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Why You Should Air-Dry Your Clothes

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Youngstown chapter.

Do you throw your clothes, sheets, and towels into the drying machine immediately following their wash cycle?  If so, perhaps it’s time to break this habit.  Remember that one time you pulled your dress clothes out of the dryer and they shrunk two whole sizes?  Yeah, that wasn’t fun.  One way to keep this from happening a second (or third) time is to consider air-drying your clothes.  Air-drying clothes and other items can perform a multitude of wonders such as maintaining the integrity of the fabric, saving money, and ultimately saving the planet. 

One of the primary reasons to consider air-drying clothes is to cut costs.  Line drying is completely free!  Second to heating and cooling systems, electric washing machines and drying machines are some of the largest energy suckers, contributing to approximately 10% of everyone’s annual energy consumption in their respective homes.  According to IGS Energy, drying machines utilize almost 10 times more energy than washing machines, most likely due to the added component of heat required to sufficiently dry various fabrics.  One can also cut costs by utilizing cold water settings on their washing machines.

Another excellent reason to start air-drying is to help lessen wear-and-tear, resulting in vibrant colors and well-fitting garments.  Drying machines are notorious for shrinking absorbent fabrics such as cotton, wool, and rayon.  High heat and tumbling motions suck away moisture, causing the fibers in fabric to tightly curl.  This helps dry things quickly; however, if the heat setting is too high, water can be absorbed too quickly and cause clothing, sheets, and towels to shrink (largely depending upon their fabric and duration of the drying cycle).  While you may have to wait longer for particularly absorbent materials to air-dry (such as towels, jeans, and jackets), it may be well worth your time in order to ensure that your clothes don’t lose their original fit or color.

Lastly, the practice of air-drying ultimately helps save the environment.  According to Green America, air-drying can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds a year.  Additionally, it is safer to avoid using drying machines as they can start dangerous fires.  Last year alone, FEMA concluded that approximately 15,000 house fires were started by drying machines due to vents becoming overly clogged by lint.

If you’re still not convinced and desire to continue drying your clothes in the machine, consider investing in dryer balls as opposed to dryer sheets.  All-natural wool dryer balls reduce drying time, conserve energy, reduce static, soften clothes, and remain hypoallergenic for even the most sensitive skin.  This simple change could save you money, as well as protect our dying planet from several pounds of waste each year.  Take care of yourselves, and take care of the environment.

Hannah Shively

Youngstown '22

Hannah Shively is a senior pursuing her bachelor's degree in instrumental music education from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University. She's very passionate about a lot of things: Jesus, music, coffee, fruit snacks, dogs, the cello, and being barefoot. She adores traveling, especially to the beach. You can often find her hanging out with friends, making music, eating delicious food, and going on new adventures.