‘Best days’ to dry laundry outside the fastest and prevent damp smells

Drying clothes outside has many advantages. Households save on electricity, it’s more environmentally friendly and the sun is a natural disinfectant and deodorant. More importantly, the sun will not shrink clothes. But the conditions required for outdoor drying are not present all year round, such as in winter. Sarah Dempsey, laundry expert at myjobquote.co.uk, has shared everything households need to know when drying their clothes outside.

So when is the best time to dry clothes outdoors? Well, according to the expert, breezy days are “always the best days for drying laundry outside the fastest” and can even help to stop clothes “smelling damp”.

However, Sarah noted that as long as the ground outside is dry, households should be able to get their washing dry. 

She said: “Aim to hang your washing out as early in the day as possible to give it the maximum amount of drying time before the sun goes down. Bring your washing in at the end of the afternoon or, ideally, by sunset.”

While there is no minimum temperature for drying clothes outside, the air just needs to be dry enough. 

It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast the day before planning to hang clothes outside to dry – particularly for those planning on going out and leaving the washing outside. 

The laundry pro said: “There is no point in hanging your clothes outside in the rain. However, you want to make the most of hanging laundry out on sunny days.

“It doesn’t need to be sunny to dry your clothes. As long as it’s dry outside, your clothes will still dry. 

“If it’s breezy, you’ll find your clothes will likely dry within a few hours, regardless of how sunny it is. If the weather is overcast, try to get your clothes outside as early as possible so they’ll get the maximum amount of time possible hanging outside.”

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In the summer, households can even choose to hang their laundry out before they go to bed so that it’s already out there when the sun comes up. Then, they can simply bring it in the following afternoon.

Sarah said: “It is best to bring the washing in by the time the sun goes down. This is because the dew will start to form when the sun sets and could make the dry washing a little bit damp again.”

On a hot sunny day, it should only take around two to three hours for clothes to dry completely. 

However, if it’s a cloudy day or the temperature is cooler, it can take up to six hours or sometimes much longer if the air is very wet.

Of course, the type of clothing being dried will also play a role in how long it takes to air dry. For example, thicker items like jeans or towels will take longer to dry than thinner items like shirts or skirts. 

So for those who have a mixed load, make sure to check the thicker items before taking them down as the thinner items may be completely dry when the others could still be slightly damp.

When hanging the washing outside, the expert noted the importance of spreading each laundry item out individually, giving each item as much space as possible. 

Sarah said: “Avoid overlapping any items as this will prevent them from drying properly.

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“Avoid leaving socks bundled up and be sure to unroll any pant legs or sleeves that may have rolled up in the wash.”

Shirts should be unbuttoned and jackets unzipped to allow as much air flow as possible. 

When it comes to hanging duvet covers and sheets, they should be hung by the edges and avoided being folded over the line. 

The expert explained: “This will allow any breezes to get right in the sheets, helping to get them dry much quicker.”

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