How to dry clothes in a small space with expert-approved hacks

Learning how to dry clothes in a small space the right way will change your laundry day for the better

Clothes drying on rack in white room
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I'll level with you, knowing how to dry clothes in a small space (without a dryer) can be a total nightmare. While we'd all naturally prefer to sun dry our clothes outside, the reality is that sometimes that just isn't possible. Instead, you need to find smart ways to dry your laundry inside. 

Of course, the fact is that when you're living somewhere with limited space that you need to be able to use for actually, you know, living in, as well as making space for essential chores like drying laundry, it can be tough to get your clothes dry. I've been where you are. I once rented a teeny tiny apartment that had no outdoor space and where everything (from the kitchen to the bedroom) was in one room.

The good news is though, that there are lots of little hacks you can utilize to make drying your clothes easier, even if you're currently residing in what-can-only-be-described-as a teeny, tiny box. Just make sure you're stocked up on your laundry room essentials so you have everything you need before getting started.

How to dry clothes in a small space

When you're living in a compact space (dorm rooms and first apartments we're looking at you), it's not always easy to dry laundry, especially when your building comes with no outdoor space or access to a dryer. That said, even in the smallest of spaces, there are plenty of expert-approved options for getting your laundry dry. I found some great small space ideas I think you need to see. 

1. Add a retractable drying line

Admittedly, no one wants a clothesline spanning the length of their small living room all the time. But a retractable clothesline (like this Gorilla Line retractable clothesline from Amazon) that can be pulled out to hang clothes from and then put away afterward is a great option for drying clothes in a small space. 

Jill Viglione, Founder of Embrace Your Space, says: "One of the simplest solutions for creating drying space for clothing is to install a retractable clothesline. Since they extend up to over ten feet they can mounted on most walls."

2. Invest in a slimline dryer

If you have a little spare space in your studio apartment but you can't fit a full-size dryer in, it might be worth thinking about opting for a compact dryer instead. Yes, dryers can be a little on the pricey side to buy (and to run) but they make getting your laundry dry so much simpler. 

So, if adding a compact dryer to your apartment is an option, then it's definitely something that it's worth considering. I recently bought a compact dryer for my home and, honestly, it's a game-changer. This Panda portable compact dryer available on Amazon has over 4.6k ratings and takes up just 1.5 cubic feet. Talk about small! 

Just make sure that if there's no water outlet, you opt for a condensing dryer rather than a traditional one that requires being plumbed in. 

3. Use a folding drying rack

If your home lacks space for a traditional drying rack, a great alternative is to invest in a folding dryer rack (like this fold-out clothes drying rack from Amazon). You opt for one that can be mounted directly onto the wall (if your landlord will allow it) or one that hooks over the door. 

Viglione says: "Another solution for hanging clothing is to purchase a folding drying rack that can be mounted on a wall or over a door. The rack simply folds out from the wall and has several horizontal dowels for drying clothing. Once clothing is dry it easily folds back up. This rack is a great choice if there is only a small storage space or door available." 

4. Try a heater drying rack

For speedier drying, consider treating yourself to a heated drying rack. While the classic ones are all well and good, you might have noticed that sometimes, when laundry takes a little too long to dry, your clothes end up smelling musty. 

Whereas, if you opt for a heated drying rack (like this Easylife rack available on Amazon) this shouldn't be an issue. You'll find that your clothes dry fairly quickly and end up smelling fresh and clean which, IMO, is a laundry win. 

Oh, and if you've noticed that your laundry often smells a little off after drying, it might be worth swapping to a different detergent, like our favorite eco-friendly laundry detergents, to see if that remedies the problem. 

5. Use a suspended drying rack

A great option, if floor space is limited, is to install a suspended drying rack that hangs from the ceiling. 

"The most clever use of space I've seen is a clothes drying rack that usually sits against the ceiling, that you can pull down by either a rope pulley or on a hinge system," says Brian Davis, SparkRental Founder & Real Estate Specialist.

"That leaves the space beneath it available for general use most of the time, but when you need to dry clothes, you can drop it down to hang clothes. Some people put these drying racks right above the washing machine in their laundry room."


How can I get my clothes to dry faster?

Getting your clothes to dry faster actually starts with the laundry setting you use.

"Opt for a high spin setting on the washing machine: The faster the spin speed, the drier your clothing will be when they emerge from the washer," says Will Jo, President of Soho Painters. 

"The instructions for your machine should include how to raise the spin speed or which cycle offers the most rotations per minute. This guideline doesn't apply to wool or delicates but is excellent for ordinary cottons, denim, and other more robust textiles."

Can you use a dehumidifier to dry laundry more quickly?

Yes, you can use one of the best-reviewed dehumidifiers (combined with some form of drying rack) to speed up the laundry drying process. Position the dehumidifier under or beside your clothes drying rack and turn it on, and you should find that your clothes dry more quickly. 

Meet the experts

Brian Davis

Brian Davis is the Founder of Spark Rental and a Real Estate Specialist.

Jill Viglione
Jill Viglione

Jill Viglione, (CPO®) is a Certified Professional Organizer and founder of Embrace Your Space Organizing, a Certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE) located in Portland, Oregon. Jill helps empower busy individuals to find the hidden beauty in their spaces and get simply organized to live better lives. 

Will Jo
Will Jo

Will Jo is the President of Soho Painters and a laundry care specialist.

Now that you know how to dry clothes in a small space, you might be wondering what the best ways are to make your laundry smell good when you can't use dryer sheets. 

And, if your laundry isn't coming out as fresh as you'd hope, you might be interested in learning more about some of the most common laundry mistakes that can leave your laundry in a mess. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.