Does Line Drying Fade Clothes? [Answered]

One of the most common concerns about line drying clothes is that they will fade from being in the sun. 

It’s a valid concern and makes perfect sense considering sun damage to articles left in the elements.

The truth is that the sun will cause your clothes to fade quicker. But we still think the small amount of (avoidable) sun damage is a worthwhile tradeoff for the huge benefits of line drying including less damage to clothing compared to using a tumble drier.

Different colored clothes being dried in the line outside the house

Here at House Lovely Home, we love line drying, so we thought it best to let you know what we do to ensure minimal fade and sun damage.

6 Ways to Avoid Fade When Line Drying

1. Hang inside out

Hang your items inside out on the clothesline. And prints or colors on the outside of the garment will be protected, and fading (if any) will be limited to the inside of the item.

2. Hang in the shade

For very delicate items, we recommend using portable clothes drying rack and moving it into the shade.

As long as there is a breeze or warm air, your clothes will still dry in the shade.

3. Line dry overnight

Weirdo alert – one of my favorite things to do on warm summer nights is run a cold wash through my washing machine as soon as the kids go to bed, then hang my clothes on my rotary washing line in the dark.

I love standing in my yard on a clear, starry night and arranging my washing on the clothesline.

It’s almost meditative. I know I’m a total weirdo. But, I’ll often wake up to dry clothes.

If there’s dew, usually an hour in the morning sun (when UV rays are lower) will do the trick.

4. Line dry inside

Awoman arranging the clothes in the drying rack to dry the clothes

We have some washing line rope strung from wall to wall in our laundry room. If it’s raining outside or I am worried about an item being damaged on our rotary clothesline, I’ll hang it inside and keep the window wide open.

There are some health risks associated with line drying your washing inside, so taking steps to mitigate them is smart.

Line drying inside is my absolute last resort. You could also hang a retractable washing line in your garage, or under a porch so you could line dry out of the sun.

5. Don’t overdry

Depending on your local climate, your garments could dry in a matter of hours.

When we have a gusty warm wind I can get my washing dry in under an hour.

You hardly ever need to leave your washing on the line all day, so to reduce the chance of fading, minimize sun exposure and bring your washing in as soon as it’s dry.

6. Whites only on the line

white clothes hanging n the clothes line to dry under the sun

If you really can’t stand the idea of your colors fading, then it’s best to stick to whites-only on the line. The sun does wonders with whites, helping to eliminate stains and making sheets feel amazing.

It’s totally fine to line dry what you can. Small changes make a big difference to the environment and your utility bill.

It’s no secret that line drying can cause colored items to fade, but with some clever planning, you can still line dry your colors with minimal sun exposure, keeping them brighter and in better condition than if you used an electric dryer.


Two hands holding the clothes and arranging to the drying lines with text overlay that said Does line drying fade clothes

About Emma

Hey there! I'm Emma. When I'm not wrangling kids I like to walk aimlessly around hardware stores and watch HGTV for hours on end.