How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint By Hanging Your Clothes to Dry
Hanging clothes to dry instead of using the dryer is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home. By making this simple change, you can save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and lower your utility bills. Here’s everything I need to know about line drying my clothes to decrease my environmental impact.
Why Line Drying Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
Clothes dryers consume a significant amount of electricity. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, clothes dryers account for approximately 6% of a home’s total electricity use.
When you use a clothes dryer, you are burning fossil fuels to generate that electricity. The process of generating electricity at power plants releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Hanging clothes to dry outside avoids the use of electricity completely. By line drying instead of machine drying, you prevent the emissions associated with generating the electricity needed to run the dryer.
The reduction in your personal carbon footprint will depend on how often you currently use your dryer, but each load line dried makes a difference.
How Much Energy and Emissions Can You Save
The amount of energy and emissions you can save by line drying varies based on:
- The efficiency of your dryer – Older, less efficient models use more electricity.
- How full you load the dryer – Drying smaller loads uses more energy per garment.
- Your local climate – Colder or humid climates require longer drying times.
- Your electricity source – Fossil fuels release more emissions than renewable sources.
According to ENERGY STAR estimates, hanging your clothes to dry for 6 months could save over 700 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions compared to machine drying. Over the course of a year, you could save over 1,400 pounds of emissions.
For an average U.S. household that does 300 loads of laundry annually, line drying half of those loads would reduce associated emissions by 440 pounds per year. Your personal savings may be higher or lower depending on your current drying habits.
Tips for Successful Line Drying
Line drying your clothes instead of machine drying is one of the simplest ways to shrink your carbon footprint. Here are some tips for making the process easy and effective:
Choose the Right Location
- Hang your clothesline in a sunny, breezy spot for fastest drying.
- Consider drying indoors or on a covered porch if it rains frequently.
Invest in a Good Clothesline
- Choose a sturdy line that won’t sag under the weight of wet clothes.
- Opt for a retractable clothesline if short on space.
- Use two parallel lines for more room if needed.
Prepare Clothes Properly
- Give clothes a good spin in the washer to remove excess moisture.
- Separate thicker items like towels and jeans which take longer to dry.
- Turn items inside out to prevent fading from sun exposure.
Check the Weather
- Monitor weather forecasts and don’t hang clothes if rain is expected.
- Take clothes down promptly if it starts to rain.
- Hang clothes indoors or use a dryer as a backup if needed.
Maintain Your Clothesline
- Wipe down lines regularly to prevent buildup of dirt.
- Untwist and rewind retractable lines to prevent tangling.
- Replace any lines that are sagging, warped, cracked, or broken.
With a little planning, you can easily incorporate line drying into your laundry routine. Any effort to hang clothes instead of using the dryer will help shrink your energy use and carbon footprint.
Additional Benefits of Line Drying Your Clothes
Beyond reducing emissions, switching to line drying offers some other benefits:
- Saves money on utility bills by avoiding dryer energy use
- Less wear and tear on clothes from machine heat
- Natural fresh scent from sun and air drying
- Disinfects laundry with heat and UV rays from the sun
- No static cling like you get with machine drying
- Easy to incorporate into existing laundry routine
Every time you choose to hang laundry rather than using the machine, you make a small but meaningful impact on your carbon footprint. Over time those small choices add up, creating lasting change.