Putting Your Laundry on the Line: Here's How to Install a Clothesline (and Save Energy)

by Team HomeServe
Clothes Line with White Shirts

When you think of a clothesline, it probably brings to mind the old days before clothes dryers, when the only way to get a shirt dry was by hanging it outside. Doing such a thing is virtually unheard of these days because clothes dryers are so much easier and faster to use.

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Maybe we need to take a trip back in time and reconsider the clothesline. A DIY clothesline is not difficult to set up. In the warm weather, it’ll take no time at all for your clothes to dry, and it can save you money on your energy bill.

There are many types of clotheslines and many ways to hang them. Read on to find out how to install one in your backyard.

How Do I Hang a Clothesline?

At its simplest, a clothesline can be a piece of rope tied onto two sturdy points at opposite ends. For example, you could tie one end of the rope onto a fence post and the other onto a tree. This is the simplest setup, but it may not be the most long-lasting or the most convenient.

For a more permanent and versatile clothesline, the rope or cord should be tied between two sturdy anchor points such as two poles. You can also attach one end to your house, garage, shed or even a tree. Whatever you choose, be ready to drill holes so that you can attach screw hooks to your two anchor points. Then, you’ll tie the line onto the two screw hooks.

What Is the Best Knot for a Clothesline?

You want a knot on one end of the clothesline that is reliable and tough. You don't want it to slip out and become untied, sending your clean clothes to the ground and into the dirt. For the other end, you need a knot that is adjustable so you are able to remove any slack that may develop in the line.

According to Hunker, the two knots that are most useful for hanging a clothesline are the bowline and taut-line hitch. The bowline is a knot that, when tied properly, will not become undone. Use it for one end of the clothesline rope. For the other end, use the taut-line hitch. Once tied, it’s adjustable. If there’s any slack in the clothesline, you can easily tighten it up.

How Do You Anchor a Clothesline Pole?

If you decide to install your clothesline between two freestanding poles, you need to anchor the poles so that they are secure and sturdy enough to hold the weight of the wet clothes. WikiHow says to dig a hole 3 to 4 feet deep and 12 inches wide for each pole. Call 811 to make sure there are no utility lines buried in the area where you are digging.

Once you've dug the hole, put the pole into it. Get someone to help you hold the pole and check that it’s level. Next, pour a bag of concrete mix into the hole, add water and let it set for 24 to 72 hours. Once it's dry, fill the rest of the hole with dirt and cover with sod if you like. Follow the steps outlined above: Put a screw hook in each post and tie the line to it.

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How Do You Hang a Clothesline Between Two Trees?

If you're out camping, you might need a way to dry your clothes. In the forest, setting up the line between two trees is the easiest solution. It is not recommended to disturb any trees by drilling holes in them to install screw hooks as you would in a more permanent setup. Since it's most likely a temporary clothesline, all you need is knowledge of the correct knots to use.

The bowline and the taut-line hitch are also the knots to use for this job. Take the rope you are using for the clothesline and wrap one end around one of the trees. Attach it to the tree using the bowline knot. This knot allows you to create a loop that will not become undone as long as the knot is tied properly.

Stretch the rope across to the other tree you've chosen and tie a taut-line hitch to this one. This knot is convenient if your clothesline starts to droop because of the weight of the clothes on it. Just tighten up the loop and the line is tight again.

How Does Using a Clothesline Save Energy?

According to The Spruce, it costs about 45 cents to dry a load of laundry in your electric dryer. If you dry 20 loads in a month, that's $9. Multiply that by 12, and you're spending $108 per year just to dry your clothes. That's money you could save if you hang your clothes out on the line.

If you’re saving money, you’re also saving energy, which is good for the environment. Plus, you won’t have to worry about what to do if your dryer breaks down. And your clothes will last longer because they’re not tumbling around in the dryer week after week. However, the tradeoff (because there’s always a tradeoff) is the cost to install the clothesline and the inconvenience of waiting for your laundry to air dry.