Americans have a habit of drying every load of laundry, even if it’s just one piece of clothing. Sticking your soaking clothes in the dryer is both convenient and hassle-free. Before household dryers were the norm, almost everyone used clotheslines.  But when you compare air drying clothes vs. dryer usage, what’s the best choice? We are going to break apart each and provide some figures that could alarm you.

Using a Household Dryer

When we bring up the air drying clothes vs. dryer topic, that first things that come to mind are energy cost, environmental impact, and the effect on your clothes.

Energy Cost

Electric dryers make up a big chunk of American’s energy bills. According to the NRDC, Americans spend roughly $9 billion per year just to dry their clothes. The average dryer uses 2.5 – 4 kWh per load. Depending on where you live, this can cost $0.28 to $0.44 per load. Now, say you run the dryer once per day. At $0.44 per load, that would cost you around $160 per year. However, using an Energy Star certified dyer will use between 20 to 60% less energy than a standard dryer.

Environmental Impact


Environmentally-conscious individuals have started to get rid of their dryers and opt for clotheslines instead. Why? Using an electric dryer has a huge impact on your carbon footprint. Remember, I’m simply here to provide you the facts, not sway you. Drying clothes makes up roughly 5.8% of the total carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. Air drying your laundry can reduce your personal carbon footprint up to 2,400 lbs. per year. Considering the average carbon footprint is 16.4 metrics tons per year in the United States, getting rid of your dryer would drastically reduce your effect on the environment.

Effect on Your Clothes

Have you ever put something in the dryer and it came out two sizes smaller? That’s because drying at high temperatures can “kill” your clothes. In a nutshell, over drying breaks down the fibers in your clothes, causing them to shrink. Tumble-drying can also be extremely harmful to your clothes and can even cause the pockets to melt. If you do need to use a dryer for your clothes, the best option is to use a delicate cycle.

Air Drying Clothes

Even though it takes longer, there are many benefits to air drying clothes. Here is a glance at just a handful of them:

  • Saves money: If you factor out the cost of labor, air drying your clothes costs practically nothing. It only takes a few minutes to hang them on the drying rack or line. A clothesline starts at around $10 for a retractable one. Drying racks start at $20.
  • Fewer wrinkles: Drying your clothes on a line can result in fewer wrinkles. This helps you cut back on the time needed to iron your outfit before wearing it.
  • Air drying clothes smell: Your clothes will have a fresh smell that resembles nature after drying them outside. No more dryer sheets that actually harm both your clothes and dryer.
  • Natural disinfectant: When your clothes are exposed to sunlight, they are naturally disinfected. The ultraviolet rays of the sun can kill disease-causing bacteria that it comes in contact with. You no longer have to use harmful chemicals to rid of dangerous microorganisms.
  • Clothes last longer: Hanging your clothes outside helps keep the fabric’s fiber safe from damage. Natural fibers such as cotton and wool last for much longer when not put in a dryer. Using a dyer can also cause the colors to fade.

Air Drying During the Winter

Many people often wonder how to air dry clothes in the winter. The reality is, you can still dry your clothes outside even in the depths of winter! While it seems impossible, it actually works through sublimation. At first, your damp clothes will freeze. Afterward, the sun will melt the ice and rid of the moisture on the clothes. However, when there’s no sun, it’ll definitely take longer.

Drying Without a Line

Air drying clothes without a clothesline is very possible. If you don’t have the space to stretch and line across your yard, you’re not out of luck. Instead of a line, you could get a drying rack. These are best suited for small places, like apartment balconies. In addition, you could always hang your clothes on the side of your deck railing.

So, know that you know a little more about air drying clothes vs. dryer, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for you. You should think about how often you’re using your dryer in the first place. Also, is reducing your carbon footprint an important part of your life? At the end of the day, there are many benefits of air drying clothes.


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