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 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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