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How to: dry your clothes in a flash (without a tumble dryer)

By Rachel England Thursday 08 August 2013

In a perfect world we’d be on top of our laundry all the time. We’d always have clean socks to hand, getting ready to go out would be a delightful wardrobe browsing experience, and we’d laugh in the face of last minute plans with specific outfit requirements.

How to: Dry your clothes in a flash (without a tumble dryer)

Alas, the reality is more likely to involve panicked rummaging through piles of deodorant-stained t-shirts, dubious ‘sniff tests’ and leaving the house with damp clothes because you didn’t plan ahead, and your frantically-washed clothes didn’t dry in time.

We can’t help you plan your life better, but we can help you dry your clothes quicker without resorting to the energy-hungry tumble dryer, banishing soggy sleeves and wet waistlines for good! Just follow these neat tips and tricks.

Use a high spin

Use a high spin setting on your washing machine so that as much water as possible is removed from your clothes before they’re even ready to dry. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the increased energy used to do this is nothing compared to the energy needed to run a tumble dryer.

Two towel tricks

Once your clothes are out of the washing machine, try one (or both!) of these towel tricks to remove even more moisture:

  • Put a large fluffy towel down and lay the item of clothing on top. Then roll up the towel into a sausage (garment inside) and twist it tightly, starting at one end, working your way along, until the entire sausage is twisted. This squeezes excess water out of your clothes and into the towel.

  • Put your garment on an ironing board, as if ready to iron, but lay a thin towel over the top of it. Press the towel using a high heat, stopping to turn the garment over so both sides are pressed. This channels some warmth into the fabric without causing any of the damage associated with putting a hot iron directly on it while wet.

Give them room

Al fresco line-drying is your best bet for drying items in a hurry, but it’s not always practical, so drying racks and clothes horses are the next best thing. But don’t just pile all your wet clothes onto a drying rack – they need air and ventilation to dry properly. Take the time to hang items individually, allowing space in between. If you use a drying rack or clothes horse that has individual bars, hang imminently-required items over two bars instead of one, so more air can circulate around them.

Location, location, location

Place your drying rack near a source of warmth: a radiator or a boiler, for example. Alternatively, put it wherever there’s movement in the air, perhaps near an open window or by a fan if it’s a warm day.

Rotate!

Check on the drying status of your item regularly and rotate the garment around so that it gets even contact with air. Pay attention to pockets, underarm areas and cuffs – these are notorious areas for dampness!

If you put a garment over a radiator, be sure to remove it as soon as it’s dry, otherwise you’re wasting heat by simply channelling it into an already warm barrier.

In dire straits, hair dry, don’t air dry

If time is really of the essence, get your clothes as dry as possible and then give them a very quick blast with a hairdryer. Be sure to rotate the item frequently, ‘airing out’ pockets, sleeves and collars as you go. You needn’t use a particularly high setting, either. Warm is fine; it’s all about air flow rather than heat.

Tumble into the dark side

If you really, really must use a tumble dryer, make sure you set it to the most efficient setting – preferably the ‘eco-option’ if your machine has one, and make sure you’ve removed all the lint from the catcher so the machine can run as efficiently as possible.

Some folk suggest putting in a dry, fluffy towel with your wet item, claiming it speeds up the process. But old wives’ tale or not, be sure to check the dryer regularly; don’t just set it to an arbitrary time setting and amble off, your clothing may be dry long before the end of the cycle, meaning you’ll have wasted a lot of time and energy.

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