How Long Does It Take To Air Dry Clothes?

It’s a habit to pull clean laundry from the washing machine and put it straight into the dryer. Why not consider air drying instead? Air drying your clothes will take between 45 minutes to 24 hours, depending on the type of material and if you’re hanging it inside or outside.

How Long Does It Take to Air Dry Clothes

How Long Does It Take Different Fabrics to Air Dry?

The time taken for air drying varies for various fabric types and whether you’re drying your clothes inside or outside.

The indoor drying process varies on airflow, humidity, and how you have hung your clothes. Outdoor drying times depend on good weather.

The below list outlines the typical drying times for different fabrics:

  • Synthetics- Indoor drying is about 5 hours, while outdoor drying is 4 hours.
  • Denim- Indoor drying can take up to 24 hours, while outdoor is 4 hours.
  • Cotton- Up to 8 hours indoors and 3 hours outdoors.
  • Silk- Indoor drying takes about 45 minutes. You shouldn’t put this fabric in direct sunlight.
  • Wool- Up to 24 hours or more (turn inside out when half dry) when drying inside.
  • Undergarments- Up to 2 hours inside and about half an hour outside.
  • Comforters- 24 hours inside and 4 to 12 hours outside.
  • Towels- Indoor drying can take up to 24 hours, while outdoors take 3 to 6 hours.
  • Athletic Wear/Moisture Wicking Fabrics- Up to 24 hours indoors and half an hour outside.

Some items come with instructions to not dry outside. This is due to the effect that UV rays have on delicate fabrics.

Different fabrics have different uses, which is why they have various drying times. For example, towels typically hold more water than cotton clothes, taking longer to dry. The table also shows that indoor drying takes longer than outdoor drying.

What Is The Fastest Way to Air Dry Clothes?

clothes air drying in the sun

Clothes dry faster when washed and dried early in the day, such as 10 AM to 12 PM, compared to drying them in the evening. This is when the sun is at its strongest, which should – hopefully – mean your clothes will dry in 2 hours or less.

Overnight drying might take longer because there is not enough heat in the atmosphere to dry out the clothes. It is much cooler, and you might be at risk of your clothes catching early morning dew, which takes even longer to dry!

Wringing your clothes can also speed up the drying process. This removes the excess water, especially in thick fabrics such as wool, which holds onto more moisture than cotton or silk.

You can also wring your wet clothes using your machine spinner. Dark-colored fabrics tend to dry faster than bright colors, as dark colors absorb more warmth, evaporating the moisture more quickly.

Tips And Tricks For Air Drying Clothes

air drying tips and tricks

Your clothes will benefit from air drying, and you will get that fresh scent and softness that only comes from the great outdoors.

If you’re considering outdoor drying, you should check if a clothesline is allowed in your neighborhood. Usually, those with a homeowner association don’t allow the practice.

Check Weather And Pollen Reports

Pollen-based allergies can be triggered by high amounts of pollen in the air, which can settle on the clothes. You can check this on your weather app while checking the weather for the day. If there are high winds, drizzle or rain is likely, then it’s best to hang your clothes inside.

Pre-planning can avoid damp clothes and any potential sneezing!

Keep Your Clothesline Clean

Your clothesline should be clean of bird droppings and dust before hanging your towels, clothes, and linens. You should have a clothespin bag to collect your pins after use. They can get rusty or dirty if left outside, which can leave stains on your clothes. They can also get wet, which will make your clothes wet.

You can wipe your clothesline with a wet cloth and dust off any unwanted dirt.

Start Hanging The Biggest Items First

If you have to dry clothes, sheets, and towels, you should start with the sheets, towels, and clothes. With this strategy, you’re making the best use of the clothesline space. Leave an inch of space between your clothing for better airflow, which makes them dry faster. Squeezing them together can cause your clothes to be damp even after a full day of drying.

Shake Out Your Clothes Before Hanging Them Up

Air-dried clothes tend to be very stiff if hung up without a firm shake. Shaking the clothes straight out of the washing machine fluffs the natural fibers to prevent stiff clothes and wrinkles.

Put A Fan On If Air Drying Inside

A gentle breeze is exactly what you need for drying clothes indoors, as it takes away moisture evenly and provides good airflow for the clothes. The fan or ceiling fan should be in the same room as your drying rack, with the windows opened as well. If your laundry room has enough space, your rack should be set up there for good airflow.

Alternatively, you can also use the hair dryer to immediately dry the clothes you need!

Don’t Hang Sweaters And Heavy Garments

Drying your knit sweaters and other heavy fabric clothes on a clothesline or indoor drying rack will lead to misshapen sleeves and weirdly formed shoulders. You should lay your wet sweaters or jackets on a flat drying rack. You can also dry it on a clean, dry towel.

Don’t forget to turn over the garments once or twice to make sure they dry evenly. Moisture usually sinks to the bottom of heavy garments, so always check your clothes before putting them away.

The Sun Is A Natural Bleach – Use It!

Hanging your white linens and clothing in the sun can bleach out stubborn stains and keep them looking bright white. Full sun is also perfect for drying underwear and socks (never use a microwave!), as the UV rays will get rid of any bacteria on these garments.

However, you should avoid putting your dark or brightly colored clothes in the full sun. Full sun can also break down the dyes on your clothes, which leads to fading. They can be in a shaded but warm, breezy spot.

Fold Your Dried Clothes

To keep your laundry looking good and wrinkle-free, try to fold them as soon as you take them out from the line or rack. Leaving garments to pile up makes them more creased and gives you more to do.

Benefits of Air Drying Clothes


Although the air drying process takes longer than an electric dryer, there are a lot of reasons why you should make the switch. Air drying your clothes prevents possible dryer fires and also gets some physical activity in your busy schedule!

Your Clothes Last Longer

Dryers are the main culprits in shrinking and deteriorating the quality of clothes. Some fabrics are not heat-resistant, and the high heat of the dryer reduces their longevity and quality over time.

However, air drying is completely natural and does not pose the same risks. The sunlight is enough for almost every fabric type.

You’ll Be Saving Energy And Money

One of the most dramatic advantages of air drying is that it reduces home energy bills. Dryers use a lot of energy, especially if you have large loads to put at a time. This adds up to a lot of money. When you air dry clothes, you cut this energy expense, as well as the cost of dryer sheets.

Air drying also reduces your carbon footprint!

Odor Control And Disinfecting Ability

The sun removes bacteria that cause odor from clothes, which gives them a fresh smell. Air drying your clothes infuses them with natural air, which lasts longer than fabric conditioner or fragrant dryer sheets.

Air-drying clothes also gives a natural bleaching and disinfecting effect. This ensures that no fungi or bacteria are living on your clothes. If you bleach your white clothes, the sun amplifies this power to make them sparkling and cleaner.

Gentle Drying

Dryers can cause wear and tear on clothing since it is tumbled and tossed in high heat. Constant trips to the dryer can also damage your clothes. Line drying is gentler than the heat of a dryer since there’s no tumbling, just a natural breeze.

It Reduces Wrinkles

Hanging your clothes on the line allows the wrinkles to basically disappear. The clothes are weighed down by moisture, which makes them stretch to their original form. This reduces the wrinkles, compared to a dryer which crumbles your clothes. Best for those days you don’t feel like ironing!

Indoor Drying Increases Winter Humidity

The dry air and cold temperatures of winter reduce the humidity level inside homes, which are the common reasons behind dry noses and colds. Indoor drying on drying racks can add more humidity to your home to reduce dryness.

Wrapping Up

Drying wet laundry on the line is not as fast as modern innovations like the dryer; however, it provides more benefits to both your clothes and your energy bill. Putting your clothes to dry early in the morning allows you to stay on top of the laundry.

Shauna Stone