5 Ways to Dry Clothes on an Apartment Balcony

by balconyboss
clothes drying on a balcony
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Drying clothes on an apartment balcony is an energy-efficient alternative to using a tumble dryer. Depending on your balcony setup and climate, you could theoretically dry your clothes outdoors all year round.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the best options for drying clothes outside on an apartment balcony.

Considerations Before Drying Clothes Outside

Drying clothes on an apartment balcony isn’t complicated. However, you should make sure you consider the following before setting up a clothesline or dryer.


If you rent your apartment, you might not be able to drill holes anywhere. Lucky, some of the options below take this into consideration. Also, HOA or building rules might prevent you from setting up a washing line, so check this out before you get started.

Minimum Temperature for Drying Clothes Outside

You might be surprised to learn, but there’s no minimum temperature for drying clothes outside. The more important factor is humidity. Obviously, not many of us have a hygrometer on our balconies, so there’s a much easier way to tell.

Provided the ground is dry, you should be fine to dry clothes outside. A covered balcony is even better, as you could use it regardless of the weather. Either way, there’s no minimum temperature for drying clothes outside, but wind and humidity are the more important conditions.

How Long Does It Take to Dry Clothes Outside?

Although there’s no single answer, it shouldn’t take more than 6-8 hours when drying clothes outside. It depends on air temperature and humidity, fabric type and wind, but on a warm day with a breeze, your clothes could be dry in as little as an hour.

There’s generally no issue with leaving clothes drying outside overnight. Of course, they might feel a bit damp in the morning because of dew, but this’ll dry off pretty quickly.

5 Options for Drying Clothes on an Apartment Balcony

1. Wall-Mounted Rack

A wall-mounted drying rack is a good option if you want something sturdy that doesn’t take up space. You can get ones that fold out from the wall (such as this) or accordion-style racks (like this).

They will have some kind of weight limit, but this could be 60lbs. or more. However, that’s the equivalent of several washing machine loads, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Of course, these require fixing to the wall, so won’t be a suitable option for renters.


  • Doesn’t take up room when not in use
  • Holds a lot of washing
  • Not very expensive


  • Not suitable for renters

2. Washing Line

A washing line (or clothesline) is the most obvious choice for drying clothes outside. A retractable one (such as this) might be the best option for an apartment balcony because it doesn’t take up much space.

Failing that, you could just buy a cheap clothesline (like this) and take it down whenever you don’t need it.

It’ll need fixing to the wall somehow, probably using screws or hooks. Also, a clothesline might not be the most economical use of space because you only get a single line, meaning you’ll be limited on how much you can hang on it.


  • Easy to set up
  • Retractable lines are economical on space
  • Inexpensive


  • Doesn’t offer a lot of space on smaller balconies

3. Freestanding Drying Rack

For those really short of space, a freestanding rack is a great option for drying clothes on an apartment balcony. A folding rack (such as this) takes up very little space when not in use and can still fit a decent amount of washing on it. This one can hold up to 32lbs. of wet laundry, which equates to a large load.

It’s a suitable option for renters as it doesn’t need fixing to anything. However, you might want to avoid it if you have a windy balcony. Covering it in clothes basically turns it into a sail, so it’ll blow over fairly easily.


  • No setup needed
  • Stores away easily
  • Inexpensive


  • Not suitable for windy balconies

4. Shower Curtain Rod

A shower curtain rod can work well as a clothes dryer. Opt for a tension spring curtain rod (such as this) so it’s easier to put up and take down. It doesn’t even need brackets; you just set it up between 2 walls.

Spend some time looking for the most suitable option for the amount of washing you’ll be drying outside. The one linked above, for example, has a maximum weight of 30lbs. Curtain rods will generally have a low weight limit because they’re only meant for hanging a shower curtain.


  • No installation needed
  • Suitable for enclosed balconies
  • Ideal for shirts, jackets, t-shirts, etc.


  • Weight limit is fairly low

5. Rotary Dryer

A rotary dryer (such as this) is basically a square clothesline. It’s an incredibly economical way of drying clothes outside because it requires very little floor space and it can hold a lot of washing. In fact, the one linked above is suitable for bedding, which can be difficult to dry outside.

However, most rotary dryers are designed for use on a lawn, so will include some kind of spike. This obviously doesn’t work on a balcony. Instead, use an umbrella base (like this). Just check the stand has a suitable diameter for the rotary dryer you want to buy.


  • Very economical on space
  • No real clothing weight limit
  • Stores away easily


  • Needs some kind of base to stand up when not used on a lawn

Final Thoughts on Drying Clothes Outside

Hopefully, at least one of these options should be suitable for you drying clothes on an apartment balcony. There’s no need to spend loads of money on an outdoor (or indoor) dryer if you don’t need to. As you can see, most cost less than $50, which you can easily make back by not using a tumble dryer! Whatever option you choose, don’t forget you can use it all year round.