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How Long Does It Take to Air Dry Clothes (Ultimate Guide)

How Long Does It Take to Air Dry Clothes

Is your washing machine dryer broken? Are you trying to save time and energy? Whatever the reason may be, as someone who is air drying for the first time, it’s important to know the time it takes.

So, how long does it take to air-dry clothes? The short answer is 45 minutes to 12 hours. Your exact timeframe will depend on the type of fabric, its weight, humidity, and temperature.

If you’re interested in knowing that, this is just the right place. From benefits to tips on drying clothes faster, we have compiled everything worth learning in this ultimate guide. Let’s get started!

Why Should You Air Dry Clothes?

Air drying is a traditional method, and although it is not the fastest way to dry clothes, it has its benefits. These include:

Why Should You Air Dry Clothes

● Makes Things Simple

When you dry freshly laundered clothes in the dryer, it takes a lot of time and patience. You need to put in the garments properly, set the timer, check the settings, and wait for the dryer to complete the process.

Even after that, the clothes have to be hung onto the clothesline. (Some washers dry the fabric completely, but it’s still  advised to let the clothes dry in the air for a while before putting them away.)

Air drying simplifies all of this. You just need to squeeze out the excess water from the clothes and hang them outside.

● Gives Your Clothes a Fresh Scent

Hanging the clothes in the air means outdoor breeze and sunlight breeze will pass through them. This leaves a fresh scent that a dryer cannot provide. And, if there are flowers and greenery around the clothesline, a floral smell will make your clothes more pleasant!

● Prevents Lint

Static cling occurs when clothes cling to each other due to the electric charge build-up. But why does this electric charge build-up? Drying!

In the dryer, the clothes tumble and brush a lot against each other. This exchanges the charges and eventually causes a buildup that pulls the clothes together. If not controlled, static cling can lead to lint.

Lint is just another word for those tiny fuzz balls on your laundered clothes (clumps of broken fibers). It may seem like a small issue, but lint completely ruins the look of your outfit. Your cloth fabric may also become damaged beyond repair.

Fortunately, air drying doesn’t involve any tumbling of fabric. There’s only a little bit of squeezing to remove the excess water. Hence, your valuable clothes are safe.

● Bleaches & Disinfects Your Clothes

Sunlight serves as a natural bleach and disinfectant for your clothes. When you hang the clothes outside, the UV rays pass through the fabric and kill the harmful germs. This means your clothes will be free from disease-causing bacteria.

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White or light-colored garments further benefit from the whitening effect. However, it’s important to lay the clothes flat for even whitening.

● Increases the Fabric’s Lifespan

The dryer uses high heat to remove the moisture from clothes. This causes the cloth fiber to wear down. Eventually, your cloth becomes thinner and thinner until holes form. Air drying protects the clothes from damage and makes them last longer.

● Lowers the Environmental Damage

Air drying benefits the environment too. Unlike the dryer, it does not use any electrical energy to dry the clothes. This not only saves money but also contributes to a greener lifestyle.

What Factors Affect the Drying Time?

Now that we know the benefits of air drying. Let’s look at the factors affecting the dry time of clothes. You can use them to make an estimate!

Outdoor or Indoor?

The place where you air dry clothes matters a lot. In the outdoors, there is better airflow and a hotter temperature (if you dry the clothes in the daytime). This accelerates the drying process and reduces the wait time.

The average air drying time outdoors is 30 minutes to 4 hours. However, if you dry the clothes at night or in winter, the drying time can extend to 24 hours.

When you air dry the clothes indoors, the natural airflow is typically halted. The only drying source is the fan (ceiling, pedestal, or both). This means the dry time is long, with the average being 5 to 24 hours.


If you choose to air dry the clothes outside, checking the weather is very important. It’s because temperature and humidity vary a lot from day to day.

Higher temperatures heat your clothes naturally and cause the water molecules to move out of the fabric (evaporation). However, when there is high humidity, there are already several water molecules in the air. This means less space for the molecules inside the fabric to get out and evaporate.

So, when checking the weather, we are looking for a combination of high temperature and less humidity. That’s a sunny and dry day!

Things will speed up even more if the weather is windy. More airflow means the water molecules will move faster in the air and dry the clothes quickly.

Fabric Type

There are two factors that we will consider in the fabric; water absorption rate and weight. Some fabrics absorb more water. This means when you hang them to dry, they will take more time than usual.

Typically, all-natural fibers have high absorption rates. So, cotton, linen, and jute are just a few examples that have longer dry times. Comparatively synthetic fibers (like polyester) have a low absorption rate and will dry quickly.

As for weight, you should expect heavy fabrics to dry slower than lightweight ones. For example, a light cotton shirt will dry faster than a thick woolen sweater.

Arrangement of Clothes

If you hang too many clothes on one clothesline, you will notice that they will take longer to dry than when hung with spaces between them. This is because the sunlight and air are unable to penetrate each part of the garment properly.

As a result, even if the front of the fabric dries, the nooks and corners remain wet. Similarly, if you space out the clothes properly but don’t put pegs, the wind may cause the clothes to fold over and remain wet for hours.

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Tips to Air Dry Clothes Fast

Good air drying takes longer than a dryer. But what if you want the clothes dried quickly without resorting to the dryer? Well, you can air-dry clothes fast too!

Here are some tips that will air-dry your clothes in no time:

1. Hang the Clothes Strategically to Air Dry Clothes Fast

The placement of your clothes affects the dry time significantly, as discussed above.

Hang the Clothes Strategically to Air Dry Clothes Fast

So, to air dry clothes fast, make sure you leave generous spaces between each garment. Also, place them in the sunniest or windiest spot in your backyard. This will allow maximum sunlight and air to pass through the clothes.

Moreover, if you want only specific clothes to be dried quickly, then a good way is to place those clothes in the sunniest spots only. You can compromise a little on the other ones (but don’t overcrowd them as it can lead to mildew!).

2. Check the Time to Air Dry Clothes Fast

Air drying the clothes during the early hours of the day speeds up the process. It’s because the temperature is higher between 11 am to 4 pm than later in the day. There is also more sunlight – especially at noon.

Check the Time to Air Dry Clothes Fast

If you want to air dry your clothes fast, hang them out between these hours. Do not hang them very early in the morning (6 am to 10 am) or late in the evening (5 pm onwards). There is hardly any sunlight, and the temperatures are quite low. Your clothes will remain wet for hours!

3. Shake & Squeeze the Clothes to Air Dry Clothes Fast

Another great way to decrease the dry time is to shake and squeeze out the excess water from the clothes. Since we are not using a dryer, this allows you to manually remove as much moisture as possible from the clothes.

Shake & Squeeze the Clothes to Air Dry Clothes Fast

Just hold the ends of the garment and twist until a tight spiral forms. This will drain the majority of water from the fibers. Then, hold the top of the cloth and give it a jerk. Remember, the better you squeeze and shake, the less time will it take for clothes to completely dry.

4. Use a Dehumidifier to Air Dry Clothes Fast

If you are air drying clothes inside a room, place a dehumidifier to speed up things. A dehumidifier removes the excess moisture from the atmosphere and lowers it to your preferred level. So, when drying clothes indoors, the dehumidifier will ensure the air stays dry and less humid.

Use a Dehumidifier to Air Dry Clothes Fast

This means there will be more space for the water molecules to travel around. Add a ceiling or pedestal fan too, and there will be better airflow to force the water molecules out of the clothes!

5. Use a Clothes Rack to Air Dry Clothes Fast

When the space on the clothesline is less, never hang the laundered garments close to each other such that they overlap. Instead, make use of a clothes rack. It has several rods in it for you to hang garments with lots of spacing.

Use a Clothes Rack to Air Dry Clothes Fast

Of course, you can find several different sizes and designs in the market. Some are tall, some are wide, and some are adjustable. You will easily find one that fits your needs and budget.

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How to Avoid Stiffness in Air-Dried Clothes?

There are two primary reasons why air-dried clothes get stiff. Firstly, it’s because there was not enough airflow for the clothes to move. You can prevent this by air drying the clothes when it’s windy and airy outside.

If drying indoors, make sure to set the fan on the highest setting. Also, space the clothes evenly on the clothesline or rack. There should be enough space for the air to flow through the fabric easily.

Secondly, the clothes became stiff because there was too much detergent in the wash cycle. As a result, the clothes weren’t rinsed properly. To avoid this, make sure you measure the detergent and add it according to the water level.

A way to differentiate between both reasons is to smell the stiff air-dried clothes. If the clothes become stiff because of excess detergent, they will smell like detergent, and the fabric will be slightly sticky to the touch. You can fix them by rewashing them with water only.


Does the air dry completely dry clothes?

Yes, air-drying clothes can completely dry them. But it largely depends on how you hang them on the clothesline. If you overcrowd them or don’t hang them straight, the nooks and folded corners may not dry out.

Is 1 hour enough to dry clothes?

1-hours will be enough to dry some lightweight fabrics outdoors in the sunlight. This includes cotton, polyester, silk, nylon, and several others. However, it’s best to air dry the clothes for at least 12 hours.

Will clothes smell if you air dry?

No, clothes won’t smell if air-dried properly. But if you overcrowd them on the clothesline, hang them in cold/humid weather, or add too much detergent, the clothes will smell.

How do you dry clothes in 5 minutes?

Drying clothes in 5 minutes is impossible unless it’s a small wet patch that you want to dry. To do so, squeeze the fabric tightly to remove the excess water. Then, hang the cloth in the sunniest and windiest spot outside.

If you want to dry it inside, hang the cloth in a dry room. While the cloth is drying, use a blow dryer to direct heated air on the wet patch. You can also iron it to speed up the process.


All in all, the time it takes to air dry clothes largely depends on outdoor/indoor placement, weather, fabric type, and arrangement. If you air dry the clothes outside, it should take 30 minutes to 4 hours.

However, if you dry the clothes inside the house, expect the timeframe to be between 4 hours and to 24-hours. Nonetheless, if not in a hurry, it is always a good idea to let the clothes air dry for at least 12 hours. This ensures the fabric is completely dried and ready to fold.

We hope this article has proved to be a useful resource. If there are any more questions related to air-drying clothes, let us know in the comments below!

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