Nothing New: Air-Drying Clothing

How to air dry your clothing without buying anything new | Litterless

Quarters loom large in the life of this apartment-dweller. A pair of quarters received as change from a cup of tea is a step closer to that week's laundry; rolls of quarters from the bank are housed incongruously with more typical cleaning supplies like laundry detergent and rags.

This is all to say: where I can save 'em, I save 'em. Using the dryer as little as possible when doing laundry is one way to do so. In addition to smoothing out the minor inconveniences of quarter-based communal washing machines, air drying clothing also helps items last longer, uses less energy, and means one fewer trip down to the basement dungeon where my building's machines reside. 

I don't air-dry exclusively: I do typically dry sheets and towels in the dryer, and when I buy secondhand clothing I make sure to wash it in cold water and then dry it on hot before wearing it the first time. And of course it's easier to manage air-drying in a household of one or two people than, say, in a household of five or six. But those exceptions aside, air drying has been, for me at least, convenient and easy and a semi-enjoyable household task.

I have three drying racks (pictured here): two bought new, and one acquired several years ago from a friend moving away from the city. Storing them is a pain - even in their collapsed state, they're bulky - but I use them all regularly enough to warrant keeping a shelf in my coat closet permanently devoted to them.

However, there are a few ways to commit to air drying without buying a single thing:

-Hang wet clothing on hangers. Clothing can often come off a collapsible rack with a fold down the middle where it hung over the rod. This makes drying racks perfect for things like towels, napkins, pillowcases, socks, and exercise shirts, and less ideal for everyday clothing. The latter I tend to hang on hangers and either put back in the closet (in a cleared area where each piece of clothing will have enough breathing room to dry) or placed on my shower rod (as shown above). Since you already own hangers, you already have what you need to air dry at least some of your clothing. This also means fewer items you have to put away, since once dry they're already on hangers. Magical.

-Put up a clothesline. It can be permanent or removable, indoors or outdoors. If you have a length of cord and two hooks, you have all you need to make a simple clothesline. If you're missing one of those elements, consider asking a friend - likely someone has what you need lurking in a basement or mudroom.

-Make use of existing towel racks and hooks. It's helpful to get over the notion that you have to air dry everything in order to have an impact. If you do three loads of laundry and air dry one, it's still an environmental boon, especially when you think about that impact multiplied out over the next decade. There are already many places in your home to hang damp laundry if you approach the matter creatively. Throw a sheet over the shower rod, let a wet towel dry on the towel rack in your bathroom, hang up a damp tea towel in your kitchen where you usually hang a dry one. Depending on how many surfaces you cover, this might impede your normal routines slightly, but I've never found it to be too bothersome.

Other ideas for making line-drying simpler? What do you use?

Nothing New is a series to explore ways to go zero waste without buying anything new. Read more posts on the matter, here.