Can You Leave Washing Out Overnight

Leaving Washing Out Overnight – Is it a Bad Idea?

There’s not always time to hang your washing out in the morning, especially if you work full-time or have kids to get ready.

Plus, with the UK’s rainy tendencies, sometimes the weather is only dry at night. Is it okay to leave laundry on the line overnight, or is it frowned upon?

You can leave washing out overnight, but it may not dry as effectively without the sun’s rays. Laundry left out overnight may further dampen due to mist, dew or unexpected rain.

If you need to leave laundry outside at night, it’s best to do so in the summer, since the air will be warmer and drier.

I’ll now tell you about the pros and cons of leaving laundry outside at night. I’ll also discuss other line-drying questions, like the best time to hang out laundry, and whether it’s okay for your washing to get rained on.

Clothes on the Washing Line at Night

Pros and Cons of Leaving Laundry Out Overnight

It seems like there’s a stigma against letting your clothes dry on the line overnight. Forum posters often accompany this question with tales of people advising them against leaving washing out at night.

For example, this Urban75 forum poster mentions that their mum always said it was bad to leave washing out overnight, because of dew gathering on the laundry.

Other forum posters mock superstitions about drying clothes at night, with a mysterious running joke on Mumsnet about clothes getting “darked on” if they’re left out overnight.

Overnight line-drying is an unexpectedly polarised issue. To help you decide your stance on the matter, here are some pros and cons of leaving washing on the line overnight.

Pro: It saves time

If you’ve got a busy schedule or you like sleeping in, hanging out washing the night before can add more time to your morning routine.

If it’s a dry summer night, your clothes should be ready to unpeg in the morning. Otherwise, they might need to stay out for a little longer or spend ten minutes in the tumble dryer.

Con: Bugs and animals may bother your laundry

Finding your laundry full of spiders is nightmare fuel, and it’s a big reason why people are reluctant to let their clothes dry at night.

While your clothes probably won’t be crawling with bugs after a night outside, spiders and certain other bugs are indeed more active at night. Hanging washing outside at any time always risks bugs getting on it, and while bugs may be creepy, they’re typically harmless in the UK.

Other nocturnal animals to consider when leaving laundry out at night are foxes and bats. One unlucky forum poster claims that their washing was once ripped to shreds by foxes overnight. But, if your laundry is on a balcony, land animals won’t be a problem.

Pro: It avoids indoor drying

If you need to dry clothes overnight but don’t want to leave them outside, you might decide to hang them on a clothes horse indoors.

However, repeatedly letting clothes dry inside can lead to dampness and mould in your home, according to Dr Nick Osbourne, a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Health. Letting the moisture from your laundry naturally dissipate outdoors will avoid indoor drying, keeping your walls and ceilings mould-free.

Line-drying is both economical and eco-friendly, letting you avoid the energy bills from tumble-drying.

Con: Your clothes might stay damp

It’s not just an old wives’ tale; morning dew does make your laundry damp! If it’s an overcast morning, your clothes won’t shake off the dampness easily.

Leaving your clothes outside on humid or still nights may see you bringing in a bundle of damp laundry the next day. Plus, if it rains overnight, your washing will come in wetter. However, if the next day is breezy or sunny, leave your laundry on the line and any dew or rainwater should disappear.

Washing Line in the Sun

Pro: No sun-bleaching

The Mumsnet jokes about laundry getting “darked on” at night might have some truth to them.

The sun’s ultra-violet rays can whiten laundry, leaving dark clothes looking sun-bleached. Drying clothes at night avoids this, letting your clothes retain their colour.

Con: No sun-bleaching

While no sun is good news for clothing dyes, it’s not so hygienic.

UV light is a form of radiation that kills germs. Natural UV light from the sun disinfects laundry but washing left out overnight won’t benefit from the sun’s sterilising rays.


When Is the Best Time to Hang Out Washing?

While it’s sometimes okay to dry laundry overnight, it’s not the optimal time to do so.

It’s best to hang out washing between late morning and early afternoon when the sun is strongest. Sunny, breezy days are ideal for line-drying laundry, and you should hang out washing as early as possible to let it dry in the sun for longer.

Check your local weather forecast to avoid leaving your clothes out in the rain!

Pegs on Washing Line in the Rain

What Happens if Laundry Gets Rained On?

If you decide to leave your laundry out at night and wake up to find that it’s rained overnight, you might wonder if you need to wash the load again.

Rainwater can soften your laundry, working like a conditioner, but it also contains pollutants that might give your laundry a strange odour. You shouldn’t leave laundry out in the rain for more than a day, to avoid the risk of mould and contamination from rainwater.

If your clothes smell unpleasant after being rained on, you should wash them again. Otherwise, it’s okay to let rain-soaked laundry dry without re-washing – rainwater might even benefit the fabric.



Laundry left out overnight isn’t ideal, but it can save you time. Washing will dry overnight if the weather is warm, dry and breezy.

Morning dew might dampen your clothes, but this can be avoided by letting your laundry dry until late morning.

Leaving your washing out at night could risk interference from nocturnal bugs and animals, but it also saves energy by avoiding the tumble dryer.

The sun’s UV rays won’t be able to disinfect laundry at night, but night-drying will stop fabrics from getting sun-bleached and faded.