Is Drying Clothes Outside Illegal In the UK?

Over the past few years there have been reports of bans on tenants drying their laundry outdoors. At the same time there are large parts of the US where laws are in place restricting the drying of laundry outdoors.

Which leads to the question, is it illegal to dry clothes outdoors in the UK? The answer is no, it’s not illegal to dry laundry outdoors in the UK and there are currently no laws which ban this practice.

However, there are many tenants that are prevented from drying laundry outdoors by landlords and housing developers. They have clauses in their tenancy agreements stating that no laundry can be placed outdoors on the property. This includes in gardens, balconies or from windows.

Why Do Some Landlords & Housing Developers Ban Outdoor Clothes Drying?

The reasons cited are often because they feel that washing flapping in the wind can look unsightly. Which could be off putting for potential buyers, renters or investors.

Whilst we can see how washing hanging over a balcony can be considered to be unsightly, a washing line in a garden is a common enough sight all around the UK.

You might think this is a small issue affecting a few people, so it might surprise you to learn that there are more than 1.5 million rental tenants across the UK who are not allowed to dry laundry outdoors.

All due to a clause in their rental or tenancy agreements which bans the outdoor drying of laundry.

What Happens If You Ignore The Outdoor Laundry Drying Ban?

Clothes on a clothes line

The problem is that if you signed the tenancy agreement, you have entered into a legally binding contract with the landlord or housing developer. This means you are in breach of this contract if you ignore any of the rules and regulations including drying laundry outdoors.

Once you are found in breach of the rental agreement, you could be evicted and could lose your deposit.

We would advise you to check the tenancy agreement carefully before signing anything and if you notice anything that doesn’t seem right to you, like not being allowed to dry laundry outdoors for instance, contact the landlord.

It’s Not Just A British Problem

There are apparently many millions of US citizens unable to dry their laundry outdoors due to rental agreement rules imposed by landlords and community associations.

They claim that washing lines are unsightly and can even be the cause of lowering the value of the property. There are more than 60 million Americans living in communities governed by community associations and many of these communities ban outdoor clothes drying.

Why Is This Such A Big Deal?

Tumble Dryer

You could be wondering why this is such a big deal anyway. After all, what’s wrong with using a tumble dryer to dry laundry? However, there are a few reasons why using a dryer is out of the question.

  • Tumble drying is not suitable for all fabrics and could damage clothing.
  • Not everyone owns or can afford to buy a tumble dryer.
  • Tumble dryers cost a substantial amount to run.
  • Tumble dryers aren’t as environmentally friendly as air drying.

Plus there’s more to this than just drying clothes, we all have basic human rights and we’re all being encouraged to do our bit for the environment. 

This means using less energy and opting for more natural ways of getting our clothes dry is a major part of that. From a financial, environmental and energy efficient perspective, it makes perfect sense to dry clothes outdoors whenever possible.

Safety Aspects

With that said, there are some cases where the communal gardens on an apartment block constitute the safest way out in case of a fire. In which case, having the area obstructed with washing lines and laundry hanging all over the place could be a hazard.

However, this isn’t always the case and the only reason for the ban is aesthetics. The owners don’t want to put off potential residents or investors because they believe drying clothes are unsightly.

We need to see a radical shift in the way we look at laundry in this country. Let’s face it, we all need to wash our clothes, and that means we all need somewhere to get those clothes dry.

It’s not financially viable or environmentally responsible to tumble dry all of our laundry. In the interest of our human rights and the environment, landlords and housing developers need to recognise that tenants need somewhere viable to dry their laundry.

The best place for drying laundry is outside in the fresh air and if there are safety issues involved, the landlords and tenants need to work together to make safe, alternative arrangements that won’t cost the earth.

How Else Can You Dry Clothes?

outdoor clothes airer

If you’re one of the people who aren’t allowed to dry your clothes outside due to an agreement you’ve signed, there are alternative ways you can dry your laundry inside if you don’t have or want to use a tumble dryer.

These include:

  • Clothes Airer
    A clothes airer is a versatile, foldable frame you can use for air-drying laundry indoors. It’s suitable for small spaces and allows clothes to dry naturally without power usage.
  • Heated Airer
    A heated airer is similar to a clothes airer. However it’s an electrically powered rack that gently warms clothes, speeding up indoor drying times. These are ideal for damp climates and quick drying needs.
  • Dehumidifier
    A dehumidifier is a device that reduces humidity levels, making it very helpful in speeding up the drying process if you’re using a clothes airer or heated airer.
  • Retractable Clothes Line
    A retractable clothes line can be hung indoors and used to dry your laundry in a warm room. It works especially well if combined with a dehumidifier.
  • Radiator Racks
    Radiator racks are attachable racks designed to hang over radiators, this allows the warm air to circulate around the clothes speeding up drying times.
  • High Spin Cycle
    Giving your laundry an extra spin at the highest spin speed the garments can withstand (consult the wash care label) is a great way to remove extra moisture which means they will dry faster.
  • Iron Dry
    Once the items have been spun to remove as much moisture as possible, they can be ironed to remove the rest and leave the items dry and ready to wear.

What Do You Think?

So there we have it, many people currently living in the UK are not allowed to dry their laundry outdoors. Do you think this is right? Or can you think of a safe alternative way for them to get their laundry dry that doesn’t involve using tumble dryers? Let us know in the comments below.

SEE ALSO: Tumble Dryer Alternatives: How to dry clothes indoors without a Dryer

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we dry clothes outside in the UK?

For the most part we can dry our clothes outside in the UK (weather permitting). However, there are certain flats, apartments and housing developments that state in the tenancy agreement that drying laundry outdoors is banned. If you live in one of these places and you’ve signed the agreement you are legally bound to abide by it.

Is it illegal to dry clothes on a balcony in the UK?

Whilst there are no actual laws banning the use of a balcony to dry clothes in the UK, some landlords and housing developers write clauses into tenancy agreements banning such activities.

Are you allowed to dry clothes outside?

It is widely accepted that drying clothes outside is the best way to get them dry. The clothes will be fresher, and it saves energy compared to tumble drying them. However, there are some landlords and housing associations that ban the drying of clothes outside. You will need to check your tenancy agreement to see if you are affected.

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