For a myriad of reasons, I've started hanging my clothes on a drying rack outside instead of tossing them in the dryer. First, because it's a lot gentler on fabrics, so your stuff actually lasts a lot longer. Second, because it doesn't cost anything-and this is particularly relevant for those of you out there who cycle through the linens in your household every day or two-all the gas/electric it takes to power your dryer can actually really add up. And much as I get a lot of satisfaction out of the crisp, sun-dried scent of clothes that have been aired out naturally, and also love knowing I'm saving both energy and money in the process, there's one issue I've been running into that I definitely don't like: my clothes are stiff.
I finally decided to do some research and figure out if there was anything I could do about this problem, and as it turns out, there are a couple potential culprits. For starters, I could be using too much detergent. We've covered this before in this column, but to re-fresh: half the manufacturer's recommended amount is probably totally adequate. Next, adding vinegar to your rinse cycle (anywhere from half a cup to a cup, depending on the size of your load) is also a good thing, since it helps dissolve any lingering detergent (which is what leads to the rigidity). It's always a good idea to give your clothes a vigorous shake before hanging them out to dry, which not only prevents wrinkling but stiffness too. And if you're still not quite satisfied, giving the air dried clothes a spin in the dryer for just five minutes should soften them up nicely.planetgreen.discovery.com; frugalliving.about.com; ehow.com