How to dry clothes in the winter outside | Expert Advice.

Ok, so winter is coming, and the question I get asked quite often is, how can I dry clothes outside in the winter? And it’s a good question so let’s get directly to it.

 Due to rising energy costs, many people avoid using the tumble dryer for drying clothes indoors in the winter and are therefore looking for outdoor line drying tips.

clothes drying in the winter outside in the snow

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Benefits of airdrying clothes outside 

  Line drying clothes outdoors has many benefits:

  • Clothes smell cleaner after blowing in the fresh air.  
  • You will need to use fewer toxic laundry products to make your garments smell clean. When you dry clothes outside, they automatically smell clean and fresh.
  • Line drying is the cheapest and most sustainable way to dry clothes in winter.
  • You don’t need to buy a dehumidifier or other gadgets to dry clothes inside.  

Can you airdry clothes outside in winter?

An old wife’s tale says: In the winter if it’s dry on the ground, your clothes will dry outside. And there’s some truth in this theory.

If there is sunshine and wind, or preferably both, your washing should dry outside, no matter how cold the outdoor temperature is.

When not to dry your laundry outside in the winter.

So we know that sun and wind make great drying days but what factors will prevent laundry from drying outside in the winter? The two main things to avoid are:

  • Damp or Humid days You may notice that even if you go to a hot country for your holidays, if the air is humid, your swimsuit and towel do not dry no matter how long you leave them hanging outside. This is because the water in your laundry needs to evaporate somewhere, so if the air is already saturated with water, there is nowhere for the water in the clothes to evaporate to. You may even find that your clothes absorb some of the moisture from the air and get damper than when you started.
  • Rain or snow storms. It’s common sense not to hang your washing out in the rain, but what about snow? If there’s snow on the ground, but it’s not snowing, it’s ok to dry your washing outside!

Make the most of a sunny winters day.

Hanging clothes out in the winter will mean that they will take a very long time to dry. Your washing will dry if there isn’t dampness in the air. It’s important to hang it out early and bring it in before the air gets damp; otherwise, your washing will start to absorb water again.

The water should evaporate from your clothes on a sunny day relatively quickly.

If it’s a windy day, your clothes should dry fairly quickly.

If it’s sunny and windy, it’s perfect drying weather.

clothes drying in the winter outside in the snow

How cold is too cold to dry clothes outside?

  Will clothes dry outside in cold weather? There is no minimum temperature for drying clothes in freezing temperatures, but obviously, you wouldn’t hang your clothes out if it was snowing or damp outside, as this would mean they wouldn’t dry.

Four things that affect the drying time of clothes on the line 

It would help if you considered all these factors when line drying outside in winter. 

  • The type of garment.
  • The amount of wind.
  • Humidity outside.
  • The amount of sunshine. 

Type of garment

If there is not much wind to help with the drying process, try to dry thinner items like football kits and light t-shirts and save thicker items like towels and bedding for the windier days.

The amount of wind

The windier the day, the quicker your washing dries in the winter. Heavier items like towels and sheets are better saves for the lovely blustery days! On a very windy day, you may even be able to get a few loads on the line to dry!

The amount of humidity in the air

Humidity is just another term for the concentration of water molecules in the air. The more humid it is, the slower clothes will dry. If it is a humid day outside, your clothes will probably dry better indoors.

The amount of sunshine available

No matter how cold the day is, sunshine helps to evaporate the water from your damp clothes, so take advantage of any sunny spots in your garden for line-drying clothes outside in the winter.

What happens when the weather is freezing?

You may find that your clothes are dry but feel like cardboard and are frozen. This is called freeze-drying because moisture evaporates and turns into water vapor on the washing line. But it’s ok because as soon as you bring them in, you should find that they need a short shake and a little bit of time on the maiden to dry thoroughly, or you could throw them in the tumble dryer for about 5 minutes to fluff them up and restore their usual shape. So don’t worry if your end up with freeze-dried clothes!

Top tips for drying clothes outside in the winter 

clothes  line drying

 Follow these clever hacks to dry clothes in winter outside.

  • Give your clothes an extra spin on the fastest spin cycle in the washing machine to eliminate any excess moisture and make drying your clothes easier in the winter. 
  • Take a damp cloth with you and wipe the washing line before pegging out your clothes. You’d be surprised how dirty the line can get!
  • Spread your clothing on the line to ensure sufficient room for the wind to circulate. 
  • Re-peg your clothes upside down halfway through the day to ensure all the edges get a chance to dry evenly and no damp patches are left where the pegs have been. If you find that your clothes are still slightly damp when you bring them into the house, you can hang them over an indoor drying rack or airer.
  • Allow plenty of drying time. Drying clothes outside in the winter takes longer than in the summer, so make sure you hang them out early to give them longer to dry.

Best pegs to use for drying washing outside 

Use the best pegs you can find; I like these from Minky as they keep your sheets and thinner items on the washing line, even on the windiest days. They have a fantastic grip to stop your sheets from blowing over the fence all year round. 

 Best Peg Bags for drying washing outside in the winter

It’s better to bring your peg bag in with the washing, but sometimes it is easy to forget, especially in a rain shower. I have used a pretty peg bag like this one but found that it soon got damaged in the weather. So, I swapped to a plastic basket with holes in the bottom like this one which helps to drain the water, and I found that it worked quite well.

How to hang clothes out in the winter 

  • Make sure there is plenty of space between each item to allow the wind to blow between each garment.
  • Hang bottoms from the bottom, and tops from the top, to allow better air circulation.
clothes line drying

How to dry clothes without a dryer in winter. 

Read this post for more tips on drying large items like bedsheets and how to dry clothes indoors in the winter.


Can I dry my clothes in the snow?

Ok, this is a tricky one, you can’t dry your clothes in a snowstorm, but if there is snow on the ground and it’s a sunny/windy day, you can freeze-dry your clothes outside and finish them off indoors on the indoor clothes drier.
clothes drying in the winter outside in the snow

Is line-drying clothes outside in the winter good for sustainability?

Line drying outside is great for sustainability as you use less toxic products and energy.

I hope these tips have given you some tips on how to dry clothes in the winter outside. As always, leave any concerns or queries in the comments below! 

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