Get fabulously fluffy towels – and never lose a sock again with these ingenious tricks to make the most of your washing line this summer
- Mandy Francis reveals how to line dry clothes to perfection whilst saving money
- She claims socks can be kept together in washing and drying using peg gadgets
- She suggests investing in a drying rack for small items to maximise space
- Expert advice recommends using vinegar to keep fabric soft when drying
- Mandy also shared the essential gadgets worth investing in for line drying
One of the most energy-hungry appliances in your home, it was recently revealed a tumble dryer can add up to 67p to your electricity bill every time you use it.
So, with the warm, dry weather we’re experiencing, it’s no surprise that our thoughts turn to line drying.
The idea of linen billowing on a washing line on a sunny day is a seductive one, but the truth is line-dried washing all too often drops back into the laundry basket either oddly misshapen, covered in unsightly peg marks, or scratchy and stiff as a board.
But there are ways to line dry your clothes to perfection and save yourself a fortune in the process.
Mandy Francis revealed tips experts use to perfect their washing when drying outside in the summer. She also shared the latest gadgets for best results (file image)
No more stiff towels
A common complaint about line drying is that it tends to leave some items — towels and jeans in particular — feeling as stiff as cardboard and as scratchy as sandpaper, even if they’ve been rinsed with fabric softener.
To stop this, stick rigidly to the recommended amount of detergent when you wash these items, advise experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
Overdosing can leave a residue of detergent that creates a fine, crusty surface on heavy fabrics such as towelling and denim when they are line-dried.
‘Skip conventional fabric softener too when you’re washing towels, as the conditioning agents in it tend to cling to towelling fibres, affecting their absorbency and locking in musty smells,’ says Linda Peake, owner of the Vintage Wash House in Arnside, Cumbria, and an expert in traditional laundry methods.
‘Instead, add half a cup of white vinegar to the final rinse. The acetic acid in the vinegar will soften the fabric by stripping away detergent and softener residue and won’t leave a tell-tale smell on the fabric once it’s dried.’
If you have enough space on your washing line, hang towels horizontally, using several pegs along their lengths to stop sagging. They’ll dry much more quickly pegged this way.
Lakeland’s extra strong Mega Size Duvet & Blanket Pegs, £4.99 for four pegs, and Storm Force Pegs, £6.99 for 24 pegs from housewaresdirect.uk.com, are designed to hold heavy wet towels securely in place.
Finally, for extra softness, remove your towels and denim from the line when they’re almost dry and give them a quick five minutes on a low heat in the tumble dryer.
Adding dryer balls such as Ecoegg Woollen Dryer Balls, £9.99 from amazon.co.uk or Ecozone tumble dryer cubes, £6.99 from johnlewis.com to towels in the tumble dryer will speed up drying time and fluff fibres to ensure a cloud-like softness.
Experts suggest removing towels and denim from the washing line when they’re almost dry and placing them in the tumble dryer for a few minutes to retain softness (file image)
Never lose socks
Keep pairs of socks together when you wash and line-dry them with Miracle Works Neat Feet pegs, £4.99 for 12 from robertdyas.co.uk. Just feed a pair into each slotted, foot-shaped gadget and throw them into the washing machine.
You can then use the hook on the top to hang the socks on the line.
Metaltex Sock Holders, £4 for a set of 12, from amazon.co.uk, are rubber discs that hold pairs of socks together during washing and can be hung on the line afterwards, too.
Banish peg marks
Unsightly peg marks and fabric distortions — where clothes have stretched on the line as they’ve dried — often put people off line-drying, but there are tricks you can use to stop this happening, says Linda Peake.
‘As a general rule, always try to hang tops from their bottoms and bottoms from their tops,’ she says. ‘If you peg trousers, jeans, shorts and skirts by their waistbands and T-shirts and tops by the thick seams at the bottom of the garment, peg marks should be minimal. If any marks do appear, they will be in areas where they won’t be noticed.’
Using ‘the right pegs’ can make a difference too. Soft grip pegs — which have rounded edges and cushioned grips — like John Lewis Soft Grip Clothes Pegs, £3.50 for 18 from johnlewis.com, and Better Home Gentle Grip Pegs, £12 for 100 pegs from wilko.com, will also help to reduce peg marks on most regular clothing, delicate fabrics and underwear.
Linda Peake claims it’s important to peg items in places the marks are unlikely to be seen
Opening zips to encourage air flow through your garments and pulling pocket linings inside-out will speed drying.
Many of us are wedded to our tumble dryers because they cut down on ironing. But crease-free line-drying is possible too.
‘First, don’t overload your washing machine. Giving clothes plenty of room to move around the washing machine drum will help to stop them coming out crumpled and creased after the spin cycle,’ says Linda Peake.
‘If you then give shirts, dresses and nightwear a really good shake before you hang them out to dry — ideally on hangers — most shouldn’t need ironing.’ Hang wet laundry on plastic hangers rather than wood, which can stain damp fabric. Avoid metal hangers too, which may rust and mark clothes.
To keep your hangers neatly positioned on your washing line (the more space between items, the quicker they will dry), and to stop clothing blowing away, place a peg over the hook of the hanger. Finally, take clothes off the line just before they turn bone dry.
Leaving a little moisture in the fabrics will help creases drop out and make them much easier to iron if you need to.
Linda Peake revealed sunlight can be used to your advantage to bleach stained items such as tea towels (file image)
Use sun to bleach
‘Sunlight acts as a natural and highly efficient fabric bleach,’ explains Linda Peake. ‘You can harness this effect to your advantage by drying your whites, and stained items like tea towels, in direct sunlight.
‘The UV will quickly brighten greying whites and even fade hard-to-remove stains like deodorant and tomato sauce. But for the same reason, you need to be careful when drying coloureds —including denim — outside.
‘To avoid the sun fading coloured clothing, always turn these items inside out before you hang them out — and ideally peg them in a shady area rather than full sun.’
To avoid running out of line space — and pegs — invest in a drying rack for small items like socks, flannels, tea towels and underwear. A single hanger that holds up a frame of pegs — the Pressa hanging dryer, £3 from Ikea, or the 36 Peg Laundry Air Dryer, £16.99 from lakeland.co.uk — are also perfect for the job.
Many advises to use dryer balls such as Ecoegg Woollen Dryer Balls (pictured) to speed up drying time in the tumble dryer
A sunny day doesn’t guarantee dry laundry. When it comes to drying clothes outside, humidity is a much more important factor than temperature or sun strength, say meteorologists. If it’s been raining overnight, your clothes won’t dry even if it’s a fine, sunny day.
Light breezes are great for speeding up drying but strong winds are less helpful — clothes can blow off the line, tangle or billow and catch on plants and fences. If you have a rotary line, be aware that hanging large items like duvet covers and towels on the outside can block air flow and slow the drying time of items on the inner lines.
Pollen can cling to fabric, so if you or a family member suffers from hayfever, avoid hanging clothes and bedlinen out in the early morning or late afternoon when pollen levels are high.
What are the best gadgets for line drying?
- Brabantia 24m Wall Fix Mounted Clothesline, £80.99, wayfair.co.uk. Perfect if you’re short on space or don’t want your washing on display. This umbrella-style dryer can be fixed to a wall, then opened and closed as needed.
- Eddingtons Twisty Pegs, £12 for 40, johnlewis.com. Brittle, broken pegs and rusty springs are a thing of the past. Just slot on the line and give a quick twist to remove.
- Scion Yellow Mr Fox Peg Bag, £14 from trouva.com. With its shoulder strap, this wipe-clean peg bag that you can wear (it also has a hook if you want to hang it on the line) makes pegging out laundry easy.
- Addis 45 collapsible Laundry basket, £14.99 argos.co.uk. Haven’t got the space for a big washing basket? This spacious one can be folded flat and stored away when not in use.
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