Yesterday, surrealist artist Andrew Baines staged an art installation consisting of eight clotheslines accompanied by eight "moms" hanging the wash on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. The project was meant to highlight the loss of backyard space that many families experience due to high-density living — but for me, it also highlighted the need to review some tips for air drying our laundry. Even though it's not as common in the United States, many families across the world air-dry their clothes. You don't need a backyard to air-dry your laundry, or even patio space. See how it's done with these tips.
If you do have outdoor space . . .
- Invest in a clothesline that you'll use. This may mean simply stringing rope between trees or a fenceline, or going for something more compact and cute, like this Deluxe Bamboo Collapsible Clothesline ($95).
- Plastic clothespins will survive wear and tear (and rainstorms, if you forget the pins on the line) better than wooden ones. That said, I prefer the look and feel of wooden clothespins for line drying; just like your clothesline, pick pins that you'll actually use. Look for either kind at your local hardware store.
- If you're not a fan of stiff towels, transfer your almost-dry terrycloth towels to the dryer for the last five minutes of drying time. This will effectively fluff your towels.
- In the past, I've had a few clothing items fade in direct (and harsh) sunlight. To avoid this possibility, turn clothing inside out before placing it on the clothesline on an extremely sunny day.
- Take a few seconds to organize your clothes before hanging them. For instance, try to clothespin your socks in pairs. This way, when you take your clothes off the line, you can immediately roll them into pairs, cutting down on the amount of time you spend folding and organizing your fresh, sunshine-dried laundry
- Since dust and debris can build up on your clothesline, clean it every few months by running a damp cloth over it from end to end.
Don't have an outdoor space for air-drying? Keep reading for tips on drying your clothes in the great indoors.
- Live in a smaller home? Invest in a drying rack that can easily fold up and get stashed in a closet.
- If you don't like the look of a drying rack in your home's living space, either hang clothes to dry just before going to bed or just before leaving for work. That way your clothes can dry when you don't have to be in the same space. By the time you wake up or return home from work, the clothes should be dry, and the drying rack can be tucked back into the closet.
- If you have a shower bar, use it to hang clothes from plastic hangers.
- Save dollars at the drycleaner by handwashing wool or cashmere sweaters at home. To initially dry them, tuck each sweater into a folded towel, then roll the towel gently, applying even pressure. Then, lay the sweater flat on a drying rack or on a dry towel.