Have you ever wondered, how does heat travel from the sun to the clothes? When we hang our clothes outside, we expect them to dry quickly. And during those hot, sunny days, it takes just a few hours for clothes to dry completely. This is because heat wavelengths travel from the sun and penetrate through the clothes, increasing the speed at which clothes dry.

Drying clothes outside

In this article, we look into how heat travels from the sun to the clothes and how it contributes to drying of clothes. Read on also to find out why it is always a good idea to let your clothes air dry outside in the sun!


How Does Heat Travel From The Sun to the Clothes?

To understand how heat travels from the sun to the clothes, you first need to understand the three main ways how heat travels from one place to another. Basically, heat travels in three different ways:

  • Conduction – This is the process by which heat is transferred between substances that are in direct contact. A good example of this would be the transfer of heat of one tip of metal to another tip of metal that is in direct contact with the former.
  • Convention – This is the transfer of heat from one region (a hotter place) to another region (a less hot place). For example, heat travels from the campfire to the surrounding region via convention.
  • Radiation – This is the transfer of heat through a vacuum. Unlike with conduction and convention, radiation does not require matter or a medium to transfer heat. A good example of radiation is the transfer of heat from the sun to the earth.
So how does heat travel from the sun to the clothes? First, heat travels from the sun to the earth through radiation. When sunlight rays strike clothes, these reflect some of the sunlight and absorb some of it as well. The radiation and heat energy from the sun heats up moisture in the clothes, causing it to evaporate into water vapor. The water vapor may either linger around the clothes, or evaporate with the natural conventional currents. The rate at which the moisture evaporates from the clothes mainly depends on the current temperatures in the surrounding air. Higher temperatures mean that the rate of evaporation would be high, ensuring that clothes dry very quickly and conveniently.

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Also, note that the amount of sunlight that the cloth reflects and absorbs is usually dependent on the color and material that it is made of. For example, a black cloth would absorb all the wavelengths and not reflect any in white light. After absorbing all the sunlight energy, the black cloth then converts it into heat energy. The heat energy is emitted by the cloth, speeding up the drying process. On the other hand, a white cloth would reflect most of the sunlight energy, such that there would be less absorption of heat energy. This means that the white cloth would dry at a slower rate than the black cloth.


Benefits of Sun-Drying Clothes


Hanging clothes outside in the sun is just but a routine to many people. Yet, this form of drying clothes provides more benefits that you could imagine. Consider the five main benefits of sun-drying clothes:


1. It is Cheap

Drying clothes outside in the sun is way cheaper than investing in a clothes dryer or buying dryer sheets. Sunlight is completely free and it allows you to dry your clothes completely free of cost.


2. It Enhances Freshness of Clothes

It is not a secret that clothes that have been dried in the sun smell much better than those that are tumble-dried. Most people who dry their clothes in the tumbler usually add chemical laundry fresheners, such as fabric softeners, to enhance the freshness of the clothes.

However, this may not be ideal for people are sensitive to the dyes and perfumes used in these chemical laundry fresheners. Therefore, sun-drying remains to be the best option for drying clothes, since it ensures that clothes smell fresh without needing the addition of any laundry fresheners.

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3. It is Gentle on Clothes

Drying clothes in the dryer involves tossing and tumbling, which usually puts a strain on the fabrics, causing them to wear out in the long run. Besides, the high heat applied in the dryer may ruin the fabric, even causing permanent damage to some of the clothes.

On the contrary, sunlight is gentle on the clothes since it does not tumble or toss them around. Therefore, when you sun dry your clothes, you can rest assured that they won’t wear out, develop holes or fade as quickly. In addition, drying clothes on the line would prevent them from withering or shrinking, as it usually happens when clothes are sent in the dryer.



Now you know how does heat travel from the sun to the clothes. And without doubt, drying clothes in the sun is the best option you could go for. Not only does it leave clothes smelling fresh, but sun-drying is also cheap and very gentle on clothes. So the next time you are doing laundry, take this opportunity to make the most out of sunlight energy!

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