By Marisa Belger
Several years ago, in an effort to reduce my ever-increasing electric bill, I challenged myself to break a bad habit.
Instead of dropping my laundry in the energy-guzzling dryer, I would become an air-dryer. That's right: After years of wrapping myself in the warm fluffiness of a just-dried towel, I would embrace a towel dried with nothing more than the breeze flowing through my Brooklyn backyard or through my kitchen window.
My efforts were assisted by the knowledge that the dryer is one of the most energy-hungry appliances in the average household, clocking in just under the refrigerator. Ditching the dryer for an electric-free alternative would reduce my monthly bill and save valuable natural resources. I would also earn bonus eco-points by washing my clothes in cold water with a detergent designed to maximize cold-water cleansing, which cuts back on the energy used by the washing machine.
However, not all air-drying is created equal. Here's what I've learned about drying au natural:
Don't skimp on the rack.
Invest in a solid drying rack that gives you lots of space to hang clothes of all sizes and won't collapse under the weight of a wet sweater or blanket.
Shake before hanging.
Giving clothes a quick shake before hanging helps reduce wrinkles.
Leave space between items.
Clothes need air to dry. Allow space for that air to flow.
You can't hang your wet jeans up in the morning and expect them to by dry by dinner. Leave adequate time for items to dry completely, factoring in additional time for items made from dense or heavy fabrics, like denim.
Marisa Belger's work has appeared in Travel + Leisure Family, Natural Health, Prevention and TODAYShow.com, where she wrote a column about eco-friendly living. She was an editor at Lime.com and collaborated with author Josh Dorfman on his bestselling books, The Lazy Environmentalist and The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget.
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