Line drying clothes and household linens is not only energy-efficient but also helps fabrics last longer because it dries more gently than the heated tumbling of a clothes dryer. Plus, hanging clothes on a line is a great way to get a little extra exercise in your day.
You only need a few simple supplies—a line, clothespins, and possibly posts—the air will do the rest. In most regions of the United States, you can hang clothes outdoors in fair weather from spring through fall. On cold or rainy days, you can even rig up a clothesline indoors.
Learn tips and techniques for hanging clothes on a clothesline while reducing wrinkles and maintaining the colors and shapes of your laundry.
Whether hanging on an indoor or outdoor clothesline, follow these tips to help you keep your clothing looking good and lessen wrinkles:
- To reduce wrinkles and cut ironing time, give each item a good shake and once it is pinned to the line, give the bottom corners a good tug to pull out more wrinkles.
- The biggest way to reduce wrinkles is to fold the dry clothes as you remove them from the clothesline. If they are crammed into a laundry basket and left for several hours, you'll need to get out the iron.
- If you dislike how stiff towels and jeans feel when they are line-dried, tumble them briefly (5-10 minutes) in the clothes dryer, then line-dry them the rest of the way.
- To prevent fading from the sun, place your clothesline in a breezy shaded area. Conversely, if you would like to use the sun to bleach your white laundry, run your line north/south to get the best exposure to sunlight. Hang the white pieces that need the most bleaching on the outside lines if you have four or more lines. Colored clothes can be hung from interior lines.
- To prevent staining, use a clothesline with coated lines that will not rust. A coated wire line is much more durable and will not sag like a natural rope line. Wipe down clotheslines monthly to remove dust, tree sap, and bird droppings.
- Choose clothespins that do not rust or discolor. Remove them from the line after each use to make them last longer and keep them clean. Buy or make a clothespin bag that can be hung from the clothesline and brought inside after each use.
- For faster drying, hang clothes separately with room between them and fully stretched out, using as many clothespins as needed to prevent sagging. If drying time isn’t an issue and line space is, you can pin the outside corners of two pieces of clothing together with one clothespin.
Match the inner leg seams together and pin the hems of the legs to the line with the waist hanging down. If you have lots of line space, you can pin one leg to one line and the other leg to the adjacent line to speed drying time.
Shirts and Tops
Pin the shirts by the bottom hem at the side seams. Or, you can hang them on wooden coat hangers and pin the coat hanger to the clothesline. Either method prevents the shoulders from getting stretched or wrinkled.
Put the socks together in pairs and catch one corner of the pair with a clothespin, letting the socks dangle open for quicker drying.
Sheets and Blankets
Fold the sheet or blanket in half and clip the corners of the open ends to the clothesline. This will prevent a crease down the middle of the piece. Use one or two extra clothespins in the middle portion if it sags a lot or is very windy.
Towels and Pillowcases
Hang towels by the corners for quickest drying. Lightweight flat items like pillowcases can be hung in pairs.
What Not to Line Dry
- Stretchy clothes like sweaters and some unstructured knit garments should not be line dried. If the manufacturer's care label says to dry flat, don’t hang the garment inside or outside!
- Delicate fabrics like lace that may get snagged if whipped by a sudden wind should not be line dried.
- Vintage fabrics that have rips or tears or are extremely heavy when wet should not be line dried. The weight of the wet fabric may make rips worse.