The combination of prolonged rainy weather and reduced use of clothes dryers to reduce electricity bills may encourage people to dry more laundry indoors. For example on clothes racks or by draping it over radiators. But according to Scottish researchers, it could pose health risks by increasing humidity which promotes mold and dust mites, which is bad for people prone to asthma. Also, while the intention may be to save energy and money, that may not necessarily be the result, say the researchers because to dry the two liters that the average load of laundry releases in the air, people often increase the heating.
Drying your line indoors increases negative health factors
Due to an increased awareness of the energy consumption of clothes dryers, many people are choosing to dry clothes passively in their homes. This not only results in a severe energy penalty, due to increased heating demand, but also a potential health risk due to higher humidity levels. The researchers looked at the washing habits of residents of a wide demographic mix living in social housing in the west of Scotland, and also carried out a detailed analysis of air quality and water consumption. energy. They concluded that drying laundry indoors poses environmental, economic and health issues, and that the trend to build smaller, more airtight homes is only making matters worse.
In poorly ventilated rooms, hanging laundry out to dry on radiators can add up to a third of the humidity in the air and creates ideal conditions for mold spores and dust mites to grow. Both of these conditions are known asthma triggers. The researchers also point out that drying clothes containing fabric softener indoors is likely to increase the amount of cancer-causing chemicals in the air.
Recommendations for drying your laundry properly
Drying laundry indoors also leads to increased energy consumption, as radiators are often turned on to aid the drying process and/or windows are open. This only worsens energy poverty, already a major problem in the west of Scotland, say the researchers. The team recommends people dry their laundry outside when possible, or use energy-efficient condenser dryers. If you must dry your laundry indoors, place it near a south-facing window to take advantage of natural light and warmth. An even better method is to place the laundry on a south-facing balcony, if you have one.
Modify future habitats to take this problem into account
The researchers also suggest that when creating new housing, planners and builders ensure that plans include ways to dry clothes that don’t contribute to poor air quality. Researchers have published a design guide with suggestions such as: improving balconies and sunlit spaces, ensuring new homes have a drying area with its own heating and ventilation, laundry rooms and common drying facilities, and the installation of low-energy appliances.
The team is currently discussing its findings with the authorities responsible for social housing, with a view to the adoption of its proposals by housing associations which are upgrading the existing stock and building new housing. However, they say more sweeping changes are needed, including an update to building regulations so that they apply to all new housing.
Such a development would have many advantages. Indeed, this research strongly justifies the changes, both in terms of health and well-being and the associated economic impacts.