drying clothes in the sun

The Top 5 Benefits of Drying Clothes in the Sun

Wondering whether it’s better to use your tumble dryer or hang your clothes outside to dry? Maybe you’re worried about potential fading or removing stubborn odours. There’s no need.

From extending the life of your garments to enhancing their freshness and protecting the environment in the process, there are many benefits of drying your clothes in the sun.

Ready to learn more? Below we breakdown the top 5 advantages of sun-drying clothes.

1. Saves Energy (And Money)

drying clothes in the sun saves energy and money

If you want to live more sustainably, drying your clothes is much more eco-friendly than using a tumble dryer. This is because dryers use a lot of energy and dryer sheets also release chemicals when heated.

Some estimates say that if every UK household hung one load of washing per week instead of using a dryer, we could save around a million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Line drying your clothes in the sun is also completely free, apart from putting up a line and buying pegs in the first place.

Meanwhile, frequently running a dryer will increase your energy bills significantly, as will turning your heating on to dry items on your radiators.

Then there’s the cost of buying a tumble dryer in the first place, and its various accessories to consider too.

 

2. Helps Clothes Last Longer

drying clothes in the sun

Another benefit of drying clothes in the sun is that they will last longer. Why? Well, there’s a couple of reasons.

Firstly, a recent study found that tumble-drying shrinks clothes twice as much as air-drying. So, if you want to keep your clothes the same size as when you bought them, it’s best to hang them out to dry.

If you do need to use your dryer, always check the care label first. You’ll also find some useful tips for preventing dryer shrinkage on our blog.

Secondly, drying clothes in the sun is gentler than tumble drying. The heat and agitation of the machine can stress the fabric and fastenings can snag on other items.

Each cycle also causes microscopic damage to the material. While this isn’t usually visible to the naked eye, you can find the evidence in your dryer’s lint tray.

This excess fluff is the result of small tears in the fibres that make up the fabric of your clothes and over time, these tears lead to holes.

 

3. Lightens Stains and Brightens Whites

drying clothes in the sun lighten stains and brightens whites

You’ve probably heard of the sun’s natural bleaching properties before. This is thanks to its ultraviolet rays, which make direct sunlight an effective stain remover. 

As a result, drying clothes in the sun is particularly useful for lightening tough stains from blood or tomato sauce, that haven’t come out fully in the wash. 

Natural sunlight is also great for brightening white clothing, sheets, towels and cloth nappies that become discoloured fast.

As well as lightening stains, drying your clothes in the sun will also disinfect them by killing any leftover bacteria. For this method to be effective, you’ll need to leave your clothes in direct sunlight until they are completely dry. 

Just be careful not to leave coloured or dark clothes out too long or they may start to fade. Learn more about minimising sun fading here.

 

4. Removes Odours and Enhances Freshness

drying clothes in the sun removes odours and enhances freshness

By breaking down the DNA of any bacteria living on your clothes and essentially killing it, direct sunlight also helps to remove odours. 

In fact, drying your clothes in the sun for just a few hours can remove unpleasant smells from smoke, food and mildew completely.

In addition, drying your clothes in open air will make them smell fresher than if you dry them indoors. 

According to research, clothes that are dried in the sun produce organic compounds that remind us of plant and perfume aromas. 

As a result, there’s no need to use chemical laundry fresheners or fragranced dryer sheets that can irritate sensitive skin. 

This is also key for protecting the environment, as these substances can seep into the air and waterways.

 

5. Quicker and Safer than Drying Indoors

drying clothes in the sun is quicker and safer

The final major benefit of drying clothes in the sun compared to using an indoor clothes airer, is that it is a much quicker process. This is because the heat from the sun’s rays warms the water molecules in the fabric and warm water evaporates faster than cold water. 

To put it into perspective, a cotton t-shirt will usually take around a full day to dry indoors, while it would take just three hours to dry in direct sunlight. This time frame is also unlikely to cause fading, so hanging your coloured and dark clothes outside shouldn’t be an issue. 

Drying your clothes outdoors is also better for your health and your home. Hanging them indoors will increase the moisture in the air, which can eventually lead to a build-up of mould if you’re not careful. 

Plus, you probably won’t want to run your dryer in the summer as it will only heat your house up more. Drying your clothes in the sun therefore makes the most sense at this time of year.

Want more clothing care and laundry tips? From the best washing lines for small gardens to our top solutions for curing a smelly tumble dryer, we have a range of helpful advice articles on our blog. Scroll through each category or search for a keyphrase to find what you’re after.