Have you ever wondered, “How long does it take to air dry clothes?” While it may seem impossible to estimate how long it will take to dry your clothes, it is actually possible.

However, there are a couple of things that will determine that. First and foremost, different factors will play a considerable role in the drying of clothes. For example, fabric type, the presence of the sun, or the wind. All those factors play a massive role in the drying of clothes quicker. Secondly, the method you use to dry clothes matters as well.


The drying process

Usually, people use a regular clothing line to dry wet clothes. Two things happen when a wet cloth dries: first, the liquid evaporates to vapor. From there, the moisture will diffuse into the air.

So the process of drying clothes consists of individual water molecules. The molecules, which are in the water are closer and more tightly bound together. The molecules tend to evaporate slowly. Why? Because they contain less energy than molecules you typically find in a gas.

There are two ways of hanging clothes; a regular line drying or a drying rack.


Line drying

Most people will usually use line drying when they hang clothes outdoors. The main advantage of this method is that it allows you to hang more clothes at once. Furthermore, it enhances freshness and removes strong odors from hanging damp garments.

The time it takes to air dry clothes using line drying largely depends on the position of the line. Always consider the weather. It works best when it is sunny with a light breeze. When there is a light breeze, evaporation tends to happen fast. Using this method may take anything from 30 minutes to four hours for your clothes to dry.


Drying rack

A drying rack is another alternative that some people use to dry clothes. With this option, you can only hang a few clothes. Although it’s hard to estimate how long it will take for clothes to dry, expect it to take two to four hours.

Three conditions favor water evaporation from wet clothes: High temperatures, low humidity, and air movements. Let’s take a look at each.

  • High temperatures usually increase the number of molecules responsible for turning liquid to vapor. 
  • Air movements generally blow the water away and help clothes be saturated with vapor. 
  • Low humidity helps the evaporation process to continue and prevents water molecules from returning to your clothes. 

Now that we’re clear about the science, let’s look at two drying methods.


Outdoor air drying 

Outdoor air drying is one of the frequently used ways of drying clothes. The best conditions to dry clothes outdoors are usually when humidity levels are relatively low. In other words, on a pleasantly warm day when it is either breezy or hot. But what matters most is where you placed your drying rack.

Clothes can still dry in winter, but it usually takes longer to dry. It is always highly recommended to place your clothes strategically, preferably in a sunny location. Simultaneously, you should avoid hanging clothes such as silk directly to the sun. As this may damage them.

Outdoor drying offers a couple of pros and cons. 

According to the Pew research center, sun-drying clothes reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by 2,400. Researchers found that if all Americans line-dried clothing for just half of a year, it would save 3.3 % of the USA’s total residential carbon dioxide output.



  • Outdoor air drying doesn’t use any energy, 
  • Outdoor air drying clothes doesn’t cost a single cent, 
  • It exposes clothes to the wind, and the sun.
  • It leaves clothes smelling fresh.



  • Outdoor drying doesn’t help when it’s raining.
  • It exposes clothes to theft.
  • 0utdoor air drying exposes your clothes to air pollution.


How long does it take for clothes to air dry outside? 

Estimating the time to air dry clothes outside is a bit tricky. You need to take into account the fabric that you are drying. The type of fabric that you are drying can either be more or less.

Typically, fabrics like silk will need only a few minutes to dry outside. Meanwhile, thick cotton and wool will need more hours for air drying. For instance, it may take at least 4 hours to dry denim or synthetics outside. It will take 3 hours for cotton clothes to air dry and 30 minutes for undergarments to dry. Silk will need only 45 minutes to dry properly. 

Expect clothes to take longer to air dry in damp and humid weather. To ensure that clothes dry quicker in winter, put them out as early as possible. That will expose your clothes to enough sun rays and increase the chances of drying out.


Indoor air drying

Indoor air drying is another option. Some people find the indoor drying option convenient for drying specific fabrics like wool. You may have to use energy to begin drying clothes indoors in most cases. 

For instance, you may use a heater, gas boiler, and other similar heating systems. Another best alternative that people use is a dehumidifier, which takes away water vapor from the air to make your home healthier.

Hanging indoors has its pros and cons.



  • Indoor air drying allows you to dry clothes even when it is raining.
  • Drying clothes indoors minimizes the need for more drying space.
  • Indoor drying prevents your clothes from being stolen by thieves.
  • Indoor drying is convenient.



  • Indoor air drying may create mold on the windows and walls.
  • Clothes will take longer to air dry.
  • Indoor air uses more heat energy.
  • Indoor air drying may leave some clothes not smelling fresh.


How long does it take for clothes to air dry indoors? 

When you dry clothes indoors, expect them to take longer to air dry. It will mostly depend on how your air drying clothes indoors and the fabric of each piece of clothing. Usually, clothes may take between 5 and 24 hours. Thick wool usually takes longer than 24 hours when you dry it indoors. Cotton shirts may take 6 hours or more to dry.

For instance, if you will be drying denim indoors without heat, expect it to take 24 hours to try. At the same time, synthetics may take only 5 hours to dry indoors. If you want clothes to dry quicker, consider using a fan. That will help clothes dry a lot quicker.

Drying time tends to be shorter when you have energy. Cotton jeans will take anything from 45 to 60 minutes to dry. Delicate fabric like athletic wear will take 10 to 20 minutes to dry using a dryer. Cotton casual dress shirts and permanent press dress shirts may take 25 to 35 minutes to air dry. 

You can also consider turning on a ceiling fan. It will help clothes dry faster. The ceiling circulates the air and reduces humidity in the room. This way, your clothes will dry faster. Over and above that, using a fan will prevent your clothes from developing a bad odor.


Thick fabrics that take longer to air dry

Fabric thickness is one of the significant factors determining the time it will take to dry clothes. A classic example is knitted clothes, denim jeans, or traditional tarpaulin. Other materials that will usually take longer to dry include cotton.

Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about air drying clothes:


How does direct sunlight help the drying process?

While wet clothes dry quicker in the direct sunlight, keep this in mind: On a hot sunny day, expect wet clothes to become dry within 30 minutes. The direct sunlight whitens and disinfects clothes. Besides, when you hang clothes in direct sunlight, your clothes won’t roll, shrink, and stretch.

The only drawback of hanging clothes in direct sunlight is that the sun may cause the colors of your clothes to fade. For instance, when you hang clothes in high heat, the sun may ruin black clothes. If there are a few jeans in your laundry, expect them to air dry in an hour.


Does air temperature help dry wet clothes?

Air temperature plays a significant role in drying clothes faster, especially if you don’t hang them too close. For instance, when you hang baby clothes indoors and put a fan underneath, it may take 40 minutes for them to air dry. 

Air circulation may also help to dry clothes. But air circulation on its own is not enough. A pleasantly warm day is what your clothes need to dry. At 20 degrees temperature, it may take two to four hours for clothes to dry.


Does how you hang clothes help clothes to dry faster?

Most people ignore how they hang their clothes. But it affects how fast your clothes may dry. Always make sure that you hang laundry on the clothesline properly. 

  • Pants: For faster drying, ensure that you hang clothes separately with room between them. If you hang pants, match the inner leg seams together. Pin the hems of the legs to the line with the waist hanging down.
  • Shirt and tops: It would be best to pin the bottom hem at the side seams for shirts and tops. If you own wooden hangers, you can use them to hang your shirts.
  • Socks: You need to put them together in pairs and pin one corner of each sock for socks. Let each sock dangle on its own.
  • Sheets and blankets: If you want your sheets and blankets to dry faster. Clip each corner of the sheet in half and let hang. Hang your laundry in a location where it will dry more quickly.


How long does it take to air dry clothes?

If you hang your clothes properly, it may take 30 and 45 minutes. Although items such as towels, and jeans, may take more than 45 minutes to dry. Keep this in mind: There is a great chance for your clothes to dry faster, especially when you hang them in the right location. In other words, there must be sufficient light and air temperature.

When you dry your clothes correctly, you will save money and retain the fresh scent of your garments. Your clothes will maintain a good smell because you would let them hang in the sunshine and fresh air. Your garments will get good circulation and become drier.


How long does it take to air dry clothes with a dryer?

While a dryer can still dry your clothes successfully, it won’t be as efficient as drying clothes outdoors. First, the electrical dryer won’t produce the kind of heat that your clothes will get from sunrays. Hence, after drying clothes with a dryer, your clothes are likely to smell weird. That odor is due to lint from a lint trap in the dryer.

Typically, it will take you about 30 to 45 minutes to dry a whole load of clothes. Blow-drying thick fabrics may also take longer than that.

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