Winter Laundry – Will It Dry?

snowy_laundryDuring the Energy Challenge, we discovered that our dryer is a major electricity hog (as pretty much all heat-generating electrical appliances are).  In warm, sunny weather it was pretty easy for me to get motivated to use our clothesline but I’ve found it more challenging during the winter months.  I also wasn’t sure if laundry would actually dry in sub-freezing temperatures, so I decided to do some test runs.

First test (shown in picture) – inconclusive.  Approximately 5 minutes after I hung my laundry to dry, clouds rolled in and proceeded to dump snow on my clean clothes.  I brought them inside and hung them on our indoor clothesline, where they dried after about 36 hours.

Second test – success.  It was very sunny and temperatures were hovering right around freezing so I’m still not totally sure how it would go on a really cold day.  It has been a weirdly warm winter and we haven’t had many super cold days.  Today, in fact, it was about 65 degrees out, which is just wrong for February.  The poor daffodils are sending up shoots and buds, which I have no doubt will be frozen off in another week or two when our “normal” weather resumes.  With a little luck, there will be a sunny day in the teens when I can get a definitive answer to my laundry question – will it dry?

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6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Eric said,

    February 3, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

    Hey, welcome back to your blog. :)

    I’ve been able to hang out a lot of laundry this winter too – it’s a bit freaky.

    Technically it works even below freezing, google “sublimation”

    On the days when I wasn’t willing to wait, I hung stuff out for a while, and it got partly dry; then I brought it inside to finish up. Since my dryer has a moisture sensor, it should (in theory) run for a shorter period of time.

    My kids got a kick out of the blue jeans I could prop up against the wall while frozen. :)

  2. 2

    Maggie said,

    February 3, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    Yeah, I’m familiar with sublimation but I was/am skeptical about how it works in action, considering even the dryer doesn’t always work on those heavy blue jeans. But I totally am with you on the idea that it’s worth it even if it just reduces the amount of time the clothes need in the dryer. The hardest part for me is trying to tell if clothes are dry when they’re really cold since cold often registers as wet in my mind. Ah, well. I’ll keep experimenting!

  3. 3

    Eric said,

    February 3, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

    Totally agree about the trouble discerning cold vs. wet… 😉

  4. 4

    Ulla Linenthal said,

    February 16, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

    I grew up hanging laundry in close-to-arctic Finland and have hung laundry outside in the U.S. for 38 yrs in Wisc and here in Btown. 2 babies in cloth diapers. I combine my love of outdoors w chores; listen to audiobooks, NPR.
    Retractable clothes lines are easy to set up. Choose a convenient and practical location for the lines. In the sun is better here bec there’s not much wind. Partial drying still helps and racks can be moved indoors to finish. Bigger items go on lines and smaller ones draped quickly on rack. Choose laundry day based on weather. Indiana is more challenging than WI! My folks still don’t own a clothes dryer; you can manage and have impeccably clean textiles :)

  5. 5

    Sarah said,

    December 26, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

    During winter, I hang jeans on a rod in the bathroom over the forced-air furnace vent. This saves heat loss from trips out of doors, and it introduces a little moisture into the dry, winter air within the house.

  6. 6

    Dennis said,

    July 4, 2014 @ 8:12 am

    Hi
    I can tell you from experience clothes do dry in freezing weather.
    My mom would hang the clothes out in the ’50s and 60’s and I would often get the job of bringing in the clothes.
    THe jeans and other heavy stuff would be stiff with the left over water/ice.
    The house was very dry because of the sub zero dry air oust side so the clothes would finish drying.
    The sheets other thin stuff could be folded and out away easily.
    We had no fancy clothes dryers.

    We did have a modern, for the time washer. My Aunt used a wringer washer as did many other people.
    My aunt got her protruding front caught in the wringer rolls, but that is another story.

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