10 Great Reasons to Line-Dry Your Laundry

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Brandy Taylor/Getty Images

Benefits of a Clothesline

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Why would people line-dry their laundry when dryers have already been invented? I’ll give you 10 great reasons why you should hang out your clothes to dry!

I started out with an outdoor clothesline held up by wooden posts. When that collapsed, I found a new clothesline online featuring steel posts and crossbeams—and a lifetime guarantee.

Because it was a gift for the man of the house, I had the product delivered to my office so I could keep it as a surprise. It arrived one day when I was out of the office, appearing to be nothing but a couple of long, beefy steel poles taped together (the cross pieces were tucked inside the support poles, and customers provided their own clotheslines). 

Because of my reputation as the office exercise fanatic, my colleagues assumed I’d ordered a stripping pole since “pole dancing” was one of the hot new exercise trends that year. We all had quite a laugh when I let them in on the true purpose of the poles. I hauled them home in our ancient pickup, and the gift was well received. We set the support poles into 18 inches of cement, and years later, our laundry still swings brightly on sunny days year-round.

hanging clothes on a clothesline in the backyard
Are you planning to “hang out” this summer? If not, why not?

Line drying simply fits my Down Home way of life: being self-sufficient, frugal, and natural.  Let me give you some of my top reasons for hanging the family laundry outside:

  1. Line-drying prolongs the life of your clothing. The roiling and tumbling of damp laundry takes its toll on the fibers in clothing and bedding. High dry heat often shrinks and ruins some fabrics and can cause irreversible damage. Line drying is more gentle to fibers. 
  2. You’ll lower your gas or electric bill. Project Laundry List estimates the average household could save 10 to 20 percent on utility bills by hanging the wash! 
  3. Line drying laundry also protects the environment, conserving energy for your fellow man. Air-drying clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds a year!
  4. You’ll lower your risk of a home fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, clothes dryers or washing machines cause about 4 percent of house fires. In 2006, these appliances caused 15 civilian deaths, 360 injuries, and $194 in direct property damage.*
  5. Hanging laundry gets you outside. Being outside in bright light can alleviate depression, improve immunity, increase social relationships, and more. There’s also just something surprisingly peaceful about hanging the laundry outside. It’s even a physical activity that gets you moving and burning calories!
  6. Sunlight is a good bleach and disinfectant. This is especially great for white sheets and linens. The downside: Fading. To prevent bright colors from fading, turn the items inside out, or hang them on bars in the shade.
  7. You can’t beat the smell of laundry dried outside. Ah! Plunging my nose into a pile of sun-dried clothes releases a cascade of feel-good endorphins. 
  8. Rough, air-dried towels make the best exfoliants. Not only do they save time and money but also you can multi-task by exfoliating all over while you dry off! No need to buy exfoliating scrubs and scrubbers.
  9. Line-drying helps remove stains without adding chemical agents to your wash. Getting ride of chemical laundry fresheners like dryer sheets and fabric softener is good for your skin, especially if you are sensitive to perfumes, dyes, and chemicals.
  10. Have you ever felt your bed sheets after they were dried in the Sun and breeze? Fantastic! 

Note: If your neighborhood has banned clotheslines in your yard, there are still many types of indoor clotheslines and collapsible drying racks.


Ready to hang? See our article on how to choose a clothesline.

About The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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