My Year Around Laundry Routine Without a Dryer

Want to try and live without a dryer…saving your clothes and saving money on electricity? Here’s my year around laundry routine that eliminates laundry stress, all without using a dryer.

My Year Round Laundry Routine

My Year Around Laundry Routine Without a Dryer

I’m really not a fan of big appliances. They take up so much space, are very expensive to buy and fix, and half the time they don’t work like you’d want them to. Last year we were in a rental and the dryer was so old that it almost caught on fire multiple times so I stopped using it.

Once we moved onto our land, I didn’t have a place (or a plug in) for a dryer so we didn’t have one. When we were starting to put appliances into our home, I did buy a washer but told my husband I wasn’t interested in a dryer. I’d already been drying our clothes without one for almost a year and I didn’t want to spend money on the appliance nor spend the money to run it.

It’s a decision that I don’t regret.

According to The Spruce, it costs about $0.45 to run a dryer for 40 minutes. Those costs can vary based on your electricity rates in your area. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you run 5 loads of laundry per week, that’s about $115 a year on the electricity costs. You also have to factor in the cost of the machine. The average dryer costs around $700 and it’s estimated that it will last about 10 years so you can add an additional $70 a year onto that cost, not factoring any costs of repairs.

That amount might not be a big deal for you, but if you are trying to save as much money as you can, or if you just don’t like spending money on unnecessary things, you might think about this a little more!

And don’t get me wrong…a clothes dryer isn’t totally an “unnecessary” thing. It can be very useful. Especially if you are a busy person and just don’t have the time to hang dry clothing. Plus there’s nothing like a fluffy towel straight out of the dryer!

But let’s talk about clothing for a moment too…it’s common knowledge that if you dry your clothes in a clothes dryer, they won’t have as long of a life as clothing that has been hung to dry. So if you are figuring in the costs of having a dryer versus not having one, be sure and add in extra clothing costs as well.

Ok, I didn’t want to get too stuck on that part so let’s move on with this article!

clothes pins

Our Laundry Routine

Our laundry routine is very simple. I wash laundry when the basket is full. One basketful will fill my washer and since we need to conserve water, I only wash when the washer is full. On days when I need to wash sheets or towels, I always add in any clothing in the basket to fill the washer.

As a family of 5, we fill the clothing basket about every 3 days. So if I was only washing clothing, I would wash twice a week. I also have to wash towels and sheets so it usually adds up to about 3 loads of laundry per week, sometimes 4 if we had a really messy week.

Our family enjoys having minimal clothing. I’ve talked about this in my articles about Creating a Minimalistic Wardrobe, Minimalist Children’s Clothing, and Winter Clothing for Kids. It seems like you would have to do laundry more when you have fewer clothes, but we’ve found the opposite to be true. I’m actually doing much less laundry since we have minimal clothing and I think it’s mostly because there isn’t the option of getting out multiple outfits each day. (Anyone else have kids that do that? Just me? Ok….)

I do not wash more than one load of clothing in a day simply because I don’t have the space to dry more than one large load at a time. As long as things are kept up with, it’s not a problem.

Drying Rack

When I’m ready to dry the clothing I have a few options. I have these amazing Heavy Duty Drying Racks that I bought from Lehmans. I have a smaller one which is the “small” and a larger one is the “large” size. In the picture above you can see the “Small Drying Rack” from Lehmans compared to a regular wooden drying rack from Walmart. There is no comparison!

I also have a Pulley Clothesline System which I bought from Amazon. If you’ve ever been to Amish country, you will recognize this type of clothing dryer. They are usually strung from the house to a pole out in the yard so that the clothing can easily be brought in when it’s done. I have mine strung from my bedroom (which is where my washer is) out into the yard.

On nice days I can use either system outdoors. They both work great and my clothes will dry in just a few hours.

When the weather isn’t so nice, I use the Drying Racks indoors. It takes a bit longer for the clothing to dry but it still works just the same.

It takes me about 5 minutes to hang a load of clothing so it’s not much longer than putting the clothing into a dryer.

Other Drying Options

If you aren’t able to have a line to dry outside, here are some alternatives places to dry your clothing without a dryer.

  • Place a drying rack in the bathtub during the day.
  • Use the shower rod to hang the clothing to dry (only if it’s firmly attached to the walls).
  • Hang clothing on hangers and then hang on the trim in doorways around the house.
  • Place a tension rod in a small room or closet to hang clothes on.
  • A wall mount drying rack.

Once my clothing is dry, I fold it just like anyone else and put it all away. Since we keep minimal clothing, each of us has a small dresser with a specific drawer for bottoms, tops, etc, and that just makes things much easier to put away. When the children are a bit older, they will be putting away their own clothing. They occasionally help with it now too.

Last year we had a family closet and that was also something that worked very well. If you are looking to save time on folding your clothing, I would recommend checking out my article here: How to Have a Realistic Family Closet. We originally planned on putting a family closet in our new home, but space didn’t allow for it otherwise I would still be using that system!

Now I’d like to hear from you! If you don’t have a dryer (or a washer!), how do you do your laundry year around? What does your laundry routine look like?

Merissa Bio

 

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53 Comments

  1. I do have a dryer in my mud room but it is not vented to the outside. The vent goes into a bucket of water and the heat goes into the house. Obviously I don’t use this in warm weather. My dryer is only used a few months out if the year.

  2. With allergies I have to dry indoors or my clothes would be covered in pollen. In Florida something is blooming all year round and in the hot humid summer time, things just don’t dry. So I use my dryer. So I save where I can elsewhere. I miss being able to hang clothes inside in the winter in Canada. Helps humidify the air and helps eliminate static cling. Nothing quite like getting zapped when you to touch a metal door handle in the winter in Canada! Enjoy your posts and reading about your progress.

  3. I used to hang clothes out for savings as you do. However, several years ago I was diagnosed with allergies. I was sick for 3 yrs before we figured out what was wrong. I have had to eliminate pollen from my life and hanging clothes out to dry was a major contributor of bringing pollen into my house. Especially on sheets which I loved to hang out to dry! Just a different perspective.

    1. I have lived without a dryer for the better part of 20 years. There have been a few years in there, that we did own one, but I did not use it much. I live in England, so most of the time line drying outside is not an option, but when it is, I take advantage because it takes so much less time! It is not humid where I live. The rest of the time, I hang it on a Foppapadretti rack.
      It’s pricey, but I can get almost 2 loads on if I need to, depending on what I’ve washed. I use it in the warmest room in the house. I hang sheets over the doors!

  4. I live in Cornwall UK, we have to have a tumble dryer! From October to March, even if it’s a sunny day and not raining, the air is too damp to dry washing outside.
    Drying washing inside is just not an option, all that moisture that comes off the clothes as they dry fills your house and encourages mould growth, not a healthy thing to have in your house! A tumble dryer therefore is the only option.

    1. I too live in a very humid climate, I use a dehumidifier on a regular basis. My indoor solution was a rack over the shower hang clothes from rack and put the dehumidifier bin the shower with clothes… I do call this set-up “my dryer.”.

  5. Greetings Merissa,

    First I want to say that I really appreciate your posts. I’ve learned a lot from you. I live in a one room cabin so I use the laundromat until I figure out how to build an outdoor laundry/ utility room. Sometimes I take the shortcut and dry there. I prefer air dried clothes. They always smell fresher and I don’t believe in in-natural fabric softeners. Also I like towels to be crispy as they exfoliate my skin. Crispy towels remind me if my mother who line dried even sometimes in winter. She would pull them in and stand them up until they thawed. Lol! In summer I use a wooden clothes dryer like the one you use. I also hang around the deck and patio furniture. I love an old fashioned clothes line but have lots of bramble that is in the way for now. In winter I use the wooden rack near the Woodstove. Everything dries quickly and I think adds a little moisture in the room.

  6. I love drying my clothes on the line… in good weather. That usually lasts about 3 months. I’ve tried drying in the bathtub but it takes way too long and the clothes get smelly. I think I’d have to run a dehumidifier or a fan for that which would defeat the purpose. I can’t really put them anywhere else or they will drip all over the floor. Until I can figure out another option , into the dryer they go. I love so many of your ideas, though. So, keep them coming.

    1. Good point! So true the longer things take to dry, the higher the risk of ending up with mildew-scented clothing…not helpful since you just wasted time, energy, and water cleaning that load! 😬 happened to me recently, the wound is still fresh, forgive the- er- enthusiasm if you will…
      I figured out that as long as they’re dry before, say, 18-22 hrs passes (and you’re not hanging them right on top of each other), you’re OK. I like to turn items inside out after a few hours if I find them too damp. Don’t forget to space items farther apart when it’s humid or rainy- even half an inch wider makes a difference.
      Also important to have some kind of air circulating wherever you’re hanging wet clothes. Whether that’s a ceiling fan, hvac, open window or whatever is up to you, but there MUST be flow 🙂
      Did you run your bathroom exhaust fan last time? That helps a ton as long as it’s not dirty/clogged.

      Finally, you might try hanging a bundle of chalk near wet stuff or placing a pan of charcoal in the same room (where kids/pets can’t reach)…cheap ways to dehumidify, b/c who wants to pay for a big dehumidifier? Not this grown-up! I save those packs of silica beads in product packaging and use them wherever I don’t want a bunch of moisture (toolbox, under the sink, my closet)– never knew what those things were until a fit of boredom drove me to look up “desiccant” in the dictionary ha!
      Hope you find a way to extend your hang-drying season to more than 3 months! Good luck to you and may you NEVER experience smelly laundry you JUST washed again!

      Ugh, I’m still annoyed thinking about that day…

  7. I haven’t used an electric dryer probably in over 30 years.
    The one we did have I didn’t use much and when it finally went out, I never bought another.
    Line drying is still the best way to go.

  8. I ocassionally dry my husband’s work clothes outside. He complains that they are stiff when I bring them in. I use vinegar to rinse all of our clothes instead of fabric softener, so I don’t think it is the washing method. Any thoughts? (P.S. Thanks for the Lehman’s links!)

    1. I’ve found that the quicker they dry, the softer they are. I’ve started drying my clothes next to the fireplace when I can and have to dry them indoors. There are so days when this doesn’t work out but that’s what I’ve found…

    2. I would line dry clothes, pop then in the dryer for 10 minutes and they come out like you dried them in the dryer. No longer stuff or scratchy.

  9. Hello. I washed them in the washer and hang them from the basement beams. The only thing I dry is towels. They get 40 minutes and if they aren’t fully dried, I hang them to finish drying. I’ve done this for about 10 years. I’m amazed that I don’t have to buy clothing as much as I used to do. I’ve also eliminated the need for dry cleaning because I only buy clothes that I can wash and hang.

  10. Hi Merissa, I haven’t used a clothes dryer since 2012. When my dryer died on me, I started using my clothesline in the backyard. I recently bought a couple of really nice drying racks at Target. I find that my clothes, towels and everything I wash lasts a long time. I think the dryer ruins fabric. So glad to see I’m not the only one living without one. I’m living life differently than other people I know. I really enjoy reading your emails. Thank you

  11. So this brings up a lot of washingmemories 🙂 I never had a dryer in my life; in my first studenthome my father bought me a very old wahingmachine without a centrifuge; I had a seperate oldfashioned small round centrifuge to put the wash in when it came out of the washingmachine. The washingmachine ‘walked’ around the bathroom and made lots of noice. When I lived as a student I did 3 washes once in 2 weeks when the washing machine I shared with other students was available and hung everything on my iron bed and on clothehangers around my room(that was in my student-time). When the waterpipes were frozen in the winter so we had no heat for 3 weeks(our landlord only fixed the problem after 3 weeks and we all got very ill) or the washingmachine was broken I washed in a bucket.
    When I got my own little 2 room appartment I hung my wash outside in the garden(which was twice as big as my house) on a dryer-rek and winters inside my bedroom. Since I have been married I have to do 3 washes each week and I now have no garden nearby(we have one but that is 7 stairs down) so I hang the blouses and dresses in the bathroom and the rest in our guestroom. In the summer it gets so hot here it is dry in one day and in the winter it takes 2 or 3 days. I suspect all my neighbours have dryers but they all have double income and less time. For me personally a dryer is a very luxery thing which isn’t very good for the environment and very expensive. I got offered one one time but for one person its totally unnesssary; I think if you have little 5 kids it probably will be handy. I don’t have any place to put it either.My neighbours who live totally down sometimes use the traditional German washlines on poles in the garden.

  12. I have struck a middle ground on drying clothes: I have a dryer I use for some things, but I take most clothes out of the washer and put them on a dry rack. I made two magnetic signs for my washer: MACHINE DRY and LINE DRY so I know what goes in the dryer and what doesnt.

  13. I have a clothes dryer but I also have a pulley line on my back deck. I especially like it for hanging out my bed sheets. It’s so nice to get into bed with the fresh outdoor smell of clean laundry.

  14. Me too! When we moved to our new to us country house a couple years ago. We had to update the water treatment system that was in the laundry room/mud room. I did not have room for both a washer and dryer due to the large amount of space needed for water treatment appliances for our seriously bad water. I now have one appliance that is a washer/dryer. I only use the dryer for our sheets. Everything else is hung on racks like yours (mine were purchased from the Amish in Shipshewanna, IN). During the winter I start the washer after dinner and hang the laundry on the racks overnight. Most things are dry overnight with the dry winter air and it helps to humidify the house.

  15. When I used to air dry my clothes they dried with wrinkles. Do you iron your knits- tops , t-shirts and dresses not sweaters- or cotton and cotton blends.

    1. My knit clothing (most of what we wear) does not wrinkle with air drying. Anything cotton will winkle and we iron as needed. (But it’s usually only church clothes so not many things.)

    2. I shake everything before hanging and straighten sleeves, collars, etc. That seems to help things dry with fewer wrinkles.

    3. I find that using the dryer for 10 minutes or so takes the wrinkle out of things that need ironing. Just long enough to get them hot and steamy. You do have to take them out immediately and hang them right away or it was all for nought!

  16. I moved from an apartment that actually provided a clothesline but had to compete for it. When I bought my house I put an umbrella-style clothesline up but on days when the weather doesn’t cooperate I use the line in the basement that the former owner had put up. I also use wooden racks especially for underclothes. Occasionally I go to the laundromat to dry larger items that are too heavy for the line but then they smell like the dryer sheets and that’s irritating. Besides, what smells better than line-dried sheets?!

  17. Good morning. We have a dryer but we decided several years ago not to use it.
    We have a drying rack and a pulley clothes line inside and outside.
    We made this decision based on saving money on our electric bill.
    I grew up hanging laundry outside on a clothes line and it just rolled over into my lifestyle.
    Trust y’all have a lovely week.
    It’s a little cooler here today but the sunshine is bright and the air is crisp.
    Blessings,
    Margarita

  18. For many years I didn’t have a dryer. I used a clothesline and a folding dryer too. It does save money, and they smell so fresh hung outside. Now that I am older I do like the convenience of having a dryer, but dry our nice clothes just a few minutes then hang on hangers on the shower rod in our second bathroom. Good for you working so hard for your family!

  19. What I do is put my clothes on hangers as I take them out of the washer. Then I hang them on the line. It accomplishes two things, they take up less room on the clothesline and they are ready to put away in the closet as soon as they are dry.
    The things that I fold get dried the normal way though I have clipped them to hangers when space is at a premium.

    1. Great idea! Every time I have hung wet shirts though, they get a mark in the shoulders from the hanger…any ideas on how to remedy that?

  20. I live in Wales, U.K and like the U.K poster above I sadly have to have a tumble dryer. Winters ( and Springs, Summers and Autumns) are so wet here that line drying isn’t always possible.
    And drying indoors just leads to so much damp and horrible black mould inside the house. I wish I could do without a dryer as they cost so much money to run but it’s just not possible.

    I also just want to say just how much I love your blog. I would love to live the life you live but buying land in The U.K is only for the very well off. So I read your blog and just daydream. 🙂

  21. I live in a small condo, and can’t put clothes outside to dry. I wish I could.

    I never had a dryer until I moved away from home. We had the main clothesline out front, and two small ones out back (our backyard was only about 10ft deep). One was under a large awning, which allowed us to hang up some stuff when it was raining.

    As handy as dryers are, I look forward to having a large yard so that I can hang up anything to dry if I want.

  22. We do have a dryer, but it’s seldom used. I told hubby when it dies, don’t want to replace it. That’s a lot of space for a big piece of clutter. Though it is handy when it’s late &/or I get behind.

  23. I have both a dryer and an outside clothesline. I dry the wash outside when the weather permits but we have a winter that lasts from early November until late April. that means my clothesline gets a workout for six months and takes a break for six!

  24. I hang everything. I have a great outside clothesline and racks for inside. Last Saturday I hung 3 loads outside, the temperature was 30 degrees when I started. Freeze dried clothes!!

  25. Thanks for sharing! What do you do with large items like sheets during the winter months? I havent figured out how to hang these inside without them dragging all over the floor in the dog hair

    1. The Large Drying Rack from Lehmans will hold my sheets off the ground. When I only had the small one it wasn’t quite tall enough to get them up off the ground but the height on the Large one works well.

      1. I stretch my sheets across two kitchen chairs like you would make a tent for children to play in. Or I will hang it over the shower curtain rod by folding it in half and then halfway through the drying process I opened it up and fold it in a different way.

    2. I use a smaller drying rack and when I have sheets, I hang the smaller items like pillowcases underneath, then fold the sheets in quarters… the fitted sheet goes on the second highest, inner rungs, and the largest sheet, folded in quarters, gets draped over the entire rack. To keep them off the floor, both get swagged, like a curtain. Since I was placing my rack in winter over a forced-air floor heater, the sheets actually capture the heat under the sheets, and all layers dried quickly. With forced air heating, the problem is dryness of the air indoors in winter, so this had the added benefit of adding a bit more moisture to our air… that is until we upgraded our furnace to a very efficient furnace. HE furnaces have stronger fans, but the air doesn’t feel as warm coming out and I noticed the sheets and clothes were often taking two days to dry… too long. So I’m looking for another possibility.

      My mom grew up on a farm before rural electricity, and she told me they used the clothesline in Minnesota all winter long. You then “knocked off the ice,” brought it indoors, and ironed it dry. I haven’t the courage, besides our clothes are often acrylic, polyester, and other materials today.

      When my husband and I were living in the U.K., everyone had radiators/registers. We would lay the clothes directly on those all over the house in the colder months. When the heat came on in the evening, they would dry. We sometimes turned them over once. It worked well.

  26. I live in Texas where we normally have mild winters. I always line dry and use the wooden standing rack when it’s cold. I’ve never liked dryers.

  27. I’ve grew up this way. Still do it even though we have a dryer(gift from son when he moved into a place that had one). Hubby is now to the point of putting clothes on the line or rack without me saying something. Some of the Amish women pointed it out to their Hubbys that the kids are raised and not home to help any more LOL

  28. I grew up in the US and was accustomed to putting laundry in the dryer after washing. Then I moved to Germany, where very few people have dryers, especially if they live in an apartment, so I had to get used to hanging everything to dry. My first German apartment had no balcony and no garden, so I had to be creative to find places in the small apartment to hang laundry. I have two metal drying racks that hold quite a large amount of laundry. They can be folded up to just a few inches wide and placed in a corner, behind a door, etc. At times I have draped fitted sheets over doors or between two chairs spaced apart. Now I have a balcony, so when the weather’s nice and pollen isn’t a problem, I use the drying rack on the balcony. If I need extra space, I also drape some things over our wall-mounted radiators. I also hang shirts or dressed on hangers that I hang on door knobs and frames. Basically, I find any place I can! You just have to be creative.

    I also wash laundry when the basket is full, and I wash clothes with cold water to help save a bit more money. I do use warm water for towels and sheets.

  29. Have you ever dealt with really hard water, and how to wash and air dry clothes with it? We have really hard water where we are, and I basically dry our clothes in the dryer because it’s the only thing that makes our clothes not crunchy! We’ve tried vinegar, and it doesn’t help much. Any ideas are appreciated! 🙂 Love your blog!

  30. I have always had clothes horses as part of my furniture since I left home over 33 years ago.
    Now It’ may not be every ones cup of tea, but I would feel lost without my 3.

    Coat hangers is something I do as well like Theresa, for hanging my clothes on the line.

  31. I have a clothes rack that I use on my patio when the weather permits or In the house when that is where it needs to be. Remember drying your clothes in the house on a rack as humidity into your home, so that is perfect for me in the winter months

  32. We live in Oklahoma, and I am able to hang clothes outside on the line at least 9 months out of the year. On hot summer days, clothes are dry in 30 minutes or less. During the cold months, I use a folding rack indoors for clothing, and dry the sheets and towels in the dryer. My goal is to keep my electric bill as low as possible, so line drying is a must.

    My best hint for someone just starting out with line drying is: be sure to store your clothespins in the house, do not leave them on the line on the days you aren’t drying clothes. If you do, the pins will weather in the rain, and leave black marks on your clothes. Some of my clothes pins are over 40 years old, and look new due to not leaving them on the line. Also, be sure to wipe the lines to remove dust before you hang your clothes. I’m sure people see my clothes blowing in the breeze on the clothesline, and think how unfortunate we are…when in reality, we are the lucky ones with sweet smelling sun dried clothes!

  33. I have a dryer, but I prefer to dry my clothes outside. I have a clothesline hanging on the posts of my carport. I only air dry my undergarments on my wooden drying rack (like your Walmart one – but was my grandmother’s old one). It allows me to dry outside when weather permitd and inside when weather is bad. I love the fresh smell of clothes dried outside. I never use scented detergent or fabric softener due to fragrance sensitivity. Fresh air is great! Thank you for the information.

  34. I have been line drying/ rack drying for years. Some times i will air fluff a load of laundry for 10 minutes before i line dry. I have 2 dogs and it helps remove any dog hair that might be left on the clothes after washing.

  35. I do like hanging clothes on the line in the summer but that’s only possible for about 3 months out of the year where I live. The rest of the year is either raining or minus 30 Celsius. I’m jealous of you folks who have nice weather all year.

  36. I really appreciate your posts and am looking forward to your recipe for the gluten free homemade bread! I do not have a bread machine currently but I just may consider purchasing one depending on your final post. I have chosen not to have a dryer and hanging my clothes outdoors gives me short me time which I really appreciate! I also have a line on our back porch and am lucky enough to have spindles inside from which I have a clothesline strung when it’s snowing or raining outside. I have chosen to live without a dryer and I am loving that choice!

  37. I have used clothing lines for most of my life and upon moving to Florida was excited to try it out since we have not obtained a washer and dryer yet. The clothes did not dry at all. I am assuming due to the humidity this is the reason the clothes are not drying like they were when I had hung them in the north. Hmmmm.