Can You Dry Clothes Outside in the Winter?

Washing your clothes is just one of those repetitive, mundane chores that you can’t get away from. While it doesn’t involve that much work on your part (as your washer and dryer will do most of the work), there’s a fair amount of waiting and sorting involved. 

Waiting for your clothes to dry, if you don’t own a dryer, can be particularly tedious. If you happen to own a  garden or have access to one, you can hang your washing out to dry in the sun, and speed the process up significantly. But what do you do in the cold winter months?

Can You Dry Clothes Outside in the Winter?

Yes, you can certainly dry clothes outside in the winter. It will take a bit longer than it would at higher temperatures, but unless it’s raining or snowing, there is no reason for you not to hang your clothes outside. 

The more heat and the less moisture your clothing is exposed to, the faster it will dry. A crisp winter day can thus be perfect for air drying clothes outside. If there’s also a bit of wind about, you can expect the process to be even faster. 

However, if the day is humid (not quite likely in the winter, but who knows?), you should refrain from drying your clothes outside, as you may end up with ice formations on your items, which will then melt and bring you right back to where you started. 

How to Dry Clothes Outside in Winter?

If you do decide to dry your clothes outside in the wintertime, consider the following tips to ensure you get the best possible results:

Hang Your Items Out Early in the Morning 

The more sun you are able to expose your clothing to in the winter, the better. This is why you should aim to hang them out to dry early in the morning, so that you make the most of those few hours of sunlight. 

Leaving your clothing outside during the night will probably cause no damage – but you might wake up to find it is still quite damp. 

Use a Faster Spin Cycle on Your Washer 

The higher the spin cycle, the more water will be wrung out of your clothes during washing. These items will come out of the machine noticeably less wet, and will consequently dry faster too.

However, make sure that you don’t spin your delicate items on a high cycle, as they may get damaged. 

Check the Weather Forecast Before Doing Your Laundry 

Checking what the weather forecast has to say for itself can help you manage your laundry days so that you always hang your clothing outside at the best possible time. 

However, never forget that the British weather can be quite fickle, and you may be surprised by a shower or a flurry when none was forecasted. If you leave your clothing outside and go to work, be semi-prepared to have to additionally dry it indoors, or that you may even need to run another washing round, if it gets rained on. 

Roll Your Clothes in a Towel Before Hanging Them Out 

Before you hang your clothes outside, roll each item in a towel and soak up as much of the moisture as possible. Squeeze them together, and your towel should be able to absorb a fair bit of it. 

You may want to skip this step if you are in a hurry, but it can significantly help you speed the process up, whether you are drying your items indoors or outdoors.

Spread and Shake Your Clothes Out 

Shake each item out before you hang or peg it – this will help it dry both faster, and be less creased, making ironing easier as well. 

Also try not to crowd the items too much, as spreading them out will help them dry faster too. Invest in a couple or drying racks if you do large loads, or if you do laundry often.

Have Both a Clothing Rack and a Clothesline 

Nothing says “vintage” more than coming home to a fresh load of laundry hanging outside on a clothesline. However, pegging your items up and taking them down is a lengthy process, and if it rains or snows, you might need to break the land speed record in taking them down. 

If you also have the option of using a clothing rack however, you can easily transfer your clothes indoors if the weather turns, and hanging them out will also take less time.

What’s the Minimum Temperature for Drying Clothes Outside?

In theory, there is no minimal temperature for drying clothes outside. You can even hang them on an outdoor clothesline in freezing weather.

However, you will need to consider some basic physics. 

If the sun is shining and there is some wind, your clothes will dry no matter how cold it actually gets, as the heat and the current of air will eliminate the moisture from your clothes. On the other hand, if your clothing freezes while hanging outside, you will need to thaw it, and there is no way to accomplish that without getting it wet again too. 

How Long Does it Take to Dry Clothes Outside in the Winter?

It can take up to 12 hours to dry clothes outside in the winter. You may even need to bring them inside to finish the drying process, but most of the moisture should have already evaporated. 

Is it Better to Dry Clothes Inside or Outside?

This will depend on the conditions in your home and in your garden. 

While clothing is drying, a lot of moisture evaporates from it. This can make the air stuffy indoors, and you might be stuck with the smell of your fabric softener for a while. 

On the other hand, drying your clothing outside will expose it to allergens, potential dust and the odd animal. If you live in an area that also sees a lot of traffic, your washing may also end up smelling like smoke and gas. Direct sunlight can also bleach the previously vibrant colours of your items. 

If you are however able to hang your clothes outside in a semi-secluded area (perhaps a terrace on a higher floor, or a walled garden), drying it outside can produce excellent results, especially in the winter, when it can come out smelling crisp and fresh. 

The decision whether to dry your clothes indoors or outdoors will be up to you. You can try both methods and see which results you like best.

Wrapping It Up 

Drying your clothes outside in the winter can spare you the unnecessary and unpleasant moisture buildup in your home. Just make sure to choose a crisp and dry day, and don’t forget to bring everything indoors if the weather turns.

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