4 Money Saving Tips For Using Your Dryer

by Kelly · 22 comments

in Living Frugally

I’ve mentioned my dryer dilemma before, as I’ve talked about how much I hate doing laundry. Hanging laundry, while the most frugal, and certainly best for the environment, was never really by choice. So after we moved, and space no longer became an issue, I knew that getting a dryer would no longer be a question of if, but when.

Sure enough, when my birthday rolled around, my husband (literally) showed up at the front door with a dryer. Yippee! But being able to dry my laundry in a flash doesn’t mean that the money saving concerns (nor the environmental ones) go out the window.

To begin with, there’s all the electricity that dryers use. They are certainly one of the heaviest consumers in a household. Then there’s the effect on the clothes- tumble dried clothes are definitely susceptible to more wear and tear than line dried clothes. On the other hand it is just So Nice to no longer have to spend 20 minutes per load hanging the clothes and then ten minutes taking them down again.

Here are four ways to mitigate the effect that a dryer can have on your pocketbook.

1. Don’t use it.

What? After all that time exalting the benefits of a dryer, why shouldn’t I use it? Because, also as stated above, it can have an effect on clothes: shrinking them, causing stains to set and plastics to crack. I hang all of my nice unmentionables (nursing bras don’t count), nice work clothes, polar fleece garments or t-shirts with designs on them. If I hang them on hangers, it only takes a minute and makes putting them away easy. Plus, I’m not hanging a full load, so it only takes a few minutes, and these items dry quickly. And I never put rugs or rags in the dryer- they get tossed over the back balcony to dry- which usually takes less than 24 hours.

2. Use it less, part one.

Think about how often you wear your clothes before washing them. Since coming to live in France I’ve changed the ways I wash my clothes. Admittedly the French (especially in the summer, on crowded public transportation) can sometimes deserve the stereotypical comments we make about their hygiene, but most of the time their habits make sense. Do you really need to wash that sweater right away? Probably not. And if it hasn’t been washed, it probably doesn’t have to be dried.

3. Use it less, part two.

When you do put your wash in the dryer, where do you set the timer? Are you choosing the number automatically or arbitrarily? What would happen if you set it for ten minutes less? New dryers often have a setting allowing you to choose your desired degree of ‘doneness’, from damp and ready to iron, to fully fluffed and dried. Try choosing less time and see what happens. You can always add more time later, of really needed.

Another trick is to add an extra spin cycle to the end of your normal washing machine cycle.

4. Don’t add extras. But maybe just one.

Forget the dryer sheets (and the fabric softener) and the ironing after. If you give your clothes a good shake when you take them out, especially if you dry them only to the point of slightly damp, you won’t need to worry about static or wrinkles. Put them on hangers or fold them neatly right away and they’ll stay crisp as well. If you’re not worried about noise, you could try tossing a (clean) tennis ball into the dryer. It will help fluff the clothes as they spin- but I wouldn’t try this one at night, if you have close neighbors or in a high-heat industrial dryer.

Finally, although this isn’t a tip that applies only to dryers, take good care of your appliances. Make sure there’s nothing blocking the vent, empty out the filter regularly, yada, yada, yada– you know the drill!

Do you have a dryer? Do you prefer a dryer or hanging your clothes? How do you save money while maximizing convenience?


1 Nicki at Domestic Cents January 18, 2010

I have a dryer and I do a lot of those same things. In the summer I try VERY hard to exclusively use the clothesline but in the winter there is WAY too much snow to even consider it – that’s where these tips come in. Thanks!
.-= Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog ..Washing A Shower Curtain Liner =-.

2 Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog January 18, 2010

Here’s another tip: Do all of the laundry in one day.
If you can toss another load to dry immediately after the first, it will benefit from the heat already trapped in the dryer and consume less energy.
.-= Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog´s last blog ..Save More; Give More =-.

3 Rachella January 18, 2010

I also live in a country where line drying is the norm. However, I prefer to use the dryer. Since it rain often here, hanging clothes to dry often means hanging them all over the house. Space is my most valuable commodity so I’d rather put clothes in the dryer–using many of the prudent methods you’ve mentioned than fill up my space with laundry.

That said, I don’t dry everything. Anything that may shrink or overwise be destroyed is hung outside or over the banister.
.-= Rachella´s last blog .. =-.

4 Carla January 18, 2010

I have a dryer and two drying racks. Many of our things are either dried on hangers or placed onto the racks to dry. I have found that if it is rainy and I need to dry sheets, 14 minutes (I set the timer on the stove) on high makes them perfectly dry and ready to put back onto the bed. If I forget to take them out, the dryer will keep tumbling and using electricity for three times that long.

5 Carla January 18, 2010

I have a dryer and two drying racks. Many of our things are either dried on hangers or placed onto the racks to dry. I have found that if it is rainy and I need to dry sheets, 14 minutes in the dryer on high (I set the timer on the stove) makes them perfectly dry and ready to put back onto the bed. If I forget to take them out, the dryer will keep tumbling and using electricity for three times that long.

6 Craig January 18, 2010

Also, don’t overstuff it, could make the dryer work harder than it needs to.
.-= Craig´s last blog ..Weekly Personal Finance Roundup =-.

7 Nancy January 18, 2010

I will sometimes only leave items in there for 5-10 minutes to remove the excess moisture before hanging them up to dry completely. And, my goal is to do all of my laundry in one day each week.
.-= Nancy´s last blog ..POM juice =-.

8 JP January 19, 2010

Very good ideas here! It gets a little dicey if you are not the only one doing the laundry.

When I was too sick to do laundry, I wore clothes that looked like I’d slept in them…for a week. This lasted nearly a year. ARGHH. High motivation to get myself mobile.

Also, we bought a high efficiency washer, which I love, but made the mistake of buying a non-matching dryer. It was a lot cheaper. However the capacities of the two appliances are vastly different. For me this is added motivation to hang at least some of the washer load! Unfortunately I seem to be the only one in the house who’s figured this out!

9 nopinkhere January 19, 2010

I need to do some of these things. I don’t line dry outside mainly because it means my clothes are full of pollen when I bring them in. There’s almost always something that’s high around. (Right now it’s the cedar/juniper. Made a mistake and went out today and I could actually see the pollen blowing off the trees in clouds.) I do have my washer set to do an extra spin, plus I dry everything but diapers on low. I have read about adding a couple of dry hand towels in to shorten the drying time as well.
.-= nopinkhere´s last blog ..Book Reviews =-.

10 Mama Laundry January 19, 2010

Great dryer tips!

It costs me $0.60/hour to run my dryer. It doesn’t sound like a whole ton until you do the math on how many loads are dried per month. Yikes!

I only wash full loads of clothes, which means full dryer loads. No running the dryer for just a few items.

And I don’t overstuff the washer. A too-full washer means a really long dry time in the dryer. And wrinkly clothes. None of those things are good in my book!

11 Hilde January 19, 2010

I love the crisp feeling of line dried clothes. When I put on clothes from the dryer, always have to think of clothes someone just took off.

12 dixie January 20, 2010

I don't even own a dryer. I moved into an apartment with W/D connections and only bought a washer so I don't even have the option to put my clothes in a dryer, well, unless I go all the way across the complex to the laundry room but who wants to do that? I also have a big fold out drying rack from ikea. If I space everything well a full washer load will fit on the drying rack. I can put the rack inside or outside on the balcony and it doesn't take up too much space.
.-= dixie´s last blog ..Indian Food =-.

13 JP January 20, 2010

We have a drying rack, which I use a lot during the winter. Problem is, it is so lightweight that it sags and bends under wet sweaters or jeans.

I saw a nice one at Canadian Tire, but it had only about 8 feet of drying space on it, which is much less than I need.

Are there large, heavy drying racks out there somewhere?

14 Lauren January 20, 2010

Oooh, I like number one because that’s what I do and it’s definitely the most frugal! I’ve found that with things like T-shirts it’s best not to hang-dry them on a plastic hanger using the neck-hole of the garment. The weight tends to stretch out the fabric. Instead, I fold the t-shirt in half and hang it crosswise along the hanger to distribute the weight more evenly and minimize stretching. I hope that makes sense.. not easy to describe.

15 Anjanette January 21, 2010

felted dryer balls are awesome, too.

16 Laura January 21, 2010

I live in New England, with very long winters, so I use my dryer regularly. However, I found a device to attach to my vent hose that is making my entire home more energy efficient. It's a trap door that allows me to recycle dryer heat to heat my home in the winter. It has cut my heating oil bill dramatically! I got it at Home Depot (see link), but I assume any appliance parts store would carry something similar.

17 JP January 21, 2010

We had to stop using our dryer-heat-recycling thingy. We ended up with a real humidity problem in the basement.

I never thought this would happen, as Eastern Ontario gets SO dry in winter.

Now I have to remind everyone to close the dryer door after they empty it, or else cold air is pipelined into the basement.

It seems it’s always something.

18 Lauren January 21, 2010

Here's a follow up to Anjanette's comment – making your own felted dryer balls would be a great project: http://goodmama.typepad.com/goodmama/2008/05/make

19 Sheryl January 24, 2010

I have an old thirsty towel that I throw in the dryer with most loads–clothes get dry a lot faster especially if I’m doing successive loads.

20 JP January 24, 2010

Tried #3 when I was doing laundry yesterday. It's true. Nearly everything was dry when I set it between 'normal' and 'light'. Usually I use just 'normal'

As for putting a towel in to speed things up…I wouldn't recommend using a terry towel as it might cause pilling on some fabrics

21 K @ Prudent and Practical January 25, 2010

Great tips! I’m going to try an extra spin cycle next time I do laundry. Instead of dryer sheets or tennis balls, I use 2 balls of aluminum foil – works great!
.-= K @ Prudent and Practical´s last blog ..Sesame Turkey Recipe =-.

22 hot uk deals April 17, 2010

I am always reading articles such as this and they are helpful. I'm trying your tips in my daily life to save my money as well as my environment.

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