Drying your washing on a clothesline has so many benefits – it saves power and money, sanitises and whitens whites (thanks to the sun’s UV rays), is gentler on your clothes, and gives your laundry that magical fresh-air smell. But sometimes laundry dried on the line can end up feeling a bit stiff and crunchy, especially if it’s 100% cotton or linen.
Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to keep your line-dried washing soft and fluffy.
Use less laundry detergent
Even when tumble-drying your washing, if you’ve used too much laundry detergent in the load, you’re likely to end up with stiff, scratchy clothes, towels, and sheets. That’s because they’re full of detergent residue that hasn’t rinsed out. If you overdo the detergent, you also create extra suds which prevent the friction needed to clean your clothes properly as they agitate inside the machine. By measuring your detergent correctly, not only do you save money by avoiding waste, but your clothes get cleaner and they come out softer.
Rinse with vinegar
Adding half a cup of white vinegar to your rinse cycle will help to strip out any detergent residue that has built up inside the fibres of your laundry. It also acts as a fabric softener. As a bonus, it helps to whiten your whites and remove musty smells. Any vinegar odour should dissipate as the laundry dries.
Give it a shake
Before you hang each item on the line, give it a quick shake to loosen the fibres, remove wrinkles, and free any bits of fabric that have stuck together. It will result in softer laundry that dries faster. If you’re fortunate enough to have a nice, windy day, that will also help, as the washing will flap around, preventing the fibres from stiffening as they dry.
Use a lower spin speed
Most washing machines have extremely high standard spin speeds of between 1200 and 1600 rpm. While this helps to extract a lot of water from your load and enables your laundry to dry faster, it also flattens the fibres in the fabric. Clothes that start off damper tend to dry softer, so if it’s a nice breezy, sunny day, try lowering your spin cycle to 800 rpm and hanging your laundry out a little bit wetter.
Finish it in the dryer
For the best of both worlds, you can take your laundry off the line before it’s totally dry and fluff it for ten minutes in the tumble dryer. If your load of washing is already completely dry but feels a bit stiff, throw a damp flannel or towel into the dryer with it to create some extra humidity and steam out the wrinkles.