Should You Hang Your Laundry Outside During a Heatwave? (What You Need to Know)

During a heatwave, it can be tempting to hang your laundry outside to dry. After all, the sun and warm temperatures can quickly dry your clothes, saving you time and energy. However, there are risks associated with leaving your laundry outside during a heatwave that you should be aware of before making the decision to do so.

Key Takeaways

  • Heatwaves can be dangerous, especially for vulnerable populations.
  • Hanging laundry outside during a heatwave can cause clothes to dry more slowly and wear out faster.
  • To safely hang laundry outside during a heatwave, choose a cool and shaded location and avoid leaving clothes out for extended periods of time.

Understanding Heatwaves

During a heatwave, the temperature can rise to dangerous levels, making it uncomfortable to be outside for extended periods. Heatwaves are a weather event that occurs when a high-pressure system traps hot air in a region, causing the temperature to rise for an extended period.

Heatwaves are becoming increasingly common across the world due to climate change and other factors. According to a report by the New York Times, heatwaves are becoming more frequent, more intense, and longer-lasting. As a result, it is essential to take precautions to stay safe during a heatwave.

The effects of a heatwave can be dangerous, especially for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing medical conditions. It is crucial to understand the risks associated with heatwaves and take appropriate measures to stay safe.

Here are some key things to keep in mind during a heatwave:

  • Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Limit time outside in the sun and avoid strenuous activity during the day.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing to help your body stay cool.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol and caffeine.
  • Keep your home cool by closing blinds or curtains during the day and using fans or air conditioning.

By taking these simple precautions, you can help protect yourself and your family during a heatwave. It is essential to stay informed about the weather and take action to stay safe.

Effects of Heatwaves on Laundry

During a heatwave, it may be tempting to hang your laundry outside to dry quickly. However, it is important to consider the potential effects of the heatwave on your laundry.

Firstly, high temperatures can cause colors to fade and fabrics to become brittle.

This is especially true for delicate fabrics such as silk or wool. If you must hang your laundry outside during a heatwave, try to hang it in a shaded area to minimize exposure to direct sunlight.

Secondly, high humidity levels can cause clothes to take longer to dry.

This is because the moisture in the air makes it harder for clothes to release their own moisture. If you live in a humid area, it may be best to use a clothes dryer or washing machine with a dryer function during a heatwave.

Thirdly, hanging your laundry outside during a heatwave can attract insects and birds.

These pests can leave droppings or stains on your clothes, which may require additional cleaning.

Lastly, hanging your laundry outside during a heatwave can be uncomfortable and even dangerous for you.

Excessive heat can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke, especially if you are spending extended periods of time outside.

If you do decide to hang your laundry outside during a heatwave, it is important to take precautions to protect yourself and your clothes.

One way to do this is to choose a shaded area to hang your clothes.

This will help to protect your clothes from direct sunlight, which can cause fading and damage to the fibers. Additionally, it will help to keep you cooler and reduce the risk of overheating.

Another way to protect your clothes is to use a clothesline that is designed for outdoor use.

These clotheslines are typically made from materials that are resistant to UV rays and other environmental factors, which can help to prolong the life of your clothes.

Risks of Leaving Laundry Outside During a Heatwave

Leaving your laundry outside to dry during a heatwave may seem like a good idea, but it can pose several risks to both your health and your clothes.

Firstly, the high temperatures and low humidity levels during a heatwave can cause your clothes to dry out too quickly, which can result in them becoming stiff and brittle. This can cause damage to the fibers of your clothes, leading to premature wear and tear. Additionally, the wind can cause your clothes to flap around, which can also damage the fibers.

Leaving your laundry outside during a heatwave can also pose health risks. The combination of high temperatures, low humidity, and direct sunlight can cause you to sweat excessively, leading to dehydration. This can cause symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and confusion. If you are particularly sensitive to the sun, you may also be at risk of sunburn.

Safe Practices for Hanging Laundry in a Heatwave

Hanging your laundry outside during a heatwave can be an excellent way to dry your clothes quickly and efficiently. However, it is essential to follow safe practices to ensure that you do not put yourself or your family at risk. Here are some tips to keep in mind when hanging your laundry outside during a heatwave:

1. Protect Yourself from the Sun

When hanging your laundry, make sure to protect yourself from the sun. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to prevent sunburn. If possible, try to hang your laundry in the shade to avoid direct sunlight.

2. Take Rest Breaks

Hanging laundry can be a physically demanding task, especially during a heatwave. Take frequent rest breaks to avoid overexerting yourself.

3. Watch for Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that can occur when your body overheats. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, headache, and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, take a break and move to a cooler area immediately.

4. Look for Cooler Spots

When hanging your laundry, look for cooler spots that are shaded or have a breeze. If possible, hang your laundry near a fan or in an area with good ventilation.

5. Close Windows and Shutters

If you are hanging your laundry inside your home, close your windows and shutters to keep the heat out. This will help keep your home cooler and more comfortable.

6. Use Light-Colored Sheets

Use light-colored sheets to keep your laundry from absorbing too much heat. Dark-colored sheets can absorb heat and make your laundry feel hotter than it actually is.

7. Stay Hydrated

Make sure to drink plenty of water while hanging your laundry. Dehydration can occur quickly during a heatwave, so it is essential to stay hydrated.

8. Use a Clothesline

Using a clothesline is a great way to dry your laundry during a heatwave. Clotheslines allow air to circulate around your laundry, which can help it dry faster.

9. Don’t Overload Your Clothesline

Avoid overloading your clothesline during a heatwave. Overloading your clothesline can cause your laundry to dry more slowly and increase the risk of mildew.

10. Check the Weather Forecast

Before hanging your laundry outside, check the weather forecast. If the forecast calls for rain or thunderstorms, it is best to hang your laundry inside.

By following these safe practices, you can enjoy the benefits of hanging your laundry outside during a heatwave while keeping yourself and your family safe.


Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to leave your laundry hanging outside during a heatwave will depend on your personal preferences and circumstances.

If you have a yard and live in a dry climate, hanging your laundry outside can be a great way to save energy and enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.

However, if you live in a humid climate or do not have access to outdoor drying space, you may be better off using a dryer or finding alternative ways to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint.

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