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Life Without a Clothes Dryer

2 months ago my second-hand electric clothes dryer called it quits. It was a good dryer while we had it. Sure, we ran into the occasional issue, but it was nothing that a quick parts order and Youtube video couldn’t fix.

Because it was summer when my dryer died I figured I would attempt to go the rest of the season drying my clothes au naturale, and why not I already had a clothesline, how hard could it be? I challenged myself to see if I could go the summer without a dryer and if it went well, maybe not even replace my dyer!

I thought I would share the good the bad and the ugly of life without a dryer.

Bumps in the Road

Allergens  My son has seasonal allergies to the degree that we have just begun allergy injections yesterday. Live is miserable for him when grass, weed, and tree pollen levels peak. I knew I would not want to hang his bedding on the line, and hanging his clothes in our old musty farmhouse basement didn’t seem like a great solution either. Enter my wooden clothes drying rack, which I have a love/hate relationship with. While the drying rack kind of worked, it was also kind of flimsy. I ended up taking my sons bedding and clothing to the laundromat once a week.

Rain/humidity The biggest roadblock I had on my way to freshly laundered bliss was the uncooperative nature of the weather. This summer was a particularly rainy one, and if it wasn’t raining it had just finished and was humid. I typically do 2-3 loads of laundry a day. Yes, you read that right. I have 3 kids who all do sports pretty much year round, and we live on a farm. Life is messy and dirty here. On days where I could only get one load line dried, I was almost certainly at the laundromat the next day playing catch up.

The Birds and the Bees This one is pretty self-explanatory, and while it certainly wasn’t the biggest issue, there were still times I had to rewash something a bird had hit with, which made me cranky, because as I said this happened to be one of the wettest summers in recent memory, so being pushed back was frustrating.

Time Like I said, I typically do 2-3 loads of laundry a day. I know this sounds like a lot of laundry to some of you, and I agree it is a large portion of my daily to-do list. But, sports and farm clothes, towels, casual clothes, work clothes, and the weekly load of bedding all adds up to just a lot of laundry that needs to be managed on a daily basis. When I have a dryer I can get most of my laundry done before early afternoon, days I wash bedding usually take me until late afternoon, and most of this time is hands off.

 

The sweet smell of success

Get outside!  I find it is easy for myself to get tied up in whatever project or chore I have going on inside the house, and rarely get outside during the day. When I was strictly using my clothesline I was outside up to every hour, hanging clothes and checking for dryness.  I did enjoy the multiple trips throughout the day to the backyard to hang clothes and retrieve them, occasionally I did also stop to smell the flowers.

Get those Steps Up All those hourly trips in and out of the house and up and down the steps really did get my daily steps in!

Budget-Friendly Using the dryer adds approximately $97 to your energy bill each year. It is one of the biggest energy-consumers in your home. Having 3 kids, I do between two to three loads of laundry a day and it felt great to put that money back into my pocket by hanging loads to dry on the clothesline after it’s washed.

The smell of line-dried linens There is nothing better than the clean fresh scent of line-dried sheets and towels, in fact, detergent and air freshening companies have been trying to bottle that scent for years.

So how did my trail without a dryer go?

Was it always easy? No. Especially when it rains for a week straight!

Was it convenient? Not really… Not having a dryer right there to toss your wet laundry into really forces you to do some planning ahead in the wardrobe department.

What did I end up doing do?

If you haven’t guessed by now I went out and bought myself a new Maytag Dryer. If the summer hadn’t been so wet, perhaps I would have stuck it out a little longer. I still utilize my clothesline A LOT, especially on bedding day, but, I’ll be honest it is nice to not have to rely on it.

So tell me, because I know there are many households out there that are completely dryer free, how do you do it? Do you ever miss your dryer?

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Deborah

Sunday 22nd of August 2021

I too have a dryer, however I choose to use my clothes lines. I love the plus factors; saving money, helping environment, fresh laundry + the added exercise, more steps, more bending, more reaching etc. Overall it's a WIN win for me.

Kathleen

Thursday 5th of August 2021

I literally just got a dryer two weeks ago after having lived without one for over four years. I live in Western PA where the weather is somewhat unpredictable, but, it is just me and my teenage daughter, so, I typically only do one load of laundry a week, with an extra one or two a month for towels, linens, etc. In the summer, I hang on a line (I did that this week anyway since it was nice and I prefer line-dried clothes) and in the winter I have two drying racks set up in the basement. I basically only got the dryer because my washer finally died (it was 20 years old) and I figured that would be a good time to also get the dryer. Honestly, that and the dishwasher are two appliances I can (and have) easily lived without (I also lived without a microwave for about four years - that one required a lot more planning).

Christy

Saturday 17th of July 2021

My grandmother had a washer but never a dryer. When we stayed with her, it was a snap to hang the wash out on the double clothesline in her backyard; it took much less time than you would expect. It was nice being out in the sunshine, and the sun dried the wash in less than an hour. To be honest it’s one reason why she was able to lift overhead all her life to 90.

On rainy days, she used the line in her unfinished basement. The clothes took longer to dry, but even though the basement was a bit musty, the sheets never took on the musty smell. The basement was also where she did the ironing, and of course she also ironed the sheets and hung them up briefly to cool before folding. It made the beds looks and feel lovely and crisp! She left the ironing board set up next to the line, which streamlined the whole process.

For anyone starting foe the first time, try to avoid putting up the line near a tree (birds, sap, pollen). I would definitely invest in good-quality clothespins similar to the old ones with strong metal springs. Many of the cheap modern ones aren’t strong enough to secure a towel much less a heavy pair of men’s jeans on a breezy day!

Lady Locust

Wednesday 20th of December 2017

Maybe I shouldn't comment since I don't technically qualify, buuuut..... I do have a dryer. In the summer though I use the line almost exclusively. We live in the mountains of the NW where it is generally arid during the summer months. The pros and cons are the same here as you listed though. Winter months usually involve a fair amount of snow. My compromise is that for heavier things like jeans and towels, I will put them in the dryer for about 15 min. which heats them and fluffs the wrinkles out, then I hang them on the wooden drying racks. I have 2 old ones that are sturdy. This stills saves some power since those items tend to take longer to dry. We no longer have kids at home so fewer loads per week as well.

Lindsey Dougherty

Friday 10th of November 2017

I live in the Midwest, so it would be quite easy to start doing this. My family unit is pretty small, it consist of my husband and I and our two corgis, so I’m lucky if I have to do one load of laundry a day! The only drawback I could see about this is worrying about people seeing my under things! Other then that, I might have to try this out next spring/summer as where I live the temperature has been an average of 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. So definitely not the best weather to be hanging laundry out on the clothesline!

Sue Andrews

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

I have been married since 1977, raised two children and my parents lived with us in the summers. I have never owned a dryer and can’t imagine owning one.

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