Three Off-Grid Alternatives To A Clothes Dryer

Hang drying on a clothesline

Believe it or not, he actually volunteered to help!

In this day and age, many people have a hard time fathoming life without a clothes dryer. It wasn’t that long ago that I myself marveled at the idea. But about two years ago I decided to take the plunge. I knew that by letting the sun dry our clothes instead of using electricity we would be one step closer to off-grid living, and would save a good chunk of money every month. My husband built an outdoor clothesline, and I sold my dryer just to be sure there was no going back.

Have I regretted not having a dryer?

Not for a minute.

If you’ve never done it, you might have a hard time understanding what could be so great about hanging clothes on a clothesline. But there’s something peaceful about taking the time to hang your laundry up one piece at a time, as the sun shines down and the breeze gently blows. It just feels good. It’s like, in that moment, you’ve slowed down long enough to take a deep breath of fresh air and just enjoy life.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Work is work. Hanging your clothes definitely takes more time than tossing them into a dryer and pressing Start. But in all honesty I’ve found it to be quite enjoyable. Maybe it just makes me feel more homemaker-ish.

But what about when it rains? you ask.

Ah, yes. There’s always the weather to contend with. I don’t think I ever cared so much about the weather as I do now. It dictates my days.

It wasn’t long before we realized we needed an indoor alternative to the outdoor clothesline. For a while, I had wet clothes dangling on their clothes-hangers from every door frame in the house, the fans, and the curtain rods. Necessity breeds ingenuity, yes, but something had to give.

As I searched for products that would help me get my laundry back under control, I came across two which quickly became my favorites: a retractable wall mounted clothesline, and an accordion style floor drying rack. Having these two backups for wet-weather days has been a real help.

Retractable Indoor Clothesline

This is my retractable clothesline. We installed it over the bathtub so that I could hide my laundry from sight by a simple tug of the shower curtain. It has five lines, and can be retracted when empty so that it’s out of the way of the shower head. It has held up very well, even under the weight of damp jeans. I would not recommend hanging a bunch of wet towels or very heavy items on this line, as it might weigh it down too much. But it works very well for light-weight items, such as children’s clothing and t-shirts.

Floor Clothes Drying Rack

For heavier or larger items, I love my Homestead Drying Rack. The model I have is the “Homesteader”, the biggest and baddest. We have a large family and it definitely provides ample drying space. I use it mostly for towels, blankets, and jeans. It’s well built, and well worth the money. When not in use you can fold it up for easy storage.

As with anything done off-grid, hang drying your laundry takes a lot more time than the alternative. On a particularly hot summer day, my laundry can be dry in about 3-4 hours. During the cooler months it typically takes 6-7 hours to dry in the sun. Clothing hung indoors, however, usually takes all day and even overnight to fully dry. You definitely have to learn to plan ahead if you’re going to need a certain outfit on a certain day.

Even if you don’t plan on ditching your dryer any time soon, I’d highly recommend that you get an indoor clothesline or rack for use when the power is out. At the very least, buy a set of Wall Flanges to mount your curtain rod to a stud in the wall, so that you can hang your clothing on the rod without it falling under the extra weight.

It’s important that you have an off-grid alternative to a clothes dryer. You just never know when it might become your only option.

About Kendra Lynne

Kendra shares all of her homesteading adventures on her website, New Life on a Homestead. Also be sure to check out her popular Canning DVD: At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond!

View all posts by Kendra Lynne

3 Responses to “Three Off-Grid Alternatives To A Clothes Dryer”

  1. John R Says:

    I am so tight, I always use a clothes line. If it rains, I leave them there. The sun will eventually come back out and dry them. Your electric clothes dryer is the third most energy user in your house, behind your heat/air, and your water heater. Tell the electric company to take a hike and hang your clothes on a line…


  2. Tara Says:

    I used a clothesline for several years and didn’t mind it for the most part. I did miss the softness of tumble-dried fabric (my line dried stuff always turned out rather crunchy – no pun intended ha ha). However, my biggest issue was the winter months and the snow. I hated doing laundry then. It would take days for a single load to dry inside (even in front of the fire, which also required constant rotation) and if I hung the clothes up outside, they would either freeze, or get buried in the snow. How have you handled that issue? Or do you live in an area that is snow-free?


    • Kendra Lynne Says:

      Hi Tara,

      My towels are also kinda “crunchy”. Adding 1/2-1 c. white vinegar to the rinse cycle helps make your laundry a little softer. Fabric softeners help as well, but I don’t like the chemicals in them. One trick I’ve found that helps to get my clothes dry more quickly is to run them through an extra spin cycle in the washing machine before I pull them out to hang. We do get snow in the winters here, my clothes are hung indoors through the cold and wet months. Heavy stuff, such as jeans and thick towels, may take 2 days to dry. Most other stuff only takes a day. You just have to learn to plan around it :)


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