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hang your laundry to dry outside in the winter

 
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paul wheaton wrote:I was reading something recently suggesting a clothes dryer from real goods.  I looked .... it looked really lame and really expensive. 

I've been using a clothes drying rack indoors and outdoors for a few years now that I got from ikea.  A quick search shows that they appear to not sell it anymore. 



In the summer we have a line outside. In rainy and cold times we use a large rack indoors that is Amish made. The basement doesn't smell good, so we dry in our living room now. 12 hours or so in winter when it's dry inside. Here is the rack, small and large sizes. I know we paid much less buying one locally. https://www.lehmans.com/product/premium-floor-clothes-dryers-large/  When they say solidly built, it's an understatement.

The Amish in Wisconsin, where we lived last, always dried laundry outdoors year 'round. A nice line on two pulleys enabled the women to hang laundry from the back porch, rotating the line until it was full. There are pictures and pulleys for sale here: https://www.skylineclotheslines.com/
 
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For indoor drying I like to use what is commonly called a Sheila Maid in England. I like it because it hangs from the ceiling from pulleys so you can lower it to hang the laundry then hoist it up out of the way. Mine is in storage until the house is built and I haven't decided for sure where I'll put it - it's always been over the washer before but I may put it closer to the rocket mass heater in the new house. I found a website that sells them - https://columbuswashboard.com/collections/vintage-laundry/products/sheila-maid-airer - and they seem spendy but they do last a long, long time. My aunt had one in her house that had been there for 50+ years and was given to her by an elderly neighbor who'd probably had it at least as long. About the only thing that wears out is the rope.




 
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I haven't had a dryer for 8 years. I hang laundry on the clothesline all year round.  Winter time too. Water is one of the few substances that can go from a solid to a gas...this is why ice cubes shrink in the fridge. If it's snowing or raining,  I hang in the house. Usually on hangers..makes it easier. Nothing in the world smells as good as sheets dried on the winter clothesline. Once it warms up,  it is mostly dry.
 
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here we have an option similar to that Sheila Maid (which is super cute!) that people generally use in apartments, I have a larger version outside on my back porch. The clotheslines are attached to the ceiling and go up using pulleys or sometimes a retractable gadget, like this one.
 
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Grandma used to dry clothes in the basement during winters in Portland, OR; dried fine, but I don't know how long it took. I am planning to dry clothes in the loafing shed when I get a wash machine and am doing laundry in the winter. In the summer I hang my clothes outside but under the porch roof so as to limit sun exposure (for clothing longevity).
 
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paul wheaton wrote:Backwoods home mag has a picture of laundry outside covered in frost.  And the article talks about how it is "freeze dried". 

I usually dry my stuff inside not far from the heater.  On racks. 

Freeze dried clothes ..... anybody tried it?



Yes, I have done this. It gets mostly dry. My experience is that it needs a little finishing off time indoors, but a lot less time than if it was never hung outside first.

Tips I learned:  

make sure the items are spread out (don’t just bunch up a sheet so that you can shove it through a wire hanger — it’s not useless but will still be damper when it thaws than if it had been spread out)

Don’t be tempted to bring it in once frozen. It needs more time.

The colder the weather, the better it works (wind is good, of course).  More cold = drier air.

Sun is sun. If you wouldn’t  dry an item in the sun in summer to avoid fading, don’t do it in winter either.

I left mine out when it started snowing, unless the items were things I needed sooner rather than later. When it stops, shake the line and most of it will fall off. Unless it was a sloppy wet snow. In that case I would bring it all in.

Side benefits: less time inspecting laundry for insect egg clusters (some bugs are fast!), bird st, etc. and the laundry still has that nice outdoor smell.

Now that I live in the Willamette Valley I usually don’t bother in winter. It’s usually as wet outside as it is in my tub.  Things I drape outside because they got to icky to touch my precious washing machine get a really nice rinse, though, especially when abandoned to their fate for a month, give or take.
 
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My mother used to do it throughout the winter.  As the the clothes were brought in to thaw, they were draped  over the backs of chairs near the heater to finish off. It was routine to us. We never saw it as anything special.
 
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I do it all the time here in Western Ma.

While the wet clothes are also warm, I put them outside on the line. The ice-cold air is also very dry, so while the water in the clothes is still liquid, it evaporates quickly.

Once the water in the clothes freezes, the rate of evaporation plummets. It'll stay that (whatever it is) level of frozen water in the clothes for a long while.

I typically bring my clothes back inside to thaw, and if needed, put them back out to dry more.

Sometimes, the second trip outside isn't needed (close enough to dry to leave inside to finish).

If the back-n-forth doesn't appeal to you, you can leave them outside in the cold. The sun hitting frozen clothes creates microclimate that melt & evaporate the water in the clothes, very slowly (a day or so).

Yes, freeze-drying laundry works!
 
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Scott Billups wrote:I do it all the time here in Western Ma.

While the wet clothes are also warm, I put them outside on the line. The ice-cold air is also very dry, so while the water in the clothes is still liquid, it evaporates quickly.

Once the water in the clothes freezes, the rate of evaporation plummets. It'll stay that (whatever it is) level of frozen water in the clothes for a long while.

I typically bring my clothes back inside to thaw, and if needed, put them back out to dry more.

Sometimes, the second trip outside isn't needed (close enough to dry to leave inside to finish).

If the back-n-forth doesn't appeal to you, you can leave them outside in the cold. The sun hitting frozen clothes creates microclimate that melt & evaporate the water in the clothes, very slowly (a day or so).

Yes, freeze-drying laundry works!



Just to add to that, on a very cold and very sunny day ice goes straight into vapor with little visible melting. Works great.
 
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My big problem is that it isn't that cold here. Winter days are usually above freezing, and about half are overcast and/or raining. We dry in front of the woodstove, but the woodstove overheats the house. It is bothersome.
 
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If it's a really wet, cold day, then my laundry gets hung up on three lines near the ceiling in my living space. My woodstove ensures it's all dry within 24 hours. On cold, dry days then most of the mousture will be lost outdoors, then I finish it off overnight over the woodstove again. It's always been that simple.
 
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Cheese McCoy wrote:As far as I know, when you hang wet laundry out in temps well below freezing, the ice crystals will simply sublimate with enough air movement.  So wind/airflow will cause the freeze drying if its very low humidity (winter in canada works well ).  I dont think any clothes can get lower than ambient humidity levels unless you add energy.

Greenhouses for clothes anyone?



Honestly, never knew about this, but I would be willing to try it! I just figured I would resort to hanging near a fireplace (which I think most do).
 
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We hang wet stuff near the stove in winter, but with caution after a friend nearly lost his house/life/kids when a clothesline full of wet winter clothes (synthetic fabrics) came loose and fell on the woodstove, catching fire and quickly spreading. It happened at night but luckily the kids got out, running barefoot in the snow to the neighbor's house while our friend tried to get a burning mattress out of the house before the fire department arrived. He ended up in the hospital with some nasty burns. Fortunately the rural volunteer fire department put out the blaze and saved the house.
 
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I don't have a suitable covered spot to hang laundry outside in my current house, but I will in the next one. I'm in Seattle, so hanging laundry to dry outside in the winter without some sort of shelter just isn't going to work; if anything, it'll just get wetter.

So I've always hung clothes in the basement, where the boiler for the radiators is, taking advantage of otherwise wasted heat. At the top of the basement stairs, where it's warmest, I have a couple of closet poles that fit into brackets mounted on either side of the stairs, and things dry quickly there. That's where I hang jeans, anything heavy and slow-drying, or anything I will need dried sooner. It works great, and while it does interfere with getting into the basement from upstairs, it's only a minor nuisance.

Even when I lived in apartments, I hung clothes to dry, usually by putting them on hangers and hanging them on the shower curtain rod. The shower curtain rod needs to be solidly mounted, and there's still only so much weight it can take, but a bunch of shirts and underwear is no problem.
 
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Stacy Witscher wrote:My big problem is that it isn't that cold here. Winter days are usually above freezing, and about half are overcast and/or raining. We dry in front of the woodstove, but the woodstove overheats the house. It is bothersome.

The same here Stacy. What we call 'winter' is more rain, sometimes wet snow, but not a time to use the clothesline outdoors. That's why I have a clothesline indoors too (in the storage room).
 
Jerry McIntire
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Another laundry rack idea, this one is made from repurposed, free crib sides or baby gates. Not my idea, but I like it!
http://nwedible.com/wall-moutned-clothes-drying-rack-perfected/

 
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While spending time in a large city in China, I was surprised to see how many people line-dried their laundry indoors or on covered porches. Even in oppressively humid weather the clothes would still dry, eventually. And in below-freezing temperatures, indoor line-drying is not only necessary but can pleasantly increase the dryness that so often comes with cold.

Following our time in China, I installed hooks in the wall on either side of a room (we used diagonals for extra width). When there's no laundry to dry, the room is open, the hooks' relatively unobtrusive presence notwithstanding. Then, when we do laundry, we string three pre-measured and pre-looped lengths of paracord (ordinarily stored behind the window-curtain) from hook to hook to create the drying lines. And while the laundry obviously takes up indoor space, it does not take up floor space, a crucial consideration when living in a smaller home. (For a time, my wife and I even had our bed under the drying lines, though child play space works well too.) After using this system for two years (in conjunction with three drying racks), we sold our conventional clothes dryer, freeing up even more floor space.

Line drying indoors is also an excellent solution for drying laundry on those rainy summer days!

Costs:
six hooks = ~$6
paracord = ~$8

Profits:
sell old dryer = $100
not using conventional dryer = ~$100/year (factoring in cost of dryer itself and maintenance)
using indoor lines = ~$0.50 per load ($25/year @ one load per week), and a good feeling inside!

My best wishes to you all on your stewardship efforts, particularly as regards drying laundry.




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We had to take down our indoor clothesline due to some changes in chimney placement and haven't yet found a new spot to hang it that isn't in the way. I don't mind hanging larger items outside in the cold, but due to there being so many, if I hang the socks and underwear outside, my fingers get painfully cold. So I came up with this for hanging them in the house. I used clothes pins to keep the hangers from sliding around. Doesn't take up much space and works great!
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Hanging landory out in freezing weather one must be careful because the fabric will break.
So I wouldn't recommend it.
 
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A few caveats I've encountered with indoor clothes drying: draping wet things over an iron radiator will cause rust on the article; putting them over wooden furniture can damage the finish of some wood; placing modern "wool" garments too close to a heat source can cause it to melt- even high end manufacturers have decided synthetic blends are indispensable yet still go to great lengths to give the impression of pure wool to up their 'green' cred.
 
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Years ago when we lived in our first house, the one we bought when we married, there was no clothesline.

There were many projects that were more important than a clothesline.

What I did for a clothesline was to buy a shower curtain rod which I mounted over the middle of the bathtub.

Everything that would hang on plastic clothes hangers were dried that way on that rod.

I washed sheets separate from the rest of the clothes as they would take up most of the space on that rod.

We lived there for two and a half years and when we sold the house I took that shower curtain rod with me to use at our new house. And I bought a clothes dryer.
 
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john atkinson wrote:Hanging landory out in freezing weather one must be careful because the fabric will break.



My experience is of drying all clothes outdoors all winter for the past 25 years or so, and it has never happened to me. For a good 4 months or more the clothes freeze while drying, and I've never had a problem. Actually I think it's kinda cool: you can clearly tell if your clothes are still a little damp, because those bits are stiff.

One important thing is, though, I make sure to spin or squeeze as much water out of the clothes as possible before hanging them. I've seen people who just hang up dripping clothes, but I've never done that. Maybe if you let sodden clothes freeze they could break, but I've never seen it happen.

 
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I can't wait for it to freeze so I can try "freeze drying" I think it's a great idea, but I do think it would be not fun to hang wet clothes up I'm freezing temps! It is very rainy and damp where I live in the woods, but on a dry winter day I can see this working great. For now I have taken the side of my son's old crib and placed it above the stairs so that the heat from the woodstove being drawn up the stairs dries them quicker. I also have a small clothesline in the top floor of the house where it gets the warmest.
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Heather Sharpe
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Besides saving energy, I've found that hanging laundry to dry outside in freezing temperatures is about the most surefire way to get detergent smells out of thrift shop finds. Sometimes it needs to stay out there for awhile to work, but it usually does. I'd guess this works pretty well for other kinds of odors as well. I love the way laundry smells after drying outside in winter!

I did make a recent discovery of a potential pitfall with drying clothes outside in winter. Make sure your line isn't accessible to creatures! I was drying a really nice flannel nightgown from the thrift store and when I took it down, discovered that mice had chewed several chunks out to line their nests! I guess they thought the fabric seemed super warm and comfy too. I was really bummed, since it's no use as a nightgown now. And because I felt silly for not thinking of that. Lesson learned, don't secure the ends of your clothes line to anything climbable by mice or other small creatures.
 
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One of the ways I justify the expense of roofing our deck was for clothes drying.  The chance to successfully dry fabrics uncovered, outside on the WET coast of BC most months is slim, let alone freeze drying!  But the large X frame (with Xtra middle rod) we got collapses for easy (tall, narrow) storage,  and the 6ft rods will handle king sized sheets, folded in half; otherwise everything is hung on hanger, and hung from one of the 3 rods.

Our bathroom gets used alot in winter:
clothes on hangers, shut door, run fan.  Key is to time it for when the furnace would normally come on, trap the heat, evacuate the moisture.

When it is really rainy,  stuff will often need to 'finish' in either the dryer or bathroom.   I learned the hard way what happens to slightly damp laundry, when it is 'put away' before being fully dry - at best a nasty, musty, smell; at it's worst, mold and mildew, sometimes too far gone to save by washing.

When placing a line outside, never hang stuff under trees etc., bird droppings on fresh laundry totally sucks!

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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I do have roofed space outdoors (under the corridor of the upper floor apartments), but I only use it to hang dripping wet things. When they are 'drip dry' I hang them indoors, otherwise they will never become really dry! That's how the climate here is ...
 
Rebecca Norman
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I'm curious: Do you leave all your clothes dripping wet, or do you wring / spin / squeeze water out of them as much much as possible, and only the very delicate things drip? I almost never have anything drip except wool which is sometimes to delicate to squeeze thoroughly.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Rebecca Norman wrote:I'm curious: Do you leave all your clothes dripping wet, or do you wring / spin / squeeze water out of them as much much as possible, and only the very delicate things drip? I almost never have anything drip except wool which is sometimes to delicate to squeeze thoroughly.


Indeed, only wool items I washed carefully by hand I let drip dry. I have many of them, because I am a knitter and only use real (non-superwash) wool
 
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This is sadly pretty climate specific. Our winters tend to be above freezing temperatures, high humidity and regular rainfall and heavy dew. Clothing left out doesn't really dry unless you get lucky with a particularly sunny spell.

Indoor drying works better, but it is then a trade off with condensation on the internal windows, and black mould growth on some of the cold external walls. We currently don't have a tumble drier, but there have been times when it has been very tempting. There is also the quality of life issue of perpetually having clothing in your way in the living spaces.
 
Anne Miller
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I had told dear hubby that with the balance problem I developed I was not going to hang clothes outside during the winter.

I just can't bring myself to do that as I love the smell of clothes dried in the sun.

I also like that the sun helps to "bleach" the white clothes.

I hang colored clothes in the shade/part shade.

So I am still hanging the clothes outside on the line no matter how cold it is.
 
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So this is a very old thread and maybe no one will see this but I will share an idea that works for me to dry clothes inside during winter. I put together this stand dryer which is easy to move around and sits near the woodstove. Can hold a lot of clothes on hangers with clothespins - several socks and small items pinned to one hanger. Longer items on top bar and shorter ones on bottom. The pole runs across the tub resting on the shower curtain rod so only used for really big or long items like  dresses & sheets also pinned to hangers spread out. The hook is fastened to the wall and an "s" hook holds an old shower curtain rod on one side (end cap removed) which rests/slides on the other rod. Have to be careful not to bump it down or it makes a horrendous noise! : )  Sorry I can't figure out how to add the photos!
 
Denise Cares
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Heather Sharpe wrote:So I came up with this for hanging them in the house. I used clothes pins to keep the hangers from sliding around. Doesn't take up much space and works great!

Heather, good idea. What is the top hanger hanging from? Is that a rod attached to the ceiling?
 
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Sunny Kahlo wrote: For now I have taken the side of my son's old crib and placed it above the stairs so that the heat from the woodstove being drawn up the stairs dries them quicker. I also have a small clothesline in the top floor of the house where it gets the warmest.


Very clever idea! Please explain what the other end of rail is resting on? Did you fasten it to the wall somehow? That is very high up!
 
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Laundry art:

 
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Liv, that's awesome. LOL!
 
Liv Smith
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Liv, that's awesome. LOL!



All the credit goes to Paul, he found it.
 
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I love it!
 
Cheryl Gallagher
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I love it!
 
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