How To Build A Clothesline

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Building your own clothesline is one great way to save a lot of money on your monthly energy bill.

How To Build A Clothesline with a pulley system. This DIY Outdoor Clothesline was an afternoon project. Instructions including tools and supplies included in this tutorial. #clothesline #homesteading

The idea of building a clothesline came up while my husband and I were discussing more ways to cut back on the energy bill, short of lighting candles at night and going to bed at dark.

We both grew up in homes that used a clothesline. Knowing what an energy hog an electric clothes dryer can be, building a clothesline was the first thing we thought to do when trying to conserve the energy bill.

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We built our new outdoor clothesline with wooden posts. My grandma had one made with steel posts.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Line Drying Laundry

  1. It is the best way to see a huge dent in the energy bill
  2. Won’t shrink your clothes
  3. Clean fresh smell
  4. Stretch your clothing budget because clothes last longer
  5. An easy way to get exercise and burn calories
  6. Indoor drying racks help humidify indoor dry winter air
  7. Fewer wrinkles in your clothes
  8. Faster in the summer. You can finish laundry quicker
  9. The sun naturally brightens whites
  10. Getting outside is good for your mental health
  11. Enjoy the fresh scent of line-dried bedding

Also, See our DIY Clothespin Bag

How To Build A Clothesline

Building a clothesline is a weekend project only because you have to wait on the concrete to dry in the holes. You can build the posts with T and brace in a few hours.

All of the supplies and tools you need are available at a hardware store or home improvement store.

Supplies Needed

  • 3 (Three) 8 ft. landscape timbers
  • 4 (Four) 2×4’s cut at a 45-degree angle on both ends
  • Clothesline
  • 6 Clothesline Pulley’s
  • 5 Line Tightener’s
  • 8 Screw Eye hooks
  • 4 of nuts, bolts & washers about 7″ long
  • 1 bag Quikrete, concrete mix

Tools Needed

  • Hammer
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Chisel
  • Wrench
  • Tape Measure
  • Carpenter Square
  • Post Level
  • Posthole digger
  • Pencil

Step 1

Select your location. Choose a sunny spot preferably without trees.

We have a lot of trees in our yard so we selected a location with the least amount of shade between trees. It also needed to be out of the way, near our fence line to leave the backyard free for the kids to play.

Step 2

Determine the distance you want between poles. This decision will be affected by your location and the length of line you desire.

Dig deep holes for the posts to be set into. Do not set the posts just yet. Keep in mind the height of your line. See Step 8 for tips.

Step 3

Cut one of the 8 ft. timbers in half creating two 4 ft. posts. These will become the “T” which will attach to the two other timbers. 

How To Build A Clothesline with a pulley system. This DIY Outdoor Clothesline was an afternoon project. Instructions including tools and supplies included in this tutorial. #clothesline #homesteading

Step 4

Install the clothesline pulley’s onto the two  4 ft. “T” posts you cut. Be sure to measure your desired distance between pulleys. This task is easier done while still using your workbench which in our case was a couple of saw horses set up in the yard.

How To Build A Clothesline with a pulley system. This DIY Outdoor Clothesline was an afternoon project. Instructions including tools and supplies included in this tutorial. #clothesline #homesteading

Step 5

Create a notch in both of the remaining 8 ft. timbers for the ‘T’ to fit into.

Measure your desired distance down the post where you will cut a notch (see picture below). This notch helps to secure a better fit when you attach the “T” post.

My husband did this step using a hammer and a chisel.

How To Build A Clothesline with a pulley system. This DIY Outdoor Clothesline was an afternoon project. Instructions including tools and supplies included in this tutorial. #clothesline #homesteading

Step 6

Attach the “T” to the anchor post using the nuts and bolts as pictured above. (I took the picture after the project was complete. The line will not yet be installed at this step)

How To Build A Clothesline with a pulley system. This DIY Outdoor Clothesline was an afternoon project. Instructions including tools and supplies included in this tutorial. #clothesline #homesteading

Step 7

Using the 2 x 4’s, cut to fit, attach as bracing boards using screws.

How To Build A Clothesline with a pulley system. This DIY Outdoor Clothesline was an afternoon project. Instructions including tools and supplies included in this tutorial. #clothesline #homesteading

Step 8

It is time to set posts into the hole at the desired depth. A rule of thumb is between 6’ to 7 ½’ tall. 

It is important to take into consideration two things.

  1. How tall does the line need to be so that the person using it can actually reach the line to hang out the clothes.
  2. Hang the line high enough so that normally hung clothes won’t drag to the ground.
How To Build A Clothesline with a pulley system. This DIY Outdoor Clothesline was an afternoon project. Instructions including tools and supplies included in this tutorial. #clothesline #homesteading

Nail a few wooden stakes on to brace the post prior to adding the Quikrete into the hole.

Once you have your post braced up and it is level, go ahead and prepare the Quikrete according to the package directions. Add the concrete carefully so your post remains level. The concrete may take up to 2 days to set up. Do not add the clothesline until after the concrete has been set up.

How To Build A Clothesline with a pulley system. This DIY Outdoor Clothesline was an afternoon project. Instructions including tools and supplies included in this tutorial. #clothesline #homesteading

Last Step

String the Clothesline.

A clothesline tightener is wonderful because a clothesline will begin to sag a bit from time to time and those allow quick tightening.

Quick Tip

You may have noticed what appears to be an upside-down can on the top of the clothesline posts. Those are placed there to prevent rain from rotting the posts. It’s a nice trick.

white clothes on a clothesline
Whites are whiter when line-dried in the sun

You don’t have to be living a homestead life to enjoy the benefits of a DIY Clothesline. You can build your own clothesline in the backyard of your home no matter where you live as long as you have space for it.

Print the instructions with a checklist for tools and supplies needed to make a clothesline. You probably already have all the tools and maybe even a few of the supplies.

FAQ

What can I use for a clothesline?

You want a clothesline rope with strength and durability that won’t rust or rot. The polypropylene cord works well and can be easily wiped off when needed.

How far apart should a clothesline be?

40 to 50 feet apart is a good length for a clothesline. Any further and you run the risk of the line sagging. If you make your T post wide enough, you can run three lines on one post for more space to hang wet clothes at one time.

What is the average height of a clothesline?

The average height of a clothesline is around 6 ft to 7 1/2 ft tall. It is best to make your line tall enough so the laundry doesn’t touch the ground but low enough to accommodate the height of the person hanging out the laundry.

Will clothes dry on the line in the winter?

Yes is the short answer. If you live in a climate with freezing or subfreezing temperatures, your line-dried clothes will likely freeze. Don’t fret. Bring them in and lay them out to thaw at which time you will find they are dry. It’s a multi-step process but it still works.

Why does my clothesline sag?

All clotheslines will sag from time to time. The weight of the clothes on the line will pull it down slightly but it shouldn’t sag to the point of the clothes touching the ground.

Causes can be as simple as the line being too long or the cord needing to be replaced after years of use. Clotheslines require maintenance.

One way to fix a drooping clothesline is by installing line tighteners as we have recommended in our DIY Clothesline tutorial.

More Clothesline Options

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How To Build A Clothesline with a pulley system. This DIY Outdoor Clothesline was an afternoon project. Instructions including tools and supplies included in this tutorial. #clothesline #homesteading

 

 

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16 Comments

  1. Oh gosh, I haven’t used a clothesline since we left Hawaii over 10+ years. I remember hanging laundry outside of my grandmother’s house each week as it was one of my chores 🙂 It’s something I missed when we moved to Cali.

  2. I wish I had room in my backyard for this because I would love to be able to dry my clothes outside! Great DIY! Thanks so much for sharing this for Maker’s Mix Up this week!

  3. Growing up in deepest darkest Arkansas my Granny used a clothesline. There is nothing like the smell of a wind dried blanket or sweater, The smell is just comforting.

  4. Clothes lines are so practice and remind me of my southern grandmother. She had a clothes line and oh did we have to hang and GET the clothes for the house. Sweet memories.

    My former neighborhood association wouldn’t allow them. :/

  5. Wow that is a really awesome clothes line! I don’t have one, but you never know when your dryer will quit on you! Also, It may be a good idea to make one for the clothes that can’t go in the dryer.

  6. Gosh, you took me way, way back! I remember helping my mom hang out clothes when I was growing up. I loved it! Then I remember the day mom bought her very first clothes dryer. I think I was about 9 years old. Fast forward to when I first got married and the first house we lived in had a clothes line and I used it all the time, especially after the babies started coming and at that time I used cloth diapers.

    I haven’t used a clothes line in years, but while reading your post I could almost smell that fresh scent that only comes from clothes that were dried on the line. (Also the song, “Suds in the Bucket and the Clothes Hanging out on the Line” just came to mind!) Pinning!

    1. I grew up helping Momma also, Alli. I thought it was cool when I was little 🙂 This is the only home I’ve ever lived in without a clothesline and we have been here 14 years! I have been using it exclusively for 3 weeks now, no complaints, yet 🙂

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