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hang your laundry to dry outside in the winter

 
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paul wheaton wrote:I was reading something recently suggesting a clothes dryer from real goods.  I looked .... it looked really lame and really expensive. 

I've been using a clothes drying rack indoors and outdoors for a few years now that I got from ikea.  A quick search shows that they appear to not sell it anymore. 



In the summer we have a line outside. In rainy and cold times we use a large rack indoors that is Amish made. The basement doesn't smell good, so we dry in our living room now. 12 hours or so in winter when it's dry inside. Here is the rack, small and large sizes. I know we paid much less buying one locally. https://www.lehmans.com/product/premium-floor-clothes-dryers-large/  When they say solidly built, it's an understatement.

The Amish in Wisconsin, where we lived last, always dried laundry outdoors year 'round. A nice line on two pulleys enabled the women to hang laundry from the back porch, rotating the line until it was full. There are pictures and pulleys for sale here: https://www.skylineclotheslines.com/
 
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For indoor drying I like to use what is commonly called a Sheila Maid in England. I like it because it hangs from the ceiling from pulleys so you can lower it to hang the laundry then hoist it up out of the way. Mine is in storage until the house is built and I haven't decided for sure where I'll put it - it's always been over the washer before but I may put it closer to the rocket mass heater in the new house. I found a website that sells them - https://columbuswashboard.com/collections/vintage-laundry/products/sheila-maid-airer - and they seem spendy but they do last a long, long time. My aunt had one in her house that had been there for 50+ years and was given to her by an elderly neighbor who'd probably had it at least as long. About the only thing that wears out is the rope.




 
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I haven't had a dryer for 8 years. I hang laundry on the clothesline all year round.  Winter time too. Water is one of the few substances that can go from a solid to a gas...this is why ice cubes shrink in the fridge. If it's snowing or raining,  I hang in the house. Usually on hangers..makes it easier. Nothing in the world smells as good as sheets dried on the winter clothesline. Once it warms up,  it is mostly dry.
 
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here we have an option similar to that Sheila Maid (which is super cute!) that people generally use in apartments, I have a larger version outside on my back porch. The clotheslines are attached to the ceiling and go up using pulleys or sometimes a retractable gadget, like this one.
 
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Grandma used to dry clothes in the basement during winters in Portland, OR; dried fine, but I don't know how long it took. I am planning to dry clothes in the loafing shed when I get a wash machine and am doing laundry in the winter. In the summer I hang my clothes outside but under the porch roof so as to limit sun exposure (for clothing longevity).
 
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paul wheaton wrote:Backwoods home mag has a picture of laundry outside covered in frost.  And the article talks about how it is "freeze dried". 

I usually dry my stuff inside not far from the heater.  On racks. 

Freeze dried clothes ..... anybody tried it?



Yes, I have done this. It gets mostly dry. My experience is that it needs a little finishing off time indoors, but a lot less time than if it was never hung outside first.

Tips I learned:  

make sure the items are spread out (don’t just bunch up a sheet so that you can shove it through a wire hanger — it’s not useless but will still be damper when it thaws than if it had been spread out)

Don’t be tempted to bring it in once frozen. It needs more time.

The colder the weather, the better it works (wind is good, of course).  More cold = drier air.

Sun is sun. If you wouldn’t  dry an item in the sun in summer to avoid fading, don’t do it in winter either.

I left mine out when it started snowing, unless the items were things I needed sooner rather than later. When it stops, shake the line and most of it will fall off. Unless it was a sloppy wet snow. In that case I would bring it all in.

Side benefits: less time inspecting laundry for insect egg clusters (some bugs are fast!), bird st, etc. and the laundry still has that nice outdoor smell.

Now that I live in the Willamette Valley I usually don’t bother in winter. It’s usually as wet outside as it is in my tub.  Things I drape outside because they got to icky to touch my precious washing machine get a really nice rinse, though, especially when abandoned to their fate for a month, give or take.
 
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My mother used to do it throughout the winter.  As the the clothes were brought in to thaw, they were draped  over the backs of chairs near the heater to finish off. It was routine to us. We never saw it as anything special.
 
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I do it all the time here in Western Ma.

While the wet clothes are also warm, I put them outside on the line. The ice-cold air is also very dry, so while the water in the clothes is still liquid, it evaporates quickly.

Once the water in the clothes freezes, the rate of evaporation plummets. It'll stay that (whatever it is) level of frozen water in the clothes for a long while.

I typically bring my clothes back inside to thaw, and if needed, put them back out to dry more.

Sometimes, the second trip outside isn't needed (close enough to dry to leave inside to finish).

If the back-n-forth doesn't appeal to you, you can leave them outside in the cold. The sun hitting frozen clothes creates microclimate that melt & evaporate the water in the clothes, very slowly (a day or so).

Yes, freeze-drying laundry works!
 
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Scott Billups wrote:I do it all the time here in Western Ma.

While the wet clothes are also warm, I put them outside on the line. The ice-cold air is also very dry, so while the water in the clothes is still liquid, it evaporates quickly.

Once the water in the clothes freezes, the rate of evaporation plummets. It'll stay that (whatever it is) level of frozen water in the clothes for a long while.

I typically bring my clothes back inside to thaw, and if needed, put them back out to dry more.

Sometimes, the second trip outside isn't needed (close enough to dry to leave inside to finish).

If the back-n-forth doesn't appeal to you, you can leave them outside in the cold. The sun hitting frozen clothes creates microclimate that melt & evaporate the water in the clothes, very slowly (a day or so).

Yes, freeze-drying laundry works!



Just to add to that, on a very cold and very sunny day ice goes straight into vapor with little visible melting. Works great.
 
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My big problem is that it isn't that cold here. Winter days are usually above freezing, and about half are overcast and/or raining. We dry in front of the woodstove, but the woodstove overheats the house. It is bothersome.
 
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If it's a really wet, cold day, then my laundry gets hung up on three lines near the ceiling in my living space. My woodstove ensures it's all dry within 24 hours. On cold, dry days then most of the mousture will be lost outdoors, then I finish it off overnight over the woodstove again. It's always been that simple.
 
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Cheese McCoy wrote:As far as I know, when you hang wet laundry out in temps well below freezing, the ice crystals will simply sublimate with enough air movement.  So wind/airflow will cause the freeze drying if its very low humidity (winter in canada works well ).  I dont think any clothes can get lower than ambient humidity levels unless you add energy.

Greenhouses for clothes anyone?



Honestly, never knew about this, but I would be willing to try it! I just figured I would resort to hanging near a fireplace (which I think most do).
 
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We hang wet stuff near the stove in winter, but with caution after a friend nearly lost his house/life/kids when a clothesline full of wet winter clothes (synthetic fabrics) came loose and fell on the woodstove, catching fire and quickly spreading. It happened at night but luckily the kids got out, running barefoot in the snow to the neighbor's house while our friend tried to get a burning mattress out of the house before the fire department arrived. He ended up in the hospital with some nasty burns. Fortunately the rural volunteer fire department put out the blaze and saved the house.
 
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I don't have a suitable covered spot to hang laundry outside in my current house, but I will in the next one. I'm in Seattle, so hanging laundry to dry outside in the winter without some sort of shelter just isn't going to work; if anything, it'll just get wetter.

So I've always hung clothes in the basement, where the boiler for the radiators is, taking advantage of otherwise wasted heat. At the top of the basement stairs, where it's warmest, I have a couple of closet poles that fit into brackets mounted on either side of the stairs, and things dry quickly there. That's where I hang jeans, anything heavy and slow-drying, or anything I will need dried sooner. It works great, and while it does interfere with getting into the basement from upstairs, it's only a minor nuisance.

Even when I lived in apartments, I hung clothes to dry, usually by putting them on hangers and hanging them on the shower curtain rod. The shower curtain rod needs to be solidly mounted, and there's still only so much weight it can take, but a bunch of shirts and underwear is no problem.
 
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Stacy Witscher wrote:My big problem is that it isn't that cold here. Winter days are usually above freezing, and about half are overcast and/or raining. We dry in front of the woodstove, but the woodstove overheats the house. It is bothersome.

The same here Stacy. What we call 'winter' is more rain, sometimes wet snow, but not a time to use the clothesline outdoors. That's why I have a clothesline indoors too (in the storage room).
 
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