8 ways to ditch the clothes dryer and save on energy

A drying rack drying clothes with a washing machine and laundry basket in the background
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It’s all too easy to rely on the best clothes dryers after every wash cycle. After all, you don’t need to spend time hanging up the laundry, and there’s no unsightly articles on show around your home as they dry. Plus, items come out soft, fluffy and ready to wear, so why wouldn’t you use the clothes dryer? The trouble is, clothes dryers require a fair amount of energy to run, and considering they’re used to do something you can achieve for free, that’s an awful lot of money down the drain.

While the alternative may not seem appealing, there are in fact ways you can dry your clothes both quickly and effectively without using a clothes dryer. And considering the cost of energy is constantly on the rise, these tips can ultimately help you save a hefty sum on your energy bill. So if you want to rely less on your clothes dryer, here are the best ways to dry your clothes for free. 

If you want to save more money, check out how to make your laundry more eco-friendly. Also, here's how you can make your clothes dryer last longer — and perform better

1. Use a higher spin setting 

A washing machine spinning

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First of all, if your washing machine offers a higher spin setting than what you’re using — and your clothes can handle it — take advantage. A higher spin setting will increase the spin speed at the end of the cycle, which means more residual water will be extracted from your clothes. 

So, in essence, your clothes will emerge dryer as a consequence. Of course, the added spin will increase the energy consumption in even the best washing machines, but this will be minimal compared to a separate full blown clothes dryer cycle.

2. Shake out the excess 

A woman shaking out an item of clothing in the laundry room

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Before you attempt to hang dry your clothes, you should also shake out the creases. Creases essentially bunch up the material, which means it will take longer to dry. While if the material is flat, it’s got the greatest exposure to the air circulation.

Make sure any pockets are turned inside out as well, and untuck any inverted sleeves. The better ventilated the item is, the quicker it will dry. 

Even if you decide to use the clothes dryer, shaking out the items prior to loading is a good habit. It's one of the 7 ways to prevent your clothes from tangling in the clothes dryer.

3. Take advantage of the Sun 

How to make your laundry more eco-friendly - washing line

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Many of us forget about the power of the Sun, and it's readily available on a cloud-free day. Hang your clothes outside in the Sun to speed up the drying process. The wind will blow-dry the items, while the heat and rays of the sun will help remove residual water and kill any bacteria. 

If you hang your whites outside, the Sun will naturally bleach the items as well, so you can brighten up any grayed-whites free of charge. Drying your clothes on a sunny day should only take a couple of hours, but always keep an eye on the weather in case conditions turn quickly. Wool should never be dried in direct sunlight either, because it fades.

4. Break out the drying rack 

A woman hanging clothes on a drying rack

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Make sure you invest in the best style of drying rack to suit your space. If floor space is limited, a 3-tier upright design may be best, such as the Amazon Basics Foldable Laundry Rack ($23, Amazon). While if you’re dealing with heavy items, or a substantial amount of laundry, a winged design may be more suitable, such as the SONGMICS Clothes Drying Rack ($85, Amazon). 

(If space is very tight, you can also find drying racks which are wall-mounted. In any case, make sure your drying rack is sturdy and provides enough room for all your items. If you struggle with the latter, space your washing cycles a few days apart to give items a chance to dry before you rotate. Heated drying racks also exist to speed up the drying process; however, these will consume energy in exchange for this convenience. 

5. Make sure your clothes are spaced apart 

A close up of clothes on a drying rack, spaced apart

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When hanging clothes, you need to make sure they’re spaced apart so they can dry more effectively. This means the material should be spread out as much as possible, with no overlapping from other items. 

If there’s space on your drying rack, items should also be draped over more than one line — this provides better air circulation and helps the item dry more quickly. This is particularly good practice for thicker, larger items, such as jeans and sweaters.

6. Open the windows for ventilation 

A woman who has opened the windows

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If your indoors is stuffy and humid, your clothes will likely take a long time to dry, so much so that they can end up smelling a little musty. Throw open your windows when drying clothes indoors. The wind adds to the air circulation, and the open window allows the moisture from your clothes to escape. 

If you leave your windows shut, the residual moisture from the laundry has nowhere to go, so it can end up causing mold and mildew in your home. One of the best dehumidifiers can help keep this moisture under control if the room lacks ventilation. 

7. Use your open doors 

A close up of an open door with a living room in the background

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Should space be limited on your drying rack, don’t forget about the alternative hangers around your home. Open doors in particular can make for great makeshift drying racks for bed sheets. Simply drape them over the top and let the excess hang off the end. Make sure the tops of the doors are clean before you do this for the first time though.  

Some suggest using banisters to dry bed sheets as well, however we wouldn’t recommend this as it could compromise your safety when using the stairs.

8. Dry in the warmest part of your home 

A woman hanging laundry on a clothes line indoors

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Finally, if you hang your wet clothes in a cold space, they will naturally take longer to dry. If this takes too long, your clothes can even attract mold and become smelly. To avoid this, dry your laundry in the warmest room of your home, such as near a sunny window or a radiator or heat source. Just make sure you don't block any air vents.

Next: I just fixed a hole in my favorite sweater with this magic powder.

For more washing tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our guides on best clothes dryers, when you should and shouldn't use the quick wash setting and what do laundry symbols mean

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.