The way you dry laundry in the winter is dangerous – Here's how to do it right

A home and design expert warns against drying damp laundry indoors during the winter — and offers solutions that will reduce the health damage it can cause.

Laundry hung out to dry. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Laundry hung out to dry.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

When it comes to knitwear and jeans – and especially delicate clothing items that are important to us – we tend not to put them in the dryer and hang them to dry in the fresh air. However, when winter comes, we find ourselves hanging damp laundry everywhere in the house and hoping the air we breathe will do the job.

Home and design experts warn that hanging damp laundry in the house actually destroys our home and can cause damage not only to property but also to our health. But don't worry – there are some solutions to reduce the possible damage, at least until summer returns.

According to Paul Givens, housebuyers4u's property expert, the moisture created by wet clothes that dry inside the house can cause mold growth. "During the winter we of course turn on the heating more, and when we combine this with damp laundry, a lot of condensation is created – not least because we usually keep the windows closed in the winter, so naturally there is a lack of ventilation," he said.

"This condensation begins "Leaking into our walls, carpets and furniture. Prolonged humidity creates mold at home. Moisture and mold can cause breathing problems, such as coughs, runny noses and sneezing, which can develop into much more serious respiratory illnesses."

So how can we prevent mold from growing as a result of hanging wet laundry indoors? Experts have shared five methods with The Sun that may help:

  1. Improve the airflow in the house - "If you are drying laundry indoors, put your hanger in a place with good airflow to prevent the accumulation of condensation," the experts said. An easy way to do this is by opening a window for about 15 minutes, which also improves the air quality in the house.
  2. Use a dehumidifier - If you prefer not to let the cold winter air into your home, a dedicated device for absorbing moisture is another solution for removing it from homes and clothes quickly and safely. In addition, dehumidifiers are known to relieve allergies.
  3. Do not overload your washing machine - Many of us do it. We put as many clothes and sheets as possible in the washing machine to avoid the need for additional loads. However, Beko's experts said, overfilling the washing machine "can leave your clothes wet when you take them out - and significantly extend the drying time." Therefore, they recommend filling the washing machine no more than the limit allowed by the manufacturer's instructions.
  4. Use your space wisely - The experts warn against a situation where you create a huge pile of clothes on a small drying rack or hang several items for drying too close to each other. "If anything, it will leave your laundry with a smell of moisture and your ironing pile higher than usual. Scatter your laundry and let it ventilate."
A woman loads laundry into the washing machine at a laundromat in Cambridge, Massachusetts July 8, 2009. (credit: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER)A woman loads laundry into the washing machine at a laundromat in Cambridge, Massachusetts July 8, 2009. (credit: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER)

5. Use a dryer - Yes, this may be the solution most of us try to avoid, but sometimes there is no choice. "Dryers are perfect for the winter months because they dry clothes quickly and efficiently, regardless of the weather," the experts said. "Purchasing a tumble dryer also means you no longer have to scatter damp laundry all over your home," they noted.

If you already have a dryer, make sure it works efficiently and that you clean it properly. In an interview with News.com.au, Colin Jones, an expert at Appliances Online Australia, revealed the exact way to clean the dryer: "General cleaning of your dryer should include removing the filter, rinsing it under a tap running water to remove any accumulation of lint, and wiping."