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Washing, Drying Clothes & Ironing Tips

The weather in the UK and the amount of rain we get makes drying clothes quickly a real challenge.

If clothes take ages to dry they'll often have that horrible damp smell and you have to wash them again.

Tumble dryers are faster and more convenient, but they also use more energy. As a result many prefer a line or drying inside on an airer wherever possible.

In this article, we'll provide a number of tips for drying you clothes quickly on a line outside, drying inside or using a tumble dryer.

Pre-Drying Tips

1. Use White Vinegar Over Fabric Softener

Fabric softener can help your laundry smell like a fresh summer's day, but it can make clothes take longer to dry.

It's also not great on towels and makes them less absorbent. Using a lot of it can leave an oily residue behind in your machine, too.

A good tip is using a capful of white vinegar instead of fabric softener. Don't worry, the smell goes away when your clothes dry!

If you miss the softness that fabric softener brings, you could pay a bit more for natural fiber clothes such as cotton, wool and silk. They can also last longer than synthetic clothes.

2. Give Clothes A Fast Spin

Putting clothes through a high-speed spin can significantly shorten the time needed for them to dry.

The amount of water left behind after washing can vary greatly from machine to machine and affect your drying time.

The most energy efficient models still leave around 45% of water behind, whilst less efficient ones around 55%.

When you're purchasing a new or second-hand washing machine, this is definitely a metric that you should check. It's usually easy to find this spec on manufacturers / retailers websites.

3. Take Clothes Out ASAP

Many people use a delayed-timer to operate their washing machine when they're sleeping, or when they're out.

Whilst this is a great idea in concept, it's really important to not let clothes remain in water for too long.

Taking clothes out as soon as the cycle is finished will prevent that horrible, damp smell and you having to put the whole wash through again!

4. Give Them A Shake!

Once you've removed the clothes, it's important to give them a quick shake before putting them in the dyer or on a line.

Doing this means helps them dry faster and it also removes any pieces of lint (or forgotten tissues 🙁 ) which are a real pain to remove when dry

Some people believe shaking clothes out also relaxes the fibers so you're favourite garments will last longer.

5. Find The Right Location

Whether hanging clothes outside on the line to dry, or drying them inside, finding the right location is key.

As we mention in this article, few people are aware that drying clothes inside is actually harmful to our health!

To prevent damp and mould forming in your home, you'll want to find a breezy place with good air circulation.

Many people do hang their smalls in the bathroom, but it's an area which really should be avoided (after all - that's why we have extractor fans in there).

If you can't find a suitable place inside, you can open a window (weather permitting) or use a fan or humidifier to remove the excess moisture from the air.

If you're drying outside, you'll want to put your line in a place where the wind and sun can get to work.

Tips For Drying Clothes On A Line

1. Wear Gloves & Pre-Attach Clothes Pegs in Winter

O.k, hands up...who's main aim is to get clothes on a line ASAP and get back into the warm house? I know mine is!

Wearing a pair of light gloves will stop your fingers from freezing and make sure you get everything on the line neatly.

Attaching clothes pegs inside the house will also cut down the time you need to be outside.

2. Give Your Line A Wipe Down

Give your clothes line a wipe down every now with a wet rag.

This will prevent it from leaving black marks on your freshly laundered white clothes.

3. Use Clothes Hangers

Want to maximise space and save a lot of time when it rains? Use clothes hangers!

You can peg things like trousers, tea towels and baby clothes to clothes hangers and then put the hanger on the line. 

That way when it rains, you can just rush out and grab all the hangers. No need to fiddle with clothes pegs in the rain while your clothes are getting wet. Again!

4. Shake Clothes Out

Give all your clothes a shake - and not just your jeans!

This really does help your clothes dry quicker as it removes wrinkles and helps them dry evenly with no annoying damp patches.

5. Dry Clothes Inside Out

Pegging clothes to your washing line inside-out prevents them fading in the sun and help them last longer.

6. Keep Your T-Shirts In Shape

Drying t-shirts can be a problem as they stretch out of shape and can get blown around the garden pretty easily!

A great tip is to peg them upside down and fold around 3 inches of the bottom over the line. Use three pegs to put it securely on the line. This will keep it's shape and prevent it from blowing away.

The same technique can be used for sweaters, too!

7. Double Decker Pegging

If you're running out of space on your line, you can peg clothes onto the bottom of others.

This simply tip can double the amount of clothes you can dry 🙂

8. Hide your Smalls!

Some people prefer drying their lingerie in the bathroom, but this actually takes longer as there's more moisture in there.

To prevent your neighbours getting an eyeful of your smalls - hide them behind other clothes!

Here's a great video with some more tips!

Rotary Washing Line Tips

Drying clothes on a rotary line (as pictured) can be a bit fiddly at times.

 Here are a couple of tips to help:

  • Light & small things (socks, pants, etc) in the middle. Heavy (towels, jeans, etc) on the outside.

  • Peg on alternate lines (i.e leaving space) dries clothes quicker.

You can find our reviews on the best rotary washing lines here.

Tips For Drying Clothes Inside

1. Don't Overload Radiators

UK Scientist have warned that drying clothes over radiators increases the spread of mould and serious health risks. 

Also, putting too many clothes on radiators means your central heating and boiler needs to use more energy to heat your home.

Used occasionally, radiators are o.k and won't increase your energy bills by that much. Just be sure not to overdo it.  Moving furniture like sofas and beds away from them can also help increase their efficiency.

2. Tower Airers Save Space

Airers (what we used to call "clothes horses") make a great alternative to using radiators.  The best heated clothes airers can also be much cheaper to run than tumble dryers.

There are some really well-designed tower airers which can dry 8 kg - 10 kg (i.e a full load) of washing at a time. Their tower design makes them a real space-saver for small flats and homes.

If you get a stainless-steel airer, you can also wheel it outside when the sun comes out, without fear of it blowing over like the plastic ones often do.

You can see some great tower airers on our page here.

3. Use A Dehumidifier

Many people don't know that drying clothes indoors is actually quite harmful to our health (read this article for more info). 

Too much moisture being released into the air increases the risk of mould and the spread of bacteria and allergens in our homes.

Using a dehumidifier in tandem with an airer can significantly cut down on your drying time. Providing you choose an energy-efficient model, it should still use less energy than a tumble dryer as well.

You can find our page on the best dehumidifiers for drying clothes here.

4. Open A Window

If you don't want to use a dehumidifier, opening a window is a good way to keep air circulating and prevent health risks from drying clothes indoors.

Granted, with the Great British weather this is not always possible!

5. Flip Clothes Over

If your clothes are taking too long to dry, or they start to smell a bit musty, you can turn them over.

This will help them dry quicker and more evenly.

If you looking to dry clothes fast without a dryer, check out our article here.

Tumble Dryer Tips

1. Check & Clean Lint Trap

If you have a tumble dryer, it's vitally important that you check the lint trap.

A number of tumble dryers have caught fire and ended up burning down homes in the UK and abroad. 

There was a large recall of tumble dryers in 2015 and you can find more info here and a freephone number if yours has slipped through the net.

(We also have a page for preventing tumble dryer fires)

As well as the potential risk of overheating and fire, there is also a risk of a carbon monoxide build up.

Cleaning your tumble dryer filter regularly not only prevents your dryer from catching fire, it will also improve it's drying ability. Two very good reasons to do it!

Here is a video from Bosch showing you how to do it.

2. Use Tumble Dryer Balls

People have reported using tumble dryer balls can cut down their drying time by as much as 30%.

Should you not want to buy them, you can also try a tennis ball, a dry towel or a even a kids trainer (providing it's clean!) for the same effect.

3. Always Use Full Loads / Eco-Settings

Tumble dryers use a lot of energy -  many use around 3-times as much electricity as an equivalent sized washing machine.

Ensuring you always use a full-load or purchase a model with eco-settings can help offset their high energy usage.

Ironing Tips

1. Sort Clothes By Temperature

People always sort clothes for washing, but so few do for ironing!

The key here is to start with clothes that don't need a lot of heat (synthetics and silks), and work up to cottons and linen that need more.

2 Iron Length-Ways

Always iron in nice straight lines. A circular action will stretch your clothes and they won't last as long.

3. Iron Clothes Inside Out

Ironing clothes inside out can help them keep their shape and prevent that horrible shiny effect that black trousers in particular get!

4. Use The Ironing Board Correctly

Spending a bit of time laying out your clothes correctly on the ironing board will save you time in the end! And you're clothes will look a lot better, too.

Try to never hang clothes width ways over the board. Instead, use the full length and the thin end for sleeves and collars.

5. Line Iron Board With Tin Foil

This is a great time and money saving tip! Lining the ironing board  with aluminum foil means the other side of the clothes you are ironing will also get pressed.

It also means you don't need to use so much heat so will save you money!

6. Use Boiled Or Bottled Water

Irons are quite similar to kettles with a limescale and a residue build up being left over time. 

To prevent this, ensure the water you put into the iron is as clean as possible. You can do this by boiling it or using bottled water in a rush!

7. Clean Your Iron Regularly

There's nothing worse than getting your clothes nice and clean, only for some dirt from the iron ruining them.

Make sure you clean your iron regularly. Q-tips and baking soda are a great way to keep it clean and stop marks getting on your clothes.

Of course, if you're willing to pay a little bit extra,  the best steam irons have integrated limescale filters and improved soleplates that make cleaning them much easier.

Alternatively, if you're looking for an easier, faster way to do the ironing, check out a steam ironing press.