Drying clothes inside

This is a kiwi norm.  The necessary inconvenience we put up with during the winter months to get our washing dry.  It doesn’t cause much harm though, does it?  Unfortunately, it does, drying our clothes inside contributes significant moisture into our home.

The fifth Housing Condition Survey, conducted every five years by the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) reported thirty one percent of rentals ‘felt damp to some extent’ as did eleven percent of owner-occupied houses.  Further to this, mould was present in forty nine percent of houses assessed.  You can reference the survey results here.

Our houses are damp and this affects our health.

Some of the dampness can be attributed to external sources and we’ll cover those off in another blog.  However, a lot of dampness can be put down to our behaviours. We’ve talked about best practice ventilation, and managing the moisture in the bathroom, now it’s time to talk about the stuff we do, that we really shouldn’t.

Drying clothes inside can put up to five litres of moisture into your home PER load.  You read that correctly.  Up to five litres of moisture. This is true for an unvented clothes drier as well as using a clothes rack.  Anyone who has a condensing clothes drier (one that either carries the moisture away through a pipe and down the drain or into a container) will be able to relate to this. I’m still blown away every time I empty our container…pouring litres of water down the sink from relatively small loads of washing.  It’s astounding!  

A question I get asked often is, ‘but I dry my clothes in front of the fire/heat pump, so isn’t this ok?’  This is where science steps in.  Warm air holds more moisture.  So, drying wet clothes in front of a heat source means the moisture will release from the clothes into the air, and stay held in the air, until the air cools down again (usually overnight after the heat source is gone), and then that moisture has to release.   

Where does it release? Into your home, into your furnishings, bedding, curtains, carpets and of course into the air you breathe (this is the part that makes us sick – breathing cold, damp air).  The moisture left over generally finds itself on windows as condensation, but this is only a tiny amount in comparison to the moisture already released into the air (and around your home).

We really need to find alternatives to drying clothes inside. Some obvious options are under the carport, in the garage, under the eaves – it takes longer, but it keeps that moisture outside where it belongs. Taking some of the bigger stuff to the laundromat can be another option for some.

We know drying clothes inside for most is a case of necessity, not preference and if you’re a family of more than a couple then washing is a constant battle.  We’d like to hear from anyone who can lend a hand with building covered outdoor clothes lines to help reduce this source of moisture into the home.  Sometimes the only barrier is a few materials and a solid structure, we think Tradebank can help.

If you can help or know of someone who can, please contact Jo at jo.wills@so.org.nz