How To Air Dry All Types of Laundry
A guide to air drying the different types of clothing, from shirts to socks.
Why should you Air Dry clothing?
Heated drying is hard on elastic and is the number one reason for elastic failure. Also many favorites have delicate lace, appliques, or decals that may shrink or come off during a drying cycle. Hose and tights often become stretched and tangled in a power dryer.
General Drying Tips:
When using an automatic washer, be sure that your clothes are well spun out before hang drying your laundry. Using a fabric softener will help your clothes stay soft during air drying.
After you have hand washed the garments, roll them tightly in an absorbent towel. (but not bras with underwires) Unroll the towel and move the garment to a dry part of the towel and roll again. Continue until garment is no longer drippy. It may take 2-5 rollings. Do not wring delicate items. You can wring jeans, towels and other sturdy items.
For all clothing pieces that are not stretchy, give them a good healthy shake prior to hanging to separate the fabric to reduce the drying time. A good shake also removes wrinkles, makes ironing easier, and kepps the clothes softer.
Also see our Guide to Drying Laundry Indoors article which covers all the rooms in the home, and all the different type of indoor drying racks. It will help you find you best combination of space and equipment.
There are two ways to hang shirts. Shirts can be hung on hangers with the top buttoned and the collar positioned correctly. Or you can hang the shirt from the bottom at the two side seams with clips. You may also need to clip up the sleeves to keep them off the floor or ground. Shirts that have been hung on hangers usually can be taken directly to hang in the closet when dry. Hanging on hangers often allows you to skip the need for ironing. If it is a windy day and you are drying outside you can hang the shirt on two hangers so that they hangers makes a complete circle around your line.
It is very important that you shake those jeans out prior to hanging - it will keep them from stiffening up. When hanging on a laundry drying rack you will need to use multiple arms of the rack for the jeans so that the denim gets as much air circulation as possible. When you hang the jeans attempt to "open" the tops of the jeans as much as possible so that air can get into the pocket area to help speed up drying time. Jeans will dry best in the sun. When drying inside, locating the drying rack near a heating or air conditioning vent. A floor or ceiling fan will also help speed up the drying process. Air flow is important.
The fabric that the slacks are made with will determine how you dry them. Many polyester blends dry fast and these slacks can simply be folded over one arm of the drying rack. Cotton slacks should be treated the same as jeans.
Undergarments can be hung from your clothes rack in multiple ways. They can simply be slipped over the arms of our round drying rack. You can hang them by one or two corners with clothes clips on a line, or simply folded over our tall laundry rack.
Bras and Delicates:
Bras should always be hand laundered and dried. If the bra has underwires it is even more important to not twist or roll the garment to get out the majority of water. Best method is to hang the bra in a location that the bra can drip out the excess water, like a bathtub or shower drying rack if drying inside. If that is not possible, pat the bra with an absorbent towel until it will no longer drip, then hang on your rack with your other clothes. Bras can be hung in multiple ways. It is important to not over stretch the elastic so hanging in half with one cup on each side of the rack arm causes less stress on the elastic. You can also hang by the arms with a hanger or directly on the arms of our round rack.
If it is a skirt of a fabric type that dries easily simply fold over the clothes rack the same as for slacks. If it is a heavy or denim skirt hang over two arms of your drying rack, like jeans. Crinkle Skirts should be twisted tightly to dry in the wrinkles. You may either lay the twisted fabric across the top of the clothes drying rack or you can clip the top and the bottom in a U shape to the rack to hold the fabric in the twist. Twisted skirts take a long time to dry, so turning them to keep them in the sun or to expose a new side to the breeze is helpful.
Most dresses can be folded over a couple arms of your laundry rack. The other option, which takes a little more work, is to put the dress on a hanger and then drape the bottom over another arm. If the dress is very long and would touch the ground you can also weave the center of the dress over the top of a middle arm to hang the dress in a W shape. If it is a slightly stretchy material you will want to be sure that the dress is well supported so that it does not stretch while drying. The W shape provides the most support.
Towels and Wash Cloths:
To get nice soft air dried towels simply follow these steps. Use a fabric softener or a water softener during your washing process. Shake towels vigorously prior to hanging. Then do not hang in direct sunshine where the towels will "bake". If you have a choice, wash towels on days when there is a breeze. If you wash on a calm day, then when you walk by your towels give them a little pat or shake as you go by to keep them from stiffening up. If you happen to end up with stiff towels, shaking them again prior to folding will help.
Sweaters, Pantyhose and other Stretchy Items
You will want to re-shape and dry flat on top of your drying rack. If it is made of wool or other natural animal fibers you should place your rack out of the direct sunlight.
One of the nice things about air drying is that it is hard to do it wrong. Experiment until you find the best use of your drying rack for the clothes that you air dry.
Disclaimer: You are responsible for any suggestions you choose to follow, or not follow. This advice is offered for consideration with no guarantee of safety or effectiveness. Use this information at your own risk.