I air-dry all of my laundry, so I’m a bit biased, but I believe that the clothesline is the best way to care for clothing, especially vintage clothing. When you think about it, the dryer is a quite recent invention, coming into wide usage in the 1950s and 60s. Before that time all drying was done the “natural” way; usually on a clothesline of some sort. Everyone had a clothesline, be it in the city, country, or suburbs. Clothes were strung up and no one gave it a second thought – it’s just the way it was done. It was the only way it was done.
So especially if you own and wear vintage clothing, this is the manner in which they were originally meant to be dried. Not tumbled in high temperatures, being coated with a film of softener from a dryer sheet. Dryers are hard on clothes, wearing them out prematurely. Just take a look at the lint generated after one dryer load – that is fiber from your clothes being worn off. Air drying preserves the fibers so your clothes last longer.
I wash in cold water, a gentle environmentally safe detergent, and then hang dry. I don’t use fabric softeners of any kind; they leave a film coating that attracts dirt and eventually wears your clothes out faster. Clothes love being dried out in the fresh air and sunshine – I’m convinced! Usually there is no need for ironing, they dry crisp and quite wrinkle-free. I can’t remember the last time I used my iron, it is gathering dust in the closet. Then there is the fresh outdoor linen scent on dried laundry that only nature can produce…heavenly.
Don’t be afraid to wash your vintage clothes – they can take it. Do not, I repeat, do not use a dryer! Air-drying is the time-honored way to dry laundry that has been done for centuries. It saves energy, money, and extends the life of your clothes. It can also be your own personal contribution to making the earth a little greener in this modern world!