How to dry moldy clothing on humid days
July 1, 2008 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Will line-drying damp clothing on humid days make our clothing smell mildewy?

We live in Tallahassee and usually hang the clothing we'd like not to shrink on a line in our garage. Unfortunately, Tallahassee is almost always quite humid, the garage particularly so, and as a result of this humid, still environment and the mildew that may have been present in our washer, our line dried clothing now smells like mildew. I've cleaned the washer with a Purewasher solution that is supposed to remove the mold from inside the washing machine and I'm soaking the mildewy clothing in the same stuff as well as running a final rinse with white vinegar to completely remove the odor. However, where do I dry the items we normally air dry? Since we have the option of line-drying outside in the sun I'm wondering if this would be our best option. Or will the humidity in the air just reintroduce this problem?
posted by mizrachi to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
If you hang them outside, the sun will prevent mildew from growing on the clothes. The most important thing is to make sure they are truly dry before bringing them inside, or you will get mildew from that.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:54 PM on July 1, 2008

Sunshine will keep you mildew free. I used to line dry clothes in Pensacola, and never had a problem with mildew as long as the clothes were completely dry before being brought in.
posted by konolia at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2008

I line dry 3/4 of my clothes inside my apartment. (in Iowa, although not as constantly humid, it does approach tropical levels this time of year.) I have a drying rack and I set my big window fan in front of it, and also hang things above the fan on my curtain rod. Most stuff is dry the next morning, unless I don't give it enough space. I don't think you should have a mildew problem unless the clothes remain wet for days.
posted by sararah at 2:09 PM on July 1, 2008

My grandmother line-dried laundry in Puerto Rico (humidity central), and the clothes did not get mildewy unless they were brought back in while still damp and folded that way. (That usualyl happened when one of her lazybones grandkids were tasked with getting the laundry, not when she took care of it!). They were always hung outside to get sunshine and air.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 2:20 PM on July 1, 2008

I live in an apartment in Chicago (hello, humidity) and before that a place in downstate Illinois. I've never lived anywhere with a reliable dryer, and based on my personal anecdata I think most of the mildewy smell comes from the washing machine. You've already got that covered (hadn't even thought of mold growing in the machine, but in retrospect it's pretty damn obvious).

Air-drying is the shit, if you can say any sort of laundry-related business is the shit. Crisper clothes that last longer! I've always air-dried clothes inside (to avoid drunken students from the college taken' my undapants) and there hasn't been any issue. Sararah has it right, just set up a fan. As for the sun, I would just bring up as a caution that the sun will tend to UV-bleach clothes, which probably isn't too big of an issue except that it may occur unevenly on the fabric if you do it with the same clothes in the same position in relation to the sun consistently. Maybe? IANASTNFDE (I Am Not A Sun Technician Nor Fabric Dye Expert).
posted by burnfirewalls at 2:20 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I line dry clothes in a fairly damp basement, and have never had a problem. On especially damp days I keep a fan going.
posted by nax at 2:36 PM on July 1, 2008

Preventing this smell from happening is one reason why people hang things outdoors. It´s very traditional and has worked well for as long as people have had clothes.

The sun can fade your clothes. If you turn your clothes inside out, the sun will fade the inside of your clothes, which will probably look better. Once the clothes are dry, take them inside, or the sun will continue to fade them.
posted by yohko at 3:52 PM on July 1, 2008

If you are having a problem with sun fading, I recently discovered a product from RIT (the dye people) that helps to add an SPF to your clothing. I had a blouse and a scarf that I made from the same fabric to wear in Egypt. I treated the blouse, but not the scarf, and the scarf is now several shades lighter than the blouse! I don't think it's meant for this purpose, but it seems to work.
posted by foxydot at 6:25 AM on July 2, 2008

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