Root Simple Busted: Drying Racks, Clothes Lines and Cheese Puffs


For many years I’ve wanted to have one of our writer friends do a John Stossel style exposé on us. We’d have them drop in unexpectedly and witness some of the environmental transgressions that take place at the Root Simple compound such as hidden cheese puff stashes and the weekly, patrician moment when my fencing uniform goes through the, gasp, dryer.

Joanne Poyourow, founder of Environmental Changemakers and a guest on Episode 033 of our podcast, called me out (in a very nice way) on the dryer issue yesterday when I admitted to using it. She noted how much energy dryers use and how she ditched hers many years ago and has never looked back. We have a gas dryer which means that, while we use less energy than an electric dryer, we’re still complicit in the use of fossil fuels. In short, fracking is supporting my attempts to parry, riposte and flèche.

The truth is that we had a clothes line for several years when we first moved into our house. But like many clothes lines, it was low quality and eventually broke. I never replaced it. Joanne mentioned going through several flimsy clothes drying racks before settling on a higher quality drying rack that can be used both outside and inside.

My question of the week for you, our dear readers, is what kind of drying rack do you like best? Do you use a line? Do you prefer one to the other? Do you have a favorite, non-flimsy rack or clothes line?

Leave a comment


  1. clothes racks are great but not with big dogs with waggy tails and i tend to use the top first then say the heck with it and throw everything in the dryer. we currently have the umbrella style of outside clothes line which is cool. our original clothes line sat at about 6 foot off the ground and the mister is 6’4 and he was “clotheslined” once too often and hmmmm one day the clothes line broke. if we dont use the oven much can we trade our carbon footprints credits in for dryer use?

  2. Line drying gives clothes that wonderful fragrance. You can’t leave it at that in some places, though. Remembering a Maya Angelou anecdote from her first time living in W.Africa, where line drying must be followed by ironing, to kill the little larvae hatching from eggs laid in the damp clothes. She didn’t iron (who cares about a few wrinkles?) and was itching and scratching for a long time, alas.

  3. I live in Argentina, and I think I know only one person with a dryer, and she lives in a big city high rise. I’m on a suburban-type lot in the equivalent of USDA zone 9B, so it doesn’t get THAT cold but it is really really humid, and even so I do all my laundry on lines, and that has included cloth diapering two kids. After lots of experimenting, I have two lines parallel lines that are each about 5 metres long and that run down one side of my veggie garden, over a broad path, not over beds, and very close to the washing machine, so that hanging up laundry double-times as checking on the veggies and chickens, who are also there. Putting them all in the same place ended up being one of those permaculture design principles that did actually work and make sense… With two kids I have to do laundry, with chickens I have to go and feed them and hence am motivated to bring that laundry in, and I have no excuse for letting the veggies go unnoticed for more than a day. I also have one of those folding things for smalls which stands in the same place (loads of sun, obviously) and which comes in and out when it gets cold. It’s truly not a pain to line dry!

  4. We plead horribly guilty! We too use a clothes dryer several times a week, despite having high-tech drying racks and clothes lines. We offer two pathetic excuses:

    (1) It rains a lot here (coastal British Columbia) and drying clothes outside takes so long that we’d soon have nothing to wear and would have to buy more clothes, thereby supporting Asian sweatshops and fat cat capitalism (sorry cats!).

    (2) Our clothes dryer is ELECTRIC but, as the supply here is hydro-electric, we don’t use any fossil fuel. Forget about all the energy needed to build the dams and distribution networks in the first place and the damage done to the environment and native peoples’ land rights. No one cares about those, right?

    In mitigation, we do not have a dishwasher. We figured out, with only two of us, it is more trouble to use a dishwasher than it is to wash the dishes by hand. A dishwasher expensively washes the stuff that is easy to wash by hand and totally fails when faced with cast iron pans and baked-on food. We totally reject arguments about dishwashers eliminating bacteria. We’ve never met a bacterium on our dishes that we didn’t like.

  5. LMAO – I just indulged in my a few times per year (nonGMO) cheesepuffs nosh yesterday 😉 AND – I happen to have the EXACT clothes drying rack that you show in the above picture and really like it. The only thing I don’t like is that I foresee the plastic bits eventually crapping out, but it’s otherwise fairly sturdy, several helpful configurations possible, and folds down nicely. I got mine on Amazon, but I think it’s sold other places as well: it’s the “Household Essentials” Adjustable Gullwing Style Clothes Drying Rack, Aluminum and Stainless.

    Confession time – I love the drying rack (and actually have two of them), and do use them year-round, but with DH going through two sets of clothes per day (workout plus regular), and two kids who enjoy their daily dirt adventures, plus dogs etc etc, the VOLUME of laundry often just makes me give in and use the dryer a good part of the time to remove the multiple handling of each and every garment and just get it *done*. That being said, a good part of my own wardrobe is stuff that either needs/is better off being air dried (linen, silks, wools), so I’m very glad that I have the racks. I’d say the rack I have is okay for outside use, but don’t store it out there due to the sun attacking the plastic bits over time.

    Kind of on a side note, but it does make a huge difference with the not using the dryer thing – I have become a convert to using natural linen for bath towels. They are not soft and fluffy like a terry towel (in fact, a bit sandpapery, so they feel a bit exfoliating as you dry off), but they do absorb well and they dry AMAZINGLY fast. They also take less space – both in the washer and in the closet – and use much less water etc. to wash. For now, I am the only one in the house using them (the buggers are pricey!!!!), but I hope over time to replace the terry ones if the DH and kiddos are willing.

    Last note: if you do have a lot of stuff to air dry that takes too long and don’t mind the extra step/s of clothes handling etc, I also have one of these: the “spin dryer” from “The Laundry Alternative”. It does work (and is amazing how much water is pulled out!), and will at least cut down on drying time – whether air or gas dryer. Also a good option for apartment/small dwelling people.

  6. In winter, we use a sturdy old wooden rack to dry laundry. It has a total of 20′ of wooden bars, and folds up for storage. The only thing we put in the dryer are the cotton bed sheets. I’d prefer the outdoor clothesline, but there is currently over 4 feet of snow here on the east coast of Canada. I let towels dry on the rack (they are not soft that way) because we are not short of extra towels. But don’t have extra sheets.

    Like Peter, we have no dishwasher. The dryer is an old electric one given to us by a friend who was shocked that we didn’t own one.

    I like P’s idea of linen towels, and might look for some old linen material to re-purpose.

  7. I have an umbrella type dryer outside for the summer and clothes lines in the basement for the winter. I do have a dryer and use it occasionally, mostly to shrink cotton fabric that I’ll be using for quilting.
    There are only the 2 of us and so we only have 2-3 loads a week.
    We do the washing on the weekend as we are on time of day pricing and it’s cheaper after 8pm and on weekends, it’s also cheaper before 8am and once in a while we will be up-and-at-em at that time of the morning.
    Living simple is not an all or nothing thing,a big part of it is simply being aware of the impact you make on planet.
    i think the occasional misstep does not mean you fail, it means you are doing what you can, where you are….we all still live in the world and have to navigate the culture we find ourselves in

  8. Doing laundry today, in fact, since it is my day off. Like “P”, most of my clothes are better off drying outside and I have two dryers similar to what is pictured above. Everything else goes in the gas dryer because I don’t have the time or space to hang things on a long line or umbrella dryer. In the winter, with limited sun time, I will put the dryers in the living room and turn on the ceiling fan. Takes a little longer, but works. I don’t mind my shirts and sweaters dried outside, but underclothes (t-shirts, etc) are just too stiff. I refuse to use liquid fabric softener – blech. Being in SoCal, we only wash full loads to use as little water as necessary.
    We never repaired the dishwasher when it broke five years ago, so hand wash everything. I have heard that a dishwasher can use less water than hand washing – any truth to that? We rinse dishes in the sink, not under running water.

  9. We have several drying racks. Some.wood ones (including a.couple.of.broken ones we.cobbled together) The best is we.also have an umbrella.rack in the back yard. I occasionally use the dryer for a.couple.of minutes for heavier.things in.winter so they don’t get stinky. In No. Nevada in the summer it can be things on the line then in a dryer. we also have a cool little octopus one.with clips.on it.for.drying socks.etc. in Europe, drying racks.that pull.down from the.ceiling are common and those me. Using a dryer is.too expensive for us!

  10. We have a British cast iron and wood drying rack in the kitchen and an awesome, large drying rack call ‘The Homesteader’ for the living room for drying in the winter, and an umbrella-type dryer in the backyard for the summer months. During short periods during the spring and autumn I have to use our electric dryer because it’s not warm enough outside, or too warm for a fire so not warm enough inside to dry clothes before they sour. So I dry as much as I can on the racks. But I compensate on the electric dryer with our 4.5Kw solar PV array on the roof. We’re doing what we can.

  11. We use our dryer most of the time. Our HOA doesn’t allow outdoor drying lines or racks, and during the winter it was much too cold to effectively line dry even inside. I’d rather use the dryer for a small burst than constantly heat the whole house to a higher temp. We do have room to add more indoor drying racks, and I may do that this spring/summer. Though I still prefer my sheets and towels in the dryer–back when I studied abroad in Europe the towels would get stiff when air dried and that was not the best experience when stepping out of the shower!

  12. I line-dry all of our laundry – because I like to, and have the time and space for it. Those three things are required to line dry, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do it! My current line (yes, my pride and joy) was built for me by my husband when we first moved into our new space: 7 lines, 2 feet apart, about 20 feet long and about 6.5 feet high (so we can both walk under it without taking our heads off – I’m 6′, so I can still reach the line easily to hang laundry). I can fit two full loads of laundry on that set up, for all day drying if needed (jeans in winter – in summer it dries almost as fast as I hang it!). I have an emergency back up bamboo drying rack that I use a couple times a year for a load of necessary clothes, but mostly I can use the line year round. I’m in sunny southern CA, so it is ridiculously easy to line dry, even when I only do laundry on weekends. That being said, hanging the load of socks and the cleaning rags just SUCK, and are the only two loads of laundry that I would PREFER to us a dryer for, energy be damned.

  13. The flimsy store wooden drying racks kept breaking on me, so I invested in heavy duty ones made by the local Mennonite community and they will be passed onto my kids. I also have ceiling racks that can be lowered. As for drying clothes, I’m in a heavy winter snow area and when it’s -0 C and colder, I refuse to hang things outside on our heavy duty clothesline (yep, we learned the ‘avoid cheap’ lesson there). So, our hydro electric dryer is used just long enough to take out most of the damp then laundry is finished on railings and drying racks. Despite weather, all towels spin for a few minutes in the dryer or we’d be drying ourselves with sandpaper towels (we have very hard water despite a softener). As much as possible, clothes are hung outside for freshness and free drying.

    We do have a dishwasher but it doesn’t do a great job so it’s rarely used. Our clotheswasher is a new energy efficient, low water use machine that we feel offsets some of the dryer energy costs. Our new convection oven is energy efficient, used only during cheaper power rate times, and I make sure to fill the oven when I use it rather than throw in occasional single items. Our electric water heater is turned down to a fairly low setting, and its on a timer so it reheats only during cheap nighttime hours. We’re careful during the day of how we use the hot water.

    If all things fail (eg power outage) I have a ‘mobile washer’ that resembles a blue toilet plunger. It and a 5 gal bucket of water and my homemade laundry soap will easily see us through. In this regard, I made sure to have non-energy replacements for many appliances – eggbeaters, hand choppers, crank blender and food processors, flour and nut grinder, can opener (Oxo is the best), etc.

  14. This isn’t that complicated. Just hang your wet clothes up in the closet, leaving a couple of inches space between. Guess what? They dry out, definitely in arid regions + probably even in humid areas. Then you don’t have to put them away when they are dry. For socks etc, put a cord across the laundry room or a closet.

  15. I’ve used a clothesline for years now. The only drawback is that it’s in the dog yard – a small fenced area behind the house – so the first step in doing laundry for me is cleaning the dog yard! Of course it needs to be done anyway…

    I only have two suggestions for clotheslines: 1. Use a turnbuckle on the line at one end. It will help you keep the line tight without having to untie and retie the line every time. 2. Don’t skimp on the pole placement in the ground. Wet clothes in the wind can apply a lot of force.

  16. I hang everything I wear inside. There is a short line I put in the backyard where I hang other things. I live in the South, so there are many months when I can hang most things I wash.
    However, I have allergies, so in the spring and fall, I use the dryer. When it rains and when it is too cold, I use the dryer.

    Inside, I have doorways where I can hang garments, towels on pants hangers, panties two at a time on blouse hangers,etc. A ceiling fan in the bathroom helps to distribute the warm air in winter to help dry clothing. There is only me here, and I have other drying options, so I have not gotten a wooden drying rack.

  17. I live in New England, so the dryer gets used in the winter.

    We have a great, sturdy clothesline in the backyard, which I use almost exclusively in the spring, summer and fall. Not only does the laundry smell better when it’s dried on the line, it also prevents your clothes from wearing out as quickly.

  18. We have a wooden drying rack in the basement and a clothesline outside, both from Lehman’s, both very sturdy. The indoor rack you could build yourself but we scored it as a christmas present.

  19. I use a heavy-duty wooden rack from Lehman’s also. Our HOA doesn’t allow clotheslines outside, but I’m able to tuck the rack in an out-of-the-way corner that isn’t really visible.

  20. I don’t blame you for using a dryer…I try to utilize my ikea folding rack (looks the same as the one in your pictures, but no plastic parts: ) but…indoors it often takes too long to dry the clothes and outdoors, well, the laundry ends up smelling funny. I am not sure what it is about the air in the city I live in, but clothes left out more than an hour or two smell bad to me. I have had re-wash entire loads due to the odd odor. I am entirely jealous of all who have praised the fresh smell of their air dried laundry. I should probably try a combination air and dryer process, to ‘finish’ the clothes in the dryer, or perhaps start them, but I haven’t taken the time to explore that. Unfortunately I am one that can perform the task of doing laundry, but I don’t profess to have any mastery of the art.
    P.S. I had two bags of potato chips from the vending machine at work over the course of the last week and fast food for a meal (cardinal sin there, I am sure). It was all so delicious, and yet, so awful.

  21. As a person that grew up in a little town in Mexico with no drier and no washing machine, I say use your dryer!!! Enjoy it, revel in it, seriously you guys are vegetarians, by not eating meat you are already doing more for the environment than 90% of the United States population. I have had to do with out my drier a few times because I could not afford to fix it, and I have to tell you it sucked!! All my clothes where stiff and felt a little dusty on windy days. When the Zombie Apocalypse happens, the you can worry hanging your clothes on the line. Oh by the way… am I wrong or did you skip two weeks of podcast?

  22. We use a Hills-Hoist for outdoor drying as pictured in this blog post:

    Excellent example of a massively distributed, passive solar thermal capture device. We also have a solar-wood energy hybrid clothes drying system comprising a clothes rack in front of the wood heater during periods of wet weather. And we occasionally use a dryer but we’re on Green Power so the dryer electricity usage is net renewable.

    I read one EPA report that stated clothes dryers in the US consumed around 6% of residential energy usage! That’s a lot of electricity.

  23. grew up hanging on the line – we didnt have a dryer….still dont have a dryer…dont find i need one….my uncle welded me metal pipe clothes poles – when we move i am digging them out and taking them with. in the winter i use a clothes lines in the basement for towels, blankets, etc and also hang clothes on hangers and use the door frames to hang them to dry in the heat of the house. they dry rather quickly in the dry winter inside air. i actually had a dryer when i first moved to this house and couldn’t stand it….line/air drying all the way for me.
    PS i like “scratchy” towels better so the air dry does add to the stiffness that i like – i don’t really care for crazy fluffy towels.

  24. I’ve got lines installed across my screened in porch and can dry anytime of the day or year (I’m in Texas) plus I’m finding that being in the shade and away from birds has a lot of advantages. Line drying is one of those sustainable habits that’s easier in some areas of the country than others. We just do what we can where we can.

  25. I use the metal bannister/rails for our back stairs, along with the copper-framed awning over our back door. This way everything goes straight from the washer inside, out the door and back in again with very few steps. We do use the dryer for things like bath towels – they’re just not right when you hang them dry.
    I think our clothes last longer when they’re not being tortured by the dryer!

  26. We have a long outdoor line in wet coastal BC–there are many dry months. We dry socks and small things in an electric dryer. In the winter we hang indoors. Delicates, t-shirts and stretch fabrics are always hung to to preserve their longevity.

  27. Ikea rack and line drying. Sometimes it takes a bit of reorganizing things to get it all dry.

    Driers are terrible at wearing things out. Lint = your wasted textiles.

  28. When we lived under the iron heel of a HOA, I put my drying rack on our back deck and reveled in my unmentionables drying right there in front of God and everybody. I have a wooden rack from Lehman’s.

    Now that we’re on the farm I have a huge reel clothesline that stretches out to a telephone pole in the back yard. Such lines are a fixture on Amish farms in our area. They’re great because even on still, humid days the high-up wash catches any stray breezes.

    I pride myself on hanging wash in glove-wearing weather. Having said that, the eastern snow extravaganza of this winter had me lugging the wash over to my parents’ side of the house. We share a brand new dryer that plays a mechanical bit of the Trout Quintet when the door opens. Now that’s what I call fancy!

  29. I’ve lined dried my clothes for over 20 years. I use my wire fence – always have. No need for anything else. I only use a rack in the hoop house in the winter.

  30. I live in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn (sadly), but I have blessedly tall ceilings. I installed some nice looking cut nails 10′ off the ground, and have a line that I stretch back and forth on laundry day. Paracord works well and is, for this purpose, unbreakable. It makes a pleasant, humidifying tent city!

    The biggest problem is what do do during the humid summers, since I can’t hang everything in direct sunlight and it takes days for laundry to dry. How ironic that I end up using laundromat driers the most during the hottest months of the year…

  31. We have two retractable clothes lines that run the width of our living room. They both have 5 lines on them. I can get three large loads of wash on them with some room left over. Our very old pathetic dryer died several months ago and instead of buying a new one we started line drying in the house. Whenever it was warm enough and we didn’t have a million feet of snow(we’re in northern Minnesota) we have always dried outside. We heat with wood stove so the air inside is really dry and I have found that things actually dry faster for the most part than they did in the dryer. We do not plan on ever replacing our dryer.

  32. I used to air-dry most of my clothes, but now I admit I use the dryer. I have a drying rack that holds about 1/3 of my laundry for the week, but I can’t effectively dry the entire week’s laundry indoors (in Ohio, you have to dry your laundry indoors for many, many months of the year). In the summer I like to line dry most of my clothes outside if possible. I have to move my outside line – I tried between two trees but the birds thought it was fun to make me wash my clothes twice. We did line-dry all of our cloth diapers for our little one (the diapers last longer that way).

  33. I am from Montevideo, Uruguay, where dryers are not the norm and I expect clothes to be ready the day after they’re washed. As now I hang everything on a closed balcony facing west, most things are dry the same day and I have to be careful they don’t get too much in the sun. (The thing with clotheslines are the forgotten clothes that spend days and days waiting to be reclaimed… is it the same with dryers?).

    The two years I lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I hanged (hung?) everything inside an empty closet. During winter months most things were dry within a couple of hours, in summer it was a little longer. I avoided the dryer, something about it just felt wrong.

  34. Our local hardware store, Industrial Hardware carries good quality rope. It comes in lovely colors. I selected blue. This replaced a more traditional clothesline that later decades. Things wear out and need to be replaced, but the method itself is sound. I will, on occasion give things a 5-10 minute touch up in the dryer, to take out wrinkles, but usually things are good right off the line. Its a peaceful activity, line drying.

  35. We don’t dry outside because of allergies, but we use our gas dryer only for a few minutes to soften the things that really need it. To dry them, we use a rolling clothes rack with a ton of hangers we get for nothing when we buy something at Penney’s where they give them away if you ask. As we live in the Frozen North, this also puts humidity into the air so I don’t get shocked every time I touch the phone or a light switch. Or a dog nose. Or running water. Really.

  36. We just built ourselves a drying rack to hang from the ceiling, since that’s what my dad built forty years ago and it’s brilliant. They’re easy to make with dowels and a couple of pieces of lumber (we used 2 by 5s)and there are lots of images to guide you (try googling suspended drying rack or something similar). Now we just have to buy some pulleys and we should be in business. You can also make them so they fold against the wall, if that suits your space better.

  37. Like most New Zealanders, outside line drying is the norm, though I have a couple of wire racks (shaped like yours) which get used a lot in our rainy winters. When I lived in a smaller place it seemed like I couldn’t move for damp laundry, now my studio doubles as a drying room. I inherited an electric dryer a couple of years ago which lives in an outbuilding where I forget about it for months on end. I think I have used it maybe dozen times- mostly for sheets and jeans during some endlessly rainy week. Not being familiar with driers, I’m a bit nervous about putting in anything not-sturdy, not-cotton.
    PS Speaking of clothes- how’s the uniform project?

  38. I line dry, indoors, year round, zone 4. I have a coated line I twisted back on itself so no need for clothes pins. Two screw-eyes opposite from eachother and two caribiners (cheap). I put it up for a load and take it down when I’m done.

    I do cheat and use the dryer when I wash rugs 2x per year. They really need the extra help it seems two go rounds before they’ve stopped giving up gobs of animal hair. Others in my house use the dryer. I try not to say much but to set an example, although I am likely to mention how quickly your clothes will wear out in the dryer. I also am a fan of linen and linen towels!

  39. I’m an outside laundry line person whenever possible, I just love the quiet moments in the outdoors it gives me during an ordinary day.

    When the weather’s not so hospitable for that, things also dry really well on hangers over the shower rod, or on wooden drying racks (although they won’t smell as good as when they’re outside).

    My husband was a confirmed soft-dryer-laundry person when we met, but he’s slowly coming around to the idea that maybe saving some energy and wear and tear on the clothes is better (it helps that I do most of the laundry …)

  40. I have an ancient dryer, acquired used, that has only been used occasionally over the 20 years we’ve had it.

    My primary dryer a network of clothes lines outside which I use year-round as long as nothing is falling from the sky. I also have a retractable clothes line thing with 5 lines in my family room near the wood stove. Even here in the cold northeast, clothes will dry remarkably well outside in winter, no doubt because humidity is so low. Laundry is hung first thing in the morning and those few things that don’t dry completely (blue jeans, heavy socks) come in at the end of the day and go on the line over the wood stove over night. I have a wooden drying rack, but with 6 cats I don’t use it much. Too much temptation for the kids.

    The biggest objection I have heard to hanging clothing outside is that towels feel like sandpaper. We don’t mind, but obviously some people do. A solution that really works: Take your towels out of the washer and put them in the dryer on high heat for three or four minutes, then hang them. They will not resemble sheets of plywood when they’re dry. Tossing them in the dryer after hanging them outside doesn’t work.

  41. I have three drying racks I purchased from IKEA a few years ago. During the summer months, everything goes outside immediately after the wash. During the Pacific Northwest’s rainy season, I will give a quick shot in the dryer to get the drips out of the clothes, and then dry the rest of the way on the racks which are strategically placed in my office to maximize the chance of me tripping…because who doesn’t like an obstacle course?

  42. I would love to line-dry my laundry, but with a dozen chickens taking massive daily dust baths in my back yard and a fairly constant light breeze coming up our hill (from your side of the neighborhood), clothes I hang outside end up dirtier and dustier than before they were washed. And I agree with whomever mentioned the odd odor.

    I have an inside drying rack for hand-washed items, but my justification for using the gas dryer (three loads a week) is that we have newer, energy-efficient machines —washer and dryer— and the washer spins the heck out of the load at the end of the cycle, so the dryer isn’t so hard-pressed to get drippy things dry.

    If this drought keeps up, though, I may have to take my laundry down to the River and wash and dry it on the rocks. I’m checking out the good places in advance.

  43. We use a combination of wooden drying rack for T-shirts that we purchased from a garage sale over 10 years ago, a folding plastic rack that hangs on the line for small items , an actual line in the backyard, and an electric dryer that gets used rarely and mostly during a rainy, cold day.

    We also hang our clothes in the garage. There’s a rigid metal bar that runs above the truck. We put the clothes to dry in hangers. When dry, they go directly to the closet. We also keep the garage side door open in the day time for air flow.

  44. We have an electric dryer and I tumble office clothes and towels for 5 minutes to remove spin wrinkles. Outdoor work clothes don’t need the tumble. Clothes dry on racks inside or line outside depending on time of year. We’re in Wisconsin, and outdoor season is from about April to October. Exceptions are made when the cat deposits a hairball or other stomach contents on the bedding, and we need the blankets dry for sleeping. Also for drying down vests or other items that need to be fluffed while drying.

    Inside: We have three big folding wooden racks with plastic-covered dowels. Two of them are sturdy and have braces to keep them from collapsing. They weren’t expensive (big-box store purchase, I admit it) and work all right, but I hope someday to have something like the big folding racks in the Lehman’s catalog — probably similar to the commenter who got one from Mennonite neighbors. Our house is an open plan with high ceiling, and the racks go up in the loft that goes half-way across the house. We heat with wood, and in winter things dry very quickly. A six-foot wooden closet pole stored behind wire shelving in the loft comes out to be set between two shelving units so pants and office clothes can dry on hangers. As I age and the loft ladder stair becomes a difficulty with a basket of clothes (or maybe before!) I have a vision of a big rack that is suspended in the high part of the ceiling and can be raised and lowered with pulleys. Something like the Pulley Maid but a lot bigger–multiple levels and holding at least a full load of laundry.

    Downsides to indoor drying: Not many really, mainly being limited to one load per day, two at most. Also, in the summer the house is cool, so if it’s raining and things are on racks inside, they take a while to dry.

    Outside: Multiple strategies here. 1) I absolutely love the big Sunshine Clothesline (; here’s a photo of mine: A sturdy umbrella dryer that holds 4 loads or more, including sheets. I especially like that it is simply made, has sturdy wooden and metal parts, and replacement parts are available. I collapse and cover it when it’s not in use. 2) We have a small retractable single-line clothesline between two porch posts for small amounts, quick projects, and things that I want to protect from aerial soiling by birds–especially during berry season! It hardly ever happens, but I don’t want there to be a first time with one of my white work shirts. 3) I use the folding racks on the screen porch for dark clothes I don’t want in the sun (though I do sometimes put the dark clothes outside, turned inside-out; pillowcases too). Also use the racks for small stuff like socks when clothespins are getting scarce on the big line. The screen porch can be tricky because the folding racks can tip over in the wind up here on the ridge.

    Downsides to outdoor drying: The aforementioned potential for bird soiling, plus rain, fading colors, and yellowing of white cotton. But all of these are manageable. The more difficult thing for me right now is arthritis in my hands, and pain with squeezing clothespins (laying clothes on racks is easier). I’m looking at transitioning to the non-hinged, solid pins, but I have a lot of clothespins, and it’s going to be expensive.

    Sorry this is long, but I’m passionate about laundry, and I love hanging clothes on the line!

    This blog post I wrote pretty much sums up my evolution to line drying. I have 2 simple lines and a rack. I use the rack (very similar to the one you pictured) if I have an overload of laundry and the lines are full, for items that need to be dried flat, and for those half dozen days when I have needed to dry something in the house. You live in L.A. You are about “back to basics…and common sense.” You should ditch the dryer. You will feel so good about the decision. I guarantee it. Carol in Fullerton.

  46. A home-made folding rack outside on a south-facing first-floor balcony and a clothes line in the yard. Planning to install a few lines this year on the same balcony and give up the line in the yard; the clothes are sheltered from the rain up there and that balcony’s an architecture error with no other practical use.

  47. I started using an outdoor line on non-rainy days (few this time of year) and have loved the results. But you’ll probably never get me to hang dry inside. Outside, the breeze self-irons the clothes. Inside, they are stiff, slow to dry, and just no.

  48. A note on laundry funk smell when line drying:

    IME, and barring unusually slow drying times, this happens when the detergent/soap you use isn’t getting fully rinsed out of the clothes. Can be a bigger problem with people using the HE front loaders. A few things to try – use less soap, and use a good dose of white vinegar in the rinse cycle. 🙂

  49. In the warmer months we hang laundry outside on a regular clothes line strung across the volleyball court. I love the way the linens smell from outdoor drying. Being able to smell the sunshine on the linens in particular once the weather turns to indoor drying is a special treat.

    Indoor drying is done by the woodstove hung on hangers from the drop ceiling frames. We use hangers for shirts, jeans, etc. and skirt hangers for towels and sheets. We usually hang at night and by morning everything is dry. The moisture from the clothes offsets the dry heat from the woodstove.

  50. I too have a couple of different racks, one a mix of metal and plastic (butterfly rack I think its called), but it is beginning to disintegrate in the AZ sun. Also a big wooden rack, large enough to hold a set of king size sheets. And I use my gas dryer . . even here in AZ where it is so dry that clothes are dry quickly, we also get winds that rip through our back yard coating everything with dust – IF they haven’t blown down the rack!

  51. I come back from camping to find that Erik has generated an epic set of comments regarding line drying. And that is kind of funny, since I’m the laundry meister in this household, and Erik neglects to mention that I’ve been mooning over the fan style, wall-mounted drying racks for some time.

    I have to go back and check all your links closely to see if any of you use these. We have no laundry room and no place to store racks so I want the solution to be outside.

    Also, for the sake of my slightly wounded pride, I do want to point out that we are not dryer slaves: I air dry at least half of our laundry, either by hanging it on hangers over the tub or out on the front porch. I can fit a load on the front porch using the railings and porch furniture. Obviously we don’t live in an HOA!

    I prefer line drying for all the reasons everyone has mentioned. When our ancient stack washer finally gives up the ghost I’ll want to replace it with just a solo washer. By then we’d better have some real drying infrastructure in place.

    Finally, I’ll agree with P about the towels– I haven’t been able to open the wallet wide enough to buy linen towels, but I have cotton Turkish towels which work the same. They’re good in that they don’t take up much space, are great for hair, and dry super fast–and they’re fun for post bath scrubbing. However, they are a little difficult to get used to when you’re expecting the feel of terry. I like my Turkish towels more in the summer than then winter. Maybe this deserves a post?

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