We all want clean and dry laundry and achieving this is much easier in the summer when we can dry wet washing outside or by an open window. It’s important that we launder our clothes and fabrics sustainably so how should we dry our laundry in winter? How do we avoid damp, musty clothes or overusing the tumble dryer?
Drying wet clothes inside during winter can be bad for our health. Up to 30% of the moisture in our homes can be caused by drying washing inside. Without adequate ventilation, this additional moisture is likely to cause mould and damp and leaving the windows open all day in winter is not practical either. If you do dry your clothes inside, make sure it is in a dry place. Bathrooms & kitchens are already damp, so a dedicated laundry room, spare room, dining room or study area with a window close by is the best place to dry your washing.
Never dry wet washing on radiators
Drying wet washing on a rack is essential. This avoids wet washing being dried on radiators which should be avoided at all costs. This is because the heat from your radiator is drying your clothes and not warming your room. Your boiler will struggle to meet the temperature on your thermostat, and it will actually cost you more money. Although drying washing on a radiator is quick it can spoil your fabrics and more moisture is released into your home encouraging mould and damp.
Can tumble dryers be sustainable?
Tumble dryers are very energy intensive. For a typical 40-degree wash, nearly 75% of the carbon footprint is due to drying. The more heat used, the more energy needed, and dryers use electricity to generate this heat. It is shocking that using a tumble dryer for one year emits more carbon than a tree can absorb in 50 years! An average household uses their tumble dryer 20 times a month emitting 432kg of carbon dioxide a year which is more than a tree in the UK can absorb over the course of the first 50 years of its life. If you own a tumble dryer (and around 60% of UK households do), then it makes sense to continue to use it as sustainably as possible rather than replacing it with other drying equipment. But when your tumble dryer comes to the end of its life then there are a few more options to consider.
Tumble dryers do have advantages. On the plus side:
- Dryers can be stacked with washing machines and can be space saving in a kitchen or utility room.
- Laundry is not ‘on show’ and can be dried unobtrusively at any time.
- Multiple loads can be dried in one day and if you have a large family this is a benefit.
- Vented tumble dryers expel air to the outside keeping energy costs lower.
- The new heat pump tumble dryers have excellent energy ratings and dry at lower temperatures than traditional condenser dryers, so they are better for the environment and offer more protection for your fabrics.
But tumble dryers have downsides. These include:
- Generally higher running costs than other forms of indoor drying especially condenser dryers. Increased energy use is bad for the environment as well as our wallets.
- The initial purchase can be expensive: a new heat pump tumble dryer will cost £600-1600.
- Vented dryers need to be installed with an external vent to the outside and this can be costly and difficult.
- Animals such as birds, mice and other rodents can get into dryer vents, and they can be difficult to remove safely.
But there are other ways to dry your clothes in winter!
- Heated drying racks or clothes airers have become more popular recently and can be a great alternative to tumble dryers. A drying rack can hold about twice the amount of washing compared to a typical tumble dryer load. Although heated drying racks take longer to dry, they typically cost around half as much to dry the same volume of washing as a tumble dryer. A cover can really help to speed up drying time. Heated drying racks cost roughly £40-£200 and are much cheaper to buy than tumble dryers. You can also dry clothes without plugging in during the summer months – so drying racks can be space saving and multi-purpose – especially if you don’t have access to a garden or outdoor area.
- Dehumidifiers- these versatile machines are great if you are an allergy sufferer or live in a damp house. They extract water out of the air at different rates and can be very effective at improving the environment in specific areas of the home. If you have a dehumidifier already it is a good idea to try it for drying your laundry. Dehumidifiers use much less energy than tumble driers but more than heated drying racks. A good dehumidifier will cost around £200-£300 but can be a shrewd purchase for drying laundry if you can use it for other purposes as well. Remember – a dehumidifier will not warm your washing – it will help dry your laundry quicker, but your washing will feel cold. If you like clean, warm fabrics, then you will need to give your clothes extended time in an airing cupboard or use the dehumidifier in conjunction with a heated drying rack.
Mix and match drying methods in the winter months
Overall, it is a good idea to use a variety of ways to dry your laundry indoors. Limiting the use of your tumble dryer is the best way to reduce energy use and your carbon footprint. Consider using it occasionally or for finishing off laundry that has been drying on a rack. Heated drying racks offer flexibility and can be a helpful addition in many homes. If you have a dehumidifier, using it to speed up drying fabrics in the winter is a good idea. Don’t forget, on sunny days even in the winter, washing can be dried by an open window or in the garden.
Hygge organic essential oil blend is indispensable for drying indoors
A few drops of Hygge in your wash avoid all the problems of musty smelling clothes and towels. Hygge organic essential oil blend is anti-bacterial and anti-viral, so it helps to prevent the build-up of microbes in your wash. This is particularly important when we are drying indoors. Hygge is a natural solution to the perennial problem of drying laundry in winter. Buy Hygge here.