How to “Unshrink” Your Clothes!

I have a sad story, followed by a happy ending to share with you today.

A couple of weeks ago I was buying my son Kell a pair of football cleats at the Nike Outlet and inadvertently ended up browsing in the women’s clothing.

Although I wasn’t looking for anything in particular..I did find myself inexplicably drawn to a pair of royal blue pants (or as I like to call them…”comfy pants”).  I don’t usually shop for myself at the Nike store…but those pants were calling my name. I just loved the color and they were made out of the SOFTEST tshirt-like material!

So I gave in to the temptation, which was just too great to bear, and purchased the pants.

Here’s the SAD part of the story….I only got to wear them ONCE before they were ruined by the evil clothes dryer!

Well, it’s really not the clothes dryer’s fault. I had INTENDED on washing them and then letting them air dry…because I feared they might shrink. But the hubster (bless his heart) got to the load of clothes in the washing machine before I did…and into the dryer they went!

When I went to take the clothes out of the dryer and saw the blue pants…I wanted to cry. My “laundry intuition” (something you develop after years and years and years of doing laundry for a family of 6!) told me they were no longer going to be wearable. Sure enough, they had shrunk in length a good four inches at least! *sob*

Well, I dried my bitter tears and decided to chalk it up to experience and put the pair of “floods” into a bag with a bunch of other outgrown t-shirt items that I like to save for future projects. I tried to move on with my life.

I was ALMOST over the whole horrible experience when I got an email from someone asking if I knew how they could UNSHRINK some article of clothing that had shrunk in the dryer. Hmm…sounded familiar. Of course I immediately thought of my blue pants that were wadded up in an old pillowcase with a bunch of other t-shirt cast-offs. Was UNSHRINKING something even POSSIBLE?  Sounded like some voodoo magic to me. But what the heck….it was worth a try.

So I commenced my research into this magic reversal process and was amazed to discover just how EASY it was to “UNSHRINK” clothing (and that it didn’t involve any sort of black magic whatsoever!)

What it DID involve was a sink full of lukewarm water, a capful of baby shampoo and two large beach towels. That’s it!

Here’s the HOW-TO:

Fill a sink with lukewarm water and add a capful of baby shampoo into the water. (Many tutorials I read said to use CONDITIONER…but this made more sense to me…so this is what I used.)

Let the item soak in the baby shampoo water and gently work it through. This will relax the fibers in the clothing.

Remove the garment from the shampoo water and gently squeeze it out. Do NOT rinse it.

Take a large towel and lay the clothing flat on it.

Roll the towel up with the clothing inside it.

Your goal is to absorb the extra moisture, so your clothing is damp but not wet.

Then, get another dry towel and put the piece of clothing out on the dry towel.

Gently stretch the clothing item as it lays out to dry.

Continue to do this until the clothing item returns to its original size. Allow the item to air dry on the towel.

Being the impatient person that I am, I set up a fan to make the drying time go faster and within about an hour or so they were dry! (Of course the fact that we practically live in the Sahara Desert didn’t hurt either.)

The anticipation was killing me so I immediately tried them on. (I guess I had some irrational fear that the stretching I did was an illusion?)

When I pulled them on and they were back to the exact same length they were when I bought them…I was beyond thrilled!!! (See picture at top.)

My “comfy pants” were back!

Now I can’t help thinking about all the clothes that got thrown away in the past because I did not know this trick! (There I go…”overthinking” again! lol)

So do everyone you know a favor…and spread the word before more innocent items of clothing meet a premature demise!


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  1. Lindy says

    I would love to know if this would work on jeans. This is a great tip! It’s mostly jeans that I have this problem with. I may have to give it a try! It surely can’t hurt them! Thanks so much for your wonderful daily “good things!”

  2. Mary Malone says

    Thanks again, Jillee! I have given to goodwill so many t shirts that have shrunk. Wow, this is a great idea!
    Mary Malone

  3. Kristin says

    I’m wondering the same thing as Stacey and Helen. Will this method work on items that aren’t a jersey? I might have to try it. You can’t lose anything if it doesn’t work – the clothes already don’t fit :)

    • Diane says

      I think almost anything that shrinks should be able to be stretched. Cotton, definitely…but it’s probably not so successful for wool or silk (does silk shrink? I can’t recall). See my method above for denim. I also do this for 100% cotton shirts because I hate ironing. If I tumble them for a couple of minutes till hot, then shake/hang/stretch/smooth any wrinkles, I almost never need to iron.

      Even better, I live in a very humid climate (Florida), so if I have anything with wrinkles–like a skirt I’ve worn that isn’t really dirty, just wrinkled, so I want to spare myself the extra laundry and also prolong the life of the skirt–I just put it on a hanger and hang up in our screened porch. Overnight or all day is all it takes to get all the wrinkles out! Similar to the method of hanging something in the bathroom while you take a hot, steamy shower, but it works much better than that!

      • Mert says

        I’ve heard that hair conditioner works to stretch wool, and might also work for silk since they are fibers similar to hair. Conditioner will help make the fibers more elastic, just like it does for your hair. The process might need to be repeated a few times for wool, depending on how much it’s shrunk. I haven’t tried it myself, but now that I’ve seen how easy it is I think I will. Our dryer either doesn’t dry at all or it dries too well and shrinks everything, so I have plenty to to work with!

      • Michelle says

        I believe this method would work on most natural fibers -which all shrink – like cotton, wool, linen, and silk. The tighter the weave or knit and the greater the tensile strength will determine how much “unshrinking” can be done. I don’t believe that this will work on synthetics unless it’s a blend. Synthetics by nature are designed to mimic natural fibers but without their drawbacks, mainly shrinkage and stain resistance.

        There are some synthetic fibers, like rayon, that mimic natural fibers so closely that there may be some degree of ‘unshrinking’ capability.

        Martha Stewart recommends this method to reshape sweaters as well.

        BTW, I thought that this post was about the shrinkage of garments – not the pros and cons of line drying v. dryer use. Goodness people, RELAX! There are so many different factors that effect the employment of both of these methods that it is truly ludicrous to be arguing over it! My HOA prohibits line drying but I used to in our previous home and I miss it, despite my ENT discouraging the practice. For economical and ecological reasons, I would line dry as much as I could, when I could. But I always preferred to have underwear, socks and towels in the dryer regardless of the rest of my load being on the line. But really? To argue over this? Just silly. Have a glass of wine while you fold – makes laundry in general a lot less burdensome! Lol

      • Corrie says

        I’m late to this party, but that is a great tip! It is also known as “blocking” and is useful for sweaters.I use it a lot because clothes are often not long enough for their width in our family- we are a lot of beanpoles!
        I must also say something about rayon- it is my favorite fiber and it is not really synthetic- it is made from wood cellulose and is classified as a semi-synthetic. So, I feel that saying it mimics natural fiber doesn’t tell the whole story. It also does not have much shape retention or elasticity- it goes very limp when washed, in my experience, and you can easily pull and block it into shape.

  4. Midge Flinn says

    So, do you ever rinse the baby shampoo out? If the shampoo stays in, won’t it attract dirt? How do you wash them the next time they need it? This is an interesting trick, but I don’t want to have to repeat it every time the garment gets laundered.

    Thanks for all your tips. I can’t wait to read what cool new things you have discovered everyday!

    • says

      I didn’t notice any residue of any sort from the baby shampoo. The NEXT time I wash them I will make sure the hubster doesn’t beat me to the dryer and I’m sure they will be fine without the stretching part. I’ll let you know! :-)

  5. Helen says

    Has anyone tried this on jeans? I have several pairs that fit perfectly until I washed them! Please help.

    • Kera says

      Something that has worked for me is to wet them with warm water (I just do this after the washer), put them on, and do all kinds of stretches in them lol. I usually just squat down a few times, and that stretches them Then I take them off and either hang them up to dry or lay them flat on a towel! I’m sure you could stretch the length also like she did with these.

    • Diane says

      I never let denim items go through a dryer cycle–partly because they take so long to dry, and partly because I much prefer a method I learned from a friend years ago. I think if you wash your jeans and try it, they’ll be back to their original size. The dryer always shrinks denim (and cotton, as described in this post!) but as others have said, it’s just as easy to stretch as to shrink.

      After removing your denims from the washer, put them into the dryer and let them run for 2-3 minutes–just enough to make them warm/steamy and tumble out any wrinkles they acquired on the final spin cycle. Give them a “flap” if needed (like for rolled hems), then hang them on hangers–skirt hangers work great for everything–and pull them out a bit if they need stretching, or smooth any remaining wrinkles by hand. Let them air dry, either in the laundry room, out on a porch, or even on a clothesline outside.

  6. Marce says

    You never cease to amaze me…Ah-Mazing! I never understood WHY the clothing manufacturers wouldn’t pre-shrink for us…obviously, most people use clothes dryers! The worst culprit…Men’s Flannel Shirts! Especially the sleeves! They become 3/4 length if put in the dryer, yes even the expensive ones…makes me so mad! Thanks for another Good Thing to know!

    • nance says

      Marce-I hear ya! My hubby has to wear flannel every day for work. I’ve had great luck with LLBean shirts in Tall. Pricey, but they really don’t shrink much at all (I wash all of his clothes in extra hot) and they wear like iron.

      • Trixie says

        We love LL Bean here too. They’re clothes are a little higher priced but they last forever and like you said, EASY peasy to care for. I never have to iron LL Bean clothing.

    • Miranda says

      Didn’t know that about flannel shirts, but nowI am curious….So, is it more practical then to buy flannel shirts that you know are a size or 2 too big so they will fit after the dryer? Or would they just keep gettig smaller?

  7. Stacey says

    I have “help” with laundry and had new items ruined also. Your pants were cotton knit though. What about clothing made from cotton that is not stretchy? I have a few nice white blouses that shrunk.

    • Landon says

      The great thing about cotton is that it stretches. If your blouses are 100% cotton they will shrink when washed & stretch when worn. In the past I have spritzed a cotton blouse with a water bottle – just enough to make it slightly damp – then put it on & wore it around the house for a while. It didn’t take it long to stretch back out to it’s original size.

  8. Katie says

    LOVE IT!!! I have a favorite pair of gym pants that I can’t wear any more because I shrunk them! Totally trying this! Thanks again for your amazing tips!

  9. Penny Hannah says

    Just a request for information – why in the name of all that is wonderful, do you use a tumble dryer in your climate? It seems so wasteful and unnecessary, when nothing beats the feel and smell of line dried washing. I struggle with an indoor clothes airer in our damp, wet Scottish climate, but am too mean to use the tumble dryer except ‘in extremis’.

    • KayDee says

      No matter my climate, I use a dryer on everything except a few of my daughter’s dresses and poplin (shake them out and hang so NO IRONING!) I do not like the smell and feel of line dried washing, especially if done outside. The clothes are scratchy and just not as soft. Not matter how much fabric softener is used in the wash. Also, I like the dryer for the sanitizing it does. I like killing germies. :)

      • Ashley says

        I totally agree with KayDee. I hate line dried clothes. Nothing is better (to me) than fluffy, soft, warm clothes from the dryer. They smell awesome, they’re not scratchy; regardless of my climate, tumble dried is the way for me.
        I’m so glad I’ve found this! I have so many dresses I thought I’d never wear again because they were so short! I can’t wait to try it :)

      • katerina says

        You can’t be serious !! NOTHING beats line dried beautiful white linens and pure cottons.

      • Donna says

        Cannot do line dried because 2 in our family have outdoor allergies. We’d be sick all the time. Drying in the dryer kills the nasty allergens for us.

      • Joan says

        I’m with Donna–allergists recommend drying in the dryer only! We have kids with asthma and even opening up the windows at night is a big no-no. It’s a bummer cause I love the smell of line dried clothes. As for windows at night…we do open ours in our bedrooms, but not for the kids!! Not fun nebulizing at 4:00 am!!

      • Katy says

        Ditto. I LOVE line-dried clothes, especially warm from the sun… but we live in the allergy capital of the United States (aka Knoxville, TN) and I’ve developed allergies to just about everything that produces pollen. Hubby isn’t much better. So after trying to suffer through line-drying, we had to bite the bullet and go back to using the dryer. We’ve gone green in many other areas so I’m okay with this one!

      • says

        I live right outside of Knoxville in Oak Ridge but like Katy, I dislike the door and stiffness of the clothing. However, the main reason I refuse to hang laundry out …the ticks, wasp and yellow jackets!! Shaking the clothes out before putting them on doesn’t always help. Being stung is bad enough but finding a tick buried in your skin is just gross and dangerous!!

      • Shirley Steiniger says

        I love line dried clothes. I put all my clothes on the line (weather permitting) then we toss in the dryer to fluff on cool heat to remove any allergens and to soften.

      • Lynn says

        That is how I like to do it too all the time.. I love hanging laundry outdoors.. And a quick fluff is all it takes.. And your set.. Nice and soft, and you don’t have to run the dryer but for just a bit… Win win…

      • lduke says

        Get a clothesrack at Bed bath and beyond..steel tubing about 5 feet tall. Hang all clothes to be air dried.

      • Glo says

        I love the soft feel of clothes that come out of the dryer. I also love the fresh smell of line dried clothes. What I do is hang the clothes to dry, then pop them in the dryer for about 10 minutes with a damp wash cloth/towel to soften them. This saves electricity also since I have an electric dryer.

      • Sherri says

        If you hadn’t noticed besides the fact it saves electricity from not drying your clothes the full cycle in the dryer, it also saves the life of your clothes all together. You will notice if you wash colored clothes in cold water and line dry them, you will save the color in the garment also. I had simple t-shirts for 10 years or longer that still looked brand new, and I love bright colors. I used the dryer basically to fluff them or take the wrinkles out. Give it a try!

      • Kelly R. says

        Thank you for this great helpful tip! But in regards to the silly dryer V. line drying comments… some people don’t have a yard in which to hang dry, some people have horrible outdoor allergies. (like me) my whole life I would sneeze and have a constant runny/stuffy nose. I would tell my mom my sheets stink. (LINE DRIED) it took YEARS to figure out it was all the allergens now imbedded in my clothes and sheets! everybody is different, TO EACH HIS OWN :-)

      • Katie says

        I agree with KayDee and Ashley… I LOATHE clothes that have been line dried outside. In my opinion, they smell disgusting and, living in a wooded area, I prefer not to have all my clean clothes covered in presents from the birds (a lesson I learned the hard way). I don’t use the dryer a lot for fear of shrinkage (although now that I have this tip, that may be a thing of the past!), so I usually hang things on the shower curtain rod or toss them on a drying rack. It works just as well without having to worry about the smell or the bird messes!

      • Sarah says

        Same with me, I HATE the smell and I have at various times *had* to line dry. Ugh, do not like it at all. I am addicted to the smells of laundry soap and softener :)

      • Sada says

        Actually, in desert climates (I live in central Arizona), line-dried clothes dry *too fast*. So instead of soft, beautiful-smelling linens and clothing, you get stiff, scratchy fabric that on a good day smells like nothing (an on a bad day here, it’s covered in Ponderosa pine and Juniper pollen…which means yellow stains and allergies). Coming from Ohio (where line-dried linens are indeed a wonderful thing), it was a shock to me that all this sun and low relative humidity would actually be bad for line-drying.

        I used cloth diapers for my two kids…the times I line-dried the diapers, I would start at one end of the clothesline, hang everything up, and then immediately go back to the beginning of the line and start taking things back down–they’d be dry and stiff as a board in that short amount of time, which usually meant having to put them in the dryer for a while with something damp to soften them up.

      • says

        I’m with you, Sada. As a desert-dweller (East Phoenix Valley), the pollen isn’t so bad. But the DUST!~ For real – I just *washed* the clothes and they’re covered in *dirt* AGAIN?! :P As a transplant here from Michigan, I appreciated line-dried clothes there much more than I do now in this climate. I can lay my tanks and tees on our bed and they’re generally dry within an hour (ish), so that’s about the best I can do. ;)

      • Deb says

        I agree Sue growing up in Michigan I loved line dried in the summer. Of course winter was out. I’m a transplant to TX and now live in an apartment having to use the dryer most times. I still use my drying rack for some things.

      • bev says

        sada i too live in az and ur so right! line dried get stiff and scratchy very quickly. the allergens from the dust here kill me during the windy months (which is most of them) i will stick with my dryer as long as i am here. we are moving to belize in 2 yrs and almost no one there uses dryers so i will have to see how that goes…may be more like ohio i hope!

      • Cathyhy says

        I also moved to Az. from Pa. I would love to hang my clothes outside but with the Dust blowing I would have to wash them again.

      • jk says

        I live in south Phoenix and in the summer I just take my clothes out of the washing machine and hang them in the closet. I leave lots of air space around each item and they dry in no time at all

      • Rebecca Sorrells says

        You are so right my bed linens smell so good line dried and for all
        Disbelievers line dry your towels it makes them twice as thirsty and dry
        Off so much better than dryer dried towels especially your kitchen towels
        where you are always cleaning up spills.

      • Pam L. says

        To each his (or her) own. Everyone has his or her own preferences. Personally, I use a clothesline much of the time in summer, but often toss those clothes into the dryer just to “fluff” them. Oh, that tends to get the beetles out, too. No fun finding a beetle in your undies.

      • Lori says

        If you hang your laundry on the line just before a rain, let them sit through the rain and then line dry, those clothes will be the softest you have ever put against your skin. I learned this by accident after leaving diapers out in the rain by accident. I figured, oh well I’ll just let them dry out. Imagine my surprise when I removed the softest diapers I ever put on my baby’s bottom! Of course you can’t always plan your laundry around the rain. Try it sometime.

      • Tanya says

        We have a well and our water is crystal clear and the best tasting water ever. I think its ridiculous that people are jumping down other people’s throats about not line drying. Clothes dried outside where I live are super scratchy and hard too-but not everyone has to conform to the “green” craze.

      • Meg says

        Fortunately being “green” isn’t a craze. It’s about being healthy and mindful of how we live. Our society doesn’t think about the after effects of our consumerist lifestyles, but what we are doing is stripping and ruining our beautiful earth and environment and making it an unlivable place. Of course, in our great country we don’t see the effects of this…yet. I truly hope that in a few years living “green and healthy” will be the norm. And if it’s not, we’re all in for a world of trouble because we are slowly, but surely poisoning ourselves and our world.

      • Sunnie says

        Excuse me but yes, some so-called green living issues are a craze, no point getting huffy because of an off-hand use of terms. People can be so sensitive these days! I like to do both. Living in Montana, a WINDY part, on a dirt road… I have to be very judicious about what and when to line dry. And I have to agree with the previous comment about tap water- It’s disgusting!

      • Kristy says

        No line drying for me…my partner & I live on a dairy farm and the cows stomp past twice a day, kicking up mud in winter and dust in summer. I don’t so much mind the “farmy” smells around the place, but I draw the line at wearing clothes that smell like cows. I’ll stick to my dryer thanks :)

      • Vironika says

        We had to (as in no choice about it) line dry our clothes when I was a kid, and I hated it! All my clothes was stiff and scratchy. I wouldn’t even let my mom wash my clothes until I had worn my shirts and jeans a few times first! I am happy to have a dryer. Is there even a way to keep laundry soft when it line dries??

        Anyhow, I was wondering about this super smart tutorial (and so bummed about the multiple items I’ve ‘donated’ when they shrink)—do you have to air dry them every time after or were the pants in a ‘pre-shrunk’ state where they were fine to throw in the dryer after all of that??

        Thanks for this info–super helpful!

      • Landon says

        Line dried clothes are only scratchy for the first few minutes you put them on. Once your body heat warms them up they soften right up. Jeans are terribly scratchy when they come off the line, but soft & comfy within minutes of putting them on.

        The only thing I put in the dryer are sheets & towels. On wash day I don’t always have room to hang out the sheets & towels are fluffy & more absorbent out of the dryer – especially if vinegar is used in the rinse water. The only exception to not using the clothes line is rainy weeks when there isn’t a clear day to hang them out & once the weather gets so cold that we are using the insert in the fireplace to heat the house. Thankfully, in the South we don’t have to use the fireplace for very long.

      • says

        Most of my family’s clothes are line dried. It saves a bundle on the electric bill (ours is about $60 most months for a 3 bedroom house) and it also extends the life of your clothes. I use the dryer for towels, socks & underwear – towels so they’re soft and socks & underwear because there’s too many to hang. This year I’ve gotten into a routine of doing laundry almost every day so I’ve even been line drying socks & underwear because I never have more than a few of each. In the summer the whites are hung outside in the bright sun to take advantage of nature’s bleaching. Sheets are hung outside during the warm months but they go in the dryer once it gets cold. I have lines and hangers to dry stuff in my basement but sheets take up too much room.

      • Brigitte says

        $60 and you don’t use the dryer?! We don’t pay nearly that much and apparently my in-laws bred a complete inability to turn off lights into their children because of the four of us I’m the only person who doesn’t leave the house lit up like a church. Just goes to show different prices in different areas, I guess. We don’t have “peak hours” for utilities either like I did growing up.

      • Annie says

        My gas bill (dryer is gas) is typically $40 a month during the summer/$80 in winter. I use my dryer for 99% of loads – I also have a gas stove.

        I’m surprised so many people don’t use their dryers. I can only imagine some of the people saying they “went green” are saying that while a huge suv is parked in their garage.

      • Judy says

        They convince themselves it is cheaper than paying for a motel, etc. cost. Seems expensive to me to pay for gas and the RV. To each their own.

      • Kristy says

        We just got our electricity bill [I live in Western Australia] and it was $220 for the sixty day period. The gas bill is usually around $150 every sixty days. My mother lives in the north of the state and her bills are even higher. As I mentioned further up in the comments, living next to the dairy run isn’t favourable to line-drying.

      • says

        My electric bill is $480 every 90 days. Yes, using the dryer is expensive so we don’t use it much. We use it for the sock/jocks and big towls, everything else is line-dried inside. (Clothes-munching dog outside.)

      • says

        Lights left on all the time? That’s why you walk around my house and the lights come on when you enter the room and go off minutes after you leave by themselves with motion detector switches. I haste my wife (and two kids when they were here) leaving the light on or leaving stuff in the middle of the walk way. I use the dryer with fabric softener sheets all the time and it bugs me when my wife hangs her sweaters on the bathroom towels to dry and my bath towel is buried under wet heavy sweaters or other of her clothes. They spell moldy when she dries them that way any way.

      • Miranda says

        Question: I have never line dried outside because I always assumed the sun would fade the colors. What about that?

      • Amber says

        the only time fading has been a problem for me is when I dry my clothes indoors and the sunlight coming through the window has caught an odd patch of fabric. I also had a wardrobe with no door right by the window for a while, so one or two shirts had patchy fade marks from that, but line drying has never produced any noticeable fading on my clothes. I’ve had busy work weeks and forgot my washing on the line for days at a time before… clothes come in a little damp-smelling sometimes but never faded :P

      • Resa says

        Whether line drying fades your colors depends on a number of things. Some fabrics are more colorfast than others. Where I live, the UV is really intense and so it not only fades fabrics, over time it causes the fibers to break down. Even in less UV intense climates, if for example you hang your clothes up before you go to work and they’re out all day, then over time the accumulated exposure will start making them fade. Also, if you hang your clothes over a really green lawn, the chlorophyll can bleach out the colors. This last thing is really handy if you have whites that need extra stain removal though. Lay your wet whites out on a clean patch of lawn in the bright sun. It’s better than bleach and if you don’t leave things out too long baking, less destructive than chlorine.

      • Jill says

        My mother in law crochets beautiful blessing dresses. She had one she’d done years ago that had yellowed while sitting in the closet. She felt it was ‘unusable’ but I got it very wet and hung it outside overnight on a cold night. The next morning it was that ‘blinding white’ shade of white. My mom had always told me she kept her diapers white by hanging them outside when a frost was expected!

      • Leanne says

        Wow – some pretty bitter and upset people over LINE DRYING clothes! Come on folks, differences in opinion are what keep the world going around….

        For the record I use vinegar as a fabric softer, dry outside as often as I can and yes the sun can “bleach” certain fabrics and help get rid of stains. Just ask Jillee or Martha Stewart.

        Peace out sisters :)

      • Tina says

        wow… I am so surprised at the bitterness in people. Whether you line dry or use your dryer, it is in the end what works best for each individual person. No reason to ever bully someone or say that their words or opinions are wrong just because they may not be your own belief. Come on… let’s not gang up on each other…be happy we have the choice to use a dryer or line dry… and not beating on our clothes on some river bank. And thanks Jillee, love all of your blogs! I look forward to each and every one of them. Everyone else, be happy for your fellow man… no need to be mean to one another.

      • Kelsey says

        I agree with Tina. I would think that line drying vs. electric drying would not be enough to cause World War III on Jillee’s very eye opening post. It’s true that it saves a lot of money when you line dry clothing, but it is not always possible. Please think about things before you type/say them.

      • Betty Ann says

        It most certainly does when it rains. A proven, scientific fact. Pollens also do attach themselves to when line-drying unless there are no trees for many miles around, and the absolute absence of wind.

      • Ruth says

        Acid rain. Park your car outside and see what falls on it. Where do you think pollution in the air goes? Obviously you didn’t think that statement through. If pollution doesn’t fall from the sky where does it come from? Educate yourself.

      • lisa says

        The last time I hung out my clothes, my neighbor decided to BBq. The wind blow all of the smoke on to my clothes… It was awful, no way to wear them, had to rewash everything twice to get the smell out. Never again!!!!! There was a time when it was great to hang clothes outside but not now with all the pollution in the air it is enough to make you sick! I hang my clothes that will shrink (in the dryer) in the laundry room. No more outside!!

      • Namma says

        Line or air drying leaves clothing way too stiff, particularly if you live in a very dry climate like I do (average 18% humidity). You can literally stand jeans up by themselves if they were hung wet outside (heck even hung indoors).

        On top of that there seems to be an assumption that everyone lives in a house. Sorry, many of us are apartment dwellers.

        The solution to BOTH problems is to stick the clothes in the dryer for a short time. Depends on what it is jeans and heavier will go longer (about 17 minutes) t-shirts and lighter about 8-12 minutes, again depending on cloth weight. (If they still dry stiff, try adding a minute or so to dryer time.)

        Snatch them out one at a time, leaving the dryer running, snap the wrinkles out, and hang them on hangers. Jeans and pants can be hung seam to seam on pant clip hangers by the bottom hem. You can gently stretch out any remaining seam wrinkles and form the collars, etc correctly.

        This cuts down on the dryer time and gives you clothing that doesn’t require ironing (which you’d spend the hanging time on anyways).

        My sister (in a house) even does towels, blankets, quilts, sheets, etc. like this outside. You get less electric usage, the clean air smell, but shorter drying time all around without cardboard stiffness in the cloth.

        (bulk hangers are very inexpensive on amazon, or check your local papers for when a dress or clothing shop is going out of business. I got 100 of each style hanger for $20 this way years ago and still have them)

      • Tanya says

        I live in Canada, 3 hrs north Seattle, so there’s a lot of rain, but we do get our share of sun. The house also backs up to an agriculture land block, so every few weeks some farmer is spraying their hay fields with a very potent “perfumed” fertilizer that permeates everything, so line drying must be timed carefully.

        I remember when my Grandmother did it when I was a kid, plus I remember when I visited my Great-grandmother and she had stuff on the line. Growing up in the interior of British Columbia, my Mom did the same, even in the winter when it was freezing… you haven’t had line dried bedding until you’ve been asked to bring in frozen pillow cases that are stiff as a board and still slightly damp, but smell like the great outdoors….

        My little sister (34) married a Dutchman and lives in a tiny apartment in Amsterdam with her 3 children, under his age of 6. Dryers are not the norm there. Everyone has an over-the-door rack (or 2) that they use, as well they use their balconies.

        One thing remains the same with line drying whether it be from memories when I was younger, now, or when I visited my sister in Amsterdam…. the smell of line dried laundry was the same. (unless it was a fertilizer day… then you didn’t even want to breath!)

      • says

        I thought line drying (in the sun) bleached out some stains and killed germs? And I’m not sure how hot dryers get, but I’m pretty sure a hot wash is what kills most germs initially, not a hot dry? Oh well, sun-drying seems to work for our house (during the summer)!

      • Roberta says

        I agree!!! I HATE line drying clothes. I tried and when my dryer quit mid cycle I had to do it and my clothes were stiff, scratchy and smelled horrible. And hot extremely humid air does nothing good for the clothes. I live in a rural area in Kentucky. Give me fluffy lavender scented clothing fresh from a dryer ANY day.

      • SMiaVS says

        Yeah, except that if you’re using a non-organic regular laundry detergent and/or fabric softener, what you’re smelling is chemical and in NO way resembles actual lavender, which does have a heavenly scent. I grew up in the U.S. with all the chemical stuff, but now live in France and buy organic stuff whenever I can.

        I was back in the States for several months and was appalled at how awful the All and Downy stuff smells. My clothes don’t smell like flowers, (the organic stuff isn’t generally scented) but they smell deliciously clean. I certainly hope the people talking about allergies (the reason I switched to organic detergent in the first place–totally changed my life) are using something more natural.

        I line-dry a little less than half my clothes. Would do them all if I had the space, but I have a tiny apartment and rely on a laundromat. I’m small and can’t carry that much laundry back on my own. I bring sweaters, bras, camisoles, skirts and trousers back, but my jeans, towels, socks and underwear are done in the dryer while I’m at home hanging everything else.

        Going green’s going to be essential soon enough. I hope the people who ignored it are the first ones to do without when we start running out of resources….

      • Amber says

        I live in the rainy state of Washington when we can line dry we do. I found the trick that works for us is to put them in the dryer for about fifteen min and then hang them on the line I also hang the clothes outside about dusk with the warm breeze soft nice smelling clothes. If we put them out on a hot day even the dryer dose not soften them and don’t smell as nice.

      • liliom says

        Did you know that sunshine and fresh air also kill germs? Hanging clothes outside is so environmentally friendly, and they do smell great. Towels might be a little scratchier, but much more absorbent than if tumble-dried. You can always fluff them up by putting them in the dryer with a damp washcloth for a few minutes.

      • says

        Absolutely agree with Kaydee, line dried gives me the shudders, especially towels and bedding. They are hard and scratchy. The dryer makes everything so much better! :)

      • Kimberley says

        I do not believe that a dryer will kill germies nearly as well as the sun does. The sun is a germ killer by itself. But you can put your non dry clothes in the dryer on cold air and you will get the same feeling. I too like dryer clothes better than line dried. But once you start wearing them awhile they soften up.

      • says

        I love to hang the clothes outside—— to dry in the breeze esp. the sheets and pillowcases, They get the hot sun on them and get sanitized. My mom drilled into me that there was no excuse to put the clothes in the drier with the price of electrieity. If it is a dead no breeze very humid day, then i usually have to use the dryer. But tryto watch the weather. My mom hung out some clothes in winter, especially ones to whiten. You bring in the clothes frozen stiff as a board and as they thawed over the living room stove, they looked a lot whiter. The white shirts, blouses that needed ironing, were put into a large bag, after you shook some water on them. Kept them in the bag and got them ironed in the next day or two. Good old days.

      • Pamel says

        I also do NOT like the smell of clothing dried outdoors, and towels are the worst, they are stiff and crunchy!!! I dry almost everything as well.

      • Samantha Thomas says

        I agree with KayDee, I hate line drying stuff; everything is so stiff and scratchy. I love my drier!

        I do have a question though, can I use just regular shampoo or conditioner or does it have to be baby shampoo? I don’t have a baby so I have no reason to buy it except for this, but I won’t bother if I can use my own shampoo.

      • Bouhaki says

        My easy trick: Throw the damp clothes in the dryer on “air only” or the lowest heat setting for about 15 minutes, then line dry. Uses minimal energy, takes the scratch out of all but the heaviest towels, releases the wrinkles from the spin cycle AND reduces drying time on the line. Win win.

      • says

        The sun has a strong disinfecting effect. Also, things that don’t dry as soft as you like can be tumbled for a few minutes on the Air setting and they relax.

      • Connie Gauthier says

        You need a good breeze for your clothes to dry soft I hang my clothes out all Summer and when nice enough in the Spring and Fall.

      • Patti says

        Interesting tidbit…the rough, scratchy line-dry feel goes away when you put the clothes/towels/sheets back into the dryer for 5 minutes. Really, all it takes is rubbing the towel against itself and it’s soft again, but I do as above for my family because they’re fussy and want the soft.

    • Trixie says

      I NEVER line dry my clothes. I don’t like the scratchy feel of line dried fabric and it would just irk me to no end to be re-washing clothes constantly to erase bird evidence – if ya know what I mean…..the clothes dryer is my friend (0=

    • Melanie says

      For me I’d go the line dry method and then put into the dryer for a “refresh” which would soften the clothes and kill any germs/pollens… but I’m up north and it’s too humid to line dry in most months :(

    • Chris says

      Many people, like me, live in areas that are perfect for line drying, but their home-owners associations prohibit the practice. :-(

      • Melissa says

        Yup, I am with Chris. Our HOA specifically bans hanging laundry, even in the backyard where it can’t be seen! Besides, I also don’t like the stiffness of line-dried clothing, and it would be my luck that I would forget it outside and some animal would do something horrible to it.

      • Catherine says

        Our HOA did prohibit it, but some laws have changed here. I never thought I would like line dried clothing but since we’re cloth diapering now, I have to. On a windy day, they dry fine. But on a less than windy day, they end up stiff. During the drying process, I move them quite a bit and as I’m taking them off, I roll them up and squish, lol. Then they’re fine :-). We’ve got 8 children though and I can’t imagine having to line dry everything they wear. My daughters have a lot of clothes that can’t be dried already. It takes forever!

    • lynn says

      A whole lot of dry climates also have wind which brings dust and ruins the wash anyway. Southern nv is like that.

      • Lynn N says

        I live in southern NV also! Was so surprised -no clothes lines anywhere. Then I experienced the dust and wind storms. I miss the Midwestern practice of hanging the sheets on the line. But It would be a waste of time.

    • Sarah says

      I live in a dry climate…but I use a dryer…why? Because I have kids and a million items of laundry…not to sound bad, but the time consumption for hanging clothes and taking them down can be used to actually get other stuff done, like playing with the kids who are getting more dirty laundry ready…Just a thought.

    • Kristie R says

      Just an observation, but why does it matter where or how this lady dries her clothes. It is a great tip that I am glad to have. For those of us who are not super mom and do laundry at night after a long day at work, sometimes the wrong thing ends up in the dryer. Life happens sometimes way often at my house. Yes, I use a tumble dryer as you call it. Yes, sometimes things shrink. I like knowing how to unshrink them.

      • Jessica says

        DITTO!!!!! who cares me i dont line dry i have two small kids and a husband who change clothes 3 times a day if not more!! i would be up to my knees and even farther behind in laundry if i decided to line dry!

    • Lena K. says

      When I went to college in Spain, my line dried clothes felt so “crunchy”. Our homeowners’ association (Im in SoCal) explicitly forbids clotheslines (front or back).

    • txliss says

      I can’t line dry anything (even though I’m in TX) because of the nasty dusty breezes and hubby allergies. Every time I try it, he ends up unable to breathe until I rewash and tumble dry the item. Ugh. I miss line dried everything – except jeans. Jeans are not so nice dried on the line…LOL

    • Lara says

      If you have pets, you know the only way to collect the hair off your clothes is to pop em in the dryer and let the filter do its job!

      • Kristy says

        Yup, I completely agree about the dog hair…three dogs in this house, including a double-coat collie.

    • Tessa says

      I’ll answer this question. My husband is from the U.K, and I am American. I lived in the U.K. for the first two years of our marriage. We now reside in the United States.

      It is a cultural thing. Truly, it is. In the U.K, there is very little space in the housing. What you would consider huge in the U.K, is considered cramped and tiny in the U.S. There just truly aren’t many people in the U.K, who have the room for the dryer. Utilities also cost WAAAY more in the U.K, especially electricity, and a good majority of the U.K has electric water heater (boiler), heating, and dryers. It really isn’t affordable there to use the clothes dryer on a regular basis. When we lived there, in one of our flats we have a washer that was also a dryer, all built into one. It took two cycles in the dryer to get the clothes completely dry. So often times, we would hang the clothes for a while, then finish them off in the dryer to give them a softer feel, and make them easier to fold.

      It doesn’t occur to many Americans to line dry their clothing, as many homes here have a dedicated laundry room, which is as big as many U.K. bedrooms. Could we line dry? Absolutely. But given the fact that America is bigger, we also tend to have more children, and that makes for a lot more laundry. Therefore, clothes dryers are kind of standard here.

      We have a couple of fold up drying racks that we bought at Ikea. I do use them in the summer. But we also have a front loading washing machine that is energy efficient, and it costs us a grand total of 50 dollars for the entire year to do one load of washing and drying with the tumble dryer. While I agree that line drying is smart, and can be more cost efficient, there are cultural differences here in the U.S, that account for all the tumble dryers.

      Hope that explains it a bit.

      • says

        I agree with you wholeheartedly! I live in the Netherlands and line drying is the norm, basically because dryers and utilities are expensive here. Our homes are also tiny, compared to american homes. I love how my laundry smells after a day in the sun, I add a bit of vinegar instead of fabric softener and everything is always soft & fluffy. Using your dryer all the time is a no-no, mostly because of the costs but als because of the environmental impact. I never owned a dryer, and never missed it either.

    • Hannah says

      I’m also not fond of the smell or the road dust and bird droppings I get line drying. I usually let my clothes dry 4-5 minutes in my dryer, shake them out and hang them (on a pipe, with cheap plastic hangers or the plastic clip hangers that come with pants) in my basement laundry room to complete the dry. I ‘unshrink’ my depressing number of too-long-in-the-dryer boo-boos by throwing them all back into the washing machine for a rinse cycle. I can’t wait to try Jilleee’s hint though because some flannel doesn’t seem to ‘come back’ all of the way the rest of my cottons do.

    • Ann says

      BACK TO THE REAL REASON FOR THIS POST…THIS TRICK WORKS! Thank you so very much! It saved my husband’s dress shirt today. As for the rest of you…who cares how you dry your clothes. It’s personal preference and irrelevant.

      • nicole says

        oh thank goodness someone who has done this!!!!! quick question how ong did you soak the item for? and how long to you keep it wrapped in the first towel ?

      • patty says


    • says

      I have no choice but to line dry for now since our dryer doesn’t work (yes, I’m still line drying during the winter, in the basement). I hate it. My clothes are stiff, not soft, and the lint and dog hair that would normally get sucked up by the dryer never go away. I don’t think I will ever get all of the dog hair off my clothes.

    • S Walters says

      The problem with the desert is that there is always dust in the air. So air drying clothing outside almost always means that they also will have dust in them when they are suppose to be clean. Not so nice. I air dry all of my clothing inside because of the dust.

    • NanaArizona says

      The “REASON” is to get the lint out of the clothes so it doesn’t accumulate around the house. Even though I line dry our clothes, I STILL put them in the dryer to DE-LINT.

    • says

      This actually isn’t a “reply” to your comment but I couldn’t figure out where to start a new thread. Anyway, what I can’t figure out in this method (which sounds like a godsend!) is whether the shampoo is rinsed out at any point or do you just leave it in?


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