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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: PaulM12345 on September 26, 2012, 03:27:02 PM

Title: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: PaulM12345 on September 26, 2012, 03:27:02 PM
I'm trying to cut my electricity bill, and I recently asked a question about space heaters and got some great answers. Now I have a more complicated question: How to air-dry clothes in the Pacific Northwest. We use cloth diapers and those, combined with our family's clothes, mean we run the wash a TON. I tried drying the diapers out on a line in our yard on a few not so hot but sunny days this summer, and they were not dry even after a day in the sun! The reality is that we'd have to dry a lot of clothes in doors, dried only by the home heating and any other device we get.

Having searched the archives I've found a few suggestions, but no clear sense that any of them work well. Here are

1) A drying rack - this seems essential and not too controversial. Better than hanging them all over the house
2) dehumidifier - are these energy efficient? Are they the kind of appliance that breaks after a year? Do they actually dehumidify enough to get your stuff to dry?
3) high speed spinner - I found one online (can't find the link at the moment) - it seems kind of small - I'd have to do quite a few rounds of spinning to spin dry one load of laundry; and various reviews indicate that they break fairly quickly. Also I get the impression that they are a lot more popular outside the US, so that makes me wonder if we have fewer options here, thus worse quality - not sure.

So my question is whether anyone has had success air drying clothes in a humid climate, how you did it, and whether you have any using dehumidifiers, high speed spinners, or any other strategies. Thanks!
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: AJ on September 26, 2012, 03:57:17 PM
We just hang our clothes on hangers on the shower rod in the bathroom. But, we're only two people (and adults at that) so we have less laundry. Plus towels take a long time to dry.

What do you use for heat? Could you set up a drying rack over or near your heat source?

What sort of cloth diapers do you use?
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: PaulM12345 on September 26, 2012, 04:26:43 PM
We have expensive heat - electric - but I think we could double up somehow by putting the drying rack close to the vent / space heater. But we're trying to cut down on heating costs too, so as we cut back on heating, that may not be as much of an option! Maybe I should try drying some things and not all... but since we'd still be running the dryer, I'm not sure how much we'd save. I can see t shirts drying quickly... but towels, diapers, pants, would take a while.

Our diapers are prefolds - just thick squares of cotton that take a while to get dry all the way through.
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: happy on September 26, 2012, 04:56:34 PM
I live in a subtropical rainforest area and the humidity is high. I line dry...and  my line is partly shaded due to my neighbours trees.. If its a good drying day it will take a day, but about half the time I need to leave them overnight.  Part of the line is undercover... safe from rainfall..which is frequent.  If I  bring them in and they are still damp I finish the job by: all shirts/dresses  are hung on hangers and hung on a rack to dry.  Others are hung on a indoor clothes rack ( my current one cost <$10 at Bunnings). If its winter and my gas heater is on, then I put the rack in front of the heater.  I'm sometimes tempted to skip the hanging outside and just use the rack and heat, but it will increase the inside humidity (unless I use the aircon to dehumidify..more $$$).

If you run out of line space  because the clothes aren't drying fast enough, consider expanding the line.  Having an undercover line available for rainy weather is also helpful....(we might get a week of rainy days, ) but the undercover line usually won't get much sun, making it slower.

I don't have a high speed spinner as I don't really need it:  I've heard good reports but I'm not in US.

The other option may be to build a drying rack near your hot water service if its indoors. When I lived in UK I found they often have the hot water service indoors in a cupboard and  added racks in the cupboard. I thought it weird at first but it worked well. I also lived in a house that had extensive wooden drying racks built into 1 wall of the laundry...again worked remarkably well, but does take time.

If you are drying inside like this its important to space the clothes out sufficiently that the air circulates.

If you are using your clothes dryer, then I have heard that most of the expense is in the heat, not the spin/tumble, so it is cheaper to run it on the coolest setting.

One option is to line dry... but if not quite dry, just finish off in the dryer. Still cheaper than using the dryer all the time. I've done this occasionally, when cuaght short when I expected something to be dry and it wasn't.

Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: velocistar237 on September 26, 2012, 05:52:18 PM
I've been meaning to get this spin dryer ( for a long time.
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: justchristine on September 26, 2012, 06:06:29 PM
I live in Wisconsin and we get our fair share of humidity in the summer.  Due to severe allergies, all my line drying happens indoors on drying racks.  I'm single and can get almost all my laundry on 2 large drying racks.  If I have the AC on, I'll put the drying racks in the room where the AC is (window unit).  Otherwise, I put them in my spare room and let them dry overnight.  Most stuff will dry in 24 hours.  If I'm really concerned about something drying in time for wearing it, I'll aim a box fan at the drying rack for a while.  In the past, I've also left the drying racks in the basement where I have a dehumidifier and stuff dried pretty quick.  My dehumidifier is energy star rated so not a complete energy hog, but a box fan would probably work as well and be less costly to run.
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: velocistar237 on September 26, 2012, 06:44:52 PM
Be sure to check out this thread (
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: Nudelkopf on September 26, 2012, 11:45:05 PM
I still just hang my clothes outside on the clothes line. If it's raining, I've got another [smaller] line that's undercover. And if it's storming, I hang them inside on clothes racks with the ceiling fan. Only takes a day, if I do it in the morning, and take them off after tea.
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: anastrophe on September 27, 2012, 09:31:48 AM
Well, I'm not in PNW so it's different, but I live in the Northeast in an area that can be quite humid in warmer seasons. My experience is that if the temperature is over 65F, the clothes will dry, just slower. Between 32F and 65F, I've noticed that if it's an overcast day with not much wind, and it's very humid, sometimes the clothes will start to mildew, but I've only had this happen with heavy fabrics like towels that haven't been spun well enough. At lower temperatures everything dries fine, especially indoors:)

Your microclimate (got trees? near ocean? direct sunlight?) and the particular day's conditions might have some impact. But just try it, no harm right?
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: Rev on September 27, 2012, 09:32:35 AM
I'm a Seattlelite, so I feel your pain. Drying cloths on a line has always been seasonal for me, I have never had much trouble during the warmer third or so of the year. Maybe its because I keep my house on the cool side, but it takes forever for anything to dry inside during the winter, and seems to add to the ever present risk of mold. I've never seen those spinners before, I wonder how hard it would be to make a bicycle powered one.... hmmm....
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: PaulM12345 on September 27, 2012, 10:38:14 AM
Rev, thanks for the empathy :) My concern is mold too - not just in the clothes, but in the house from all the moisture that comes out of the clothes. And I've had to just toss some clothes that accidentally sat around wet for two days because of stuff that grew on them. I like your idea of a bicycle powered spinner! Seems like with the right gear ratios it wouldn't be too hard to crank it up to 3000 rpm. I'd be really interested in seeing one, if you make it, and maybe buying one for my house!

Regarding others' comments - I think the problem in the pac. NW is that it is both humid and not very warm. So as Anastrophe said, in warmer humid climates / days, you at least have the temperature working with you; it may leave everything slightly humid,  but it at least dries clothes out.

I did read the other thread about driers and spinners, but I haven't gotten a clear sense of whether a $150 spinner would last long enough to pay for itself, or whether the dehumidifiers were really worth it.
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: Worsted Skeins on September 27, 2012, 12:16:06 PM
You might want to try a second spin in your washer for heavier items like towels, jeans or pre-fold diapers (assuming you do not own a HE washer). 

I live in a humid climate, although warmer than the PNW.  A breeze makes all the difference in how quickly my clothes will dry outside.
Title: Re: Air drying in humid climates
Post by: kisserofsinners on November 20, 2012, 10:47:08 AM
I use drying racks and add a fan if it's humid. I'm lucky enough to have my drying area where i can focus the fan on the entryway; it only hits people when they are coming in with jackets on.

My rags are usually dry in a 4-6 hours and i find the drying rack would be a good working area for diaper hanging. Pants and other items will take overnight.