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How to Make the Perfect Pulley Clothesline

May 13, 2013

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Sometimes the “old” ways are the best. Consider how you dry your clothes. As people look for new ways to conserve energy, an easy and natural way to do just that is to think about putting up a clothesline.

The May edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac Monthly magazine offers instructions for two different types of traditional clotheslines. One of these is the pulley clothesline.

The pulley clothesline is a simple concept. With a pulley, you (with your laundry basket) can stand in one place as you hang out, and later take down, your wash.

The ideal pulley clothesline runs off a high porch or deck and connects at the other end to something equally high or higher. (This can be a tree, as long as there are no branches in the path; an outbuilding; or a tall post.)

You can start the clothesline at ground level, if necessary, but the far end should be at least 8 feet higher, with no shrubs, trees, or other encumbrances in the path.

Make a Pulley Clothesline

You will need:

  • 2 aluminum pulleys with ball bearings (these will outlast plastic components and are available at almost any home/hardware supply store) and attachment hardware
  • clothesline
  • 1 aluminum clothesline divider

At the appropriate height, mount a pulley to a solid surface at each end of where you’d like the clothesline to run. Then thread the clothesline through each of the pulleys. Join the two ends of the clothesline in a figure-8 bend, which will provide enough bulk to keep the knot from slipping into a pulley and getting stuck. The clothesline now forms a closed loop.

The divider is clearly the most interesting component of a pulley clothesline. The divider serves the dual purpose of holding the clothesline together and keeping it apart. It prevents the line from getting twisted and deters the drying items from wrapping around the line. By connecting the top of the looping line to the bottom, it also reduces sag. The divider is a removable item that you’ll want to store on a hook or in your clothesline bucket or bag. It gets added to the clothesline when you’ve got one-third to one-half of your load on. The next clothesline added to the line pushes the divider along. Choose a solid aluminum divider; it will perform and last.


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Ginger Vaughan has worked for The Old Farmer's Almanac for over a decade and, every spring, thinks about starting a garden. When she isn't enjoying the outdoors (and pondering just where to plant that garden), she can often be found in the kitchen testing out new recipes. She lives in a Pacific Northwest forest on the Puget Sound with Thor and Olive, two English bulldogs who would like to taste test her cooking creations far more often than they are allowed. 


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Thanks for sharing this

By Project Laundry List

Thanks for sharing this valuable information.

i would like to see more

By jaqio

i would like to see more pictures please. i can't picture the intent of the divider. thanks

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