How to Air-Dry Clothes: The Dos and Don’ts of Air-Drying

Shirts hanging on a clothesline outdoors

The dryer has held a firm place in our homes and hearts for several generations, providing an easy, compact solution for drying our clothing. It’s the trusty appliance our mothers swore by, and their mothers before them. But, just like in fashion, we’re now circling back to the drying traditions of yore.

Yes, we’re talking about the time-tested, grandmother-approved method of air-drying clothes.

If you’ve been walloped by rising energy prices lately, alarmed by climate change, or tired of driers manhandling your clothes with all that heat, then air drying might just be for you.

Knowing how to air dry clothes won’t be as simple as throwing them in the dryer, but its environmental, lifestyle and money-saving benefits will make you feel much better about doing things the old-fashioned way.

Ready to harness the power of the air like your ancestors? Let’s do this!

Why Air Dry?

Look. Our mothers weren’t fools.

Dryers are convenient. They’re perfect for small spaces, particularly tiny apartments with no access to clotheslines, and you can count on them to get the job done fast.

But dryers can also be a real drain when it comes to energy and money. Plus, they’ve been known to shrink, fade, and otherwise wreak havoc on our wardrobe.

On the other hand, air drying is free, easy on the environment, and actually better for your clothes. When you air dry them correctly, clothes retain their shape and color longer than after a spin in the drier.

The trick is to do it right—which is why we’ve put together this simple guide outlining all of the best tips for successful air drying!

What Not to Air Dry

You used to be able to air dry anything but there are some newer materials that don’t handle the clothesline or the air too well.

Here’s a few of the most important garments that are best kept as offerings to the dryer gods:

  • Down jackets, pillows, comforters, and other beddings – If there’s one thing the dryer does better than the sun, it’s tumbling, which is what down garments need to keep that fluffy texture we all love.
  • Heavy clothes, like sweatpants and sweatshirts – Unless you have a way to hang them without stretching, like a mesh drying rack, they can lose their shape in the sun.
  • Intensely dark or brightly colored clothes – Unless you can make sure they stay out of direct sunlight, a dryer is your best bet. The same goes for your delicates, as the sun’s rays can warp and damage their fabric.

Prepping Your Clothes for Air Drying

Before you hang your clothes up on the line, there are a few key steps to take:

  • Check weather or pollen reports – Getting your wet garments rained on is never a good idea. Pollen levels can also be a factor if you have allergies, so double-check before you hang things up.
  • Don’t overstuff the line – A gentle air flow that allows clothes to move freely works best here. Trying to cram too many items on the line will extend the drying process and may cause items to wrinkle. Maximize the line by hanging the largest pieces of clothing first, and then use the empty spaces between them for the smaller items.
  • Keep the line clean – The clotheslines  can collect dirt, dust, and even bird poop, which can then get on your clothes. Wipe down the line and anything else you’re hanging your clothes from before hanging up your clothes.

How to Air Dry Clothes

Follow these tips for the best results!

Give ’em a good wiggle!

Be it a comfy t-shirt or your favorite pair of jeans, let’s give them a hearty wiggle and a smooth pat-down before they take the air-dry plunge. Doing the jitterbug with each item not only tackles those stubborn wrinkles but also bids adieu to any sneaky moisture hiding in the fabric folds.

Work with the sun, not against it

There’s no getting around rising and setting of the sun. Waking up early on a sunny day and hanging your clothes to catch the morning breeze will help dry your clothing to perfection.

Wring towels and sheets before air drying

Towels and sheets should be wrung out before being hung to dry. This will help them dry faster and avoid any mildew that can form when the moisture sits for too long. Flip the sheets and towels when one side is dry to ensure the other side gets enough air circulation.

Fold your clothes as soon as they’re off the line

The moment your garments hit that sweet spot of perfect dryness, whisk them off the line pronto. Lollygagging and leaving them overnight can increase the chances of wrinkles forming and mildew growing. Save yourself the hassle and fold them up straight away!

Avoiding wrinkles

Wet garments are heavy, which means you’ll have to learn how to work with gravity to keep wrinkles at bay when you air dry on a line. It’s not as complicated as it sounds: all you need are some hangers and pins, as well as some basic folding skills!

The basic principle here is to hang garments with the heaviest side at the bottom. That way, it pulls down slightly on the rest of the garment as it dries, smoothing out any developing wrinkles.

Air drying indoors?

The challenge here is getting enough air circulation to ensure proper drying without having that musty smell all over your place.

Here are some of the best ways to make air drying indoors work:

  • An extra spin cycle will shake out as much water from your clothes as possible, making them dry faster.
  • A fan in the room will work wonders! It’ll help circulate air and speed up the drying process.
  • Place your clothing on hangers that are wide enough to hold multiple items at once; this helps reduce wrinkles.
  • Keep your windows open so that fresh air can come in as old air escapes out, bringing that musty smell with it.
  • A dehumidifier draws moisture out of the air and helps clothes dry indoors faster.

Or Maybe Just Call Us?

Air drying, shmair drying!

At hampr, our trusty washrs handle the washing and drying for you—whatever the weather. We get your laundry, wash, dry, and fold, then we deliver it back to you in 24 hours—at a flat-rate you can’t resist!

Download our app now on Google Play or the App Store to start living your best laundry-free life today!



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