Line Drying Clothes in Winter

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Line Drying Clothes in Winter

Did you know that you can continue to line dry your clothes throughout the year? There is even an added bonus for those of us in the northern hemisphere that I refer to as snow bleaching for your whites. So why is it that you can line dry your clothes without heat?

Winter Line Drying: Did you know that heat is not required when drying your clothes outdoors? In fact, your clothes may actually dry faster when it's 32F or less!

Past generations wouldn’t have given line drying in winter a second thought. It was completely normal to do it. In fact, it was the only option besides drying clothing by the fire which would create quite an obstacle course of racks in a large family. So why do so many modern homesteaders seem perplexed by the idea? Why do we associate heat with drying? Maybe because we don’t know enough about the topic of freeze-dried clothes.

Freeze Dried Clothes

Freeze drying is just a simple phrase we use to describe the term sublimation. Sublimation is the transition from solid to gas, bypassing the liquid phase. In other words, the moisture in your clothes turns into a gas and is just whisked away without needing to evaporate. How cool is that?

An added bonus for those of us cursed blessed with snow: You know those great UV rays that whiten our whites and reduce stains? When reflected off the snow, they are even stronger and the rays bounce, getting to all sides of the clothes without needing to turn the garments.

Save Money Line Drying

So why line dry in the winter? According to Project Laundry List, line drying saves an average of $25 a month off your electricity bill. Why save $150 a year when you could save $300?

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Now I’m not going to lie. There are benefits of line drying indoors during the winter months. Possibly the biggest benefit would be staying inside where it’s warm and avoiding cold and wet fingers. Another benefit is added moisture in the home, which can be helpful since homes tend to be drier in the winter months. So maybe consider line drying just a few items outdoors. Maybe just your bedding or other large items that take up space in your kitchen.

Nifty Indoor Line Drying Options

If you aren’t sold on trudging through the snow to hang your clothes, here are some really neat ideas for hanging clothes indoors, especially when space is limited.

DIY Drying Rack by Sawdust Girl
DIY Project Ideas: 10 Laundry Drying Racks by ApartmentTherapy
DIY Built-In Laundry Racks by Me & My DIY
plus…
Drying Clothes in Humid Locations by Farming My Backyard

Have you tried line drying in the winter? Let me know about your experiences.

Winter Line Drying: Did you know that heat is not required when drying your clothes outdoors? In fact, your clothes may actually dry faster when it's 32F or less!

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I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

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About Jessica Lane

I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

Comments

Line Drying Clothes in Winter — 37 Comments

  1. I’m a die-hard clothesline kind of gal so in the winter, I do watch the weather forecast for the optimum clothesline days. In the case of several days of not so friendly weather, I must confess I put my clothes in the dryer for about 10 minutes and then immediately hang them up overnight to finish the process. Works great and I’m still saving money!

  2. I wear gloves when I hang them outside. 🙂 I also button things around the line, when available, to save the step of reaching for clothespins. 🙂

  3. Just a slight pedantic problem with this post:
    The UV rays wouldn’t get stronger by bouncing off the snow, its more that the snow reflects more UV rays, so rays that might not hit the clothes directly could bounce off the ground and hit the clothes. It’s the quantity of UV rays not the intensity of the rays that increase.

    • Stronger radiation means more particles (“rays”) in a given space per unit of time. The particles have the energy they have, they don’t get stronger or weaker. We say we receive stronger solar radiation in Summer for the same reason — not just because the days are longer, but also because the Sun’s radiation we receive in Summer is more intense (i.e. more concentrated in the space where we’re living). Basic Earth Science. So the snow reflecting more radiation onto your clothes is indeed more concentrated, intense, “stronger”. She is only loosely saying “stronger UV rays” when she obviously means “stronger UV radiation”.

  4. Thanks for the info, I thought drying outdoors in winter would take forever.
    FYI The first link doesn’t work and the last says you have be to be invited to read the blog.

  5. I was ecstatic to get our clothes line up! We had two “T” pipes welded, and then got the line and eye hooks to put through the holes with secured washers. These T posts were cemented in post-holes, and the pipes spray painted forest green. Only thing, the wasps were building nests in the pipes! Even so, We tend to use the wood rack in the house by the stove, but it takes up a lot of room. I’m laughing; after so much winter we just loved the bright sun and breeze, so out I put our laundry! (March) The next day-Woke up to two fresh inches of snow and everything white- all over again. After two days though, my clothes were reasonably dry, I could bring them in- they smell great! It was good to hear about frozen clothes, the possible wind damage, and that people have been doing this for some time~ Thanks!

  6. When I was first married I moved to an area where it was very cold and could snow 10 feet a night. The first time I hung laundry out to dry I was not prepared for the frozen boards I brought in 6 hours later. So here are a few things I learned -1) sheets or heavy things are hung out first 2) bring a few things in at a time to be able to fit everything on the inside dryer rack (this means you add less moisture at a time inside the house and 3)to prevent breakage of fibers don’t try to fold the clothes in the frozen state. The major difference back then was that the clothes lines had pulleys and you hung your clothes line from a porch area designed to hang clothes from. I will never forget those smells or the satisfaction from a job well done.

  7. I hang our clothes out to dry all year round! It’s pretty easy here since the winters are usually dry with not much snow, and the freezing temperatures don’t deter drying at all. I had never thought about UV rays whitening clothes, but now that you mention it fabric left in the sun does fade! Hmm I think I need to hang my old, dingy down comforter out for about a week!

  8. I had never even thought about going out in the snow and line drying, but I may have to give it a try. I’m just now getting started on line drying in my home though, so maybe baby steps for me. Thanks for this post! I added it to my resources on a laundry post I just did.

  9. I live in Downeast Maine. I am always studying what conditions make for the best line drying. So far, i have learned that the best drying, has to do with dewpoint and wind primarily, although a sunny day helps too. Basically, I check the dewpoint before doing laundry. If it is close to the temperature, I put off clothes washing for the day, as that means that the air is already too saturated with water, and cant hold much more before it starts to rain (or snow). I will be washing a long, heavy wool coat…I think tomorrow as it will be mostly sunny, west winds at 17 mph, a high of 23 degrees with a dewpoint of 10. Not bad!

  10. I’ve used my outdoor clothesline all year long for probably 20 years. I pay attention to weather forecasts and on days it’s not raining or snowing, I’ll have a line full of clothes. The best days are when there’s a little breeze- that helps with wrinkles.

  11. I haven’t seen anyone mention the major caveat of winter line drying: breakage.

    We took a photo of our laundry the first winter on our homestead, me holding a frozen shirt upright by the hem. My father saw it, and warned us about a problem he learned when living in Barrow, Alaska.

    When we dry clothes in the winter, we watch the wind. If frozen clothing gets blown around too much, it can break the cloth fibers. If our clothes are inflexibly frozen, we take them down when the wind picks up. If they’re partly dried at the time, and flexible, then we leave them, especially since, as many of you know, wind blown laundry is softer and fresher than calm-dried.

    It’s an extra thing to think about and guard against, but since we need our clothes to last as long as possible, we guard against wind breakage!

    This isn’t meant to discourage anyone from line drying in the winter. It can be done without damage to the clothes, and the savings are well worth the effort.

  12. When I lived in the Philippines I hand washed my clothes and dried them out in the sun. Thanks to the blazing heat of the sun my clorhes dry in a matter of minutes. This process made my clothes last for years and years looking brand new. I moved to a cold climate now and forced to use the washer and drier which only after one wash destroys my clothes eveb when placed on delicates. I’m trying to hand wash now but drying it has really been a problem

  13. I do line dry clothes in the winter. We live in a small apartment, are on a tight budget, don’t always want to spend a full dollar for each dryer session.

    Thus we have a line on the balcony. That works fine on mild days, but we use the shower bar when it’s colder than 32 outside. Denver has a naturally dry climate and furnance use in winter dries the air out even more.

    My t-shirts and slacks can be hung on the shower bar (I use hangers and clip-hangers for this) just before bed and they’ll be dry by morning. Thicker fabrics take a bit longer, but it’s doable.

  14. I have heard of “freeze drying” before but thought it was a joke! Thanks for the info!!! Now I am going to see if my husband can move the lines from the basement back outside, but closer to the house (sometimes it’s nice being 5ft tall haha!).

  15. I love to line dry my clothes but with the hard winter we had in Michigan with close to 80 inches of snow and cold I’ll use my dryer. Can’t wait for Spring! Looks like we will get a little this week!

  16. Growing up we line dried everything, and always outside. I do remember taking in solid frozen clothes at the and of a laundry day. My mom would hang them all over the house to get the last bit of moisture out. They would warm up quickly and be mostly dry.
    Today I still line dry, but since I do not have a laundry day, where everything needs to be washed in one day, I do not have so much at the time to dry. There is plenty of room in my laundry room to dry one loud and it adds much needed moisture to the house.

  17. I use my clothes line all the time but when the weather is bad we always use our clothes horse, it feels like it’s a permanent fixture in our house lol

  18. I love line drying my clothes. My clothes smell fresh. Plus there is the added bonus of your clothes lasting longer. This winter was hard to hang outside because of the weather but I try every chance I get.

  19. We line dry year round. This was the first year we really didn’t though because it was soooo cold and had a lot of snow. By the time we finish with the animals we just needed to be in. Plus that warm moist air helped with the wood buring stove. 🙂

    ~Honey

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