Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Week Fifteen--Green Your Laundry Routine With Drying

Last week in talking about greening your laundry routine, I offered tips on washing your clothes in a more eco-friendly fashion. This week you'll learn how to dry your clothes in a way that doesn't harm the earth (as much) and could help your clothes to last long.

Believe it or not, good drying actually starts in the washing machine. That is, at the end of the washing cycle your machine goes into spin mode. This is very important because it helps to wick away extra moisture from the clothing so that laundry don't go into the dryer sopping wet. (Have you ever put super wet clothing in the dryer? It takes forever to dry and always ends up smelling like wet dog anyway.) If you feel that your clothes are still to moist when you're done washing, you could always run a second spin cycle, though this does use extra energy.

Now as far as drying goes, the greenest way to go is simply to hang everything up. This makes a lot of sense if you have access to a clothesline (indoors or outside), and you've got the time to hang everything up. Me, I don't like the feel of crunchy underwear, sheets or towels that you get when things are air dried, and so I throw this stuff in the dryer. Everything else though? I'll run in the dryer for about 10 minutes to get it a little dry and to decrease wrinkles, and then I'll pull them out, piece by piece, and hang them up on hangers to dry. Usually, when I'm dealing with laundry loads of clothing, all that's left in the dryer after my hanging-up routine are socks and underwear, which dry quickly and on the lowest setting.

It is possible for your to hang up your clothes even if you don't have a backyard. I have a backyard but don't want to deal with going outside to dry my clothes. So I've got two towel racks in my laundry room (which is smaller than a walk-in closet, about 4'X6'), but I never use them for towels. When I hang clothes up, I hook the hangers on these towel racks. If I've got loads and loads of laundry to dry, I'll also hang things up in the shower.

People who want to avoid using the dryer also find it helpful to have a drying rack. You can buy them as a shelving set (shelves are made of mesh to allow for air circulation) or a folding rack where you hang your clothes over the rungs to dry.

The next time that you have to run a load of laundry, I hope you'll try out some of these green drying tips. Let me know if they work for you. I love to hear readers' feedback.


yacoob said...

I like the look and you can get those at just about any home improvement store for a whole lot less. Yes very nice idea of Shelving especially with today’s modern space-saving computers and TV’s. It works well.

Michael T said...

There are no dryers in our apartment buildings, and as far as I've seen no laundromats in Korea in general, so drying racks are a must. I have to say, I use to scoff at them, but they do a fantastic job. (The last time I seriously missed the dryer was last week when my mom came to visit and I had to give her a crinkly towel..)

~M said...

We especially like the extra humidity that drying clothes on drying racks provides in the winter!

Debbie said...

I use drying racks indoors. It can take up to 24 hours to dry clothes in the winter, but turning a fan on them (I have a ceiling fan) can make a big difference. If you're in a real hurry, you can flip your clothes once once side is dry.

When it's breezy outside, things can dry on clotheslines in just an hour, so you can do all your laundry in one day. When it's below freezing outside, things don't work so well. And don't leave things hanging up for days at a time or they will fade. Also, it's very exciting when it starts to rain and you have to run outside and pull everything in! Also, watch out for bird poop.

My favorite advantage to line drying is that elasticized things (socks, undies, swimsuits) last longer. That allows you to "re-use" them longer and is thus a green strategy!

Some areas have rules against outdoor clotheslines, but you can get around that by hiding them somehow. I heard of a rule from the olden days that said teachers had to hang their dainty underthings inside a pillow case so they couldn't be seen, so odd rules about outdoor clotheslines are not a new phenomenon.

Anonymous said...

Drying clothes naturally is wonderful and easy. We have three drying racks, two are in the sun in the backyard right now. I have dried up to four loads in one day.

For those thinking of trying it, the racks are also easy to lift even when fully hung with clothes. We don't mind crinkly towels, but I do use my dryer when I have been sick for several days and have let the laundry pile up or when it is raining.

I have noticed that since I have been doing this for two or three years now, that I do think "Laundry!" whenever I wake up to a sunny day. Also, I make sure our clothes really are dirty before we put them in the hamper.