Hang Dried Clothes: The Good And The Bad
only for a minute until you use them or put them on. You also have to watch out for insects. The other day Jim found a bee inside one of his socks just before he put it on! And being mindful of the weather helps, unless you want your wash load getting soaked by rain.
I encourage everyone to put up a clothesline. If you live where clotheslines aren’t permitted, try to fight it. You could have a lower electricity bill in your future!
If you hang dry your clothes, there's a chance you are off the grid, and might also need one of these to make your hand washing job just a little bit easier. At under $60, it will save you a lot of time:
How Much Electricity Do You Save To Hang-Dry Clothes?
The “Saving Electricity” website reports that the average dryer uses 3.3 kilowatt hours of energy and estimates an average of 11 cents per kilowatt hour. A small load of clothes takes about 45 minutes in the dryer, so the cost of that load is $0.36.
When I hang up my own line, I can hang up about three small loads of clothes at once on it. This is on average – I can do a bit more if it’s mostly my clothes and a bit less if it’s mostly kid’s clothes, but the three loads per line is a good calculation. That means that filling up the line and letting it air dry saves about $1.08.
Is it worth it? The real question comes from how long it takes me to do it. I can string up the line in about fifteen seconds, and I can hang a load’s worth of clothes in about two minutes or so – it’s really not that hard. I probably spend another fifteen seconds opening up doors and windows to maximize air drying, so the total extra time investment for that $1.08 is about six and a half minutes.
This means that if I repeated this exercise about nine times, I’d end up devoting about an hour to hanging up laundry and I’d save $9.96. As always, that’s $10 an hour after taxes – you don’t have to take income tax out of those “earnings.”
There are a couple other factors worth considering here.
Dryer sheets If you’re hanging up the clothes, you’re not using dryer sheets. I usually use a quarter cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle as our laundry softener, so this isn’t really a concern for us, but if you use dryer sheets, you’ll either be abandoning them (a savings) or switching to something else. I encourage you to try vinegar – it seems to soften really well and doesn’t add any smell to the clothes.
The environment Anything that cuts down on home energy use is a good thing and dryers certainly suck down the juice. Of course, if you’re opening windows for the purpose of air flow, you might also be doing this to help you keep the air conditioning off, which is another big environmental (and financial) boon. We try to resist using our air conditioner except during the day on particularly hot days, so opening the windows here is a natural thing to encourage air flow.
To put it simply, hanging up laundry is a decent but not world-beating saver. It’s worth doing particularly if you have environmental concerns for doing so, but other factors can easily trump it (like air conditioning, for instance). I, for one, like the smell of air-dried clothes quite a lot and it’s a good, repetitive activity that lets my mind wander in creative directions while doing it, so I think I’ll continue to hang laundry on a fairly regular basis.
Making Your Clothes Last Longer and Look Better:
Taking care of your clothes can give them a life of 15 years or longer, compared to about three years if they're worn often and not maintained, says Grant Harris, owner of Image Granted, an image consultancy company in Washington, D.C. Extending the life of your clothes doesn't have to mean hours of work, but it does require a bit of effort and planning. Here are some clothing care tips and ways to make your clothes last longer, which will in turn keep your wardrobe budget more manageable.
Give Your Clothing a Rest
It's basic advice, but it makes sense to rotate your shoes, suits, and other apparel so that they're not in constant use or get prematurely worn out, Harris says. "Rotation is key across your whole wardrobe. You don't want to wear the same suit two days in a row." Trousers get twice the stress of wear and tear that jackets do, and should be kept in the closet more often, he also advises.Shoes should be given time to air out, too.
Store Everything Properly
If you're not going to wear an outfit for a full season, then you should store it with care, Harris notes. Suits that are being put away for the summer, for example, should be hung on a suit hanger in a canvas bag that's breathable, like this Mainstays Suit Bag 3-Pack ($15.97 with $2.97 s&h, a low by $1) which features canvas and a clear front. And it's best not to jam your closet full of items, either.
It's important to also consider how you're storing your clothes. Cheap plastic or wire hangers will stretch out the shoulder of a garment while wooden hangers are best for men's suits or heavier items. The styles and prices run the gamut, from this Honey-Can-Do Wooden Hangers with Nonslip Bar 24-Pack ($28.99 with $2.95 s&h) to the single Deluxe Natural Wood Suit Hanger ($8.22 with free shipping via Prime). The latter is pricier no doubt, but the wider form is excellent for preserving a nice suit jacket's shoulders. And remember that knit fabrics shouldn't be put on hangers at all because the weight of the item will stretch it out over time.
Don't Use Dry Cleaning Too Much
Not only is dry cleaning expensive, but harsh chemicals such as starch, will harm fabric, Harris says. "Most men dry clean things too often," he says. It's better to steam your clothes at home with a steamer — like this SteamFast 407 Fabric Steamer ($59.99 with free shipping) — or in the bathroom during a shower, in between dry cleaning visits. If you do take them to the cleaners, ask that they be laundered, which is a less stressful option if the tag on the clothing says it can endure it, and have them ironed without starch.
Take Care When Washing
The easiest way to prevent clothes from fading or wearing out is to wash them with cold water and use less detergent. You can also turn shirts with graphics inside out before washing; wash jeans separately so the rough denim doesn't rub shirts raw over time; and wash delicate clothes on their own. Many consumers also swear by the clothes-preserving power of Woolite products. For example, this Woolite Extra Dark Detergent 100-oz. Bottle ($13.97 with in-store pickup, a low by $5) purportedly keeps your blacks from looking more like gray.
Avoid the Dryer When Possible
High heat fades and shrinks material. In fact, the balls of lint you remove from your clothes dryer are actually fibers from your wardrobe. It's therefore advisable to use a dryer sparingly, and when possible line dry your clothes, says Linda Arroz, a former Hollywood stylist and co-author ofAffordable Couture. What's more, heat breaks down the elastic fibers in clothes — especially intimate apparel — Arroz says, causing breakage and stretching. It's better to dry-flat or hang-dry such items.
If you do use the dryer, you can cut down on the time required to dry your clothes with a few different products. The Steam Mate Dryer Ball ($5.89 with free shipping, a low by $2;) is a plastic dome-shaped egg that you moisten and toss in the dryer with clothes so they purportedly dry faster and come out with fewer wrinkles. Dryer balls ($4.51 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $7), or even tennis balls, can also help lift and separate clothes for better airflow and quicker drying time.
Refresh Clothing With a Dye Bath
If you're like photographer Catherine Fiehn and wear a lot of dark clothing, you may sometimes notice your blacks appear, well, not quite black. When Fiehn's outfits start looking dingy she picks up a simple black cloth dye, like Rit Dye, and gives her items a dye bath. It's relatively simple to do and makes her apparel appear new again, Fiehn says.
With these simple care instructions, you'll find that your favorite shirt and your perfect pair of pants can withstand longer wear. And with the money you'll save on not buying replacement T-shirts, you can invest in finer fabrics and higher-end wear knowing you will get the most out of each item.