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

Maybe 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).

Line drying clothes year round is possible with a few tips and tricks. You can line dry clothes indoors even when it's cold and wet outside.

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…


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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Sunday 27th of September 2020

Hi, I'm not entirely sure if you still manage this site, but I'm in a predicament. I have some clothes that might be questionable to just kind of leave out in the open to dry (I cross dress sometimes and my parents don't know, I'm 17 btw). Normally i would just throw all the clothes in the dryer, but recently i got some new clothes that are line dry only, so i was wondering if you have any tips/tricks to line drying solely in a bedroom.


Sunday 1st of November 2020

I admire your concern for taking care of your clothes and understand the need for some privacy. Let me suggest a temporary clothes line that is fast and easy to hook up and take down. I use one for extra drying space. I screwed 2 "L" brackets (you could also use hooks or those screw-in "O" things) on opposite sides of my bedroom, sort of on a diagonal to allow for a longer line. Beside or above a window or a door works very well, but you can also place them anywhere on a wall where you can find a stud. You want these to be securely screwed or nailed in because wet clothes are heavy, especially if there is something you don't want to spin too long or hard in the washer. Then I tied clothes line to bungee clips at each end and clipped the bungee clips into the holes in the end of my "L" bracket that sticks out from the wall. Leave yourself a little extra clothes line dangling from one of the bungee clips because you may want to adjust the length of the clothes line. I placed my clothes line so that it isn't immediately visible when the door is opened. I take the clothes line down when not in use. and stash it in a decorate shopping bag. Because of the bungee clips, it can be taken down and put up very quickly and easily. I leave the clothes pins on the line. Sometimes I have to take it down to get the clothes out of the way before they are dry. I unclip one end and start draping clothes, still attached to the line, over my shoulder until I get to the other clip. I unclip that end, too. Then I neatly place the whole pile on a big towel on my bed, trying not to fold clothes any more than necessary, fold the towel around them and put the whole thing on top of the shoes in the bottom of my closet. The big towel keeps them clean and and the stuff around them dry. Later I hang the line back up to finish drying. The "L" brackets are not very noticeable right beside the molding around the door and window, especially if they are above eye height of any adult standing in the doorway. I hope this helps you enjoy your clothes.


Monday 28th of September 2020

Your best option would be a drying rack, but you could hang items on a clothes hanger or drape over the back of chairs. Try to keep as much air flow as possible, open a window, turn on a fan. If they are drying flat on a hard surface, flip them over periodically.


Thursday 4th of April 2019

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.


Sunday 1st of November 2020

The house I grew up in had something like you are imagining. It was in a pantry off the kitchen, away from dishwashing and other humid activities. It also heated the pantry and helped with the kitchen when the stove was off. It had vented doors, made with some sort of decoratively pierced thin metal panels set in a wooden frame, all painted to match the pantry cabinets. It was 2 or 3 feet wide, "very tall" in my childhood eyes, but with regular cabinets above it to the celling. It was as deep as the other pantry cabinets. It indeed had a small hot water radiator, one of the old cast iron ones, at the bottom with space in front of it for wet boots. Don't remember how wet coats hung in there, but they did. And my mother fashioned some wire shelving for wet scarves and mittens - actually lots of shelf space, as there were lots of wet mittens and scarves, slow to dry because she hand knit them all out of thick wool. It was wonderful to grab warm, dry mittens from the "drying closet" before we went outdoors. Best wishes for your endeavor.


Wednesday 10th of April 2019

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!


Monday 2nd of January 2017

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. :-)


Monday 2nd of January 2017

They all might not work for you, but I hope at least couple of them will be helpful.


Tuesday 15th of November 2016

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.

Kathryn @ Farming My Backyard

Thursday 17th of November 2016

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. :)


Thursday 14th of January 2016

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.

Kathryn @ Farming My Backyard

Thursday 14th of January 2016

Yes, great idea!

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