Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Science of Hanging Laundry for Quickest Drying

Yes, I know that for many, hanging laundry is an old, primitive chore, like cranking an early automobile to get it started.

Even in Israel there are many homes without clotheslines, because everything is dried in the clothes dryer. I do have one for "emergencies" or when the wash doesn't completely dry before the sun starts to go down and the humidity up. Though sometimes the wash will complete the drying process on folding racks in various rooms of the house.

I'd like you to know that hanging the wash for most efficient drying is, or should be, a science. Maybe a physicist can explain it in scientific terminology. I will do my best to simplify it.


Basically there are about five important factors which you must take into account to efficiently dry your laundry:
  • temperature
  • humidity
  • sunlight
  • type and thickness of fabric
  • power in the spin of your washing machine
The higher the temperature, the quicker the drying, just like in an electric or gas dryer. Very high temperature may dry the laundry before the wrinkles blow out from the breeze. That's why woven clothes and sheets sometimes become terribly wrinkled when dried in the hot, strong sun. A slightly cooler day, with gentle breezes produces lovely smooth sheets and shirts without needing to iron them.  

Humidity is the measure of moisture in the air. High humidity will keep your wash from drying well. The wash can't get drier than the air around it.

A hot, dry night or shaded clotheslines are best for delicate fabrics or colors that fade in sunlight. Also towels can dry very "rough" when the temperature is high. I, davka, like the rough towels, because drying my skin with them is like having a non-chemical facial. But you should know that the sun not only bleaches some fabrics, it also purifies them. The more direct sun on the laundry, the quicker the drying process. If you hide/block small items with larger ones, the small ones will dry more slowly. I make sure that sheets and large towels are closer to the building, unless I'm using them to protect other items from the strong sun.

Of course the type and thickness of fabric are crucial factors, and that includes how you hang the wash. If you fold or double up fabric, it will take much longer to dry. It's sometimes necessary to rehang items "upside down" for them to dry completely. Get to know your clothing, sheets and towels to know how easily they dry. Woven sheets dry much more quickly than jersey ones. Take that into account when hanging the wash.

Whether you're drying the wash in an electric/gas dryer or outside in the sun, your washing machine will make a big difference in how quickly and easily everything will dry. The spin cycle is of crucial importance. The higher the number the less water remains in the fabric. Of course, there are fabrics that warn about spinning and the dangers of the fabric. Sometimes it can be ignored, but there are clothes that never recover from being spun at 1,000 or even 800. Good luck in your scientific experiments. I do not take responsibility for ruined and damaged clothes etc.

Not everyone has the facilities to dry their laundry outdoors the way I do, but if you can, it can be very enjoyable and suits those who are worried about global warming. You'll also save money. A sun porch can also be setup for laundry drying, as can any room that is heated or gets a lot of direct sunlight. 

Enjoy! I've loved hanging out the wash since I was a little girl in Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, New York.

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