ashley englishsmall measures

small measures with ashley: indoor drying racks

by Ashley

I’m one of those rare souls who really, truly enjoys all aspects of housework. From polishing the furniture and vacuuming our one rug, to mopping the kitchen floor, I fall into a Zen state of tranquility and bliss whilst tidying my home. I’ve long been this way, going so far when I was but a wee lass to telling my mother that I aspired to become a “professional house cleaner” when I grew up. Apologies to my could-have-been rocket-scientist self. I prefer the company of grime.

Now that I’ve got a tiny guy of my own, my cleaning regime has further intensified. Since we’ve opted to use cloth diapers, our household laundering needs have increased exponentially. Add loads of spit-upon clothing (mine, my husband’s and Huxley’s) to the diapering mix, and it seems like I’m running a load of wash daily. Accordingly, today’s Small Measures celebrates the no-frills, low-fi, easy-on-the-wallet use of indoor clothes-drying racks. — Ashley

CLICK HERE for the rest of the post (and Ashley’s tips for buying a rack) after the jump!

In warmer months, a visit to my home is typically met with clothes flapping gently in the breeze, strewn end-to-end across our pulley-style clothesline (it’s attached to our porch). In colder weather, however, wet laundry would freeze and stiffen if I attempted to dry it outdoors. As mentioned above, I’m doing a great deal of laundry lately. In order to curb energy use, I’ve been employing the use of a wooden indoor clothes-drying rack. Strategically positioned in front of our wood stove, the rack makes short work of drying everything from cloth diapers to wool socks. Furthermore, using the rack has the added bonus of introducing much-needed (and seriously absent) moisture into the air.

A variety of indoor drying racks are available, satisfying the needs of single-occupant and multi-family households alike. Wooden, aluminum and stainless-steel offerings come in a variety of incarnations, from the folding freestanding model I use (pictured here) to over-the-door, over-head, and wall-mounted styles (including those that are simply retractable metal wires).

We picked up our Madison Mills rack at the local Ace Hardware. I also love the selection of metal models made by Minky. This curated Amazon list features a fantastic selection of each type of rack. Finally, this wooden behemoth is one of my favorites. Fashioned from New England eastern white pine with birch dowels, it utilizes rescued mill ends that would otherwise have been chipped and burned. Furthermore, all the wood used in its construction is from sustainably harvested second-growth forests.

If you opt for purchasing an indoor drying rack, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind while shopping:

1. Space — Consider the size of your living area and make your selection accordingly. If you’ve got a tiny apartment, then a retractable line, overhead or fold-down back-of-the-door model might be more appropriate than a free-standing, albeit collapsible, model.

2. Durability — Ideally, a drying rack should last many, many years. Don’t scrimp on quality at the onset. Look for models that indicate that they’re built to last.

3. Size — If you’ve got a big family with its attendant vast laundering needs, then buy your indoor drying rack accordingly. Selecting too small a model may have the unintended consequence of causing frustration every time you use it. Referring back to tip #1, if space is an issue, consider doing laundry in the evening. Hang it over the rack to dry while everyone is asleep, where it can do its job thoroughly and inconspicuously.

When hanging your laundry, remember:

1. Place smaller items like socks, undergarments or cloth-cleaning rags on the lower racks. Longer items, such as sheets, towels and pants will need the uppermost racks.

2. Hang pants, including jeans, upside-down. The waist will dry more quickly if it has increased air flow.

3. Position the rack as close to a heat source as possible (taking caution to avoid any fire risks). In my home, that’s the wood stove; in yours, it might be a heating duct or radiator or perhaps even a particularly sunny window.

4. If, like me, you share your home with a menagerie of furry friends, your laundry might benefit from a few minutes in the automatic dryer once the indoor rack has done its work. This way, you can remove unwanted fur while cutting down on energy costs (and carbon emissions!).

What about you? Got any indoor drying tips you’d care to share? I’d love to hear them!

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  • i LOVE this post! In the winter we hang our cloths in front of our woodstove too to dry. And even on cold sunny days I hang sheets outside – you would think they wouldn’t dry but they do and nothing beats the smell – crisp and clean. And both options are good for the environment and our electricity bill!

  • ashley, i think you need to come to italy! the women here are obsessed with having clean homes, and i have never met anyone with a dryer! as we speak my clothes are hanging up on our rack on the balcony!

  • Great post! We have a collapsable metal drying rack in our (tiny) apartment; I do laundry about 3 times a week at most, and only a few of our loads require the rack (i.e. my sweaters that need to lay flat, my work pants that I don’t dry, etc.). It’s only up in our bedroom for one day, and we try to keep it out of the way by placing it in a corner of the room!

  • We have been drying our laundry on racks (winter) and outside (summer) for years. One thing we started to do a few years ago is have shirts on hangers right from the washer, and we hang them side by side on a separate standing rack, or they could go on your shower curtain bar too. This way, they are ready to pop back in the closet when they are dry and it saves a step.

  • This is such a great idea! Right now we have both our heater and a dehumidifier going, so we’ve got a little bit of air circulation around the apartment. I could totally use this!

  • Wonderful post! I wear a lot of vintage clothing, so I hand wash and air dry most of my wardrobe. I’ve been in the market for a new drying rack (mine is looking a little rough from being dragged to and from school back in my college days..haha!). Thanks for all the great info. :)

  • I love the idea of this, and loved the savings of drying my clothes outside during the summer, but I wonder how much clothing really fit on an indoor drying rack. When I hung my laundry out in the summer, I was often running out of room to dry everything . . . I guess I do big loads of laundry. How do you tell from a drying rack how much it will hold?

  • You have just inspired me to do my dishes.
    And I very agree on watching out for durability. It is as if most products in the store are made to last only a short time so you can go buy a new one (and you know, support the economy).

  • Liz-That’s a really tough call to make, as it will vary not just house-to-house, but load-to-load. In other words, my husband is a big, broad-shouldered guy. When I do his laundry, a few shirts take up the entire rack. When I’m washing a load of cloth diapers and baby clothes for Huxley, though, I’ve usually got room to spare. See my point? Were it me, I’d go for a larger rack, as it seems like your household could probably merit the space it would offer. Hope this helps!

  • After a few duds I found this drying rack at Ikea: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50095091. It’s called “Frost” and it’s extremely handy. It folds down nice and flat for storage, and is super easy to set up. It’s also fairly stable and has 21 yards of drying space. In addition it’s coated with a plastic that protects it from UV rays so it won’t degrade if used outside. Best of all it’s less than $20. I use it all the time for my hand washables, or for hanging clothes up after being out in the snow. It might not be the prettiest thing, but if gets the job done:)

  • I have to say, housework isn’t my favorite thing in the world, but when you have the right equipment it’s so much more fun. I love the idea of a dying rack!

  • Hey Ashley, I’m jealous of your rack! LOL Seriously, I just started using my cloth diapers last week and was thinking to myself “I need one of those racks like in the Small Measure/cloth diaper post”. ‘Til then I’ll be using a clothesline in the spare bathroom.

  • I use the IKEA Frost rack also. It’s incredible. One thing I like is how you can raise the arms up and down in order to hang things higher or lower and/or consume more or less floor/outdoor space as needed. Excellent product.

  • I’ve been using drying racks since college – one tip we figured out in our dorm room to speed drying is to point a table fan at the drying rack. Makes a huge difference.

  • I use both a retractable line ( in the sunporch) and a wooden rack set over the heating duct int the kitchen. We haven’t used the dryer in years!

    One added bonus of the rack style- when I do handwashing ( as little as possible!) and don’t really have the patience to thoroughly wring things out, I put the whole rack right in the tub. The clothes can continue to drain that way without dripping all over the floor and when they’re damp but no longer dripping I move the rack to it’s normal location.

  • I have a drying rack for sweaters (it has mesh “levels” for laying out delicates) but I retired it for heavier clothes in favour of a retractable clothesline. I either pin up items or use hangers to save space. Then I can zip it away when I’m done. I found both at the hardware store (Canadian Tire for you fellow Canadians!). Suffice to say, my dryer is seriously underused.

  • I tried the Target one by Michael Graves for flat drying
    but it was disappointing as the end knobs would come off if a
    sweater was too heavy . I glued them back a few times but the
    netting sagged and I finally gave up on it. I dry hangable things
    over the pilot on the heater but would love to find a sturdy
    folding flat rack.

  • I LOVE cleaning too! It such a stress relief and I must have music as I clean. My favorite chore- mopping. My least favorite-folding clothes. I love clotheslines, unfortunately our subdivision (snobdivision) doesn’t allow visible clotheslines and we don’t have a fence. Luckily, we’ll be moving this summer!

  • hehe, we have the cheapo 7$ Canadian Tire version of the
    Ikea rack! It’s fabulous, especially since the ancient dryer in our
    appartment building requires at least two cycles to get anything
    dry (which is 3$ a load, totally absurd on a student budget).
    Anyway, great post Ashley! It reminded me of my host mum Lucia’s
    lessons in ‘how to dry clothes on a line/rack properly’ when I was
    living in Spain and all the good beachy smells of line-dried

  • I live in a tiny flat in a Scottish Tenement, with 2 plug
    in radiators and minus temperatures in winter. I’d say look out for
    clothes horses that have pull out bits for coathangers/small bits
    of clothes, and use the backs of wooden/plastic chairs.

  • I though I was alone in my love of cleaning my home~ I love the calm it gives me after and the process of remaking chaos feels right :) I have used a wooden rack like yours Ashley for years and it is a lifesavcr when the kids play in the snow and for woolens and every other driable……it is obviously a big rack, but I feel that people can take in that I am drying and it may be untidy in my kitchen, but it is helping us save $$ till the sun shines again and the outdoor line is used. Thank you for a wonderful , warm article!!! Great work!~

  • Tip: If you’re rack-drying colours/darks outside and want
    to avoid fading, try to dry in the shade/avoiding direct sunlight
    (or at night) or put whites/lights in front or on top of the
    dark/coloured items!

  • Due to the influx of laundry-drying with our cloth diapers,
    I supplemented our wimpy & cheap little rack with fishing
    line strung across the bedroom and secured into studs. Not exactly
    pretty, but it’s invisible when not in use and it does the

  • Bravo for using cloth diapers! I am a granny who loved
    hanging my kid’s diapers,( outside in fair weather and on a wooden
    rack by the woodstove in foul) and made fitted flannel diapers for
    my grandbaby…. They were used but not exclusively!
    Mothers…think of our beautiful earth choking on pampers and buy

  • Great article. We hang our undies and socks outside on
    wooden racks. The sun is a wonderful sanitizer and it gives the
    neighbors a chuckle.

  • I admit to being a drying rack snob. I have been using one
    I got in Germany years ago, and all others pale in comparison. It
    is metal, with a wide x-shaped base, a large array of horizontal
    steel line, and two wings that fold out. There are no levels, and
    you can dry an entire load of laundry, including diapers. I have
    recently gotten a second one from Ikea, but not the model above,
    which is the same as one I loathe because it will not stay set up
    if anything bumps it. I have the Lajban
    http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/30176088 which is
    similar to my German beauty, but smaller. I just prefer to have
    everything hung on one level.

  • I used a wood rack to dry my clothes for 3 years while not
    having a dryer, my only complaint is make sure your wooden rack
    does not stain your whites. My simple fix was wrapping it with
    plastic wrap. :)

  • Here in Melbourne, Australia, most people line dry their
    clothes and have drying racks for winter. I have three. I mostly
    set them up in the bathrooms, (especially out of the way in the
    tub) and the ducted heating drys them quickly. @Elizabeth H – try
    hanging your washing inside-out to avoid fading, if there is no
    shade to hang your washing in.

  • I’m a fan of the drying rack too. Mine lives in my bedroom and seems to be constantly full of clothes. I’m a gdiaper mama too, so we have our share of little g’s hanging up from day to day. It’s fun to see your stash!

  • Slightly off topic, but about how long does it take for your cloth diapers to dry? We don’t have a large stash, but I would love to stop using the dryer!

  • @Seema: I always wanted one of these in the old house we
    lived in and eventually, I got one… looks pretty, gets dusty and
    grimy in a kitchen and has only enough hanging space for a couple
    of teatowels… practicality is 0 unfortunately!! Also small items
    fall off because the bars are so wide. I have what is standard here
    in central Europe, a folding metal stand with two flip out extras
    at the side, about 30m of hanging space, more than plenty – But my
    mom had exactly the stand that Ashley shows for many years!

  • i started line drying my clothes two or three years ago. i
    bought a drying rack from Ikea, Antonius
    [http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00176080] that fits
    perfectly in my kitchen. i opted for a tall, compact rack that
    wouldn’t get in the way. i can fit 3 loads of laundry on it, not
    including sheets and heavy towels. jeans and towels go on a
    separate rack while sheets are clipped to hangers and hung on the
    shower rod in the bathroom. everything dries in a couple hours or
    overnight and i save money and energy. yay!

  • My main drying “rack” is my Ikea four-poster bed. It holds
    so much and the testers are thin enough so I can use hangers for
    shirts. I also have a rack that I keep in my spare room for the
    overflow, but I’ve been known to drape clothes over doors, chairs
    and even partially opened drawers. I have a clothesline outside,
    but it doesn’t hold very much. I do like the idea of moving my rack

  • YEA for drying racks…I love them, I have four dotted
    around the house and have drying lines above the kitchen…our big
    cooking wood stove gets them dry in no time and I save a lot on
    electricity….makes me really happy. Haven’t owned a dryer or used
    one in over 11 years. Thanks for this brilliant post.

  • katie-it takes a good while for the cloth diapers to dry. i
    typically hang them up in the evening (i usually only run my washer
    in the early morning or late evening, when fewer people are drawing
    on the electrical grid) and by morning they’re nice and dry. that’s
    owing in large part to positioning them in front of my roasty
    toasty wood stove, though. in front of a heating vent, or window,
    might take up to a half day, i’m guessing.

  • I, too, use the bathtub to house the drying rack when in
    use. This greatly cuts down on the hairy deposit of my german
    shepherd, and, when I had cats, I would pull the shower curtain
    closed, and they weren’t as interested in trying to lie on top of
    the clothes.

  • We gave up our dryer a few years ago and haven’t looked back. We are fortunate to have a basement for drying clothes during the winter. My tip is to use a fan to speed drying time. I also love the IKEA Frost drying rack: spacious, lightweight and durable.

  • I had to post to shout yes! to the Ikea drying rack, we’ve had many and I love that one because it holds so many clothes and is durable. We are in Hawaii and cloth diapering and I love harnessing the power of the sun to dry and sanitize and de-stain my cloth diapers, it gets me so excited.

  • Someone above mentioned a fan, but in lieu of that, it should always be placed where there is airflow. Places that are out of the way like closets and the bathroom and corners don’t have enough airflow and the clothes will take forever to dry. Heavier clothes like sweaters should be put on the outer rungs so that they get the most benefit of the air movement.

    @ Seema–I think spending $175 !! on a ‘victorian style’ drying rack might be taking things a little too far.

  • I like this clothes drying rack from Best Drying Rack. I like that it is made in the US and that it is from a family owned business. I also like that it is repairable if I ever would have problems with it.

  • Like Lisa-Marie I live in a Scottish tenement flat but we are fortunate enough to have what is known here as a pulley (I’ve an Irish friend who always confuses me by referring to it as a creel).

    They are great because you don’t trip over them in a confined space, plus as heat rises things dry well up at the ceiling. However if you don’t have the benefit of lovely high tenement ceilings (ours are about 4m?) then you’ll be forever dodging past your trouser legs as you walk down the hall!

  • For the record I hate doing laundry. I like the idea of hanging clothes outside in my apron while the kids blow bubbles and my homemade rubarb pie cools on the window sill. But reality is the pile of clothes just never ends and I would much rather be spending my time doing anything but laundry.

    Despite the dislike it has to be done. During the Summer I use my drying rack out on my screened porch. In the Winter I use a drying rack indoors, similar to the one in the post. I got it at Menards for super cheap and am happy with it. I must admit, being a mom of three in a tiny house makes doing laundry kind of annoying. I like air drying my clothes a lot better in the warmer months outside.

    Tip: may be a given but in-case someone didn’t know, make sure you use decent detergent to avoid stiff air dried clothes.

    @Helen – by far the best link. I love that rack and all the reasons you gave make it even better. Is is a little pricey but if they have a guarantee to fix it if needed then that is good.

  • I live in Copenhagen, Denmark, and we have a room in the basement of our building for hang-drying, but also have one of these: http://www.leifheit.de/de/marke-leifheit/produkte/produktdetails/kategorie/trocknen/produkt/pegasus.html very sturdy thing.
    For small items something like this: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80189663 is very handy.

    Just wanted to say that when line drying you should be very careful with room humidity. We usually avoid hanging laundry in the livingroom because it increases the risk of mold, which can cause allergies and all sorts of discomfort.

  • A lifelong clothes hanger told me to put the wet clothes in
    the dryer for a couple of minutes before hanging. It helps with
    stiff clothes and gets hair and fluff off. I think it works better
    than using the dryer after hanging.

  • I have a ceiling-mounted rack that takes up no floor space. I load it up with wet clothes and then pull the cord and all the laundry travels up to the ceiling It’s here http://www.drynhigh.com/

    I do laundry at night and it is dry by morning. And it’s indoors; no bird doo or cranky neighbors looking at my unmentionables.

  • Prior to getting pregnant, I insisted on hanging out all our clothes to dry. We bought a drying rack from Walmart (the only one we could find in our remote little town), which took all of about 6 months for out kitty Wavey to break–and that was when she was still kittenish (before she turned into a hulk of a cat). We Have a great line outside when the weather cooperates (which won’t be till April at the earliest), but I’d love to invest in a nicer drying rack before outside drying commences.

    My mom added a laundry room to her remodeling project 15 years go, so she has room for two drying racks and a bar for hanging Dad’s work shirts & stuff in her laundry room; I miss doing laundry in that room. Plus the old kitchen cupboards and sink are utilized in the laundry room. (The cupboards are wonderfully deep, perfect for storing lots of towels.)

  • Hi,
    My biggest question with these types of drying racks is – don’t the thin dowels leave a definite line across your clothing?? like if you hang a wet knit sweater over it and the weight of it stretches the fabric on either side hanging down from the dowel? I always lay my good laundry out flat to dry, but it’s taking up too much space…

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