Cut Out the Middle Man: Ironing Wet Clothes

I've been trying to cut back on my use of the clothes dryer. Clothes dryers not only use a lot of energy—the second highest energy consuming appliance after the refrigerator!—they’re also rough on fabrics. As an apartment dweller I don’t have the option of a clothesline (drats!) but I have found that I can cut some of my dryer use by ironing clothes straight out of the washing machine.I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner to iron my dress shirts straight out of the washing machine. I mean, I am basically cutting out the middle man here since ironing the shirt also dries it. And I’m all about cutting out the middleman.

I used to dry my shirts in the dryer, hang them, and then iron one when I needed it. Now I take the shirts directly from the washer and iron them while they’re wet. The ironing is actually easier – all the wrinkles press out quickly and easily so the shirt is nice and crisp – and the heat from the iron dries it. Of course, the shirt doesn’t get completely dry. The collar and cuffs remain a little damp so I usually hang the shirts from the shower rod, spread out a bit so they can finish air drying, before I put them in the closet. Best of all, when I want to wear a shirt, it’s already pressed and ready to go.

This approach to drying clothes would also work well on other garments – skirts, trousers, and so on. Of course, there are still all those other things I’ll need to throw in the dryer. I refuse to iron my undergarments and it would be just plain weird to iron towels. Maybe some day I'll have a yard with a clothesline but until then by at least ironing a portion of my clothes I’m keeping a few loads out of the dryer.

Image: Jason Loper