Skip the dryer, save your clothes: the benefits of line drying your garments


Being a woman of almost six feet tall, I had a hard time over the years finding jeans that were long enough. Within the last decade it got a lot better, but even then it’s difficult to find a 35″ inseam. Even worse, most shirts and tops were on the short side due to a long torso, so I coveted all of my shirts that were on the longer side. Styles have changed and now it’s quite easy to find tops that run long, but I still like to preserve some of my favorites.

What I’ve discovered is nothing new. Even your hair and skin do not benefit from getting wet and then drying quickly over and over again. Think of it this way: my dryer is about 10,500 BTU’s (gas) which is 500 more BTU’s than the heater that heats my whole home. That’s a lot of heat! I never use the “regular” or “permanent press” settings on anything other than towels. It’s low low low all the way. This might seem like a lot of extra work but what ends up happening is:

  • My clothes don’t shrink
  • My clothes keep their colors longer
  • My clothes last longer and don’t pill as much
  • I use less energy by line drying

Most mid-range and cheap clothing is made so poorly these days that you have to handle them with care or they’ll be falling apart in less than a year. This is a good way to keep your clothes a little longer. It’s sad that this is the way the garment industry operates. Unfortunately, every company making consumer goods has decided that making cheap products that have a very short lifespan is the best way to keep making money. So it goes…

Denim and other cotton especially benefit from line drying. After speaking to the folks at Denim Revival in Los Angeles, they recommend dry cleaning premium denim. This can get pricey so I either use Dry Cleaner’s Secret (which has a lot of chemicals so I don’t use it very often) or spray with water mixed with some Ecover fabric softener and throw it in the dryer for a few minutes. This method is a great way to refresh almost any garment that’s not really “dirty.” If for some reason I’ve rolled around in the dirt, I will wash in cold water and hang dry.

I’ve mentioned previously that I use baking soda and vinegar in my laundry, and that certainly goes for line dried garments, too. The vinegar smell disappears when the clothes have dried, so no worries smelling like an Olive Garden salad.

The downside to all of this: time. Yes, it’s going to take the better part of a day to dry a pair of jeans, especially if you’re doing it inside. Best to line dry in a well-ventilated room. If you have outdoor space to line dry (and live in a place where people won’t complain about your laundry) then go for it, although keep in mind your local air quality. If I leave my window open for extended periods of time, a fine layer of Gross Stuff will be sitting on the window sill. If you put something wet outside, it’ll be a magnet for whatever is floating in your air.

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