I never thought I would be one of those people who hangs up their clothes to dry. Here I am, three weeks into my own laundry drying rack experiment, and I can honestly say it is awesome and I'm not planning on going back.
The day after I fixed my furnace, I made another investment. I purchased a folding clothes drying rack off of Amazon.com (full disclosure: I just signed up for Amazon's affiliates program so I'll get money if you buy things by clicking on Amazon.com links from now on). I'm not sure what put me in the mood to make this investment and to change my default clothes-drying behavior. Perhaps because it's winter now, and it's mostly cold outside — that got me on an insulation kick where I used rope caulk to seal up my windows (maybe I'll write that story up later, though I don't think there's much to tell). And if I was willing to make that investment, then why not an investment in clothes drying which has an insanely high ROI?
Mr. Money Mustache wrote this up a year and a half ago. With a ballpark estimate of 1000% ROI, this is an incredibly worthwhile investment opportunity. I don't know enough to improve upon the 50-cents-per-load estimate on running a traditional electric clothes drying machine, so let's let that ROI estimate stand. What I can tell you about is how my new drying rack has changed my laundry habits over the past three weeks. Spoiler alert: I like what I'm seeing.
I'll admit that my laundry habits are pretty abysmal. I'm guilty of your typical college or adolescent behaviors: using the floor as a laundry basket, leaving clothes in the washer or dryer for hours, leaving clean clothes in a laundry basket for days (sometimes folded and sometimes not). But, while I can't say a drying rack addresses all of my bad laundry habits, it's a serious force pushing in the right direction.
How is air drying different? First, I have to do smaller washes. The drying rack only holds about half a "normal" load of laundry. In the picture above you can see maybe four t-shirts, four pairs of boxers, and some socks (and there are probably one or two things you can't see). It means I can't spend three hours on a weekend powering through my entire wardrobe. Maybe that's a bad thing, but it also means I get to avoid the laundry folding fest that I've come to dislike. The task of "doing laundry" now entails a series of five steps, each of which takes no more than five minutes at a time: collect dirty clothes, engage wash cycle, hang up washed clothes, fold dry clothes, put away folded clothes. Small loads means homogeneous loads that are quicker and more fun to get through.
Clothes that are already hanging don't wrinkle if you neglect to fold them as soon as they're done. They are a lot less fluffy than when they come out of a dryer — at first. This leads us to a fun new activity: beating up your clothes to fluff them up! You can flap them around in the air for a bit, though I much prefer beating them against a couch or my leg. It was an unexpected activity that I now can look forward to whenever my clothes are dry.
There's also the savings from having your clothes wear out more slowly. Dryers put a good deal of wear on clothing because of the high heat (and all that lint coming off the clothes probably doesn't help). Even estimating a modest reduction in clothing depreciation and conservative wardrobe turnover, this alone can save somewhere between $10 and $100 per year — nothing to sneeze at.
Last, I'm quite happy with the model of drying rack I purchased. It feels sturdy, both when it's standing assembled and during assembly and disassembly. Assembly and disassembly are quick and easy. It folds up small so it can be stored away when it isn't being used. And it's got a small footprint while still providing a bunch of hanging spots; the other drying racks I looked at took up way too much space.
In conclusion, I highly recommend you try air drying your laundry. For less than $25 it's worth a shot, and you just may find you enjoy it more than the status quo.