Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Line Drying

Drying clothes on a line might be portrayed as breezy and beautiful...

... but reality looks more like this:

Even though it's not pretty, and it takes up quite a bit of room, line drying saves a considerable amount of money since dryers can use upwards of 20% of your monthly electricity. Plus, line drying is very easy and isn't nearly as inconvenient as it's often made out to be.

To prove line drying is worth the effort, I will do a test and compare the findings. I’ll time myself doing laundry two ways. I’ll include how long it takes to load, set the time, then unload and fold a full load of laundry when using the clothes dryer versus how long it will take to set up, hang and fold a full load of laundry dried on the line. I’ll shoot for 3 full loads of each type (about two weeks of laundry for us). To keep the experiment as genuine as possible, I’ll also compare the same types of loads. For instance, I’ll time how long it takes to dry a load of baby laundry, a load of adult clothing, and a load of other household laundry in each method.

My hypothesis is this: It'll take the same or less time to line dry clothes than it does to dry them in the machine.

For those of you who love science are are total and absolute nerds (like me) and want to know more about how electricity works, watch this video. He gives a much more concise and sensible explanation of voltage, amps and ohms than I could.

According to, use the formula below to calculate the daily electricity usage of your appliances.

(Wattage × Hours Used Per Day) ÷ 1000 = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption

Don't worry, it's much simpler than it looks, and I'll help do the math. The energy consumption rate (watts or volts and amps) should be listed on your machine's name plate usually mounted on the back or bottom. If the name plate doesn’t show how many watts it uses, simply multiply the volts by the amps. I couldn't find mine and didn't want to turn it over (which brilliant designer seriously put the info plate on the bottom of the machine…), so I picked an average use level based on the range given by I picked 3400 watts, which is right smack dab in the middle of their 1800-5000 range. So to figure the daily wattage of my clothes dryer, I used the formula thus:

(3400 wattage X 1 hour) / 1000 = 3.4 kWh per day

For me one hour equals one load of laundry dried. I usually only do one load a day, so if you do more laundry in a day, adjust as appropriate.

To find how much you pay per kWh, look on your electricity bill. Mine lists the average kWh per day and the average cost per day. If I divide the daily cost by the daily kWh, I get $0.12 per kWh. So every time I run the dryer, it costs me $0.41 ($0.12 * 3.4 kWh). I dry about 5 loads a week, making my weekly cost $2.05 and yearly cost $106.60. Adds up fast, huh? Since I've been line drying, I only dry one load in the machine per week which cuts my cost by 80% or by $85 a year!

Currently, I have 3 drying racks. My little drying rack cost $20 from amazon, my large drying rack I got in trade for other things, so there was no cost to acquire that, and the garment stand was $12 from Ross. My total equipment cost was recouped in about 4 months.

To cut my costs even further, I make sure my machine is running smoothly. I clean the lint trap between each load, I check the dryer hose frequently for clogs and I add tennis balls to the load to agitate the linens more and dry them faster. Recently I ran water over the lint trap and the water beaded up on top of the mesh, instead of going straight through. Even though I don't use fabric sheets or softeners, the person I bought the machine from must have and the wax from the dryer sheets melted in the heat and clung to the mesh. I simply ran really hot water over the mesh and scrubbed it clean. That removed the waxy build up and decreased the drying time by about 15 minutes.

Here is a good resource if you want to know more about cleaning your machine. And for some inspiration, visit my Pinterest Home board for cool ideas to use in your laundry room and all around your house.

See you again soon with the results from my experiment!


  1. Had some sheets that I dried in the sun last summer and just pulled them out and made the bed. It was fabulous! They smelled like the dead of winter. I cannot tell you what a boost this was to my soul. Plus, I found a bonus dandelion seed/fluff folded within. Nothing smells better than clothing and linens hung outside to dry!

    Thanks also for that hint about the dryer screen. I'll be checking mine since it was a new/used dryer.

    As far as savings go, are you also making your own laundry soap my sweet Woo?

    1. I do make my own detergent! That'll be in a series coming up about my Homemade Alternatives Obsession. :)
      And I love the idea of drying outside and keeping them for the winter! I haven't done this yet, but you can bet I will this summer!