Line Drying Clothes Indoors

When we first got married, my husband was surprised to find that I hang some of my clothes on racks to dry them instead of using the dryer. Though he encouraged me to toss them in the dryer for convenience, I’ve continued line drying a significant amount of my clothing.

Ditch the dryer to save money on electricity and make your clothes last longer. Here are strategies to effectively line dry your clothes indoors.

Of course, it would be easier to line dry clothes on an outdoor clothesline than it is to line dry them inside. Unfortunately, this really isn’t an option where we live. We’d have to hang the line in the front yard of our townhome. I’m not sure our neighbors would appreciate this, plus the neighbor kids get into enough mischief in our yard as it is—I’d hate to see what they’d do with clothes that were hung out to dry!

If an outdoor line isn’t an option, then why am I so bent on line drying clothes? I have a couple of motivations. One is preserving my clothes. Clothes can shrink in the dryer. Moreover, dryers can weaken the fabrics in clothing, causing them to wear out quickly (see tips on making clothes last longer here). Another motivation is saving electricity (and the money required to pay for electricity). Dryers consume quite a bit of power, so line drying clothes can cut back on energy usage. Of course, line drying clothes will not by itself solve the energy consumption problem we have in the U.S., but it is a simple approach that can save a little here and there.

Whether you’re concerned about energy consumption and making clothes last or not, you may find yourself needing to line dry clothes at some point. If your dryer stops working and you can’t afford to replace it immediately, this may be a temporary solution for you.

Strategies for line drying clothes indoors

Here are strategies I’ve used to successfully line dry clothes inside.

Use wire shelves or movable racks to hang clothes

Simple wire shelves and movable racks are affordable structures that can effectively suspend clothes as they dry. I suspend clothes from one wire shelf that hangs in our bedroom and from one movable rack that I place in various locations throughout the house.

Movable drying rack to line dry clothes

Movable drying rack to line dry clothes

If you’re looking to purchase a movable rack, there are a number of innovative ones available (see examples here and here).

Honey-Can-Do Drying Rack

Badoogi Drying Rack

Place movable racks in areas where there is airflow

Air movement is critical if clothes are to dry in a timely manner. If you live in a humid region, this is also important to prevent mold or mildew growth in areas where clothes are dried. Airflow can exist because of cross ventilation from open windows, ceiling fans, standalone fans, or space heaters. Though fans and space heaters do use electricity, using them for an hour or two will use less electricity than using the dryer.

Place movable racks in sunlight or by heat sources

Heat will help clothes dry more quickly. Heat can come from sunlight or from a heating source like a wood burning stove, radiator, or heating vent. Some people report that they’ve had clothes fade when they’ve hung them in sunlight, so be careful leaving them in the sunlight for too long.

Don’t use too much soap

If you use too much soap, it might not all rinse out in the wash. This means the soap will leave a residue on clothing, which might cause clothes to become stiff. This stiffness will be more noticeable on line dried clothes than clothes dried in a dryer.

Avoid using fabric softeners

Fabric softeners contain softening chemicals such as quaternary ammonium compounds that are asthmagens (substances that can cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy people). There is also concern that the antimicrobial properties of some of these substances may contribute to antibiotic resistance (read more about the concerns here). If you don’t want these potentially harmful substances floating around your home, then avoid fabric softeners. White vinegar can be used to soften fabrics instead (the vinegar can also help remove buildup from soap).

If needed, you can always toss your clothes in the dryer for 5 minutes or so to finish them after they’ve hung for a while. This will help them dry more quickly and will eliminate any stiffness.

Though I do line dry clothes like t-shirts, slacks, and blouses, I continue to use the dryer for towels and jeans. I’ve found this works best for us because it saves time and keeps the towels from developing a mildewy scent.

Do you line dry any of your clothes indoors? What strategies make this work for you?

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  1. Norma VanMatre says:

    I am very fortunate to have an outdoor clothes line that I use continually during the spring, summer and fall months (not so much in the winter!) As you stated it saves me money in not using the dryer and my clothes last longer. I also love the way my towels and sheets feel and smell after drying in the fresh air! When I can’t dry outside, I too need to dry my larger items (sheets, towels and rugs) but most other items are “indoor line dried”. Thanks for the post!

  2. Love this – reminds me of when I was in college and we hung everything in our dorm room. 🙂

    Unfortunately we can’t outdoor line dry due to our HOA guidelines, but I’d love to get back into not relying on my energy-efficient dryer!

    • Shannon says:

      I’ve heard many people say that their HOAs prevent them from having a clothesline (this is quite unfortunate).
      However, having an energy-efficient dryer is a definite bonus!

  3. Nice tips.
    I especially like to line dry my swimming suit to keep it from getting worn out prematurely.

  4. Nic Nor says:

    I use a “Laundry Lift” which is like a clothesline but for inside. The lines are way up there. You have a stick to pull up and down so you can place your clothes on it to dry. I also have different kinds of racks that you put behind a door. I have a pole in the door frame for dresses and i have a rack on the floor under the counter of my laundry room when the heat and A/C come out so it blows right on it (my ducts are clean!). I also have a very efficient dryer. When the kids were much younger I use to have an outdoor line and put my diapers there and my tablecloths even in the winter; it smelled so good.

    • Shannon says:

      Wow, sounds like a great system! I’ll have to look into one of these.

      • Nic Nor says:

        Laundry Lift is a copyright but there are different ones available. When we redid our bath and laundry rooms, we took out the bath, put the washer/dryer there, opened up the ceiling and installed the laundry lift which I had found on the Internet. Since the bathroom was cut in two, we had space for a powder room, pushing over the counter and sink. We put a laundry counter and two big walled cupboards for detergent, bulbs, cleaning & personal products, etc. where the counter/sink was originally. Under the counter and over the rack we have two big drawers: one for an ironing board that slips out and one for my hairdryer, brushes, etc.

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