Having a clothes line or something set up to hang dry your clean clothes is a great energy saver and does not need to cost money a ton of money. Be inspired with some DIY clothes drying line ideas below.
It took me a while to get up the gumption to hang my clothes out to dry in my new neighborhood because apparently NONE of my neighbors dry their clothes this way. In my old neighborhood having a clothes line was kind of a badge of honor – but they did not get that memo here.
As an EnviroMom I take my green living seriously – even so far as to recycling moving boxes. I wonder if my new neighbors will think I am weird – or maybe just maybe I can make them join the EnviroMom bandwagon….life goals.
Anyway – back to clothes lines – I recall a story a while back that a woman was having major issues in her community and was banned from hanging her clothes to dry – so be sure it is OK where you live. I checked my local statutes and that is not an issue here – so I need to work up the guts to get started again.
I finally got up the nerve to give it a go but needed to figure out how to do this with minimal expense, and little impact to anyone’s view. What also became clear after a bit of trial and error was that stringing it between two hedges required a little support, which was fixed by one of those metal shepherd’s hooks.
So, let me just say that I was ready when I saw Gift of Green’s Clothesline Challenge. I signed up at the Advanced level (thank you very much). And we’ve been rocking it so far. Here’s the process:
- Read the weather forecast.
- Rant and rave when those bleeping bleeps lie to us and tell us it’s going to be hot and dry, and then it just rains, and rains, and rains.
- Gather dirty clothing when the rain ceases.
- Wash on cold. (I don’t know why I’m still sorting. Old habits die hard.)
- Hang to dry early in the morning.
- Late in the day, pop open a beer, admire the view of Mount St. Helens, watch the laundry dry, and try to remember to fold it before putting the kids to bed.
Granted, it’s only May, but we’ve solar dried about 6 loads of laundry so far. Did my whites yesterday. Need to go hang up the darks today.
The fine print: I am claiming the socks and underwear exemption. I shall not, will not, hang out my undies for neighbors to see. And the socks simply take too much dang time to hang up so these items I do dry in my clothes dryer and sometimes will use one of these dryer sheet alternatives to keep that static cling away.
How I Set Up My DIY Clothes Drying Line
For our back yard, I string two lengths of clothesline, with a loop knotted at each end. In each loop, I link a small bungee cord that then stretches to a sturdy branch in between our back and side hedge. I have a shepherd’s hook (designed for holding hanging plant baskets) in the center of my line for support. The shepherd’s hook cost $11, the cord $4, and the clothespins a few bucks — all from my local Fred Meyer.
Here’s my power user tips:
- Use the extra spin cycle/max extract on your washer so that the clothing starts out as dry as possible. That makes it much less likely to dry stiff as a board.
- Add some white vinegar to the wash load as a fabric softening measure.
- Wash all clothing in cold for extra money/energy savings.
- Turn dark clothing inside out so that it doesn’t fade in the sun while drying.
- Enjoy the fact that whites will whiten even more while drying in the sun.
- Socks and undies take a long time to clip to the line, so I don’t put them on the line. They dry very quickly in the regular dryer.
- If crunchy towels will bother you, claim a towel exclusion and use your regular dryer for things you want to be extra soft.
- Figure out what will work for your family. Don’t feel like it has to be all or nothing. Use your regular dryer when you need it, and just feel good for every load of wash you dry via the solar dryer!
One of our readers sent us some photos of a clothes line she rigged up using an old baby gate and we wanted to share her creativity! She lives in a condo with her family, so she doesn’t have a lot of space or a yard to work with so she had to come up with a creative clothes drying line to help her make her clothes washing less stressful.
So I have been trying to figure out how I can rig some sort of clothes line for some time now. I also didn’t want to spend any money – today I finally realized how I could manage this. A long time ago we hung some candle lanterns from a large support beam on our deck. Since they were already there, I used these loops to attach some bungee cords that I found in my garage, 2 in each loop, and the other ends I attached to my baby gate.
We never use this gate and so I am glad to finally be getting its $20 worth out of it. I hung our clothes all around the edge and for the rest I draped over an expandable rack that we already had. Anyway…I know this was a random e-mail, I was just so excited to have finally found a solution and thought that you would understand my excitement.
These are the kind of emails that make us giddy with glee! Inspiring our readers to think outside the box and use items they already have around the house is what we hope to accomplish. I was so inspired by this creation that I was inspired to actually create a DIY clothes line of my own.
First, check out the photos our reader sent us so you can see her rig.
This is a thing of beauty. Free, functional and friendly to the environment. Love it!
I tend to spend a fair amount of time obsessing, er, problem-solving challenges around my house. I’ve been thinking about how to install a clothes line for A YEAR now, so it’s about time I had a breakthrough. Renee actually got on TV with her clever clothes line system, so between that and Becky’s email I finally got off my duff and got to work.
I did have some requirements and challenges I wanted to achieve for my clothes line.
1. Our yard is sloped and mostly under trees so this limits what I could potentially do
2. I wanted something that I could easily set up and take down that didn’t cost a lot of money.
I finally decided to use three posts that support our deck to anchor the line because the clothing would be under the deck and out of bird poop range, and the support system would be inconspicuous.
Here’s how it turned out:
I hung one line three feet off the ground, which is a good height for the kids, and the other at six feet. Below is the $15 worth of hardware, including the clothes line, that I bought for my project. If I really wanted to dig through the garage I may have found some of these items – but that is a project for another day.
When I went to my neighborhood hardware store, I wasn’t really sure what I needed, I just thought I’d see it and know. Plus the guys who work there are incredibly helpful and helped me figure it out.
I screwed in the hooks at three and six feet on the first two posts. The third post got, for lack of the proper term, the venetian blind cord wrapper-uppers (though these are much stronger and more durable). I wanted to be able to loop one end of the clothesline around the first hook, using the second hook as a mid-way support, and tightly wrap the end of the line around the wrapper-upper. This system has worked out better than I could have imagined.
The guys at the hardware store recommended the four strange objects toward the bottom of the photo. The larger U-shaped things actually reinforce the looped end of the clothesline so it doesn’t fray and wear out. The smaller things with the attached screws and nuts are a clamp to hold the loop in place. Check out the photo below, which explains it better than I can.
See, now I can pull the line really, really taut without the loop coming untied or fraying. Then I just wrap it up around the wrapper-upper (really need to figure out what that thing is called) and the line is ready for wet clothes. It takes about 30 seconds to put up the clothesline, and I just take it down when the clothes are dried.
Some things I’ve learned now that I’ve line-dried clothes with this system:
- When clothes aren’t hanging under direct sun, they take longer to dry.
- I can’t dry a full load of clothes on this line, so I end up juggling a bit. I washed three full loads the other day, and dried two loads in the dryer. I’m not saving a ton of energy, but I do like the fresh line-dried smell.
- I also like the ritual of hanging up the clothes. It forces me to s-l-o-w down because it takes time. The kids love to help and it’s a really enjoyable way to spend time together.
Have you problem-solved your way through a tricky clothes line dilemma? Share! Send photos!