How to Line Dry Clothes Indoors When Your Dryer Is Being Stupid

how-to-line-dry-clothes-indoors-when-your-dryer-is-being-stupidMaybe you woke up this morning and your dryer decided to be stupid.  Perhaps you usually hang your clothes outside to dry, but it’s raining cats and dogs.  Whatever the reason, sometimes you just have to line dry clothes indoors.  Line drying clothes in winter isn’t so bad if you live in a fairly dry area.  They may freeze, but they still get dry.  It’s a totally different story for those of us in a rainy area like Oregon.  I admit, I’m guilty of using my dryer way too much, ESPECIALLY when it’s cold and rainy.  But there have been times when the dryer broke and we line dried our clothes until it was in the budget to replace.  (And if you ever have to pick between a washer and a dryer, fix the washer first because handwashing clothes is a bit of a workout).

How to line dry clothes indoors

There are a few essential factors to consider when you line dry clothes indoors such as lack of humidity, air flow, and keeping your clean stuff clean.  Watch out for dog hair and kid goop!  Also, if you don’t have some kind of heat source or dehumidifer then not only do your clothes NOT get dry, they start to smell funky, and you can end up with mold in really weird places in your house (don’t ask me how I know this).  I also don’t recommend hanging your underwear on the lampshade to dry before guests come over…

Anyway.

Hopefully I haven’t scared you totally off of  line drying your clothes indoors because it actually does work if you do it right.

Keep Your House Warm

First, I highly recommend heating your house or at least the area where you will be drying laundry.  That will dry the air enough that the moisture can be pulled out of your wet clothes.  Well actually I recommend heating your house for a few other reasons but that’s sort of off topic.   We really love our wood stove, which works superbly as long as you have wood to burn in it.  It produces a dry heat so the added humidity from the laundry actually keeps the house very comfortable.

If your home is very humid even if it is warm it will take a long time for things to dry.  This means that line drying indoors may need a little attention such as turning items on the rack or putting a fan on them to increase airflow.

Give Everything Enough Space

A little folding drying rack (like this kind) works really well for little things like socks and underwear and baby pants, but it really doesn’t cut it for bigger things like jeans, dresses, sheets or towels.  I have a few other tricks I use for those things.

Like doors!

Drape large items of the tops of doors and they will dry quickly because heat rises.  If they are very thick, maybe turn once or twice during drying time.  You could also drape the large items over a couple of chairs in a back room.  But be warned, that only works if you don’t have conniving cats and opportunistic dogs who work in tandem to cover everything in as much fuzz as possible.

Use Your Shower Rod

My all-time favorite way to dry most things is to hang them on clothes hangers from the shower rod.

This is perfect because the clothes have lots of space, they’re out of the way and mostly out of sight.  The kids, dogs, cats, and mysterious sticky monsters can’t reach that high, so everything stays clean.  It’s easy to  brush the wrinkles out of things as you hang them up (if you have time for details like that), and it takes about two minutes to pop the dry clothes into the closet before hopping in the shower in the morning.

So, there you have it, that’s how to air dry your clothes indoors even when the weather is yucky.   I’ll just recap the tips and tricks in a handy little bullet list because I like those and probably use them way too much.

  • Give each item enough room for airflow
  • Put wet items near a heat source or a dehumidifier
  • Turn items periodically to make sure they dry evenly
  • Keep clean items out of reach of cat, dogs, kids, or anything else sticky, goopy, dirty, or furry
  • Hang clothes from hangers to minimize lines and wrinkles
  • Give yourself a pat on the back for saving money and electricity

Do you air dry your clothes during winter?  Feel free to share how you do it in the comments, I love to try other ways of doing things.

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26 thoughts on “How to Line Dry Clothes Indoors When Your Dryer Is Being Stupid”

  1. This will be my first year attempting to line dry through the winter (in Minnesota) – so thanks for the tips! Using the door for blankets really helps – something I was trying to figure out. I have a clothes line and flat surface in the basement with the dryer, but sometimes it gets too humid down there, so they will have to come up here.

    I also want to let you know that we just got rid of our refrigerator – so exciting! We still have a small chest freezer downstairs… without that I would have to be savvy in other meat preservation… someday. 😉

    I hope you and your family are well and thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Thank you for the awesome post. I haven’t used a dryer in years and am always looking for other ways to dry my clothes. I too use doors for drying sheets and even our quilts! I just save those for a weekend and flip them over every so often and they usually dry by the end of the day. I have another shower curtain rod in the upstairs hallway where we don’t go a lot during the day (over adjacent doorframes for added support) and hang clothes there too. Glad to see I’m not the only one drying clothes in imaginitive ways 🙂

    • I dry clothes inside during the winter. Some sites discourage this saying that you will have problems with mold etc. Since I live in Minnesota and dry air is a problem I’m happy with the tiny amount of added humidity. I usually turn the humidifier off while drying my little load. My clothes drier is electric (it came with the house) so I save that way. I average 99 cents a day on electricity. Honest! I get a statement every year. I should probably add that I’m single. I have a line stretched between two trees outside for summer drying. My girlfriend loves the way my clothes smell.

  2. Just found your blog and look forward to reading more! As a fellow Portland urban homesteader, I appreciate the motivation to keep line drying this time of year… it is so easy to rely on the dryer for the 9 months of the year that is rains. Although I have felt so spoiled this year with all the sunny weather we have been getting (and as a result have been doing much better at sticking to line drying).

  3. I line-dry clothes indoors all year round, which works fine for two persons. Normally I just leave the clothes on the rack in the corridor until the next load is washed (one or two loads per week, usually) because I’m a little lazy and don’t have to worry about kids or other legged creatures. Some clothes we wear very often simply will be picked straight from the rack as soon as they are somewhat dry. For bigger items like sheets we have a set of lines across the bathroom ceiling (installed by former tenants) and blouses/shirts can be dried on the backs of chairs to minimize wrinkling.

  4. Hi from the north west of Ireland, rabbits brought me to your great blog but air drying clothes in the winter is a situation I share with you although without the short legged or four legged in our house. Right now the clothes horse is close to me on the sunny balcony but I’m the only one with coffee 🙂
    We use a mixture of your techniques, hangers, the stove in autumn and winter, clothes line when possible. A low wattage electric fan as a last resort really helps on humid days.

  5. I read blogs all of the time and never comment. Now I have something to say! 🙂 I line dry every chance I get. Love the smell of the clothes. Because we have electric baseboard heat (expensive) we have purchased small heaters that are strategically placed throughout the house. In the winter (or rainy laundry days) all shirts and pants go on hangers and are hung on various door frames in the same area of one of the heaters. Underwear and sock go on the drying rack. This works great and clothes are usually dry within a day (or so)!

  6. Great post! One other idea: If you have bi fold closet doors, open the doors and place a wooden dowel across the top of the open doors.

  7. There are six of us so I must wash a load of laundry at least once a day. First, I take the clothes and put them in the dryer for 5 mins to get rid of wrinkles. I hang up all the shirts with plastic hangers and the pants get hung upside down on skirt hangers (with the clips on the ends) that come from stores–I always ask to keep those when buying. These are hung on spring-loaded rods in the doorways between the kitchen and living room until dry. The little things get hung up on drying racks over central air vents. I don’t hang up inside until the heat is turned on-otherwise they’re outside on the line. If it’s not raining, I hang the large stuff like sheets out. If I get overwhelmed, I just end up using the dryer…but that’s not usually until my teenage stepsons come and make it a house of 8…lol.

    • Nice! When we went from five people to six I started using my dryer a lot more. That’s awesome you can hang dry so much of the time. 🙂

  8. Love it! Thank you for all the ideas. I want to try to hang up our clothes more often. I too am in the North West, Vancouver WA. I was on the hunt for ideas on how to dry inside. I don’t think my hubbie would like clothes hanging every where and not sure if the teenagers would do it. But going to give it a shot any ways! Thank you for all the helpfully suggestions. Even the comments were full of ideas that I think I might just be able to pull off. 🙂

  9. I’m going to be building us a new home in a wet area of Scotland and am keen to include a drying cupboard for wet weather gear. I’ve heard the military have such things in barracks, but cannot find any designs. Anybody seen one? I am imagining a wardrobe sized cupboard on an external wall with a small radiator at the base and vents for convection air circulation.Or if I can afford MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery), it might be possible to ventilate it with that.

    • I have not seen anything, but I will keep my eyes open. If you have a wood burning stove putting it above the stove could dry well. Sounds like a good idea!

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