5 Reasons to Hang Dry Your Laundry

A Drop in the Ocean Tacoma Zero Waste Sustainable Living Blog 5 Reasons to Hang Dry Laundry
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This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on April 26, 2021.

Hello hello hello and welcome to the final week of Earth Month, friend! Do you have any earth wins for this month? I’d love to hear about them! Comment below and brag to me about the eco-goodness you accomplished this month :)

Today’s post is the fourth in our Small Actions, Big Impact series, where once a month we’re highlighting one tiny change you can make in your life that actually has a huge impact for the planet (and people).

Since last month we talked about washing our laundry on cold (and in the process saving 90% of our energy), I want to continue the laundry theme with hang-drying our laundry rather than tumble drying.

Here are five reasons I hang dry my laundry:

1. It costs less!

Drying one load of laundry for an hour costs about 66¢ per load. Since the average family does eight loads of laundry per week, that’s about $5.28 each week just from drying, or $274.56 each year.

That’s a lot of dough saved just from skipping the dryer.

2. Sunshine is a natural bleach.

🎵 Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on [my laundry]! 🎵

Anyone else grow up singing that little tune?? No? Just me? Okay...

Anywho, did you know that sun can actually act as a natural bleach alternative? Just put your clothes out in the sun, as flat as possible so the area you want whitened is exposed to the sun, and leave ‘em outside for a couple hours. If you want them brighter, leave them out for a couple hours again another day. You can even mix a little bit of lemon juice with water and spray it on stains before putting in the sun for an extra little boost!

Having said that, if you’re drying your clothes in the sunshine, I highly recommend turning your dark and bright clothes inside out. While the sun will brighten whites, it can also fade colors.

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste ShopOh how I would love to live in a place like this.
Image by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash | Venice, Italy.

3. My clothes last longer.

We all know that dryers cause our laundry to shrink and warp, especially the more often we dry them. But it also thins our laundry and shortens its lifespan. The lint collected is evidence of shredding fibers, meaning our laundry is slowly losing its quality and will need to be replaced sooner.

With all of the issues surrounding the fashion industry, line drying my clothes means I can keep my laundry in tippity-top shape way longer, which saves me money and reduces the impacts of the fashion industry.

The longer we can use something, the less of an environmental footprint it has.

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste ShopHang-drying works in small spaces, too!

4. It saves a stupid amount of energy.

One dryer uses about 2.79 kilowatts of electricity per hour. The emissions from this are about the same as driving five miles in an average passenger car. If the average family runs their dryer about six hours every week, that means that in one week, each dryer is creating the same emissions as driving about 30 miles.

Over the course of a year, that adds up to 1,560 miles. That’s like driving from New York City to Austin - and then some.

By switching to hang drying, in one year we can save the same amount of emissions as driving from NYC to Austin. WHAT. 🤯

If every household in the US hang-dried just half of their laundry instead of tumble-drying, we could save the equivalent of taking more than 161,000 cars off the road - that’s more than 1.8 BILLION miles driven - EVERY. WEEK.

5. It forces me to slow down.

In a world where we glorify being busy and rushing through our days, hanging some laundry on my drying rack gives me a reason to slow down. To appreciate the sunshine on my face. To smell the fresh air. To notice the feel of the fabrics in my hands.

It’s simplicity.
It’s mindfulness.
It’s an act of resistance.

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop

Now, I don’t hang dry everything. I live in an apartment. I don’t have the space for that.

BUT. I do my laundry about once a month. So, as you can imagine, I have quite a lot of laundry to do. It typically breaks down into:

  • Two loads of dark clothes
  • One load of light clothes
  • One or two loads of towels
  • One or two loads of bedsheets

So on average, we’re looking at about six loads of laundry on the same day. That’s a lot of laundry on a single day, and if I tumble dried everything, that would be six loads in the washer and six loads in the dryer.

But instead, I hang dry everything except undies, socks, towels, and bedsheets.

And that, my friend, boils down to six loads in the wash...and ONE load in the dryer.

Yes. Especially with my dryer balls in the mix, I can turn six loads of laundry into one dry cycle by hang drying my clothes. Sometimes I have to run the dry cycle an extra 15 minutes, but in comparison to SIX HOURS OF DRYING and emptying and swapping laundry, I’ll take the hour-fifteen.

(Wanna learn more about reusable wool dryer balls and how they absolutely ROCK in comparison to disposable dryer sheets and fabric softener? Check out our blog post where we answered every dryer ball question you could ever think of.)

So, whaddaya say, my friend? Will you be hang-drying your laundry now?


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