How to Choose a Clothesline

Dry Your Clothes in the Fresh Air!

May 24, 2016
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

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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.

I too hang out my clothes!

Love your comments- and I agree with you totally. I was born in 62 - my grandmother & great grandmother always had a clothesline. Everything smelled so good. My mother never had one - everything in the dryer. I will set up an old fashioned t-post one on my land like I remember. I currently live in Arkansas & I get lots of breeze from a nearby lake. It’s out in the country & I love the simpler ways versus the technology so many depend on. It has its uses, but one needs not to totally rely on it. Leaves one helpless when those systems fail.

I live in Alabama and hang

I live in Alabama and hang out year round. When it's rainy I just don't do laundry or just enough to 'get by'. I wait untill I can hang out again. The smell of line dried clothes is one of my favorite smells!

It still isnt nive enough

It still isnt nive enough here in northeastern ohio but I love to hang the clothes out, they come in smelling so fresh, you dont have to use the iron.
My only problem is finding the old time clothepins, my grandmothers are about gone and the new ones dont hold up, anyone out there have any place to buy the old time wood clothpins?

If you are refering to the

If you are refering to the old peg type instead of the type with the spring, I have seen them in craft stores, such as Michaels and JoAnns.

If you do not find them at a

If you do not find them at a fabric store like Joann's you might find them at a teacher supply store - they are used in crafts all the time.

Have you tried craft shops?

Have you tried craft shops? They sometimes have the old-fashioned clothes pins. I live in southeastern Ohio and enjoy hanging out clothes too.

Living in NE Ohio, take a day

Living in NE Ohio, take a day and drive to Kidron, Ohio, to Lehman's. Guaranteed, you will find anything 'old-timey' there!

I love hanging out clothes,

I love hanging out clothes, hard to believe in some parts of this country it's against the policy of homeowners to have clothes lines,now I would be finding a differant place to live, no, I wouldn't have moved there to start with. Love the crisp feel of towels, they dry you off so much better when hung outside, and ohhhh to slip into the sheets that have been outside all day drying.........need to go back to the 50's, so much nicer.....

There used to be a rule

There used to be a rule against lines in Ontario, but David Suzuki got them to change their minds! :D

The "fiefdom" I live in

The "fiefdom" I live in doesn't allow anyone to have a clothesline or even put clothes out on a drying rack in your backyard (we're only allowed cross beam fences four feet high). Of course, they also don't allow solar panels or composting, they're keeping the subdivision "tidy" they say.

Hi, I also moved to a

Hi, I also moved to a subdivision that didn't allow clotheslines by deed. Hung up two lines the first day I moved in and no-one ever said anything about them! Of course, it was an older subdivision by then!

I am so fortunate to live in

I am so fortunate to live in Florida. I hang my clothes all year. Once in a while we get a rainy spell so I can't, but that does not happen often. I do put some snuggle in the rinse water so that there is a softness that I don't get with line drying. Our water is very hard.

Snuggle (or any commercial

Snuggle (or any commercial fabric softener) have chemicals. I have no idea what they are or what they do to me or the environment. I have found a little white vinager in the rinse water will act as a softener. After drying outside there is no lingering vinager odor.

No mattter how hard they try,

No mattter how hard they try, no chemical company can duplicate the fresh, clean scent of clothes(especially cottons)dried outdoors. If you let the dew fall on the clothes and then dry, they come out particularly fresh and linens will stay that way for a long time.