How to reduce dryer use in a realistic way
This weekend I saw an Instagram post from Swap Society that highlighted how much carbon can be reduced when you switch to doing your laundry on cold and air-drying (700,000 tonnes of carbon!) I loved the active commenting they were seeing from folks who’d switched to cold water washes. But I noticed that a lot of people specifically highlighted that they still use the dryer a ton.
The benefits to air drying go beyond the carbon saved: it makes your clothes last longer, reduces wrinkling, saves money on energy used to power your dryer, and more. But I get the challenge. There are lots of reasons people use dryers regularly: time, limited space for air-drying, or preference for the feel of machine dried clothes.
Over the years, even sometimes living in small spaces, we’ve found ways to drastically reduce our use of the dryer. We still use our dryer for towels, undershirts, and when we are short on time (which we try to be conscious about, sometimes "feeling" short on time is not actually "being" short on time.) We’ve really cut our dryer use a lot overall. Here are some of the things that have helped us:
- Use three-part sorter. We keep one in our bedroom that is divided into colors, whites, and air-dry. The air-dry items are the ones we always air-dry. These include delicate items and anything with synthetic fibers. We will often air-dry items in the other sections, but not alway. My husband can’t stand crunchy undershirts and we all prefer machine dried towels, (see exception below.) Side-benefit of the three-part sorter: fewer laundry tragedies. No more colors bleeding or delicate items shrunk in the dryer.
- Air-drying all synthetics. We try to limit the synthetics we buy, but we are still phasing out a lot of the synthetic garments we purchased previously (better to use these properly for as long as we can than to discard and replace.) To limit the impact of micro-plastics on the water-ways, we use the Guppy Bag and we always air-dry synthetics (drying causes more micro-plastics to be shed). If you own your home, consider installing the Girlfriend Collective’s micro-plastic filter. Synthetics dry very quickly (sometimes they are almost dry from the wash!) A side benefit of air-drying synthetics is that it greatly reduces static from the dryer. Meaning dryer-sheets are no longer needed (wool dryer balls work just as well anyways.)
- Air-dry all woven items. Jackalo clothes, Jeans, chinos, dress-shirts, napkins, dish-towels and anything made from a woven fabric do really well air-dried. If they are a little stiff upon drying, a few shakes as you fold them generally loosens them up, and a little warmth (from your hands as you press them folded, from your first wearing, or from an iron) will get them the rest of the way soft.
- Air-dry all woolens. This is a bit of an obvious one, as a dryer will quickly ruin most wool clothing. Some types of wool, like Merino, can go in the dryer. However, if you make a general “rule” that all woolens get air-dried you are less likely to have mistakes and all of your woolens will last longer.
- Find a space saving drying rack. We’ve never had an outside clothes-line, but these are great if space allows. We’ve done really well with a basic Ikea rack. If you have a dedicated laundry space, an old-fashioned rack that can be raised to the ceiling takes advantage of warm air to dry quickly. It’s worth getting one that works well, as dealing with an annoying or broken drying rack can be the thing that stops you from air-drying perpetually.
- Wash air-drys in the evening. If you hang them up in the evening before bed, post will be dry by the morning, so you won’t have to have your drying rack out. (Good for folks who are short on space.
- Use Turkish bath towels in the summer. Yes, these towels are very on-trend, but they really are fabulous. I find terry-cloth towels to be too warm in hot weather, and so I much prefer drying off with a Turkish towel. And while terry-cloth air-dries terribly, Turkish bath towels air dry quickly and don’t have that crispy feel of air-dried terry-cloth. For babies and toddlers, these poncho towels are adorable!
Are you trying to air-dry more? What has helped you make the switch? Add your tips and we’ll keep this post updated!