4 Air-Drying Laundry Tips I Had to Learn the Hard Way

published Mar 18, 2021
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Growing up, my grandparents did all the laundry and air dried our clothes because it saved us money on dryer sheets and electricity. If we ever used our drying machine, it must have been for a very special occasion. 

Ever since I moved away a year ago, I’ve been following the family tradition and air-drying my clothes, too. In my small apartment, I have a balcony where I hang my clothes out to dry right after they’re washed. But the funny thing is, my family never taught me the secrets to air-drying clothes more efficiently. I learned the hard way on my own after lots of trial and error. 

I want to share some tips and tricks that I learned the hard way, so you don’t have to. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Shake out clothes before hanging them up to remove excess water and reduce wrinkles.

Wet clothes come out of the wash spun up and clumped tightly. I used to pull them out of the washing machine and just lay them down right away to dry. But by doing so, I consistently got wrinkly clothing. 

Now, I take my clothes out of the wash right away and into a basket. One by one I shake each piece of clothing before hanging it up on a clothesline. Shaking out each item allows the fabric to stretch out a bit and relax instead of leaving it tight and bundled up like in the wash. This ensures the clothes don’t wrinkle and removes excess water which helps them dry faster. 

Dry clothes inside-out to prevent sun-bleaching.

I once ruined a brand new pair of black jeans in less than 24 hours. I threw my jeans in the wash, and I hung them to dry like usual. But when I went to put them away, my black jeans were a dark gray instead. Why? Because I’d left them to dry in direct sunlight.

Drying clothes in the sun can help sanitize fabrics, dry them quickly, and keep your white fabrics looking crisp and clean. But the sun can also lighten your colorful clothes, especially your dark items. Ultraviolet rays break down the chemical bonds that make your clothes appear a certain color, causing them to look faded or bleached.

I now hang dry all my clothes inside out. The colors remain bright, and my jeans stay dark. If you don’t like the idea of turning each piece of clothing inside out after the wash, turn them inside out when you throw them into the hamper. This saves time and it is easier to do when the clothes are dry. 

Clean your clothespins (or don’t use clothespins at all).

One especially windy day when I went to hang up my white towel on the clothesline, I reached for a set of wooden clothespins to make sure the towel stayed in place. But when I unclipped the towel later, I saw two distinct black marks on either side of the towel. My freshly washed towels were now freshly dirtied. I remembered these clothespins were sitting outside the clothing line for months exposed to the elements since I moved in. 

I immediately grabbed a bucket of water and an old toothbrush and scrubbed out all the dirt from inside the clothespins. As for my white towel, I rewashed it by hand to rub off the extra dirt. Instead of using clothespins, I simply moved the towel to a less windy area. 

You can use clothespins to keep your clothes from flying away, but make sure they are clean to avoid mishap like mine. 

Bonus Tip: Put your clothing pins in a dry, closed container away from the elements to keep them cleaner longer. 

Use hangers to dry delicate pieces — and maximize space.

I air dry every piece of clothing on a portable clothesline, but all the clothes started to take up so much space. A week’s worth of jeans, shirts, sweaters, and undergarments between two people adds up very quickly. 

So I started using plastic hangers to dry delicate pieces (like undergarments) to maximize clothing line space. I choose to use plastic because wood can warp from the moisture from the clothes, and velvet or other fabrics can retain moisture and get smelly. 

I like to use plastic hangers with notches because it prevents undergarments from sliding off. If you have limited hangers or space to hang them, you can use both notches on the hanger and the hook to air dry three pairs of undergarments at once. 

Bonus Tip: If you have a traditional clothesline and you are drying large pieces like bedsheets, put two or three clothes hangers under the sheet — position them so the ends of the hangers keep the two hanging sides of the sheet from touching, to allow for more airflow and faster drying.