Since moving to Japan, I’ve gotten into the habit of hanging my laundry outside on the balcony each morning to dry. As long as it isn’t raining or snowing, you can count on seeing my clothes out in the sunshine and blowing around in the breeze.
Drying clothes outside is pretty much the norm here in Japan, and it used to be the same back in the states. Before everyone had dryers, it was pretty common to see your neighbors pinning their clothes to a clothesline bright and early.
Times have changed, but there are still many benefits and reasons for wanting to hang clothes outside today—even if you have a dryer!
What Are the Perks to Drying Your Clothes Outside?
I have a dryer that I use on rainy days, but I try to avoid using it as much as possible, and there are some good reasons why. Sure, it’s more convenient when you don’t have much time and just want to finish your laundry quickly. However, let’s look at why drying laundry outside is still popular in other countries.
Some of the perks to drying your clothes outside:
- Saves electricity
- Is eco-friendly
- Less chance for clothes to shrink
- Clothing is less wrinkled
- The UV disinfects clothes
- Less likely to let the laundry pile up
Hanging your clothes outside each day can help to reduce your electricity bill. I didn’t realize just how much my dryer cost me until I ended up paying an extra $20-30 each month from using it frequently. Since hanging my clothes on my balcony, I’ve been able to pocket that money instead.
Reducing energy consumption also means making less of a negative impact on the environment.
Drying your clothes outside is not only good for the planet, but it’s also good for your wallet. That’s a win-win!
How to Dry Your Clothes on a Tiny Balcony
First, let’s take a look at some of the options for some of the smallest balconies of them all. Let’s say you have a balcony that’s just big enough to stand on, but is too small or narrow to unfold a standard clothes rack on.
Depending on whether or not your balcony has a ceiling or is completely open, there are a few different solutions to choose from.
For Small Balconies Without a Ceiling
Clothes racks that attach directly to balcony railing are simple and easy to use. There’s usually no installation required. They just hook onto the railing and hang like a shelf that you can pin clothing onto.
They’re easy to set up within seconds!
The Candumy Folding Laundry Rack, for example, has an adjustable hook that allows it to attach to a balcony or windowsill. It can be faced outwards so that it doesn’t actually take up space on the balcony itself.
The nice thing about having rack that attaches directly to the rail is that it’s sturdy and won’t blow over.
For Small Balconies With a Ceiling
Having a ceiling opens up the possibility to drying clothes vertically. This will allow more clothing to dry in a narrow space without taking up much room.
Laundry poles made from tension rods can be adjusted to fit the height of your balcony. The rod is tightened so that it stays firmly in place so that it doesn’t fall over from too much weight or blow over from wind.
The Hershii Adjustable Laundry Pole Clothes Drying Rack has 4 hooks on it that can be rotated in any direction. This allows clothing to be spaced out for more airflow and direct sunlight.
Regular clothes hangers can be used on the hooks to hang up shirts, but pants might not dry as well the same way.
One solution is to pin pants to a hanger so that they are completely open. This will prevent any damp spots caused by overlap.
How to Dry Your Clothes on a Narrow Balcony
Many apartment balconies tend to be on the long but narrow side—especially in big cities. Space is very limited in places like Tokyo or New York, so collapsible racks that can be stored away are ideal.
One clothes rack that I like in particular is this folding stainless steel rack on wheels. It’s 57″ tall, which makes it perfect for utilizing the vertical space on a narrow balcony.
What’s nice about it is that you can extend one side open and leave the other flat against the wall in order to allow room to maneuver around it. The two hook arms are also still accessible when you do this.
Another reason that I like this clothes rack is it’s easy to roll in from the balcony quickly if it starts to rain. I’ve struggled countless times to lift my heavy clothes racks into the house and often had them collapse on me.
Plus with this rack you can avoid standing out in the sun while hanging your clothing. Instead, you can roll the rack out once everything is on and minimize your time in direct sunlight.
There are many styles of clothes racks that are available and suitable for use on a balcony. I hope that the 3 that I suggested were helpful and will at least warm you up to the idea of drying your clothes outside.
Like I mentioned, it’s a good way to save money on electricity and it’s also good for the environment at the same time!