DIY: Hang a Clothesline in 10 Minutes

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

Blue Planet Green Living purchased the product described in this post. No compensation or incentive was provided.

Blue Planet Green Living’s review policy is to only review those products we feel merit overall positive comments. If we do not like a product, we do not review it. We are not influenced by complimentary products and provide our honest opinions. For more information, please visit the Policies tab on the top navigation bar.

Blue Planet Green Living has an affiliate relationship with Amazon.com. If you purchase this product or any other products through Amazon by clicking on our affiliate link, Blue Planet Green Living will receive a small financial compensation from Amazon, which we use to sustain this website.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)