Eco-friendliness, cost, and space are often the reason that people ditch their dryers, but the success of living without your dryer depends on your situation and needs. I primarily try to line-dry, but sometimes my dryer has saved the day.
Let’s look at why you might choose to get rid of your dryer and what some alternatives are.
Eco-friendliness, space issues, budgeting, or disuse are often reasons for discarding a dryer. It does depend on whether this will achieve one’s motivating goals or whether it should be a case of using the appliance less often. Perhaps, it may be better to get a different type of dryer.
If Your Reason Is Eco-Friendliness
Line-Drying Means Lower Energy Usage
It’s no secret that dryers are one of the heaviest energy-using appliances in a house.
Getting rid of your dryer would reduce your electricity usage and carbon footprint, considering that electricity production is the second largest contributor (±25% in 2020) to greenhouse emissions in the USA (Environmental Protection Agency).
While gas dryers use much less electricity than electric versions, they do need to be plugged in. Let me break down the average energy usage of dryers for the average run-time of a load:
- Electric dryers use approximately 2.1 kWh per load.
- Gas dryers typically use about 1.3 kWh per load.
Knowing this, we can also look at how much CO2 is produced during electricity generation and how much you are paying for the power:
- Energy Information Administration (EIA) statistics for the USA in 2021 show the average amount of CO2 per kWh is 0.855 lbs.
- Energy costs can fluctuate, but data from 2022 shows that you will likely be paying around $0.16 per kWh.
Depending on how frequently you use the dryer, you can end up with significant energy consumption and a hefty energy bill each month and year from machine-drying your clothes.
Line-drying your clothes fully or partly can reduce electricity usage by decreasing how often or how long the machine runs.
Gas Dryers Also Release Combustion Gases
On top of the pollution from electricity generation, gas dryers also produce combustion gases, which add to greenhouse pollution.
Gas dryers are estimated to produce about 3.74 lbs (1.7 kg) of CO2e during the production process.
We measure carbon footprints, or pollution from dryers, in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).
Greenhouse gases are more than CO2, but the exact percentages differ. So, it is measured by how much CO2 would create the same impact, although the measurements are still difficult to quantify. But, we get a good idea of the overall impact.
So, consider that each time you run your dryer, you do approximately the same damage as 3.74 lbs of CO2. It might be enough motivation to stop using the dryer, especially when you add the pollution from the electricity used to operate the machine.
So, reducing or stopping your use of a dryer would lower the impact of the combustion gases on the environment.
What Would You Do With the Dryer?
If you decide that you would prefer to get rid of your dryer for environmental reasons, it would also be prudent to get rid of it responsibly. There are a few different ways that you can do this, and you can pick the one that seems best or most convenient to you:
- You can donate the dryer to a charity, an organization, a small business, or a friend. Yes, it is still being used, but at least you and the charity, organization, small business, or friend are not both using a dryer.
- You also have the option to sell the dryer to an individual or to a store that takes pre-owned appliances (this may include the brand). Again, at least you both aren’t using dryers.
- Some stores or brands may allow you to trade in the dryer for credit towards purchasing another appliance or a newer, more eco-friendly dryer. Your old dryer may then be sold to someone else or used for parts.
- You can also check if the manufacturer or a local store has a recycling program for taking and recycling old dryers, as this can provide repair materials.
Can You Recycle a Dryer?
It is possible to recycle your dryer as waste or as a source of valuable materials.
Even in a broken dryer, several parts and components can be salvaged as valuable replacement and restoration parts in the dryer repair market.
Appliance recycling is a common enough service; you just need to be sure you are using a reputable one. Some may advertise as a recycling service, but your dryer can end up dumped instead of properly processed.
You can check if the manufacturer has a recycling program or if a local appliance store does since, as I mentioned above, these businesses can benefit from getting the salvage.
A local scrap yard may offer this service or have the channels for it. You can also search for municipal centers or specifically look for electronic waste (e-waste) recycling. Another option can be a haul-away program.
You can read up on each service to see how they handle the entirety of the machine, including things like rubber and electronic parts that are harder to deal with than metal. You can even phone the service provider and inquire about their process to see if it fits your needs/standards.
Alternatively, search how to repurpose a dryer; you might find a good idea that catches your attention.
May Be Better to Keep and Use Less Often
If you cannot access a recycling service (or one that will take care of all the parts) or somewhere to donate the machine, you may not be comfortable with the disposal options.
Or, if you haven’t considered what laundry day will be like without a dryer, you don’t want to get rid of one machine to purchase another in a few weeks.
Whatever the case is, it might be better for you to keep the machine and just use it less often.
If you use the dryer once a month or once every three months and are taking other steps to live an eco-friendly life (i.e., recycling responsibly in your home and using rain or grey water where possible), it might be worthwhile keeping the appliance (or parts of it) out of junkyards or landfills.
Additional Tips for Green Dryer Use
If you aren’t sure about ditching the dryer but still want to do your part for the environment, here are a few tips to help minimize your impact:
- Switch to propane, which is considered a greener version of gas for dryers because it creates half the pollution of other gases.
- You can use the dryer selectively to dry certain things that take a long time or need special care or by using it when there is wet weather that doesn’t allow things to dry.
- You can also line-dry the clothes and use the dryer for 15 minutes to help finish off the process (especially during rainy/cold weather) and to help get rid of wrinkles in some items.
- Size your dryer appropriately. Opt for larger capacity dryers as they have the drum space to dry the items more effectively instead of needing multiple cycles. Or, ensure you are using a smaller dryer if it fits your needs to minimize the energy wastage of running a larger appliance for small loads.
If Your Reason Is Practicality/Space
How Often Do You Use It?
If you are struggling for space, I recommend you look at how often you use the dryer and consider if you want to keep it.
If you are not using the dryer and are not missing it, you have already proven it’s not essential. In this case, there is no need to keep a giant appliance in your home or garage when it only wastes space and gathers dust.
However, if you are missing the function and are still interested in having a dryer, you can consider making alterations that will allow this.
If you want a dryer despite obstacles, it may be worth waiting until you can call an electrician to install an appropriate outlet for your dryer.
Another problem I hear about is the gas supply. You move and take your gas dryer with you, only to find that there are no local gas lines.
Thankfully, this doesn’t mean your dryer becomes a very large paperweight. Instead, you can convert it to use propane, which can be delivered to and stored on your property in tanks.
Moved to a House Without Dryer Ventilation System
Perhaps you have moved, and the new home hasn’t got the same ventilation system for your dryer. Or there is no space for ductwork to be added.
Sometimes it isn’t worth the trouble of venting a dryer if you are trying to do it in the middle of the house. Vented dryers must have an exhaust system that terminates outdoors, but there are also limits for the length of the duct and regulations for terminal clearance.
This can complicate the installation to the point that it drives you crazy, or may just disqualify it as an option entirely.
Since it is essential to vent dryers according to manufacturer instructions, you can get rid of that dryer. If you would still like a dryer, you can always look for a trade-in service or sell it to help fund buying a ventless dryer.
Not only are ventless dryers a convenient solution to no ductwork, but they can also lower your energy consumption.
Practice Living Without It
I recommend doing a trial run for a couple of weeks.
If you decide you would like to ditch your dryer one day and do so the next, you may run into problems or have difficulty adjusting.
But if you try it first, you can evaluate if you think it is a practical change for your home or if you need to go for a limited usage plan.
Phasing it out while it is still in your home and available means you can see how well you manage without committing to the change. If you return to using the dryer over the next six weeks, you may find you can increase how much you line-dry but still have the help of the dryer.
How Much Money You Will Save?
If you are contemplating getting rid of the dryer as an economical choice, you should consider how much you will save.
I mentioned in the beginning that you likely pay about $0.16 per kWh used.
Different types of dryers use varying amounts of electricity per load, which means the cost per load is also different. If you use the dryer infrequently as it is, getting rid of it isn’t likely to make a significant difference to your monthly utility bills.
However, there are also factors like how much the gas costs if you run a gas dryer. Or if your machine is old and requires expensive repairs while purchasing a new model is out of budget, perhaps packing the machine in is more reasonable.
Look at a Washer/Dryer Combo to Save Space
You can also look for a washer/dryer combo machine if space is a problem. This would give you the benefits of both appliances, so you can still have a dryer, but you only have one machine to fit in your home.
Washer/dryers have the advantage of saving space while using the same amount of energy as you would if you had separate machines, and they don’t cost all that much more than a single-function washer or dryer.
Unfortunately, there are also some disadvantages, as the capacity is limited, and it can take longer to do the laundry.
If the single-machine option doesn’t suit you, why not shop for stackable washer and dryers? These come as stacks (combining a washer and dryer in a single tower unit) or can be two units that fit on top of each other. They are tall, but that’s not an issue if you are short on floor space and not ceiling height.