Everybody refers to South Africa as “Sunny South Africa”. Well let me be the first to tell you it is not always sunny. In fact, depending on where you live, summer can be more rain than sun, and winter can be impossible.
Snow, rain, and humidity can all affect your ability to dry clothes outdoors.
If you live in an apartment, you probably have no outside wash line at all. The alternative is to dry your clothes indoors.
Yes, a tumble dryer fixes laundry problems, but they are pricy and running them can also cost you money you cannot afford to lose.
Drying clothes indoors reduces the sun’s bleaching effect on clothing, making them last longer. It is easier to preserve the shape of garments while protecting the fibers of the garment.
And probably best of all, it is a sure way to keep your clean laundry dust, dirt, pollen, and bird poop-free.
So, let me help you make the task easier, less wrinkles and less fuss!
Before You Even Start
A good place to start to ensure optimal indoor drying time is with the wash itself. Do not wash too many clothes at a time because when the machine hits the spin cycle, your clothes will bunch up trapping moisture in them and rendering the spin cycle a drain cycle.
I also recommend that you run the spin cycle again when the machine finishes, just to get as much moisture out of the clothes as possible. 10 minutes in the spin cycle will save you time when air-drying clothes.
Drying Garments Indoors By Type
If you lay a shirt over a rod to dry, you will get a “crease” in the middle. Plain and simple. To avoid that, hang all your shirts on a hanger. Once they are dry, you take them from the drying rack right to the closet.
Pants you will want to hang up and move them over enough so that the legs are what’s hanging on the rack, and the “butt” of the jeans is hanging down.
This frees up room on the drying rod. Also, it keeps the “crease” in the butt area where you normally stretch the fabric anyway.
Drying Washcloths, Socks, Diapers, Kitchen Towels, and Underwear
Things like washclothes, socks, and underwear are confusing for some. You pretty much have to “roll” with them as they are, right? There’s no way to really hang them… or is there?
I get hangers, and the spring-loaded clothes pins…
Each hanger holds about 8-10 washcloths, and can hold up to 10 pairs of underwear or socks. Each family member gets their own hanger, so when it’s time to put the clothes away, the just grab their hanger and go.
It’s easy, saves space and I can get nearly 8 loads of laundry on two 42″ wide, 6′ tall drying racks this way.
Bonuses are that since they are drying inside, we get the humidity back into the air that the wood stove takes out, and the smell of “clean” hangs out all day and night. Plus, saving money on electricity is always nice.
To avoid the crease in the middle that comes with hanging the sheet over the top of the line, fold the sheet in half and pin the sides of the sheet to the line with clothespins leaving the fold hanging down.
Use several clothes pins to keep the sheet from sagging.
Hang towels on one end so that the whole towel is hanging down.
Blankets need a lot of ingenuity. When wet they are super heavy. The weight can put a lot of strain on your line.
Lay your blankets on a flat surface (paving bricks are ideal) and flip them regularly until they are dry. If you do not have paving, lay an old sheet on the ground and place the clean blanket on top of the sheet.
Because blankets are thick and heavy, they should always be dried in the sun. Drying them in the shade will not dry them quick enough.
Pillowcases should be hung from one end; you can hang two pillowcases on one set of clothes pins.
Jeans and Pants
Fold your pants so that the inner seams are together and pin or use clothes pins to clasp the hems together.
Now, hang the pants by pegging the bottom hems to the line so that the waistband is hanging down. The weight of the heavy waistband will help remove wrinkles.
There are two ways to dry shirts. Both are effective, but one will hold the shape of the clothes better.
The first way, is to hang the shirt upside down (by the hem), pegging the seams to the line.
The second, which will better preserve the shape of the shirt, is to hang the shirts on hangers and then hook the hangers on the wash line leaving space between each hanger to allow airflow between shirts.
Sweaters, Wool, and Antique Lace Garments
Anything made from wool should NEVER be hung up to dry. They should only be dried laid out on a flat surface. Whether that means a table, on a sheet, or on a paved surface, only flat dry wool.
If you hang a wool garment, it will stretch and completely lose its shape.
Delicate Items of Silk, Satin, Lace, and Underwear
Underwear and lace, satin, and silk garments should not be line dried as they will quickly lose their shape when whipped around by the wind. These should only be dried on a flat surface.
How many socks do you have that have no partner? Socks and Tupperware inevitably lose their partners.
To avoid the MSM (missing sock syndrome) catch the socks together at the opening and peg them to the line together. When dry, simply roll them up as you remove them from the line.
How to Hang Clothes Inside and Save Space
My personal favorite is the retractable wash line. It has a body that is mounted on one wall and a hook that is mounted on the opposite wall.
Inside the mounted part are three lines. You can put it away where no one can see by just unhooking it from the hook and letting the lines retract.
Mine is in my indoor entertainment room (in South Africa it is called a lapa) where we can light an indoor fire, open doors to outside to let air flow in, or harness the suns light through skylights.
Retractable Wash Lines
When my husband and I first were married we lived in a tiny apartment with limited space for a couple and one baby. We strung rope from windows to furniture or even to strong picture hooks on the walls, or coat hooks hanging behind doors.
In a pinch a ladder can be a very efficient clothesline. Whether you stand it up or lay it across two chairs, a ladder, some hangers, and some clothes pins can tolerate a lot of laundry.
If you are looking for drying racks, there are plenty to choose from. All are compact, take up very little room, allow for good airflow through the laundry, and are easy to store.
Clothes Racks Hold a Lot of Laundry
- Foldable drying racks
- Ceiling drying racks
- Adjustable rolling racks
- Wall mounted drying racks – if you are drying clothes along a wall, it is important that you use a fan or dehumidifier to prevent mildew setting in on the wall
- Expandable drying racks
- Star shaped drying racks
- Portable tripod drying stand
- Flat drying rack
- Normal clothes hangers can save space while drying and they are great for going from your line or rack directly to your closet.
- Plastic round peg hangers are great for hanging socks, undies, kitchen towel, handkerchiefs, or diapers.
More Sophisticated Dryers
- Radiator clothes airer
- Washer dryer
- Tumble dryer
Less Sophisticated Dryers
- Hang clothing over a metal staircase railing; do not use a wooden railing, the damp will damage the wood over time.
- Plastic or metal garden furniture; garden chairs work well as stands that can be used to hang multiple hangers on. If you have an indoor entertainment area with a garden table, use the table as a flat rack for drying wool garments.
- Curtain rods are perfect for hanging hangers, be careful not to overload the rods; if the rods are too heavy, you run the risk of pulling the anchoring screws out of the wall.
- Shower doors are good for hanging towels, sheets, blankets, underwear, socks, and heavy items like jeans.
- Window grills can be a real eyesore and they are limited in what they can hold, but they are useful to dry kitchen towels, underwear, socks, hand towels, and handkerchiefs.
- Combination of stands placed under fans. Placing a fan in front of clothes racks or placing your clothes rack under a ceiling fan, can reduce the time to dry as well as remove moisture from the air.
- Remove clothes from rod in closet and hang damp clothes on hangers on the now empty rod leaving space between hangers and the closet doors open with a fan to air dry maximizing space.
Tips and Tricks
Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture in the air as clothes dry. This will also prevent condensation on furniture and prevent dangerous mold from forming.
Never hang wet clothes on wood furniture, the moisture will damage the wood.
Keep windows open whenever possible to give good airflow and release moisture from the air. Air flow will speed up the drying process.
Wash smaller loads of laundry at a time to maximize the benefit of the spin cycle.
Give clothes an extra spin before removing them from the washing machine.
Before you hang your clothes, shake, shake, and shake again! Shaking removes wrinkles.
When your washing machine is done, immediately hang them to dry to reduce the number of wrinkles.
Hang small items like sock and undies together on one hanger.
Unless you are using a radiator drying rack. Hanging clothes on the radiator is a fire risk and releases an unhealthy amount of moisture into the air. Additionally, it ups the amount of power needed to effectively warm the room.
When washing curtains, hang them back on their rails to dry.
If you do your laundry by hand, roll them up to create enough pressure to remove as much moisture as possible before drying. Never wring them out as this will damage the shape of the garment, the fabric, and wringing will add deeper wrinkles.
Hanging laundry inside your laundry room limits the moisture in your home to the one room that is exposed to moisture on a regular basis. Hanging clothes in the bathroom is effective for the same reason.
With all these choices, I am positive you will find a suitable option to dry your laundry indoors without damaging furniture, saving time, and using the limited space inside your house.
Let us know in the comments below how you dry your laundry indoors.
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Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.