Our Year Without a Dryer

by Elaine on May 24, 2013

Do you ever wonder if you could do without something you’ve always been dependent on?

Last June our dryer died! We had planned to get it repaired until we discovered that the problem was the motor. That pretty much meant it would be cheaper to buy a new (used) one, which is what we had planned to do. I, however, decided that since we were barely into June, we could probably last the summer without one.

Hang Dry

Well, Summer turned into Fall, then Winter and Spring — and now here we are.

A year without a dryer.

Why would we not want to have a dryer? Well, honestly we do want one. But I wanted to see what it would be like for us, if we didn’t have one. Could in fact survive it? Yes, I know, we could “survive”, but as a society, we’ve become very used to the conveniences we have nowadays. So used to them that if we suddenly lost them, I have to wonder if we would know what to do.

The reality is: we could lose that convenience quite easily.  So in a way, going without a dryer was a challenge in self-sufficiency.

What it took for us to do this successfully were a few clotheslines — one outside and one inside — and a drying rack. Sure, drying clothes this way takes a little more planning. If someone wants something washed quickly, it’s not going to happen.

There are many benefits, but these are the top two:

Slowing Down :: In a world where everything is pretty much at your fingertips, easily and quickly accessible, it requires us to slow down a bit. We have to plan ahead and remain patient. I also find it fairly meditative to walk out into the yard with nothing more to do than to hang the laundry. I find to be relaxing. I also love to just look at the clothing in the sunshine and blowing in the breeze. It really makes me feel connected to my life.

Eco-consciousness :: I don’t consider a dryer a necessity. It’s definitely a convenience, but not a necessity.  By not having one, we consume less electricity, which not only saves us money but also saves our precious resources.

Hang Dry

Will we ever buy a new dryer? Probably. But not having a dryer has taught us that we can do without. When we do buy a new one, we will be putting our clothes out to dry on the clothesline or drying rack more often than not.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly May 24, 2013 at 7:45 pm

We can go from about April/May until Sept./Oct. without turning ours on and I try and do this consistently. I wish we had a better indoor set up for the winter months – maybe one day in the future we can figure out how to better ventilate the space to keep the damp out (perhaps just a dehumidifier?)

The best thing I’ve found about our clothesline is that it gets us outside for at least an hour on wash days – the kiddo comes with me and it usually turns into a long adventure than just hanging up/taking down clothes. My 2 year old loves the day I wash sheets – we usually end up with snacks and books under our “forts” (which dry in about 20 minutes on a sunny day, which is about 1/3 of the time it’d take in the dryer).

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Doreen June 10, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Molly, I haven’t used a dryer in years. We do not use our garage for a car, more for storage additional freezer etc. But more importantly, we have drying lines set up in there. We can use them when it is raining outside or too cold in the winter. I also have my ironing board set up in there and a radio as well as my exercise bike. I like to ride as the clothes are washing, and listen to books on tape as the clothes dry and I iron.

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Vicki July 18, 2013 at 6:41 am

I also have a line in the garage. Not because I want to..HOA won’t allow one in the back yard. SO I just hang out in the garage and open the doors so the whole neighborhood can see..Doesn’t bother me :) I haven’t used the dryer, (well except for emergencies), for years. It is a nice shelf to hold the dog towels!

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Melissa Mihalyov May 25, 2013 at 6:24 am

I love drying my wash outside. Like you, I find it both inherently satisfying and I’m much more organized. Planning ahead is a must and I fold as I take off the line instead of grabbing a heap from the dryer. I prefer the outdoors to being in my basement any day!

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Francine May 26, 2013 at 9:59 am

I wish I had a garden, I hang on a rack on my balcony when I can and if not, then I hang overnight in the apartment. Love the smell of washing dried outside in the sunlight :)

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The Garden Goddess June 1, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Wow! We had a huge bottle of liquid laundry detergent leak onto and into our dryer. The buzzer sounded the alarm and would not stop! So we unplugged, disconnected, and cleaned it up. Had every intention of getting it looked at but have not yet.

We have been drying our clothes on hangers in the basement, and plan on getting a drying rack for inside and also an outdoor clothes line. The energy savings are really significant. I like the planning aspect and find we are now much more mindful of what we are washing. Can’t wait to hang it outside in the sunshine like my mom did when I was little!

Love your website!

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Sabina June 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm

I have not had a dryer for 11 yrs and for the last year I have not had a washer I have gone back to the old fashion washboard. not only have I saved money but have also built up my upper body strength.

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katlupe June 11, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I have not had a washer or a dryer for almost 14 years now. We have been washing our laundry by hand and drying on the line. Some years, I still dried it outside in the winter. Now I need to make it an easier job, so I dry it on an inside clothesline by the wood stove. Soon we will have more power from our alternative energy system and will be able to use a washing machine. I don’t see a dryer as an item I need. I’d rather have a dishwasher since I cook from scratch and can so much.

I love your site!

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pj June 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm

I hang my clothes yr round even in the freezing weather, its wonderful, and it smells so fresh and clean. I have also gone without a microwave, its fantastic, hubby didn’t like it but after a while he has gotten used to it… no taking counter room, or having to clean it up since no one else cleans the spills. and if we do left overs we do the old fashion way on the stove top or oven. it is nice to make do with out all those gadgets, it brings back the more simple times. also try turning off your cell phone when you get home and disconnect with the people and pick up a book to relax and read, much more restful nights of sleep, no tv, no bad killings or news, simple care free nights. try a month you will get hooked.

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Colleen Gorman June 13, 2013 at 1:13 am

I have such fond memories of hanging clothes with my Mom when I was little girl. And wish that I lived somewhere where hanging laundry outside in the sun and air were possible. Thank you for your post.

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Jana June 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Thanks for the inspiration. Our dryer is dying. I may not bother to fix it! Shared this post on FB too :)

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Amy July 18, 2013 at 6:43 am

I started hanging my laundry because my mother and I got into a disagreement about taking personal responsibility for our energy consumption. She said “What can we do?” and I said “Start by hanging laundry!” and I haven’t turned back. It’s been almost 2 years. The dryer is still here, unplugged, for absolute emergencies when somebody needs something dried instantly but I can’t agree more with the meditative qualities of hanging laundry. I pay closer attention to not just the rainy days but the humidity and in the winter, when the sun rises and sets. In the winter, I have drying racks in my bedroom and hang the laundry right before bed. I consider it a natural humidifier and it smells great in a house that is closed up with no real fresh air.

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The Calico Mouse July 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

We have a wonderful “illegal” (damn the deed restrictions) outside, and in the winter, I put my clothes on racks in front of the woodstove. They dry in a few hours.

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Betty July 22, 2013 at 7:44 am

I grew up with a wringer washer and no dryer—I had a wringer washer and no dryer until my youngest was 10—energy savings all very well, but since I have no dishwasher or A/C, and am almost 70 I feel free to use my dryer when I need to.I do have a clothes line, and a clothes rack that get used a lot.–no HOA–lol

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