Put Your Clothes Dryer on a Diet

There are great reasons to line-dry clothes. The sun can kill dust mites, the sun can whiten and deodorize, there is no electricity used, and more. But the convenience of the dryer is something most of us rely on with gratitude. Not only does it take no more time than it takes to move the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, but you can easily dry clothes at any time of day or night. Fortunately, a few simple steps can help lessen the energy load your dryer may be costing you.

• Dry full loads, but don’t overload the dryer as it will take more energy to dry the clothes.
• Don’t overdry. Some new dryers have moisture sensors that automatically turn the dryer off when clothes are dry.
• Size your washer and dryer for equivalent load sizes.
• Wash and dry similar types of clothing together. Different fabrics dry at different rates.
• Clean the lint trap before every load.
• Be sure the dryer is vented to the outside to avoid moisture and lint build-up in the house.
• Be sure the outlet venting duct is free of tight turns, or elbows. Lint can build up at elbows, slowing airflow out of the machine, increasing drying time and creating a potential fire hazard.
• Rigid venting is better than corrugated flex vent at keeping air moving and avoiding blockages.
• Avoid kinking or crushing the vent material.
• Don’t exceed 25 feed of vent length (or per manufacturer’s instructions).
• A front-loading washer spins out clothes better, reducing drying time.
• Run loads in succession to capture residual heat of the previous load.
• Use the cool-down cycle to complete drying.
• If you like how your towels feel after coming out of the dryer, try using it for only ten minutes or so and then hang dry.
• If your clothes tend to take longer to dry than they used to, perhaps the thermostat or heating element has gone bad. Are the clothes hot but not dry? Check the venting system.
• Never vent a dryer into a crawlspace or attic.

Adapted from The Home Energy Diet: How to Save Money by Making Your House Energy Smart by Paul Scheckel (New Society Publishers, 2005).


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago


Dale Overall

Certainly do miss the old clothesline now that I live in an apartment, but in Ottawa we had a very long one and the clothes always smelled great after drying outside. When living on a farm and at another home it was always nice to hang things outside. Admittedly, a bit of a challenge in the -40 winter when frozen clothes were quite difficult to fold! But during warm temperatures, always a delight.

Nirvana Jaganath
Nirvana Jaganath5 years ago


Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Patty B.
Patty B5 years ago

I live in a desert so I just hang the clothes after washing and they dry really fast .It saves a lot of money since I have to go to the laundermat .Easier on your clothes also !

Amber Beasley
Amber Beasley5 years ago


Laurita Walters
Laurita Walters6 years ago

I hate scented fabric softeners. I am glad to learn of dryer balls. Thanks! I will find some soon!

Laurita Walters
Laurita Walters6 years ago

When I lived in Arizona, I would hang my laundry up in the heat of the day, and literally be able to begin taking them down as soon as I had finished hanging, because drying happened so fast there! Here in Idaho, I use a dryer in winter, as we don't heat the house over 68 degrees, and vent indoors for the heat and humidity.

Kath R.
Kath P7 years ago

I damp dry all of my clothes than hang them on clothes racks to finish drying. My husband was against my doing it at first but has come around so much so that he actually built me a large, sturdy drying rack.

Richard M.
Richard M8 years ago

Wool dryer balls are great! I've been using four of them in my dryer for the past several months and have not purchased dryer sheets or fabric softener since. I got my from this website for $7 apiece (see http://www.wooldryerballs.com/), or recylced tennis balls will suffice if you prefer.

I'm amazed that the energy saving piece didn't recommend using the air cycle of the dryer. Hello! - when it is hot outside this will reduce drying energy by over 90%, with only a slight increase in drying time for light and medium weight items. For bulky items like blankets and towels, I hang dry until they are slightly damp and then tumble for a few minutes to remove wrinkles and fold. And air cylcle dried clothing has the smell of hung-dried.