have a bunch. I do not have an outside clothesline anymore, so I hang my things on hangers, and I open the Garage door and hang them on the edge of it thats up in the air. Also have a cyclone fence and I hook the hangers on there. Can't do sheets but all my clothes can dry out side and put them right in the closet. Really great if it starts to rain, you just grab the hangers and run. I put every thing except underwear in the dryer with a nice dryer sheet for about 10 minutes on low and then out they go. No wrinkles of anykind. Also have what they call dryer balls. Rubber balls with little spikes on them, takes the wrinkles right out.

6:30PM PDT on May 17, 2012

I love drying clothes outside ,I have a dry Buddie but hardly ever use it.

5:23AM PDT on May 17, 2012

I line dry whenever possible starting in the Spring and into late Fall. However, I don't have enough room to hang clothes in my basement during the winter, so I must use the dryer. I vent my dryer indoors and use netting from fruit sacks (oranges, etc) fastened to the vent hose to trap lint. The moist, warm air helps add humidity to the house and takes off the Winter chill.

I made my own clothesline using a couple 4x4's for uprights, 2x4's for cross arms, a few toggle bolts and screw in hooks and voila! It took me less than an hour. The 4x4's were set in sackrete for a day before I stretched the lines. It's several years old now and gets frequent use. I just love bed linens dried in the summer sun.

2:49AM PDT on Oct 1, 2011


7:11PM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

great ideas now all i need is the line

4:42AM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Noted with thanks.

4:06PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

you forgot to mention that your clothes will last longer too, and no worry of shrinking. I hang mine on hangers which i find easier than clothespins. they can also just go straight to the closet that way, or if still a bit damp to the shower rod overnight. even underwear and socks and small towels work on hangers. In europe it is common to have a closet, called a drying closet, to hang them in. It is good if it is next to a heat vent. Happy Drying!

1:15PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011


5:34AM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

I lived in NY most of my life. Clothes dried on the line up there always smelled great, especially the sheets and T-shirts. Now I live in Florida and although the clothes dry in one quarter of the time they do not have any scent. I wonder why? Anyone know?

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