By Carole Christopher
Carole is SPEC’s President and sits on the Food and Environment Committee. She is also an important part of SPEC’s Elder’s Circle program.
Now that you know how much energy clothes dryers use, perhaps you’re motivated to try more energy efficient options. Here’s a few tips that will save energy and save your clothing from damage to fabrics from dryers.
Tumbling clothes for five minutes takes the wrinkles out. I use my dryer for short spurts to get the wrinkles out, which is the major advantage of dryers over air drying. Clothes, bedding, other linens, and towels only take a couple of minutes once the dryer warms up. During that time, I hang all the items that shouldn’t go in the dryer or don’t need to be de-wrinkled. Then I hang the clothes from the dryer. Hopefully, there is an area where you can hang clothes to air-dry after the five-minute de-wrinkling. More than five minutes is not necessary and over-drying makes the fabrics wrinkles again.
I have clothes hangers of various types but not wire hangers in the laundry; plastic hangers for t-shirts, shirts, jackets, sweaters, etc; two pant hangers (meant to hang pants in the closet) which I use for pants, towels, napkins, pillowcases, even sheets that I triple-fold. Yes, it takes longer to dry sheets that way but they do dry. Why bother to de-wrinkle socks and underwear? I just hang them on a compact little hanging device made for these items. Other things that are not meant for dryers include tights, fleecy clothing, and most (particularly wool) sweaters. I use padded hangers for sweaters or lay them flat.
Admittedly I live in a private home where I have the luxury of a laundry area but I’ve set this kind of system up using bathtubs or showers. A sturdy shower curtain rod will hang a lot of laundry in the bathroom. An enclosed tub is a bit more difficult, but one option is buying retractable laundry lines to hang up in your shower.
An exception to the five-minute rule is anything with down or feathers like jackets, pillows, and duvets. They need low/medium heat and tennis balls (or dryer balls) to bounce around and keep the downy feathers from clumping together. But once they regain their look of fullness, they can finish drying wherever you can hang or spread them.
Sun-drying also damages fabrics but I dry outside when possible. I still give them the five-minute de-wrinkling treatment before I hang them outside. I have a collapsible clothes rack along with some hangers that I take outside. If you can get things outside, you’ll probably love the sweet smell of sheets and clothes dried outdoors. Enjoy your “Right to Dry.” And please let us know any additional tips you have to promote this sustainability campaign.
If you would like to read the previous Right to Dry blog post, click here.