I was talking about laundry with a friend recently, and we were talking about dryers vs. drying on the line or on racks.
For the record, I love line-dried clothes. Especially when they're dried
outside - they smell so good, it's cheap as all get out, and there's a
real tactile pleasure in hanging and folding the clothes off the line. But I have a theory that may shake other frugalistas to their core. I don't think using a dryer wears out your clothes.
What??? But there's all that lint that comes off the clothes in the dryer! And it sets stains and makes some garments shrink!!!
Yes, it can set stains, and shrinking can be a problem, and I know some sweaters and undies need to be treated with care to avoid getting stretched, but the lint is what I want to address. A few years ago our dryer pooped out, and for months I dried clothes on racks in front of our wood stove. I was disappointed as the weeks wore on, because the clothes started looking pilly and dull. When I finally was able to run them through the dryer again, the lint screen was LOADED, but the clothes looked fresh, bright and fluffy again.
So what was happening there? My theory is that the WASHER loosens the fibers of the clothes, causing most of the lint to come off of the clothes. If you dry the clothes in the dryer or in a stiff wind, the lint gets fluffed away. If your clothes hang without being disturbed, you might not notice after one or two loads, but after a few weeks of washing and hanging you might start to see lint build up.
If you want to save money on running the dryer, hanging is great! If you want to avoid shrinkage or set-in stains, keep hanging! But just because you don't see a handful of lint after line drying, doesn't mean it isn't being formed. You just don't see it collecting in one place. If you're dedicated to line drying, make sure that some of the time your clothes get to really flap in the breeze, not just hang still indoors. Or you can fluff them in the dryer for 5 minutes to shake off any loose fibers and make them feel softer.
The point is, the dryer is not a monster that will chew up your clothes - just your money. :)