Life Without My Dryer

By Trish Holder

I wondered and now I know–I really can live without a clothes dryer!

I had to have the rollers inside my dryer replaced a few weeks ago.  It’s only four-years-old and I wasn’t ready to replace it, so I had a repairman diagnose the problem and give me a quote.  Although it would cost over a couple of hundred dollars for the repair, I was willing to spend the money because (1) I hate disposing of appliances, and (2) my washer is still working and it matches the dryer and I don’t really want to replace the dryer with the same model and brand.

Somehow the appliance repairman missed it when I said, “Yes, order the parts,” so I was actually without use of a dryer for almost three weeks instead of one, like he had estimated.  But maybe that was a good thing.  Ever since Tracy Allen shared her story about living dryer-free, I’ve wondered if I had the “stuff” to do it myself.  Mind you, I have two teenage children, and we all play competitive sports.  Let’s cut to the chase–our laundry stinks.  Storing it up while I waited for the dryer to be repaired was not an option, and there was no way I was going to start running to a laundromat every day.

My Trick for Getting Laundry Dry Faster

As usual, I found myself ill equipped.  We don’t have a clothesline, nor do we have a drying rack, so I had to improvise, as you can see in the picture.  Of course, we’ve scarcely had two non-rainy days in a row this summer so I doubt I could have dried much outdoors anyway.  But I did have a stroke of minor genius.

Since I’ve been running a dehumidifier in the house a good deal of the time anyway, and it constantly blows out warm air, I moved the dehumidifier into the laundry room to hasten the drying process.  Depending on how well I was able to get the dehumidifier positioned, it actually worked quite well getting the laundry to dry faster.

So I adjusted to this little inconvenience and found it wasn’t nearly so bad as I thought it would be.  In fact, I discovered there were some unexpected advantages:

-       I actually stayed on top of the laundry better than I usually do because I knew I didn’t have the space to air dry more than one load in a single day.

-       I found that Tracey Allen was right about the therapeutic benefits of hanging clothes.  It felt good to focus on one thing for a few minutes out of the day.  And I felt a greater sense of accomplishment when the clothes were dry and ready to put away.

-       Line drying clothes did not increase my total laundry time nearly as much as I thought it would.  For one thing, clothes that had to be hung were already on hangers by the time they were dry.  Matching socks took less time, and clothes were generally easier to fold.

-       My sheets were not nearly so wrinkled when I hung them to dry as when I take them out of a dryer and promptly place them in a basket where they typically remain several hours or days before I fold and put them away.  Folding smooth sheets gave me a strange rush of domestic satisfaction.

-       I learned that machine drying polyester clothes is a waste anyway since they line dry in about 30 minutes.

-       To a certain extent I actually enjoyed the spatial problem solving I had to do just to get an entire load hung in a limited space.

A Drying Rack For Every Laundry Room!

Not that there weren’t downsides to life without my dryer – there were.  Mostly, I didn’t like the clutter that hanging laundry created.  And towels, I think because detergent tends to cling to their rough texture, dried sandpaper stiff.  Other than that, it really wasn’t so bad.

The experience gave me an idea for builders who are always looking for cheap ways to differentiate their homes (besides installing low-grade granite countertops). Why not equip laundry rooms with a drying rack suitable for drying one full load of clothes?  Eventually every homeowner is going to need one, and they may really appreciate having the option anyway.

For better or for worse, I’m back to using my clothes dryer.  But I no longer quake at the idea of surviving more than a week without it.  As you might have guessed, laundry is once again piling up on me as it did before my dryer broke. Baskets of clean DRY clothes now clutter my home.  That’s the funny thing about convenience.


7 Responses »

  1. Good morning, Trish
    Excellent article. I enjoyed reading it and learning about how your life was without your clothes dryer. It’s funny how we get so used to things like the clothes dryer and feel we can’t live without it until we have to like you did and then we find out that living without a clothes dryer isn’t so to bad after all. In fact we learn that life without a clothes dryer is okay.

    Keep up the good work. You do a GREAT job writing and sharing real life experiences.

    Thank you
    Del Barbray
    Broker Associate
    Weichert, Realtors-Galster Group
    Certified Green Professional

  2. Great article….next time it breaks…and the law of built-in obsolescence says it will – you will likely decide to ditch the dryer altogether! :-)
    All the best,

  3. Trish,

    Two things to think about:

    1) it takes 970 BTUs of thermal energy to evaporate 1 pound of water. If you want to know how much, weigh your clothes before and after, 1 pint of water is about equal to 1 pound. The energy has to come from somewhere. If your laundry is in a conditioned zone and it is summertime you air conditioner is acting as your dryer. It works well. In the winter it will be your heater doing the drying and your dehumidifier helping.

    If you aren’t air conditioning drying your clothes indoors actuall will cool the air i your house as the heat from your air evaporates the water in your clothes.

    2) moisture in the form of water vapor has to go somewhere. If it isn’t draining out of your air conditioner it will be wetting cooler surfaces and causing moisture related issues.

    Best thing, take it outside and let it dry, even in the winter.

  4. A few things:

    *We live in a neighborhood that doesn’t allow clotheslines, but for years, I’ve used drying racks on my patio. They fold up and away as soon as the laundry is done. I have about 5 so that I can space out the clothes and get as many loads dry as necessary.

    *The detergent you refer to in the towels is actually a chemical surfacant that embeds in the fibers. You can find some relief from that and comfortably air dry your towels by switching detergents/fabric softeners. (PS, fabric softeners are additional chemicals designed to offset the chemical surfacants that make everything so stiff and crunchy).

  5. Hi Trish, we had the same experience last month. The dryer broke with a full load of towels in it. We hung them over the shower rods and towel racks and they dried by the next day. We have a high efficiency washer and it rings the cloths out really well so the towels actually dried out stiff.
    We found a replacement at our local Habitat for Humanity(RESTORE) store and paid less then what you paid for your repair. Recycling is a high priority for us and we help build affordable housing.
    The reason you need a dehumidifier in your house is because your dryer sucks out of of that expensive conditioned air when it is running.
    With 3 teenagers and the two of us in sports we do about 20 loads of wash a week. Once we put a fresh air supply behind our dryer about 5 years ago, we discovered that the dryer finishes in 70 to 80 percent of the time and our electric bill is less.
    It is very rewarding to think we are minimizing our carbon footprint and still enjoying a healthy lifestyle.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and I enjoyed reading your article.

  6. I live full time in my Motorhome…nicknamed Lake House. It has a built in Washer/Dryer, and the Dryer cycle is not function 100%….so now that it stopped raining for a few hours, I have been living without, until I get time to fix it. As Tom said the moisture has to go some where, so today it is dry on the rack and line inside the Lake House. I can relate to your situation, and enjoyed reading your article.Since I teach water damage restoration, this would be a good story for my students. Thank you.

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