Install a Clothesline

Install a Clothesline

Level: Beginner

Since the invention of the electric clothes dryer, the number of households that rely on clotheslines to dry clothes has steadily decreased over the years. Hanging your clothes up to dry is easier on the environment and your wallet because it saves you money on energy costs. By giving your dryer a break you cut down on energy costs and give your clothes that fresh, air-dried scent.

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  • Choose a Clothesline That Suits Your Needs

    There are a couple of different ways to go about setting up a clothesline and the kind you choose should depend on what works best in the space you have. If space is not an issue, the common choice is two T-shaped metal or wood posts planted in the ground outside.

    In limited-space yards and indoors, umbrella clotheslines and simple line-and-pulley designs strung between two fixed points are good options. The two latter also are good if you want to be able to dismantle the clothesline when you're not using it. In addition, your local True Value hardware store carries retractable clothesline/dryer sets, tripod portable dryers (similar to umbrella clotheslines) and wall-mount dryers for easy indoor hang drying.

    Install Line-and-Pulley Clothesline

    • Step 1: Choose a Location
      Line-and-Pulley Clothesline

      Choose an area of your yard, laundry room, basement, etc., suitable for hanging clothes to dry – someplace out of the way and where there are two anchor points from which to string the line. The location should be open enough that it's not near objects that would interfere with hanging clothes, such as trees.

    • Step 2: Install Anchor Points

      Buy two clothesline hooks or screw hooks. For screw hooks, drill a starter hole a bit smaller than the diameter of the screw hooks into the first anchor point structure (say, the side of your house or a wall indoors). Then screw in the hook and repeat the process at the opposite anchor point. If using clothesline hooks, simply attach with screws using a power screwdriver. Your line will be strung from these two points.

      Helpful Tip

      Make your hooks, and thus your line, high enough so when the line sags from the weight of wet clothes, the clothes don't touch the ground. A few inches above your own height should suffice.

    • Step 3: String Up the Line

      Attach clothesline pulleys to each screw hook and thread the clothesline through both. Connect the ends of the clothesline on the "bottom" rope by pulling the line as tight as possible and connecting them with a knot or clothesline tightener.

      Helpful Tips

      Buy a clothesline that is twice as long as the distance between your two anchor points.

      If placing it outside, buy a clothesline that can withstand a beating from the elements. Cotton clothesline don't last as long as synthetics or vinyl-coated wire. Your best bet is a flexible nylon or polyester line to stand the test of time.

      Invest in clothesline separators which keep the bottom and top part of the line apart and keep the bottom line from sagging too much.

    Install an Umbrella Clothesline

    The following steps are for installing an umbrella clothesline outside. You can also purchase umbrella-style clotheslines on tripods for easy, indoor use.

    • Step 1: Dig a Hole

      After you've purchased an umbrella clothesline kit, dig a hole where you want the clothesline to be located. Use a post-hole digger to make a hole about 12" deep and 6" to 12" wide.

      Helpful Tip

      When choosing a location outside, keep your clothesline away from wires and trees or any objects where birds may perch. It is also good to install the clothesline away from high-traffic areas in your yard where children and pets play. For privacy's sake, choose an area of your yard that has the least visibility to neighbors and passersby.

    • Step 2: Make a Support Tube

      Make a tube to go into the hole once it's filled with concrete. The tube will support the clothesline's post to keep it securely in place once heavy, wet clothes are hanging on it. Buy a length of PVC pipe that will precisely fit the height of the hole you dig. Use a hacksaw or similar tool to cut it down to size if need be, and keep one end open and cover the other end with duct tape to keep concrete out (more on that later).

    • Step 3: Pour Concrete, Add Water

      Pour dry concrete mix into the hole (one or two bags will probably do it) and add water from a garden hose. Use a mixing stick to stir the concrete until the mix is homogenous. Push in the tube you made in Step 2, taped end first (the tape keeps concrete from pushing up inside the tube) and let the concrete set for a couple of days. Use a level to make sure the tube is completely straight. Once the mix has completely dried and hardened, you're ready to set up your clothesline.

    Install a Pole-to-Pole Clothesline

    • Step 1: Choose a location

      Buy a set of ready-made clothesline poles. When choosing a location, keep your clothesline away from wires and trees or any objects where birds may perch. It is also good to install the clothesline away from high-traffic areas in your yard where children and pets play. For privacy's sake, choose an area of your yard that has the least visibility to neighbors and passersby.

      Helpful Tip

      If possible, align the direction of the clothesline so that your clothes will receive the greatest amount of sunlight by running the line north to south. Your clothes will dry faster this way.

    • Step 2: Dig Holes

      To permanently and securely install your clothesline poles you need to bury part of the poles in the ground so that they can support the weight of wet clothes on the line. Using a tape measure, map out how much space you want between your two poles and mark where you'll dig the two holes with chalk or paint. It's up to you how far apart the poles will be, but keep in mind that you want enough line space to hold all of your laundry, but too much line can sag in the middle and make wet clothes touch the ground when they're on it.

      Safety Alert!

      Don't just start digging in your yard. Check with your local utility companies about gas and water lines, telephone lines or any other utility line that could cause either a disruption in your service or worse, a potentially dangerous situation such as with a ruptured gas line.

      Using a post-hole digger, dig two equidistant holes – one for each pole. Make the holes about 12" - 18" deep and 12" wide. The bottom of the hole should be slightly wider than the top — this helps prevent any movement when the earth settles. Note: Pole height can vary a bit depending on how high you want your clothesline to be. Most poles are around 6' to 7-1/2' in height and can be found at your local True Value hardware store. In the end, you want the clothesline to be at the average height of a person or a couple inches taller to make it easy to hang clothes on.

    • Step 3: Plant the Posts

      Fill one third of each hole with concrete mix, add water, and place each post into its hole. Then fill it the rest of the way with concrete. Use a level to ensure your post is straight then stake it in place with rope or heavy string so that it remains straight. Hint: This is much easier with an assistant. Let the concrete set for a day. After it is dry, remove the stakes and rope.

    • Step 4: String the Line
      hanging clothes

      Tie a good-quality, nylon clothesline to the ends of each pole "T" and then tie the other end of the rope to the opposite "T" in the same way.

      Congratulations! Now you're giving your clothes dryer and the environment a break, not to mention you're saving money on energy costs.

  • Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

    Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.

    Then, print or save your updated list and bring it to your local True Value hardware store, where an expert Hardwarian will give you the remaining tools and expert advice you need to complete this project.

    You can also shop online for these project items at and receive FREE shipping to a participating store.

    Line-and-Pulley Clothesline

    Umbrella Clothesline

    Pole-to-Pole Clothesline

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