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If you’re into green or at least greener living, installing a clothes drying line seems like one of the natural paths to follow. Line drying requires no effort and doesn’t gobble up electricity. It extends your clothes’ lifespan and preserves their quality, unlike the tumble dryer.
Talk about energy efficiency? Getting a clothes dryer will knock at least $200 out of your pocket to begin with. Assembling a line, on the other hand, costs very little or even nothing, what with so many DIY clothes line ideas.
Not to mention the fact that line drying will help you save a lot of money down the line (pun intended).
When we say that a clothesline is cheap both short- and long-term, we mean it. According to some estimates, a tumble clothes dryer is an insatiable electricity monster, consuming over 6% of all electricity that powers up your average household.
Need more arguments in favor of the good ol’ string of rope? They extend far beyond the technical and ecological benefits. Just call to mind that heart-warming feeling that springs from doing things the way our moms and their moms used to do them. You know, back in the days of yore, when people didn’t do everything with a push of a button.
Those linens and towels were stiff alright. But they smelled so good!
How Do You Make a Homemade Clothesline?
A clothesline is one of the simplest contraptions ever. It’s basically a rope, cord, or even a lengthy piece of paracord that hangs between two poles.
To make things even simpler, you can use just about anything that can serve as a pole. It can be an element of your house (any pylon or post will do), or even a tree.
As for the line itself, it’s best to use some kind of coated wire. A rope will wear out and sag pretty quickly. A piece of wire, on the other hand, can corrode if it isn’t coated. That would leave some nasty stains on your laundry.
Of course, if you’re into gardening, there’s a bunch of clothesline ideas that will add some rustic oomph and even serve as a piece of garden decor. How about some showing off when your friends are visiting?
Building the Simplest Clothesline for Outdoors
If you have a spacious backyard, the easiest method of building a clothesline is to get two wooden posts, a few planks to build a crucifix-like frame on top of those, some concrete and a few clotheslines. The longer the planks, the more clotheslines you’ll be able to stretch out between the posts.
To attach the lines to the posts, you’ll just need a few hooks. This is the simplest possible clothesline building method. If you need a sturdier, more robust construction, just use metal posts instead of wood.
And the fact that this clothesline is very basic doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. After all, what’s easier than painting those posts white like this farmhouse blogger did?
DIY Pulley Clothesline
When bloggers talk about DIY projects, they make it sound easy as pie. Alas, the reality is different. Usually you need about 5 hours worth of sweating to make a 1-hour project.
Well, this one will really only take about half an hour if you have a drill and a handful of items. It’s awesome because the pulley will save you quite a lot of footwork along the clothesline.
DIY Umbrella Outdoor Clothesline
Not everybody has a spacious garden or backyard. Luckily, there are handy clothes line solutions for smaller spaces, and one of them is the so-called umbrella or rotary clothesline.
For that, you’ll need a bit more advanced materials, tools and skills. There’s digging a hole, installing a PVC tube, mixing concrete. But the end result is super convenient, so you won’t regret the sweat.
Ideas to Hang Dry Your Laundry Indoors
Is a DIY clothesline even a viable option for indoors?
Not unless you have a separate laundry room! A clothesline takes up quite a lot of space. That’s why a foldable drying rack is a much better option.
And the most hassle-free way to get a rack is, of course, to buy one. They come in all shapes and sizes these days. Some models are vertical so that they don’t take up much space. Others have foldable wings so that you can hang even more laundry.
If you’re carpentry-minded and have the right tools and lumber, you can make an elaborate structure that’s equally viable indoors and outdoors.
But there are decent solutions for people who live in small apartments too, such as this wall mounted drying rack tutorial. The rack basically lives on the wall, and when out of use, it stays there in a vertical position. (Just keep your kids away from it, or they’ll see it as an open invitation to climb.)
If you have even less space than a retractable rack requires, you can always install a wooden or metal laundry rail. Even though it doesn’t look very capacious, you’ll be surprised how much clothes it can accommodate if you use hangers! Best of all, if you hang clothes to dry, they will require almost no ironing at all. It’s a clear win-win.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are clotheslines illegal in the US?
Who could have imagined even asking such a question a century ago?
And yet, it’s been a subject of a heated debate over the last decade or so. So far, 19 states have sided with the “right to dry”.
But even if you live in one of those states, you still have to get familiar with the local homeowner association policies. Violating their regulations can have serious consequences. And fines are not even the worst – your unassuming clothesline can get you expelled!
We concede that your underwear might not be the most pleasant thing for the neighbors to see. Still, the claim that it has the power to lower real estate values in the entire area may be a bit, well, exaggerating.
So, the inhabitants of the better part of America can only hope that someday, widespread care about the environment will begin to look like an asset and not an eyesore.
What are some disadvantages of a clothes line?
The greatest disadvantage is, obviously, the fact that not everyone can have one. Not all people live in houses, and even among those who do, not all will have favorable local laws and regulations.
However, hanging your clothes to dry out in the open has other downsides too. For once, if you live next to a busy road, the terrible air quality, dirt and dust may cause more harm than good.
Insects, birds and their number twos can also cause trouble. Even if a poop stain doesn’t render your favorite shirt completely useless, the least it will do is make you wash it again.
And all of us know how the forecast can trick you. Especially when you have to rush out and spend 10 hours out of home, leaving your hapless laundry to the weather’s whims.
How do you line dry clothes indoors?
Obviously, drying clothes indoors could serve as a viable alternative for all of those who can’t or don’t want to offend the neighbors or expose their linens to the environment.
Even better, everyone can do it, as long as it’s not in your bedroom or living room. All you need is a foldable drying rack, or a wall mounted rack or clothesline such as this one, which is even retractable.
Manufacturers are well aware that more and more people live in cramped apartments, so they’ve come up with countless creative ideas and concepts. One of the best I’ve seen recently is this wall mounted collapsible drying rack from Pennsylvania Woodworks. It’s very compact and will cozily live in a corner.
Where can I put my clothing line?
Alas, if we lived in Italy or Portugal (or most of Europe for that matter), the possibilities would have been endless!
But even in the US, there are countless options and ideas. The perfect placing of your clothesline will, of course, depend on the structure of your property.
Your backyard is probably ideal, but you need to hit the sweet spot where there’s enough light, but not direct sunshine. Sun may bleach your colored clothes, which is okay for hygiene but bad for meetings!
So, a shady nook may be best. If your clothesline or clothes rack is portable, you can move it back and forth, depending on whether you’re drying your whites or colors. Portability is also a pro for when the weather is fickle.
That is, of course, if drying clothes outdoors is allowed in your state and neighborhood to begin with.
Can you leave clothes out to dry overnight?
This really depends on a few variables. Does it rain very often where you live? If yes, your outdoor clothesline may not be the best solution, especially overnight.
You can solve this problem by getting a portable clothesline or drying rack. Leave it outside during the day, where the laundry can enjoy the sunshine and frolic in the wind. When the night falls, just bring it in.
If you leave your clothes outdoors overnight, strange things may happen. Have you heard of Norris, the infamous burglar cat? A few years ago, he had taken to sneaking out at night and stealing diapers, socks and towels from his neighbors’ clotheslines. How convenient!
Is drying clothes indoors bad?
Not as a rule. However, it turns out to be bad in practice, more often than not.
Hanging your clothes in your living room, bedroom or any other place where you spend time results in all kinds of moisture-related issues. You don’t want mould or various vapors coming from the conditioners and other chemicals to make it to your lungs.
Having radiators is great. But if they need to help dry your washing, they will have to use more energy. And the whole point was to adopt a more frugal way of living.
So, even though it may save you money, drying clothes indoors is not advisable. As much as you need to avoid using a tumble dryer, sometimes there’ll be no alternative.
That being said, you can always passively dry your clothes indoors if you have a laundry room.
Is it bad to sleep in a room with drying clothes?
Absolutely. You should avoid that at all costs, especially if you have asthma or some other pulmonary condition.
For those of you who aim toward healthy and sustainable living, these are the options:
- Build a clothesline outdoors. That is, of course, if you live in a house and have a backyard.
- Dry your clothes indoors, but only if you have a laundry room. Or at least any separate room where you don’t sleep or spend much time on a daily basis.
If you meet none of these conditions, a tumble dryer seems to be the only option for the time being.
Does line drying kill bacteria?
Yes it does, and that’s probably one of the greatest pros of solar laundry drying!
While the sun’s UV rays are very dangerous for human skin, they do an awesome job at killing off most germs that are hiding in your laundry.
Like we said above, however, you should beware of exposing your colored clothes to direct sunlight. Bleaching may be a good sanitation method, but bleached clothes are not very stylish! Still, your linens, towels and delicates will really enjoy the sunshine.
Why are my line dried clothes stiff?
Hang drying clothes is great, but the feeling of a crunchy towel almost scratching your face? Less so!
Air dried clothes are stiff often because people are using too much detergent. A tumble dryer would have gotten rid of the stiffness by tumbling the clothes until they become soft and cuddly. Obviously, a line can’t do any of that.
Luckily, however, there are remedies to this issue. One of them is to add a wee bit of vinegar into your washing machine. It works even better than fabric softener.
You can also shake your wet laundry really well before hanging them out to dry. It will break some of the stiffness, especially with denim and other naturally stiff materials.