To save on utilities and clothes softener, I line dry many clothes in the house then put them in the dryer on air fluff. It's amazing how soft they become.
By Maria Elena from Gwynedd Valley, PA
Unfortunately, many of us line dry because we don't have a clothes dryer. The reason line dried clothes feel stiff is because they remain in the same position as they dry. It's like using a hair dryer on your wet hair. Your hair will hold the shape it was dried in. The simplest way to prevent this stiffness is to have a fan blowing softly on the clothes as they dry. Just enough to keep them moving. As a bonus, a fan will also dry your clothes faster.
A machine dryer also softens clothes by rubbing the fibers against each others as the clothing is tossed around. This "fuzzies" up the fabric, making it feel soft. You can simulate this on your line dried clothes by brushing the fabric softly with a hair brush. Don't brush too hard or you'll damage the fabric.
It would be rather difficult to have a fan blowing on the clothes while they are on the line outside!
I do that opposite, but for a different reason, I run my loads through the dryer on air-fluff for about 5-10 minutes before I hang them, so as to 'pound' the wrinkles out of them. I don't so much mind the crunch of a line-dried towel. A few 'snaps' to shake it out and it's usually fine. I do dry my things outside, as I don't have room indoors (I borrow Mother Nature's fan, she doesn't seem to mind).
Doesn't that undermine the savings of using the line? I just THWAP mine as I fold off the line and they soften right up.
I don't mind the 'crispness' of the line-dried clothes; I put mine in the dryer for 5 minutes or so (on heat) to zap any bugs that might have gotten into the clothes while they hung outside on the line.
I think bryguy might have meant if the clothes are dried inside? There are several things I like to hang dry instead of putting in the dryer but my HOA won't allow clothes lines so I have a drying rack inside that I use.
I love line dried clothes the smell and the feel; why use a dryer to get rid of that.
While the dryer, even five minutes, is fluffing, go look at how fast your meter is running...
It would be rather difficult to have a fan blowing on the clothes while they are on the line outside! We NYC apartment dwellers often dry clothes by hanging them above the bath tub. If you're drying clothes outside, there's often already enough of a breeze to prevent major stiffness so a fan isn't needed.
But if there isn't enough of a breeze, it's actually not hard to have a fan blowing outside. Something like the Vornado 510 (it's known as an "air circulator," not a fan) is perfect. On high, the tight air beam can be felt as far as 70' away (in ideal conditions) so you can place the fan on a window or doorway aimed at your clothesline. In the bathroom, I use low from about 6'-7' away. The Vornado is known to be energy efficient.
I meant the Vornado 630, not the 510. It's compact (12 x 14 x 9 inches) and very energy efficient, and the air can be felt up to 70' away on high in ideal conditions. Perfect for circulating air around the room. I got mine for $29.
I think bryguy might have meant if the clothes are dried inside?
Yep! The original writer, Maria Elena, wrote "I line dry many clothes in the house." Since she wrote "in the house," I was referring to indoor drying. I live in SoHo, Manhattan, NYC and outside drying lines are a no-no.
I use the highly-rated very energy-efficient and compact Haier HLP21N (17" x 17.5" x 30") to wash and spin dry. After spinning, it's so dry that most clothes will dry within hours hanging on a line. The use of my Vornado fan on low speeds drying even more.
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Hanging your wash outside saves big bucks, but can also leave your clothes stiff. I started putting my clothes in the dryer for about 5 minutes to let them soften up. A couple of times, I've forgotten and left it in there the entire cycle. This defeats the whole purpose of hanging the clothes out to begin with. I started leaving a timer next to the dryer and setting it for 5 minutes. The sound of the timer reminds me about the clothes. (The dial on my dryer won't set for such a short amount of time)
By Deanna from Cedar Park, TX
I am assuming you put them in the dryer BEFORE you hang them out? (09/26/2007)
I put my clothes on the spin cycle of the washer a few times. Not only will the clothes dry faster on the line, they also come out soft and not hard.
Good idea! I use liquid softener but clothing (esp. 100% cotton) is still a bit stiff. Your idea may work just as well on a no-heat cycle. For towels, to avoid that "wrinkled" look, I fluff them in the dryer on no heat for a few min. before hanging outside. They look much nicer and also not as stiff. Kudos to all us line-dryers! (09/26/2007)
Actually it works better to put them in the dryer FIRST for 5 minutes, then hang on the line. Try it! (09/26/2007)
One thing I've learned about those made-from-cardboard clothes. Use home made laundry detergent! I noticed that new clothes that I'd never washed in store-bought detergent don't get stiff at all. I harbor a secret suspicion that manufacturers put something in to make clothes nasty-sandpapery-stiff just so they can sell fabric softeners (just look at who owns what companies!) Clothes that I'd been washing in other detergent for a while take many washes to start softening up, but whatever they've gotten full of does wash out--eventually. Towels are the toughest, but even they come around in the end. I have found an extra rinse cycle to be beneficial with very dirty or stiff clothes, and as someone else posted, a nice windy day helps too. And I also whack the clothes hard against my leg when I take them off the line, though mostly to remove any moths or other bugs that have decided to set up camp on my laundry before they end up setting up camp in the house.
Final verdict from Mama Gina's Laundry Room: avoid store-bought detergent like the plague! (Anybody ever wonder why there are so many detergents that irritate your skin? I've heard of things like ground glass used as an abrasive. Nifty) (09/27/2007)
I found many years ago that hanging clothes out in the early morning or early evening works best. Also, you MUST bring them in AS SOON AS they are dry. The first couple of loads, you'll be checking several times to catch them just as they dry. After a little practice, you'll know just how long each fabric takes. I have done this for a long time and do not have trouble with stiff clothes ( I do not use liquid softener)
I run my bluejeans through the dryer for a few minutes before I hang them up to dry. They don't have wrinkles or dry as stiff. (01/29/2008)
A half cup of white vinegar in the rinse water helps to remove the detergent that has built up on the clothes. It acts as a natural fabric softener. And no, the clothes do not smell like vinegar at all. (07/01/2008)