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Does Hanging Clothes On The Line Really Save You Money?

  May 28

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Does line drying save you money?Hanging clothes on the line to save money is definitely becoming popular again.

With so many people still hit with the effects of the recession, hanging clothes is one way to save a few bucks.

Or is it?

Doing laundry in Grenada is quite the process.

Our washing machine is outside, and when I first got here, I actually had to fill up 5 gallon buckets of water and pour them into the washing machine to make it work.

Then, I had to re-fill the buckets for the rinse cycle, and repeat the process.

We do not have a dryer, so I hang the clothes on the line to dry. I did this for a solid year. After that time, my landlord installed a hose that’s connected to one of our rain water barrels. So now, when it’s time to wash, I just put the hose in the washing machine, and that does the trick. I still have to line dry.

Washing clothes in Grenada is actually really physically taxing, and it takes all day. I am so used to it now that it really doesn’t bother me that much. I’ve gotten a lot faster at hanging clothes up, and it’s made me really appreciate the women who washed clothes well before washers and dryers were invented!

Also, it’s made me think more about re-wearing clothes and about doing something good for the environment.

Yet, when I go back to the States, I always tease the hubs that I want a washer and dryer that costs as much as a car after all this.

Seriously, let it be known that all frugality goes out the window when I get to pick out my next washer and dryer! I hope it grows mechanical arms and folds clothes for me.

The Cost of Drying Clothes

According to the cost calculator on this website, it’s about $0.49 a load for me to dry clothes in the U.S. at $0.12 per kilowatt hour.  So, that’s about $82.00 per year.

However, in Grenada, the cost per kwh is actually $0.35! (We pay the same amount in electricity for 270 sq. ft. as we did for 1,400 sq. ft. in the U.S.!) So, the savings in Grenada for line drying is more like $240.00 per year.

Does it save money? Yes. But, in my opinion:

It’s Not Worth It

Does line drying really save you money?Honestly, $240.00 is a lot of money, but I would dry every single load of laundry in a dryer if I had one.

The reason is that line drying clothes takes up valuable time. I spend one day out of every weekend doing laundry. Sure, I’m writing posts and completing other freelance tasks in between hanging up clothes, but I’m not as productive on those days.

I honestly don’t mind doing it. I would rather do laundry than wash dishes any day, that’s for sure! But, in the U.S. at only $82.00 per year, I’d gladly babysit for two nights or write two extra posts or sell two pieces of clothing every year if it means getting to use a dryer!

So, to me, line drying is absolutely not worth it because you can take the time you would spend line drying clothes and double or triple your money doing a different, more interesting task.

Would you (or do you) line dry clothes to save $82.00 a year?

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75 responses to “Does Hanging Clothes On The Line Really Save You Money?

  1. We hang dry some things, inside, which makes it more humid, so we get two benefits. It is very dry where we live. Also, our place gets freakishly warm. I’ve had to turn on the A/C in the winter before, because I couldn’t get it to below 28C inside, with all the windows and doors open. We usually blame the lady below us for having menopause or something! So, keeping the dryer off has some upside.
    Usually though, we only hang synthetics and sometimes sweaters. Generally speaking, I’m lazy!
    Grenada has added a lot of interesting experiences to your life. Your spouse is lucky that you’re around, it would suck to be in med school and having to devote so much time to laundry!

  2. I agree! I really miss my dryer here in Grenada too. I didn’t realize there was that large a cost difference between here and the US. But yes, my dryer and dishwasher are the greatest sacrifices to living in paradise!

  3. I have to go to the laundromat which I hate doing…so I would be pretty grumpy I think having to line dry things. 🙂 It’s one expense that’s totally worth it! I would LOVE a place with a w/d inside my unit! God that would be amazing! Nothing irks me more than to hear people who say they hate doing laundry when they have a w/d in their place! 🙂

  4. I line dry, because we don´t have a dryer in our apartment which we rent btw. But we use a clothing rack for drying, and that works just fine, however, I do miss having a dryer for the bigger things like towels and bed sheets.
    I never dry clothes outside, because both BF and I have pollen allergy, so during spring and summer, we avoid airing out anything we wear or sleep in, and during winter it´s impossible to line dry, unless we want icy clothes.
    I completely understand your want of a fancy dryer; I´m definitely getting one when we buy our own place.

  5. Right now at the crappy apartment J and I are renting, I’m forced to air dry a lot of my clothes because the stupid dryer in the common laundry room doesn’t work properly. Once we move into the condo June 1st, I am ditching the air drying. $82 is just not worth the savings when time and effort is worth much more than that! I hope you get the washer and dryer of your dreams Cat 😉

  6. I’m with you. The $82 isn’t worth the time and hassle. Even if I’m not making money during that time, I’d rather spend it doing something with friends or family.

  7. I think the cost of using a dryer also goes up if you pay for the water (some counties charge you not only for running the water but also a “sewage” fee for the amount that goes down the pipes) or if you pay per load in an apartment building or laundromat.

    I love the way clothes smell when they’ve dried outside in the spring and summer, though I’m sure for people with allergies that’s not really possible. But I also like doing my bit for the environment… so line drying is one of the ways I go green. =)

    1. The water cost is a great thing to factor in. Glad that it’s been worth it for you two! 🙂

      1. Uhhh….there is no water used or drained from a load of clothes dried in the dryer. Have I been transported to the land of the severely stupid?

  8. I hang dry some items, but only if they’re not safe to put in the dryer. Otherwise it’s a lot of effort for minimal savings – you are right!

  9. Wow! Not sure where your getting your cost here in the US but not where I live. We’re averaging $35 to $40 dollars a month not drying clothes in the dryer and I have an energy efficient washer and dryer.

    We average 5 to 6 loads a week depending on towels and bedding. And we don’t dilly dally when drying. but the cost savings has pushed us to hang clothes instead of dry them in the dryer. It really hasn’t been that bad. We have a rack hang them in the shower on hangers, which means a good portion of our clothes are ready to be put away in the closet when they dry.

    40 bucks buys my husband a tank of gas a month. That’s worth it to me.

    1. That’s awesome to hear that it’s so worth it for you. I searched the average kwh in the U.S. and used the calculator that I linked to in the post. It definitely differs regionally, by how many loads you do (I put in 4 for me), and the type of dryer you have. I love that you can save enough money to buy gas! I probably still wouldn’t do it though just because I know that I could earn a lot more in the hour that I’m not spending hanging up clothes! To each their own though. 🙂

    2. I also find this to be more accurate savings amount. I think it may be due to the fact that many times laundry is”over-dried” by a dryer that is on a timer and keeps running, after the clothes are dry, thus wasted energy. Out side that energy is free at all times. Plus in summer the dryer heats up the room a little and in our house the outside wall ( not piped through the roof),thus requiring more A/C to be used.

  10. My drying costs were crazy expensive, but I have a old 70’s dryer which would take 70-80 minutes to dry a small load. I dry in the house, but I don’t make it a whole day thing. 🙂

  11. My parents still line dry their clothes as they do not have a dryer. I used to do that too when I was living there. It was definitely a little time consuming. Now, I rent an apartment which has a dryer on the first floor…its 25 cents for 10 minutes of drying and I usually dry it for 30 minutes…so my costs are even less as I don’t pay the electricity for the dryer. My wife doesn’t like drying some of her clothes because she says that it shrinks or destroys the fabric, so she hangs them on a drying rack in our apartment.

    1. I love it! Totally understand the shrinkage issue. I think it’s a girl thing. 🙂

  12. I don’t have the luxury of a washer/dryer in my apartment nor could I hang clothes outside and trust they wouldn’t get stolen (hello, NYC living). I don’t think twice about throwing my clothes in the dryer at the laundromat, but I do hang dry (inside my apartment) a decent amount of clothing with shrinkage potential. As much as I love pinching a penny, I would have to say I’d probably spend the $82 a year to save time and just dry my clothes. I also don’t have a partner nor children so my laundry is pretty minimal.

    I can’t wait to have a washer/dryer in my home or a dishwasher!

  13. That’s about how much it costs me too and I’ve always been on your side of this frugal argument. Find a way to earn $82 with the time you save and then move on with your life, Haha.

  14. Have been reading Budget Blonde for about 6 months now and love it! Thanks heaps, so much great advice and I admire you heaps – you’re doing amazing things.
    However (and I don’t want to sound judgemental because I’m not judging you at all! Everyone is completely entitled to their own opinion, and lifestyle) – I’m just a little shocked by this article! I live in New Zealand. I use a washing machine, but haven’t had a dryer at home since I lived with my parents 10 years ago- and they absolutely only use it for sheets/ towels, in the winter.
    I line dry. Always. I guess I just can’t understand this article because a dryer is so unnecessary for me. I’m lucky that I have a little porch that things can’t get stolen from and I don’t have a pollen allergy. If it’s wet (winter always is) I dry on racks inside. To hang a full load of washing, it maybe takes 5 minutes. It’s so quick to do, that it doesn’t even register as an activity! Certainly not like washing dishes, or vacuuming. And, I actually have never even heard of taking things out of the washing machine and putting them straight in the dryer – isn’t that crazy bad for your clothes!? Is that really what you do? But, all that aside, I guess the main reason I don’t like dryers is their environmental cost. Even the most energy-efficient ones are really not that efficient. Line drying has no environmental effects, and your clothes last longer, which means you don’t have to buy as many, as often. Which of course means less waste, and better social outcomes too (we kind of need to think more about the conditions of where our clothes are made) AND it’s frugal!
    I think the culture here in NZ is just a bit different. I just asked my workmates – 1 person (out of 12) has a dryer. And she uses it to dry her baby’s bed sheets. Totally fair enough! Hope this didn’t sound preachy, if you want to use a dryer I support you! I just choose not to myself 🙂 (and I’m kind of fascinated that it is so different in the States).

    1. Hey Charlotte! Thanks so much for reading the blog for so long and for taking the time to comment! I have actually been to New Zealand (gorgeous country!) and I think the climate is very similar to Grenada. I think the locals here also think drying in a dryer is crazy, so it’s definitely a cultural thing! When it’s so hot and they dry so fast on the line, it can definitely make sense to do it! I think if I was raised to line dry my whole life it wouldn’t be so difficult, but since I am used to popping clothes in the dryer and having them done in 30 minutes, line drying seems like a huge waste of time for me! I definitely admire helping the environment, though, and it’s been an interesting change of pace for me! Still, I am looking forward to getting my time back. Maybe by the time I leave Grenada, I’ll be hanging up clothes in 5 minutes like you. For now though I am super slow, and it’s not my favorite thing to do! Also, you didn’t seem preachy at all. It’s fun to learn about new cultural norms all over the world. Thanks for stopping in! 🙂

      1. That makes perfect sense! 🙂 And, you’re a real sweetie for replying to everyone’s comments!

  15. Hanging your clothes on a line isn’t really an option where I live (a rainforest). Sure, we have some sunny days… but who’s going to waste them on doing laundry!? 😉

    1. Exactly! That’s kind of how I feel about Grenada. Every time there is a sunny day, I just want to go to the beach!

  16. I do not line dry, but for a different reason: allergies. I’m starting to wonder how my body (mainly sensitivity to allergens) would adjust in a place like Grenada where I wouldn’t have a choice but to line dry. But to answer your question, I absolutely agree with you. $82/year is cheap for the time savings, and even $240/year I would gladly pay.

    1. Well you could always rent a nicer apartment that comes with a dryer! That just wasn’t in our budget. 🙂

  17. Excellent analysis, Cat! The first summer after my daughter was born, my dryer wasn’t working for about a month and I had to hang everything out to dry–LOTS of baby things. But a comparison with the next month’s bill when I did use the dryer showed only a few dollars difference. Including the time factor is an important element in doing cost analyses, along with the actual kilowatt hour cost. However, I do love the smell of sheets and curtains and certain clothes air-dried. I think this is one of the activities we can choose to practice, in whole or in part, for reasons that are financial, environmental or preferential for olfactory reasons!

  18. I wouldn’t line-dry my clothes in order to save $82/year, though I would consider it if I saved closer to $500. Anything lower than that seems to be overshadowed by the time commitment required to save the money. I’ve never heard of a washing machine that runs outside before, that must have been interesting to get used to!

  19. I hang dry most of my clothes to preserve the colors, but dry unmentionables, towels, sheets, etc. I don’t think I would like it very much if I had to line dry everything, though!

    1. I know. A few clothes here are there isn’t bad. It’s doing 4-5 loads on one day that really takes up time!

  20. I would definitely use a dryer over line drying as my time is far more valuable to me. Although, I admit I was surprised to see the cost savings was so low. I figured it would be higher, but for $82 – all the things I can do instead of hanging out my clothes, like playing with my daughters means more to me. And I hope when you’re back in the States you find that washer/dryer that has mechanical arms to fold your laundry. And please let me know when you do find it because I want one too! 🙂

  21. Wow, I never appreciated how much more difficult it could be to do laundry!

    Right now, we air dry what we can…since we have a small apartment and no outdoor space, we’re limited to what can fit on our drying rack. There are some things that I always dry in the dryer, such as my husband’s dress shirts. In my experience, everything ends up MUCH more wrinkled when it’s air dried. For his dress shirts, it can more than double the amount of time to iron them. That’s a real chore!

  22. I like your honesty. Sometimes I feel guilty when I think, “Sure it saves money, but I really don’t want to do it.” Your true confessions about planning to buy a washer AND dryer as soon as you get back home make me feel a little better about my own little indulgences. Not every penny is worth pinching in the long process of debt-reduction.

  23. Dryer is really amazing but if given the chance, ( we don’t have a huge space), and the time, (always busy and on the go), I maybe wouldn’t mind doing the hard labor of hanging our clothing to dry outside. But right now, we wouldn’t know so we’ll just stick to using the dyer. 😉

  24. It probably does save, but I agree that it may not be worth it. The times I’ve hung normal cotton clothes out to dry, they end up with a scratchiness that I’m not a huge fan of.

  25. I line dry as I have a portable washer in my apartment (hooks up to kitchen sink). I’m in NYC and most apartments lack w/d hook up so you either use a portable or lug to the laundromat. I actually prefer air drying my clothes (hang them in bathroom) as dryers set-in stains and damage clothing. I’ve proven this over time as I’ve re-washed stained shirts that I hung dry that were stained and still had the stain after one wash and the stain came out after the second (or third if it was really bad). Had I dried those clothing items, I fear the stain may never have come out. While I still like to dry my bedding and towels in the laundromat dryer, for the longevity of my clothing, even when we’re visiting my fiancee’s house for a holiday using their washer/dryer for free, I still hang dry my clothes in the bathroom on hangers overnight.

    1. That’s a great point. I’m actually moving to the New York area next year, so I’ll keep this in mind! 🙂

  26. I actually like hang drying clothes. I do SO much laundry per week that I am sure my savings are way more.

    I never put any dress clothes/uniform clothes, running clothes, or anything that I don’t want to shrink into the dryer. So, even if I don’t hang it outside, this stuff all goes on hangers and hangs on a shower rod. My husband works in a factory, my kids wear a lot of dress clothes/uniforms and they are all avid runners too; therefore, we have many changes of clothes in this house per day. I am very picky about how I wash things too and do many separate loads to keep like-colors and like-materials (some can’t have fabric softeners) together, etc. I also have 3 dogs so I constantly wash the blankets/throws/furniture covers over the living room furniture. I wash my sheets and quilts a lot more too during the warm months because I like hanging them on the clothesline.

    I just recently started using my clothesline outside more often now that it hasn’t been as humid. I have some allergies, but still do fine. I make a lot of my own laundry detergents and softeners too, so I save even more money on my laundry that way.

    I am very busy with other things, but I am pretty fast at hanging stuff, and like I said–whether it’s outside or not, I will always hang dry certain items and won’t allow them to go into a dryer. I feel good about saving money, but honestly–it’s more about the way I chose to take care of our clothes, and they hold up very well. I hang things like towels and whites outside at times, but those are the things that normally go in the dryer. I just like taking advantage of nice weather and sunshine as I love the fresh smell on the clothes.

  27. I am doing a report on saving energy is a good thing, and you website really helped. I think it is really cool that you are doing what you are doing. A big thumbs up to you. How many days a week do you do your laundry? How long does it take you to do it? Do you enjoy it? Just some things I have been wandering about. I was thinking that I want to convince my parents to do this because we have six people in our family. So we do a lot of energy. I hope you can reply, I think that would be cool!! Bye!!
    Mariah

  28. I live in Alberta Canada in a high rise building. A load of hot water wash costs2.75 and 1 hour of dryer time is 250. I do 4 loads a week. I hang dry my kids jeans.

    So if I hang dry I save 10 dollars per week. 520 a year!

  29. I don’t line dry to save money, I line dry because my clothing lasts much longer.

    It only costs you time if you’re sitting around waiting for clothing to dry. I hang dry on a rack in the garage, and they dry rain or shine. Sure, sometimes it could take a day a night, but I have other clothing to be wearing. After a day, I simply just take the clothing back in and fold or hang it.

    Time shouldn’t be a problem unless you really need something within a couple of hours, then, sure, dry machine.

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