Why I Use an Inside Laundry Line

Sheets last longer when hung to dry
A homemade pillow case looks best when accented in gingham. My daughter sewed this one.

I have a confession to make. I don’t hang my laundry up to dry outside because it’s too much work and I’m lazy when it comes to laundry. To go from my laundry area in our basement to the backyard, I have to unlock the door, carry the collapsing laundry line outside, set it up, go back down the stairs into the basement and then lug the laundry basket filled with wet garments outside. Oh, and grab the clothes pins. And, then hope it doesn’t rain.

But I do hang our clothing to dry, just not outside, where I’m at the mercy of the weather. The laundry gets hung up to dry in our basement and by reducing our dryer usage by using an inside laundry line, I’ve reduced our costs by more than 50%. And it’s so much gentler on our clothing, too.

Why I use an inside laundry line

I got this idea from a home swap. This is what I love about home swapping: experiencing life how other people live and then taking their smart ideas and methods back to my home. The home we stayed in during our trip to Gouda, in The Netherlands, had an indoor wire laundry drying system. I think it may rain in Gouda more than it does in Portland! The home exchange family’s laundry area was small but they made a line drying system that was efficient and took up very little space. The Dutch are so smart with their limited space.

Why I use an inside laundry line

Here are the particulars on how I organize my laundry tasks:

  • After cleaning clothing, sheets, towels in the washing machine, I put them in the dryer for 10 minutes.
  • Once the 10 minute timer goes off, I hang items on the lines or drying racks. A few items remain in the dryer – those that need drying completely – and…
  • After the next load of wash gets done, I put those items in the dryer for 10 minutes and repeat the 10 minute timer and then take those items out.
  • After our weekly 5 or 6 loads of laundry, the dryer has only been used once or twice, rather than every time a load of wash gets done.
  • Drying towels in the dryer for 10 minutes takes the “crunchiness” out of towels, too. Who wants to dry off after a shower with a scratchy, stiff towel?
  • My kids both do their own laundry (another time saver!) but I do all the “whites” in one, weekly load. In general, our family only generates one load of white items per week so it makes more sense to combine those together.
  • We try and only run our washer and dryer only on Sundays or after 10pm at night. Our family is on “time of use” electricity so our electricity costs less during those times.
  • My basement laundry room has a window and screen that I leave cracked (and it has a safety bar in it) so that the moisture has an escape route. Our heater is located in the basement and in the winter, this helps dry our laundry as well.
Pillowcases last longer, too
Pillow cases and sheets last longer if hung to dry.

I do occasionally use my laundry line outside in the summer, especially the previous 51 days, since we didn’t have a drop of rain fall in our city. But in case you haven’t heard, it rains in Portland, Oregon so the collapsing laundry line only gets dragged out and used when I’m guaranteed sunshine. During the summer, I use the line for airing out pillows or comforters. I also use my line for drying wool blankets that I’ve washed.

Hanging laundry outside is a lot of work. Sunny and warm days don’t happen regularly enough in the fall, winter or spring. I wanted to be able to use a hanging drying method year round and use my dryer less. By hanging the laundry in our basement, year round, I’ve been able to reduce our dryer costs by more than 50% and it makes our clothing, sheets, and towels last longer. Those are savings I’ll take any day!

Next up, I’ll show you how this inside laundry line works.

Do you hang your laundry to dry or do you use the dryer?

Go Gingham related links:

Taking care of clothing helps it last longer – and it’s easy
Preparing for winter and cleaning wool blankets
How to mend pillow cases to improve your sleeping – hah!
Want to learn to sew? Start here with easy cloth napkins

23 thoughts on “Why I Use an Inside Laundry Line

  1. Basements are not common in my area; the few I have seen in house listings are in custom-built homes.

    I have a drying rack that I set up over the bathtub in the winter months. This I use mainly to dry machine-washable sweaters, after they have been worn a few times.

    Outside drying is not an option. Don’t have a clothesline, plus the area is subject to dust storms and other airborne pollutants (agricultural chemicals).

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  2. It is a lot of work to get the laundry outside, which is why I’m so bad at it in the summer. In the winter, I hang almost everything up downstairs – our pellet stove heats our house from the basement and things are dried quickly. In the summer I still hang up some things, just not as many because it takes so much longer to dry in the slightly damp-ish basement during those months. We’re moving soon over to the farm (our in-laws are moving to a smaller home and we will be moving to their farm) and I have grand plans for a whole laundry line set up in the basement over there. Looking forward to it.

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    1. Heidi, that’s a great way to dry laundry in the downstairs – with heat from your pellet stove. We used to have a wood burning stove in our basement, too, but then the chimney for the stove started to fall apart and we had to have it removed.
      I’ll post the how to soon on the wiring. Our home exchange family had very little space for theirs but mine is much larger. I’ve got 2 sets of sheets hanging right now!
      Thanks, Heidi.

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  3. We do a combination of both – sometimes when shoes get washed, they go outside (as long as it’s sunny). I don’t like putting them in the drier unless absolutely necessary. They sound like a dead guy thumping around in there. When we wash large bedspreads or quilts, they hang over our balcony to dry. It’s a south and west facing balcony, so gets full sun after about 10am.

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    1. Cathy! Yes, I’ve had those same sounds coming from my dryer, too! My husband taught me the trick of putting wadded up newspaper inside of wet shoes. It helps draw the moisture out of the shoe and it seems to work. Your balcony sounds like a great spot for drying. Thanks, Cathy.

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  4. Since your original post I’ve been thinking about a clothes line. My house is small, and no basement. It looks like this is the time of year to buy drying racks, and is in my plans to purchase one soon. Thanks.

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    1. You’re welcome, Lana! You can also find used drying racks around. I found 2 large ones that are in my basement, too. I covered the wood (where I place our wet clothes) with clear contact paper because the wood left a mark on them, even after I wiped down the wood. I see lots of second-hand ones around but many stores carry new ones as well. Ikea has several that are nifty because they are retractable. I’d love one but my basement has plenty of space for my lines – they just look neat! Thanks for leaving a comment, Lana.

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  5. When I shifted from a house with an outdoor line to an apartment with no lines I wondered how I would cope but I have adapted to drying on a screen fine.

    Sometimes it’s indoors and sometimes it’s outdoors on the balcony but it’s easy to move around as the mood and the weather takes me. I only use the dryer for 10 mins or so to really dry things that might feel a little damp at the end of the day.

    And I LOVE “crunchy” towels – I feel they wake my skin up when I use them…

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    1. Dear Calico Ginger,
      Of course you love crunchy towels! I was thinking about how I should like them – an impromptu exfoliating of my clean body or something? But, no, I like the softness 🙂 I love that you’ve easily adapted to your new settings. Once you get used to line-dried clothing, it’s hard to go back to the dryer. Thanks for leaving a comment!

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  6. I have drying lines in the basement that were there when I moved in 22 years ago, and I use them every week. It is really great for anything with Lycra in it, like workout clothes and unmentionables – it really extends their life!

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    1. Michelle, we call them unmentionables, also! Yes, all those workout clothes are better hung and I don’t even put the unmentionables in the dryer at all. Anything with elastic is better hung or on a drying rack. I love that you’ve been in your same home all those years. That doesn’t happen very often these days. Great job! Thanks for leaving a comment, Michelle.

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  7. There was a time when I hung most of my laundry outside. I enjoyed the fresh air smell and the savings that I got from not running the dryer. Unfortunately, for me my neighbors put up bird feeders to feed the birds. Long story short I decided it was time to hang my clothes inside which I now do on a line in my laundry room. It works much better for me for so many reasons. Now I save money and don’t have the hassles of the outdoors.

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    1. Pam, I can only imagine your clean laundry and those full birds! I’m sorry about that but I’m glad your new system is working out much better. The smell of fresh clean laundry can’t be beat, can it? Thanks for leaving a comment, Pam.

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  8. I’ve been using drying racks for a long time now. I do the same as you – give the items 5-10 mins in the dryer and then hang to air dry. I find it helps put moisture back into the air especially in winter. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! 🙂

    The only exceptions for dryer usage – bed linens, towels, socks and unmentionables. My hubby sent me a pic text from work one AM. He thought I was trying to send him a secret signal b/c he found a pair of my unmentionables in the sleeve of his hoody! No, not a secret signal thank you very much LOL From that day forward, the tinier things got their own wash & dry load.

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    1. Oh, Helen, that is too funny! I just read that out loud to my hubby!! Yes, agreed, those little items can really end up in the wrong places. Our fitted sheets usually have an assortment of goodies. I guess now you know what you need to do for a secret signal to your hubby 😉 Thank you, Helen. That was a good laundry drying story and I like your attitude of moisture being added back into the air!

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  9. OMGoodness! I LOVE hanging my clothes outdoors; especially bed sheets. And yes, towels too. I love the fresh outdoorsy smell of the sheets when I crawl into bed at night. I start hanging clothes outdoors in early spring and continue until my fingers are freezing from the cold outside temps. Have always used the dryer in the winter; since we do not have a basement, but thanks to your idea this winter I will look into drying racks.

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    1. Dear Sharon, bless your little green & frugal heart!! I’m too big of a wimp to freeze like that for my laundry. I do love how fresh, clean, line dried clothing smells – well, mixed with a little of my basement smell, too 😉 I’ve gotten several of my drying racks and there are plenty around. Keep your eyes peeled!! Thanks, Sharon.

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  10. What a clever idea. We are moving to the country shortly with a remodel to boot. We won’t be using the basement but I did want to reduce the use of our dryer. My daughter exclaimed she won’t be doing this because of the stiffness of natural dried clothing. I’m so glad I read this article as soon as we are moved, I’m changing my habits pronto!

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