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Drying laundry in a small space: How to do it like a pro and avoid the musty smells

No tumble dryer? No problem, says Laura de Barra.

Image: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov

LAURA DE BARRA regularly brings her lifestyle and home maintenance masterclasses to the Glenveagh Home Magazine on TheJournal.ie. This week: how to dry laundry in a small space, from where you put the rack to how you hang the clothes.

Trying to dry clothes in a small home can be a pain. Clothes racks can take up much needed space and drying time can feel like it lasts forever. Even if you have a tumble dryer in your house, it’s worth air drying clothes – even indoors – when you can.

Dryers use a lot of extra energy, plus machine drying reduces the life of your garments. One common misconception about air drying is that it always ends with a huge pile of ironing. But if done correctly, fabrics like jersey and denim should end up wrinkle free, or in need of just a light iron.

So what’s the right way to go about air drying – particularly in a home that’s not blessed with much square footage? Here goes…

1. Prepare correctly

Opt for a high spin setting on the washing machine: The higher the spin setting, the drier your clothes will be coming out of the machine. Your manual will tell you how to increase the spin setting on your machine, or what cycle has the highest spin setting. This rule doesn’t apply to wool or delicates but is perfect for everyday cottons, denim and other more durable fabrics.

Get your timing right: Don’t wait until you have gotten in from work or are going to bed to put out your clothes to dry. Evening routines such as cooking will increase humidity in the home and slow down drying time. If you have the choice, the ideal time for air drying is during the day, as temperatures are higher and the home is usually in less use.

2. Pick a place for the drying rack

Placing drying racks in areas with little or no ventilation will mean longer drying time, and that horrible musty smell. Your first step here is to allow as much air into your home as you can, to speed up the process and reduce damp in your home.

Most newer windows will have a setting that allows you to securely leave a window open a little, letting moisture escape. If your home is older, a small dehumidifier is a smart investment.

Ideally you’ll have your drying rack close to a window, but at the very least you’ll want it somewhere with good airflow. If you don’t have a lot of floor space, consider these options…

Over-bath racks: Over-bath drying racks are a brilliant use of space in a small home. Most bathrooms have an extractor fan, so that is the excess moisture taken care of too. A wall mounted rack that folds back is a great investment, or a drying rack designed to perch on the edges of the bath.

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Door hanging racks: These are usually reasonably priced and suit homes where a large floor rack will not fit. They can be hung in a bedroom with the window open for quick and easy drying.

Windowsill racks: These can also be hung from radiators, bath edges, banisters and so on. Another great option for small spaces.

3. Hang your clothes on the rack in the right way

Space clothes out: Making sure clothes are well spaced on the rack will allow for more airflow between garments, and faster drying.

Be smart with placement: Bulkier garments in thicker fabrics such as denim should always be hung on the outside of the rack. Lightweight garments or garments that need little drying time can be placed on the inner rods. Trousers should be hung with legs facing in and the denser parts of the garment (pockets, waistband) should hang outside. Always make sure you flatten out pockets and cuffs before hanging. And if you really need to speed up the drying time, rotate the clothes every hour or two.

Want more tips and hacks? Laura de Barra’s debut book, Gaff Goddess: Simple Tips And Tricks To Help You Run Your Home is on shelves now, published by Transworld Ireland. Buy it here or in all good bookshops, and follow Laura on Instagram for even more cleaning and lifestyle tips.

More: 4 tricky kitchen cleaning jobs – and how to tackle them without the harsh chemicals>

About the author:

Laura de Barra

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