How to Choose a Clothesline

Dry Your Clothes in the Fresh Air!

Photo by Pixabay

Use a clothesline instead of a dryer to dry your clothes in warm, dry weather. You save money, energy, and the clothes smell great after drying in the fresh air! One reader says, “You get a little exercise, too!” Here are tips on how to choose an outdoor clothesline:

  • The average load of wash uses about 35 feet of line; your clothesline should accommodate at least that. Unless the height of a pulley-style line is significant, the clothesline shouldn’t be a lot longer than that, as the sag factor increases with length.
  • A load of wet wash weighs about 15 to 18 pounds (assuming it is spin-dried). It will shed about a third of that weight as it dries. This may not seem like much weight, but it won’t take long for your new clothesline to get stretched out a bit. By leaving a little “tail” when you tie your knot for either style of clothesline, you’ll be able to undo it, pull the line tight, and retie it as often as you need to.

Three Common Clothesline Types

  1. Basic plastic clothesline has the advantage of being waterproof and cleanable (you can wipe off the inevitable mildew). With wire and fiber reinforcement, it is stretch-resistant—and it’s cheap. You can find a 100-foot roll for less than $4. However, it is thin, which means that it will be harder for you to grip, and the clothespin is not going to hold as tightly as on a thicker line.
  2. Multifilament polypropylene (nylon) is tempting because it is lightweight, water- and mildew-resistant, and strong (our sample was 640-pound test). However, its slippery texture deters a firm clothespin grip, and it doesn’t tie well.
  3. Our top choice is basic cotton clothesline. It’s about the same price as nylon, which is about $7 to $8 per 100 feet. In theory, it is weaker (only 280-pound test in our sample), but unless you’re hanging out pots and pans to dry, it should hold up fine.

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

You must have Javascript enabled to use this form.


Our clothes line is made from parachute cord and is strong and weather resistant!We have a newly adopted 15 year old daughter whom we have in cloth diapers and rubberpants 24/7 and i hang her cloth diapers and the rubberpants on the clothesline and they dry quickly and smell fresh like the outdoors!

old clothesline question

Hi, I grew up in a 3 decker in the 60's that had a rotary clothesline off the back porch. It was mounted to the railing, swung in and out with a attached pole that was secured to the porch with a hook and eye. If it was raining I could leave it swung in under the porch roof. I have looked everywhere, but they don't seem to make them anymore. I guess not many new houses have back porches.

old style steel clothesline vs new cheaper substitute

I have used clotheslines for 80 years and recently went to the store for a new one. All my life a clothesline has been metal wire, the later ones having a vinyl coating. I was shocked when the clerk brought out cotton and plastic string that was labeled "clothesline." This stuff stretches and is gradually destroyed by the sun.

So I went to the hardware stor and asked for plastic coated guy wire. The clerk brought out what used to be called clothesline, 50 feet for $7.95.

I guess during the electric dryer era most folks forgot what real clothesline is. Now that its making a comeback the younger generation thinks it's string, which is cheaper to make.

Nothing like old-style steel (not aluminum) clothesline that stays taught, supports more weight, and doesn't degrade in the sun's UV.

Love Hanging Laundry - It's a Mindfulness/Zen Experience

We have had clotheslines in our backyards for some decades now. We are both old enough that we remember when our moms had washing machines only, no dryers, and every house came with two of those metal "T" poles in the backyard for your clotheslines. We remember mom yelling at us to not play in and out of the clean hanging clothes. On beautiful days, we hang all our laundry loads. It is such a mindfulness/Zen experience, clipping each piece on the line, chaining them along with one clothespin holding two pieces of laundry together on the line. Taking each dry piece down and folding them, then putting them into the basket, all in the beautiful outdoors. Everyone should have a clothesline and hang laundry to dry.

Problem of Rain

I left home at 5:00 in the morning and come at 19:00 much of the time got wasted in the travelling. You explain everything but what about rain. I have put my clothes outside for drying at the balcony. When I reach home it was almost wet due to constant heavy rain throughout the day. Since I did not have inform to wear for the work in the morning next day. I have to take day off from the work. You explain everything but what about my problem. If you solution then please respond. Thanks for knowledge.

No one can control the

No one can control the weather. Is this a joke? If it's supposed to rain, then don't put your clothes out. And, duh, it could rain unexpectedly as that's life. It's probably not smart to rely on weather if you need the clothes the very next morning. Hang in a garage or inside if you don't have a garage. Or, go to a laundromat to dry them if you are desperate or call a friend. I can't believe your work doesn't fire you.

Rain on clothesline

If there is an item that you absolutely need to wear, hang on hangers in your house or apartment. Just make sure it's not dripping all over everywhere. If it's still pretty wet hang it in your shower until it's not dripping. Most places will allow you to buy an extra uniform. It is part of being an adult to think about this, do not call off work because you were lazy. Wear something similar, even if you get reprimanded. Not working is worse.

rain problem

Easy. ... In rainy seasons I rig a clothesline over the bathtub where drips don't matter. I hang only the essentials as the line (or maybe a second one) is short. In the winter I leave the heat on in the bathroom. The clothes dry nicely overnight.


These comments really have me wanting to use the two old metal poles that came with the house. Was using them for hanging wind chimes and bird feeders and such. The thing that stops me is the stinkbugs, yuck! Those gross little buggers crawl on everything (eastern Ohio) and leave little poo marks. This year also is the 17 year cicadas emergence so it's not looking like my junky whirlpool dryer gets a rest this year.

Stinkbugs Clothesline

If you have a dryish basement hang some clotheslines in it. If not get a small retractable line for your shower. Or maybe a drying rack that can be folded up and stored away when not in use.

Looking for advise . . .

Looking for advise . . . I've been hanging out my laundry for years, and I've had my lines attached to the huge maple tree in my backyard and my fence posts. Unfortunately, I've lost my tree and my fence posts are rotting away and now -- no more clothesline. So I am in need of recommendations on a new clothesline. Attaching a line to a tree and a fencepost was easy!! So I not only need recommendations on a new clothesline but also on "how to put it up." I look forward to great advise (as I sit hear and listen for my dryer to beep . . . ugh!)/ Thanks!

advise on drying clothes on a clothesline

First, get a metal clothesline encased in vinyl. Most places now sell it as "guy wire" at about $7 or $8 per foot. The cloth lines are cheap, they sag, can't be made taught enough, and degrade in the sun's UV.

Second, always run a wet washrag down the length of the line to remove any residual dust, dirt, cobwebs, or bird poop that might have accumulated since the previous washing/drying.

Third, hang shirts with two clothespins, one clipped at the outer end of each top shoulder seam where the arm joins the shoulder. The seam gives strength when things start flapping in the wind. Hang pants with two pins just below the belt seam with the legs pointing down. I always use two pins also on towels, washrags, and everything else to expose as much drying area as possible, speeding things up.

Fourth, when hanging, turn everything inside-out, with pockets also inside out for faster drying. This exposes the inside of the garment to the sun's UV and saves the outside from color fading.

Hope this helps. ( I've spent time in Scotland and know there is much wind and rain. (Also the accursed midgies)

I live on my own and

I live on my own and throughout the spring / summer / autumn, I hang clothes out. As many have already said, the smell of freshly dried clothes cannot be replicated. I hate winter when I usually have to dry clothes over my radiators. By the way, I live near Glasgow in Scotland and I use a square of four clothes poles strung with 6mm plastic/ nylon core clothesine.

These clothes are not hung

These clothes are not hung right. You never fold the top over the line. It makes a crimp in the clothes. You clip to the wire. Lol get an old timer to show you. lol

You're right. Never fold over

You're right. Never fold over the line.
Years ago an old woman who lived next door to me commented "you know, for a young person, you hang a really nice wash". One of the nicest comments in my young life at the time.

Will be buying a house and

Will be buying a house and want an outside line. I haven't looked into retractable lines but had the idea of tying each end of the line to a carabiner. Should make it easy to unhook the line when not needed and deploy when you do.

it's good that different

it's good that different companies come up with new designs for clothes to dry. i especially appreciate indoor clothes line, they never make my clothes smell dry. got it from http://www.lifestyleclotheslin..., they always come up with new designs which i love.

The rain I receive is off the

The rain I receive is off the ocean. Will my clothes get dirtier if it rains on the newly washed clothes?

It's fine if the clothes are

It's fine if the clothes are rained on; you just need to wait longer for them to dry!

Hello everyone :) I have

Hello everyone :) I have never used a clothesline but I remember other people in our neighborhood using it when I was growing up in the early 80s. I have a few questions, since I'm new to this and thought I would maybe get one a try it out. First, does the dirt, pollen, etc cause wet clothes to get dirty? Do you have a problem with birds (poop) or hanging out on the poles/lines? If so, how do you deal with that? Which is better, a long line with a pulley system or the umbrella style? Lastly, what are the best types of clothespins to use? I'm used to seeing the wooden or plastic spring kind, but I do remember the ones that people used for crafts that have a little head at the top?

Thanks for all your help!

Hi, Rachel, You may find this

Hi, Rachel, You may find this blog post on clotheslines helpful:
If you have any questions, you could post on the blog to the author who will answer them!
Cheers, the OFA editors

I've just bought a clothes

I've just bought a clothes tree from a company in California, Breezecatcher have this fantastic parallel clothes line, its aluminum but it looks like wood. I've been hanging out laundry for many years and I've never soon a clothesline as strong as this.

I always hang my clothes

I always hang my clothes outdoors and indoors when it's raining too much. I know it sounds crazy but I just hate clothes dried in the dryer!

If you are looking for good clothespins, try Lee Valley Tools - just Google them. They have the good larger ones that really hold nice. By the way...I use clothes pins for everything it seems. A very nice tool around the ranch!

So glad to know that I am not

So glad to know that I am not the only one who hates clothes dried in the dryer. I honestly hate the feel of a towel that is dried in the dryer. It doesn't have the absorption that one that is sun dried. I have been hanging my clothes out for the past 25 years and refuse to use the dryer. I have even hung them in our home on a makeshift clothes line and wooden racks on cold rainy days. I even hang them out on sunny but cold days. They are cold but dry. And the money we save on the power bill.

If your dryer dried towels

If your dryer dried towels are not absorbing properly, you may be using too much fabric softener. My dryer dried towels absorb just fine and smell great.

Response to Marsha Knatcal -

Response to Marsha Knatcal - I also live in an area where a full clothesline isn't possible. However I bought a folding drying rack from and I hang clothes on it and put it in the yard right behind the house. Large racks will fit almost a whole load, and I can even drape sheets over it. I don't know if this will help you but just thought I'd suggest as it has worked well for me. I can't stand to run the dryer when the weather is nice out!

We've installed a

We've installed a clothes-drying tree at every house we've owned; I like it much better than stringing a line. Takes up much less space and can be folded up and stored for the winter. Not too expensive, either.

I really miss hanging our

I really miss hanging our clothes out to dry, but a few years ago we moved to a woooded area and there is no place to put up a line. Even so, the pollen from all the trees would stick to the wet clothes - yuck. Sure wish there was a way...

I love line dried clothes,

I love line dried clothes, but as a Washington State resident, we don't get to till August thur Sept. Mighty short drying season!

I too hang out my clothes to

I too hang out my clothes to dry. Being a senior, 68 this year, I remember using the the wringer washer and hanging the clothes out..Also, I recall my Mom using the curtain stretcher to dry the starched curtains. WOW..the early 50's..what a way to live..fresh smell of bed sheets..fresh grown veggies and so much peace and neighbors so willing to help each other. It seems this day in time people want too much in the way of materialistic items..will not save for them and to get a young teenager to mow the lawn or shovel way. the world of video games, cell phones and pc games have taken the children out of the sunshine, which provide the Vitamin D and has caused so many over-weight youngsters and Diebetics at such a young age.

To hear my parent and grandparents speak of their days of growing up and I thought "um" well, I now can see what they meant..

We never left the door unlocked, however, as a youngster I could walk down the street and my parents did not have to worry about kidnapping/molestation and murder.

However, change must happen..Just look at how far medicine has come and the longevity of us now..

In closing, I am thankful every day that I experienced the quieter, easy life with God's creations and I still can "sing in the sunshine" and hang out my clothes.