How Often Do You Use A Clothes Dryer?

How Often Do You Use A Clothes Dryer?

Clothes dryers offer the fastest route to dry clothes in inclement weather — and also one of the fastest ways to send your electricity bill skyrocketing. How do you balance the two?

I started reflecting on this subject after a recent post about using vinegar as a softener suggested that (as far as US Lifehacker readers are concerned) using a dryer is absolutely normal behaviour and anyone hanging out their clothes is slightly odd. I don’t own a dryer myself, but most people I know who do still hang their clothes out a lot of the time. Perhaps that’s to be expected in the nation that gave the world the Hills Hoist.

Often, of course, that decision is for economic reasons. I was reminded at an Intel press briefing on technology for monitoring home energy usage this week that dryers are often one of the biggest contributors to the household energy bill. Intel was demonstrating the pictured prototype device for tracking energy usage, which can help set dryers to run with off-peak electricity and hence save money. One possible refinement the attending hacks mused on was the idea of a dryer that won’t run at all if the outside air temperature is above a given level, forcing you to hang out your clothes rather than being lazy.

Anyway I’m wondering: how do Lifehacker readers go about drying their clothes? Are you a summer outside/winter in the machine person? Have you splurged on a combo washer/dryer? Are you obsessive about not leaving peg marks on your clothes? Share your strategies in the comments.


  • If it’s sunny I’ll hang it out year round. When it’s wet in winter I’ll do towels, underwear and hard to dry stuff like jeans in the dryer, otherwise I have a huge airing rack in the spare room. My feel good moment for using the dryer is it helps to keep the dog warm in the laundry 🙂

  • Well… we have a clothes dryer – but it doesn’t see much use. One of the ‘benefits’ of a Canberra winter is that even when it is nasty cold, the air is actually quite dry most of the time. Line drying works out very well and is a practical necessity for us given the volume of washing generated by a couple with 3 kids.

    So. When does the dryer get used? When an item HAS to be dry NOW is the main factor. The other times tend to be those relatively unusual periods of high humidity and rain.

  • Hang on the outside all the time, rain or shine, except for underwear, where I dry them in the bathroom on a clothes horse. Almost everything I hang on hangers before the final spin cycle, to allow them to drip dry, spin dry are for underwear, sheets and towels.

    Once the clothes are damp (not saturated) I can bring them inside and hang them on the clothes horse. The air is drier inside, so they’ll dry slowly but steadily.

    The clothes horse stands over the bath (the bath is never used anyway.)

  • I have never needed to own a clothesdryer. An inside rack and an undercover line on the back patio, supplemented when necessary by the backs of chairs, suffice when it is too wet outside to dry clothes.

  • I only use the dryer when I want to shrink my jeans a bit. They stretch over time and it’s the best way to get them fitting like the day you bought them.

    Otherwise I steer clear of it, just like air conditioning. Too energy/money hungry.

  • I don’t have a clothes dryer. I don’t even have a clothes line at the moment.
    My clothes are all dried by hanging on coat hangers inside. The heater being on makes them dry fast in winter.

  • I’d expect there’s a significant difference in use between those that live in a unit block and those which don’t.

    I personally live in a unit block without a clothes line which means the dryer gets more of a work out than I’d like. That said, you can generally delay washing a day or two without issue.

  • When my last dryer died about ten years ago I decided not to replace it. Living on my own means I don’t have huge piles of washing – even in winter it only takes a little thought to schedule washing with enough time for it to dry. Leaving the clothes-horse over the heating vent in the bathroom helps, too.

  • I live in a unit block that doesn’t allow clothes to be hung outside. In summer they dry on an inside rack just fine. But when winter rolls around they just wont dry. So for half the year the dryer has to be run. Or wear wet clothes.

  • I inherited a clothes dryer from my Grandmother, but now the door locking mechanism is broken – and if you can’t close (and “lock”) the door, you can’t switch on the dryer. So effectively, even though the dryer’s mechanism still works, the dryer can’t be used.

    So I just hang my clothes inside on a clothes horse when it’s too cold/wet outside to use the washing line.

  • Where we live it can be rainy any time of the year. We most often use the dryer at the end of summer because we have no choice. If it’s raining, chances are it’s misty as well so just hanging in a sheltered space is no good. That being said, our dryer is in the garage next to my home brewery, so using it in winter helps to keep my brews at the correct temperature – sweet.

  • Molokov, that happened to our old drier recently. It was easy to fix, I unscrewed the plastic mount from around the door (no need to dismantle the whole drier) and used one of those two part epoxy putties to reattach the microswitch to the right place. 10 mins to do the job, overnight for the putty to set and a fully working drier the next morning (you can get the putty in most DIY places).

  • I always use a dryer after doing the weeks washing, mostly as I forget to put the clothes on to wash until Sunday evening, but mostly cause I am just too lazy to go hang them up. Well that and I don’t have a clothes line to use.

  • Live in Canberra. Have a miele washer, it spins at 1300 rpm. In spring/summer/autumn line dry; washing comes out of the miele only just damp, dries in half an hour. In winter, use a clothes rack in the garage, things dry in a couple of days.

  • I have not used a dryer in two years. I live in MidWest USA, so we have cold winters and humid summers. This means drying out side can be challenging. I thought I would share how I handle not having a dryer and not wearing wet clothes.

    I use clothes drying racks placed through out my house. Basically I wash clothes in the evening since that is when I am home. I then put the first load of laundry on the rack in the kitchen. This does two things. 1) it get the clothes hung up and 2) it blocks the path to the refrigerator and helps to keep the late night munchies away.

    The second load of laundry goes in the middle of the living room. No more TV once the laundry is done. This makes us talk to each other, read a book or some other activity.

    Then in the morning I simply take the dry laundry off the racks fold them into each persons basket and the laundry is done again until supper time.

    This system really works for me. My energy bill went down 7% when I first switched.

  • All clothes are hung out no matter the weather, the only difference being that most of the time they are hung out on clothes horses inside, rarely being hungout on the clothes line. All towels and sheets are dried in the dryer tho, rarely the sheets will see the clothes line if time and weather permits. So we will run our dryer approximately twice a week at the moment.

  • We don’t own a dryer, and haven’t used one in about… 10 years?
    Clothes go outside in dry weather, they are hung up inside in winter because we have the gas heater on anyway, which is very effective in drying the clothes and getting them (and us) nice and toasty warm.

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