When we moved into the EcoVillage where we live, I knew there wasn’t a dryer inside the townhouse. There were clotheslines and community dryers I could use if I chose, but I decided to try going without the dryers completely. I knew it would save energy, plus it sounded like a fun experiment. I learned a lot that saved me a lot of time, since drying things takes twice as long as a wash cycle. Some of them were good, some of them were frustrating and there were some things I just hated when they were line-dried (ever use line-dried towels? Sandpaper! But more about that in a minute.)
Wash the thick, heavy things first because they obviously take a long time to dry. So when I am washing my regular laundry and I am washing bed sheets and blankets, the blankets and pillows are always the first things in.
Watch the forecast because I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see your should-be dry laundry outside in a rainstorm because you didn’t check for rain outside of looking at the sky to see if there were any clouds. Yeah. That happened more than once.
Hang shirts on hangers to conserve space on the line and save you a step putting away laundry. This is especially true if you have a lot of clothes to wash, or a very small line.
Hang things with graphics on them (like tshirts) inside out to prevent fading form being in the sun. Because if you hang up your husband’s favorite shirt out in the summer heat and sun, it’ll fade. A lot. Don’t ask me how I know. We don’t talk about it.
Don’t let the laundry pile up. I think it’s easier to just run laundry mindlessly, because you can always just run loads continuously when you have a dryer. Without one, if you let the laundry become a rival of Everest in your house, then you’re probably going to run out of room to hang the drying clothes, unless you just have an enormous drying line.
Drying towels isn’t as easy as sticking them on the line. You’ll end up with horrible scratchy towels that make you think that using sandpaper might actually be nicer then drying off with the horrid things that used to be sources of fluffy comfort and happiness. Use vinegar instead of fabric softener and your towels will be a lot better. Another tip, which I feel like is cheating, but it works is to dry the towels part of the way before you like dry them. When we moved out of the EcoVillage and into our house, my dryer that had sat in storage was in rough shape. I did this to try to avoid using the dryer whenever it wasn’t necessary.
Don’t depend on the outdoor line. There were a lot of days where I loved the outdoor line because I loved the smell of the fresh sheets and blankets when you brought them in from being on the line. But when the grass is going to be cut by people with no respect for laundry hanging on the line like the lawn service the EcoVillage hired, the weather is bad or you have items you don’t want hung out for all your neighbors to see (like lingerie) then having an inside rack is useful.
Added June 2016: If you’re cloth diapering, have a system for diapers. Diapers and their inserts take up a lot of room and they can be kind of a pain. When we moved to our house we live in now, I ended up getting this hanger system that works perfectly for a load of freshly cleaned diapers. It also works well for drying bras, underwear and other delicates that you want to keep out of the dryer.