I Dumped My Dryer and I Have No Regrets

My patience for the esteemed dryer ran thin a few years ago after one too many mishaps. Burned by shrunken skirts and faded shirts, I decided it was time to take my weekly laundry day old school. I want to extend the life of the wardrobe I so carefully invest in, so a quick ‘toss ‘em in and get it done’ laundering method is out of the question. Heat is one of the most damaging agents we can introduce to clothing, causing unwanted frays, fading colors, and creating microscopic damage within the seams that will reduce its lifespan. If you’ve ever had the elastic give out on a waistband, you can thank your dryer.

These machines put quite a dent in the environment as well. In the past decade, we’ve seen appliance companies make efforts to save you energy and money with almost every major machine except dryers, meaning your dryer’s technology is not that different from what your parents had in the early 80s. Using the same amount of energy as your new washer, refrigerator, and dishwasher combined. The average American uses their dryer five times a week, equaling close to $100 a year on energy alone. Understanding how costly this appliance is on all levels created a huge incentive for me to rid myself of the beast altogether.

When you decide to ditch your dryer, taking it slow makes the switch as painless as possible. Start with just the items you love. Once I noticed my treasured thrifted blouses, delicate dresses, and fine lace underthings deteriorating with each cycle, I quickly made these items my first test subjects. Each time I washed a load, I pulled out more and more items to hang around my apartment, and patiently waited for them to dry. After I got more acquainted with my new system, almost every garment I owned ended up scattered around, drying in the breeze coming through my screen door. Each laundry day, the lack of room within my living space became more obvious, so I started to search for a more space-friendly drying environment. My solution: a multi-use clothesline that’s easy to create and compatible with any decor.

Clotheslines have a pure, retro feel. They conjure images of ropes strung beautifully from building to building in vintage 35mm shots of old downtowns or dusty white picket fences framing the scene of linens drying in a suburban cul-de-sac. Although an indoor line is a little unconventional, it does the trick and can do double-duty in your space.


 

DIY Clothesline

The trick to accommodating this DIY dryer is to consider both the weight of damp clothing and your daily decor when choosing the materials and construction method. I recommend heavy duty hooks and sturdy rope thin enough to use with wooden clothespins and heavy duty hooks.

Materials

  • Wall anchors

  • 2 cleat hooks with screws (the size will depend on the length of you line)

  • Rope

  • Drill or awl

  • Screwdriver

  • Wooden clothespins

1. The first step to creating a (picturesque) clothesline is deciding where it goes. Find a spacious corner by the window, or make it the centerpiece of your living area. Keep in mind that the clothes may drip so don’t hang your line over anything that can’t get a little wet. I’ve created a similar line on my porch before and it makes sense to expand your drying space to the outdoors if possible!

2. If hanging a line indoors, choose the right hardware for your wall, including proper anchors to hold the weight of your clothes.

 Illustrated by  Elizabeth Stilwell .

Illustrated by Elizabeth Stilwell.

3. Mark where your holes need to be for the two cleat hooks. Then drill or tap a pilot hole that is slightly smaller than the anchor.

4. Insert the anchor into the hole (you may have to tap it with a hammer) until it is flush with the wall.

5. Align the holes for the hooks with the anchors and snugly screw them into the wall.

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6. When you use the line, secure each side to the cleat hook with a cleat hitch so it’s taut and secure.

7. When not in use, you can either take the line all the way down or take one side down and coil the rope on the other hook for later. Or you might keep it up permanently to hold pictures, letters, and mementos in between laundry days.

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For those of you who aren’t so DIY savvy, or you just don’t have the space to accommodate a clothesline hanging in your space 24/7, I’ve made a list of my fave drying racks and air drying accessories to help make your transition smooth and easy. Some of my favorite options:

 

Despite the huge leaps we’ve made to make living as easy as possible, sometimes past simplicities work wonders compared to the resource-heavy conveniences we know today. If you aren’t fully convinced yet, I’ve compiled a set of reasons why air drying is totally the way of the future.

  • Using a rack to dry your digs actually cools down your house. Evaporating water from your clothing can help drop the temperature on those triple digit summer days.  
  • If you’re able to find a spot in the sun, UV light will help naturally disinfect and whiten your garments. Use caution with this approach and make sure to not leave your items in the sun too long — too much heat of any kind can really do some damage.
  • Slowing down your daily routine can help reduce stress. Take your time with the things that you love, in my case, it’s my clothing. Air drying is a calmer method, causing you to take your time on laundry day and not rush to get it all done.
  • With line drying, you can avoid harsh chemicals and perfumes by nixing dryer sheets and fabric softeners.
  • In the dry winter season, line drying can add humidity into the air, which helps reduce your chances of viruses and dry nasal passages. I know, not the most glamorous point, but super helpful in those excruciating cold months.

Share your own dryer breakups with us on social media!

🔥 Illustrated by Elizabeth Stilwell. 🔥