Conservation Corner | Your clothing dryer is tough on the environment, your clothes, and more

While I was growing up, I thought the only way to dry clothes was in a dryer.

When I started visiting my extended family in Europe, I learned there was a much better way to dry clothes — out in the sun. The smell of air-dried clothes is so nice. It comes from the photochemistry reaction that takes place when solar rays hit wet fabric. Organic stains like blood and tomato are naturally bleached out by the sun and the ultraviolet light from the sun kills bacteria effectively in your laundry.

You know all that dryer fluff in the lint trap?  It’s coming from your clothes tumbling around and wearing them down, fiber by fiber from microscopic tears in the fabric. Clothes hung on the line take less of a beating.

Dryers shrink your clothes twice as much as air drying, so they don’t last as long as air-dried clothes. You need to replace them sooner, leading to increased cost, more landfill and more consumption and all the CO 2 that creates throughout the supply chain.

Speaking of CO 2, dryers use a lot of energy. Dryers are also expensive to repair and replace so using them less helps save energy and money.

A recent study shows that tumble dryers play a major role in releasing textile microfibers into the air, particularly when clothes are dried at high temperatures. This is especially dangerous with indoor dryers.

Get a clothesline if you don’t have one and let the sun do the drying work. Consider hanging laundry to be outdoor escape time instead of just a chore. If you have kids, it is a good one to have them help with.

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