Put Your Laundry Where The Sun Don't Shine

by Katy on February 13, 2009 · 15 comments




I love hanging up my laundry to dry in the sun. The time I spend pegging the clothing up is always a nice forced break in an often busy day. And I may be crazy, but I think the flapping of clothes on a clothesline is a relaxing and comforting sight.

Like waves.

But what to do in a climate like Oregon whose endless rainy days are famous throughout the world?

Put up an indoor clothesline.

I’ve been meaning to put up a clothesline in the basement, but it’s so damp I was afraid that the clothes would never completely dry. And frankly, it’s a dirty and somewhat unpleasant locale.

But a fresh look at a large, clean enough unfinished space at the back of our house brought the issue back to the forefront.

So off I went to our locally owned hardware store to buy a packet of clothesline and a few screw-eye-bolts to finally set up in my own indoor clothesline.

One can certainly purchase a ready-made retractable laundry line, but I’ve come up with a system that I feel is both simple and inexpensive.

Buy a length of plain clothesline. (I prefer cotton over plastic, as I try to avoid buying plastic whenever possible.)




Buy four screw-eye-bolts, and screw them fairly high off the ground as far apart as you can. Make sure they are evenly high.

screw eye bolt




Tie one end of the clothesline rope to one of the screw-eye-bolts and tie the other end on a carabiner rock-climbing clip. Give the rope a good stretch if new, and adjust the length so the rope is taught. 


Carabiner clip





Note: We somehow were able to scare up enough of these clips to run four clotheslines. (Two in the backyard between the back porch and a play structure, and two in the back room.) The clips are kind of cheap-o, and would most certainly kill an actual rock climber. But they work just fine for a laundry line.

The reason to use the carabiner, is so that the clothesline can be unhooked at a moment’s notice. (Just hook it back into the other screw-eye-bolt.) I think this a great solution for a space that could accommodate a clothesline, but is also needed for other uses. 

My retractable clothesline, including the bolts cost about $5 total, and an official retractable line costs between $9.99 and $108.99.  And mine can be broken down into its component pieces within a matter of minutes. Plus, I actually have a very large amount of rope left and am considering putting up a few more lines, as I would like to be able to dry a couple loads at a time.

Hanging your clothes instead of using a dryer is one of the most accessible green-life changes your can make. (There’s a reason why there are no Energy Star dryers. All dryers are energy hogs.)

It’s good for the environment.

It saves you money.

Your clothes will last longer.

So what are you waiting for?

Click here to check out Project Laundry List, and read about all the issues relating to your Right To Dry.

Are you starting to dry your clothes using the patented Wolk-Stanley solar-clothing dryer? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Maniacal Mommy February 14, 2009 at 7:14 am

Nothing beats the smell of clothes dried in the sun! Who needs Snuggle when nature does such a great job?

I stopped using the clothesline in my basement because clothes did take ages to dry. I switched to drying racks a few years ago, and I find that to work much better. It takes some diligence to keep caught up, but is well worth it.


Mandy February 14, 2009 at 8:02 am

Thank you for posting this! I too bought a cotton clothes line, and I tried to rig up a similar system (only I did it through the whole house because I was too silly to cut the line). But thanks so much for the pointers about the clips – I think I have some stuck through out my mom’s house from places that give them away as keychains.


Meg from FruWiki February 14, 2009 at 8:51 am

My husband anchored a metal pipe sticking out from the wall over our dryer. Because I hang most of my clothes in the closet (when they’re dry), it’s really convenient for me to take them out of the washer, put them on hangers, then hang them to dry on the pipe until they dry. We also have some folding, stackable wire shelves for drying delicate knits, bras, etc.

The clothes generally dry just fine, even though our house is very humid. Gotta love Florida, lol! Our home’s humidity easily reaches over 75%! At it’s most humid, though, we sometimes stick our dehumidifier in the utility room — if it’s not time to turn on the AC.


Kat February 14, 2009 at 10:53 am

If I didn’t get to laundry until it’s dark out I’d totally line dry my clothes. My grandma did that when I lived in Las Vegas growing up and clothes, sheets, towels, everything would be dry in just a couple of hours during the summer.


tam February 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm

We have one of those European, front-load, apartment-sized washers. It claims to also dry the clothes by steaming them, but we don’t use that function. Instead, we bought a metal folding rack from Ikea and we set it up in our living room. Even though we live in humid Florida, the clothes dry well.

(FYI; Italian in-laws all dry clothes this way, they are puzzled by the prevalence of American dryers).

Plus, a touch of fabric softener also makes the house smell nice.


Charlotte February 14, 2009 at 10:02 pm

If you have one of those outside drying racks already, what also works well is to buy a sun-umbrella stand and put the drying rack into it. You need a *very* heavy stand though, otherwise the loaded rack will topple it over.

I dry all my clothes in the basement. Humidity is a bit of a problem, but I figure running the dehumidifier once in a while is still better than running the dryer all the time.


Tara Morrison February 15, 2009 at 6:38 am

If I can only half dry my clothes indoors I still feel that is a success, especially with jeans and pants. I half dry jeans, in the dryer and then hang them for the remainder. For shirts I hang them immediately on hangers and they just look better once they are dry.


Magdalena February 15, 2009 at 11:57 am

I’ve blogged on hand-washing and laundry drying -a “hot” topic amongst our little Plain community! Our backyard clothesline is over a very hazardous patch of ice right now, and we’ve been reluctant to use it this winter. The folding drying rack and this funny little umbrella shaped gizmo that hangs in the shower have been utilized instead. I’ve strung clotheslines in the basement, and used the oscillating fan and a woodstove to help dry them. Watch those little cheap carabiners – heavy wet clothes will most certainly snap them!


Viki S February 15, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Sometimes, I’ll dry things on our wooden drying rack in the basement. We have a dehumidifier down there, so it’s pretty good. Also, there’s an air vent near the rack, so I open that and the air keeps things moving.

As far as a clothesline, sounds great, but my neighborhood doesn’t allow them. (We also can’t have sheds and numerous other things.) Last year, we petitioned to be allowed to have pools in our yards. we got it passed, but it took a LOT of footwork!

Anyway, the other problem I have with drying outside is that we are very allergic to pollens, trees, etc. Our allergist told us not to dry things outside because then all of it would be inside, on us. Makes sense.

The rack and the showers will have to do for now!


Chris Danner February 15, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Hmm, why not put a carabiner on each end of the rope?

I linedry most of my laundry in the basement during the winter; we have a boiler system and the air gets very dry, so hanging laundry helps boost needed humidity. In the summer I use the laundry line outside. Yeah, what could be better than hanging laundry outside, with the sun shining, gentle breeze, birdsong . . .


thenonconsumeradvocate February 15, 2009 at 7:44 pm

The “two carabiner” idea is a great one, except that I only had two that rose to the surface.

It was very much a “make it do” situation.

I trust the carabiners will stay strong for the job, as I employed the same system last summer in the backyard for longer lines and they worked just fine.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Pennie February 16, 2009 at 8:48 pm

When I first bought my old farmhouse there were 4 sturdy strands of thin woven wire overhead strung end to end under the covered front porch–it was my mother-in-law who first helped me solve the puzzle of what they were there for: year-round laundry drying!

The discussion today made me fondly remember the discovery.


Sherri February 17, 2009 at 9:54 am

I’ve air-dried my laundry for years, ever since I had trouble scrounging the correct change to run the dryers in college. It was always simpler to use a laundry rack.

Now that I live in a house, I use 2×2 boards nailed to the rafters in the basement and put the wet clothes on hangers, in addition to using the laundry rack.

I’m eagerly awaiting the return of warm weather so I can use the outdoor clothesline again. I’m so glad that I don’t live in a municipality with silly restrictions against using them.


karen February 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I purchased a wooden laundry rack while touring an Amish community in Lanesborough MN. I loath to use a dryer & do so only to damp dry clothes to remove pet hair. My friends tease me about my various “Amish” habits regarding frugality, lack of modern technology, etc. but in this case the joke is on them as this really is an Amish clothes dryer. My other one is outside — I have a clothes line that I use 3/4 of the year & love the smell of air dried clothes.


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