DIY: Hang a Clothesline in 10 Minutes

May 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, DIY, Eco-Friendly, Front Page, Green Living, Homes, Iowa, Laundry, Slideshow

Joe hangs a load of laundry on the line he installed. Photo: Julia Wasson

There are lots of reasons to hang your clothes outside to dry, including saving energy by not running your dryer. If you’ve been putting off setting up a clothesline because you thought it would be too much trouble, put it off no more. We found a simple, do-it-yourself (DIY) clothesline that took less than 10 minutes to set up and get started.

Drill two starter holes for the screws, then slide the reel over the screws to lock it in place. The braking device is below the reelPhoto: Julia Wasson

We had been talking about hanging a clothesline for a long time — years, actually. When we finally got around to it, it was a snap. (Easy for me to say, because Joe hung it. But he swears it’s true.) We bought a Sunline retractable clothesline at our local hardware store for $13.78 plus tax. The only tools needed were a power drill, an extension cord, a hammer, and a starter nail.

Using the power drill, Joe drilled two screws into one end wall of the deck on the back of our house. The plastic, round reel, which holds all the clothes line, just fit over those screws and slid down over them, locking into place. Then Joe tightened both screws with the drill.

On the other end of the deck, about 16 feet away from the reel, he tapped a starter hole in the wall with the hammer and nail. Then he hand-screwed the 2- inch hook into the wall opposite the reel.

Next, he grabbed the starter cord from the reel and pulled it across the deck. At that point, it was a simple matter of hanging the built-in loop on the end of the starter cord over the hook. The line was up, but it wasn’t yet ready for us to hang laundry.

Hanging the end of the line is a simple matter of pulling the loop over the hook. Photo: Julia Wasson

There was still one important step left. Standing at the clothesline reel, Joe pulled out a few more inches of clothesline so that the entire line was loose. Then he wrapped the line around a small braking device, which keeps the clothesline taut. Done! And in less than 10 minutes.

We’ve hung several loads of laundry on our new line, and so far, it hasn’t sagged or gone slack. It’s a good thing, too, because Joe loves to do the laundry. This is one device that’s going to get a real workout.

But what if we want to use our deck for entertaining or just to read a book? All we have to do is unhook the line, remove the excess cord from the braking device, and tug on the line to retract it.

We keep the cord retracted when we’re not actually hanging laundry on it, to protect it from sunlight and weather. What’s the environmental payoff? Hard to say just yet, as we don’t know for sure how long this device will last. It’s made largely of plastic, which is a negative, but it helps us avoid using electricity produced by coal, which is a positive.

A typical load of laundry, drying on our new Sunline retractable clothesline. Photo: Julia Wasson

As to whether it’s cost-effective, that’s another question we don’t have the answer for just yet. One estimate I read says that an electric dryer costs about 57 cents per 40-minute load. Our dryer always takes about an hour for a full load of towels, such as the ones on this line, so it’s bound to be closer to 75 cents per load. (I’m purely estimating here, and you’ll have to figure this out for yourself using your own calculations.)

To be on the safe side, let’s assume it’s only 60 cents per load. With a device that cost us roughly $14, that’s about 23 loads to reach full return on our investment. Since we easily do 3 loads a week, we’ll have the cost of the Sunline retractable clothesline paid back in about 8 weeks. And the rest of the summer and fall, we’ll be drying our laundry for free.

There are lots of other choices for air-drying laundry besides the one we used. A quick trip to the hardware store, and you’ll have an air-drying solution for your home laundry in no time at all.

The Small Print

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Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)


3 Responses to “DIY: Hang a Clothesline in 10 Minutes”

  1. DIY: Hang a Clothesline in 10 Minutes | Eco-FamilyFun - Green Living Tips On Saving Money For The Family on May 18th, 2010 4:08 am

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  2. 5 Easy Steps to A Green Laundry Routine | Organics 2 Your Door - Organic News and Products on August 1st, 2010 5:02 pm

    […] on the clothesline puts less stress on those fibers, so your favorite duds will last much longer! Learn to set up a clothesline in just 10 minutes from Blue Planet Green Living. Plus, check out EnviroMom’s clothesline on […]

  3. Clayton Quinn on August 23rd, 2011 6:29 am

    I don’t get it.
    Why do you need this gimmick.
    All you need is 2 hooks at each end.
    The hook can be in a fence, house siding, deck or a tree.
    Have a dedicated rope tied in a loop on each end.
    When it’s time to hang laundry, install the rope.
    When done with laundry, remove rope and store for next time.
    So simple and much cheaper.