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Save Money with an Outdoor Clothesline

Updated on August 21, 2013
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Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.

Dry your clothes for free using solar power!
Dry your clothes for free using solar power! | Source

Save money and get fresh-smelling clothes by using an outdoor clothesline to dry your clothes. Use free solar energy to dry your clothes instead of burning fossil fuels.

There are three main types of clotheslines to consider:

  • T-post clothesline
  • Rotary clothesline
  • Retractable clothesline

The best clothesline choice depends on how much space you have available in your yard, and whether you would like to be able to remove the clothesline when you are not using it.

Which type of outdoor clothesline is best?

If you are considering installing a clothesline, you'll need to decide which type to install. The Pros and Cons of each type are presented and a project summary is provided to give an idea of how much time and money it takes to install each type of clothesline.

T-post Clotheslines

Pro: A T-post clothesline uses posts with a cross-bar at each end with multiple clotheslines running between the T-posts. A T-post clothesline can be made sturdier than a retractable clothesline. You can use construction materials and very strong lines on your clothesline project. Since the lines are not retractable, they can be thicker and stronger and therefore hold more weight.

Con: T-post clotheslines take up a lot of space in your yard, and are not easily moved or removed.

Project Summary: Install T-post clothesline from scratch

Time required: 3 hours

Cost: $100

  • Dig 2 post holes
  • Set treated 4x4 wood posts in QuickCrete
  • Install treated 2x4 crossbars with deck screws and galvanized bolts
  • Screw 10 eyehooks into crossbars
  • Tie on 5 lengths of clothesline
  • Attach copper finishing tops to the posts (optional)

Instead of wood posts, you can obtain metal clothesline posts that are T-shaped. These are also set in QuickCrete.

Rotary Clotheslines provide a lot of clothes drying capacity in a small space
Rotary Clotheslines provide a lot of clothes drying capacity in a small space | Source

Rotary Clotheslines

Pro: Rotary clotheslines are also known as umbrella clotheslines. Rotary clotheslines pack a lot of clothesline into a small space. A rotary clothesline may have 200 feet of line, depending on the model. Rotary clotheslines can be removed from the ground socket for winter storage, or if you want to move the clothesline out of the way. You can buy an aluminum rotary clothesline for about $35 dollars at home improvement stores.

Con: Rotary clotheslines are not as sturdy as T-post clotheslines. Drying of the clothes hanging near the center can be slower.

Project Summary: Install Rotary clothesline from scratch

Time required: 30 minutes

Cost: $40

  • Dig post hole
  • Set ground socket in QuickCrete
  • Insert rotary clothesline structure into ground socket

Retractable Clothesline Unit
Retractable Clothesline Unit | Source

Retractable Clotheslines

Pro: A retractable clothesline is very easy to install if you have existing wood structures to attach the mounting bracket and retention hook. Of course a great thing about a retractable clothesline is that ... it's retractable! You can string it up in part of your yard while drying clothes and easily take it down.

The length of the line varies from 20 feet up to 49 feet. The units that have longer line need to be sturdier to support the additional weight of heavy clothes. The retractable unit is spring loaded and automatically winds up the clothesline for storage. It takes only a few seconds to retract the clothesline and it is then completely out of the way.

You can buy single line retractable clotheslines for under $15 for each unit on the internet or at home improvement stores. You can also buy multiple line retractable clotheslines for about $45.

Con: Retractable clotheslines are not as sturdy as T-post or rotary clotheslines. This is the price for the convenience of being able to easily spool up the clothesline.

Project Summary: Install Retractable clothesline attached to existing structures

Time required: 10 minutes

Cost: $15 per line

  • Screw bracket to existing deck with 2 screws
  • Screw retention hook into existing wood fence
  • Mount the retractable clothesline unit to the bracket with the steel pin

Star Rating for Minky Retractable Clothes Line

5 stars for Minky Retractable Clothes Line

The Minky retractable clothes line pictured above has been in service for 1 year and has worked perfectly. This unit is easy to install and has a nice retraction mechanism that smoothly spools up the clothes line when not in use.

Where to place your clothesline?

  • Location is important- it is inconvenient to carry loads of clothes back and forth if you locate the clothesline very far from your house. Try to locate the clothesline as close to your house as possible to increase the likelihood that you will use it.
  • Locate your clothesline in an area with exposure to the south and west- this will maximize your drying capability. Clothes take longer to dry in the shade. Avoid setting up a clothesline under trees where birds gather- birds do not affect the drying process, but can make it necessary to re-wash your clothes…
  • If you don’t have existing wooden structures to install retractable clothesline units, you can set wood posts and attach the retractable clothesline units to the posts at a convenient spot in your yard.

How much money can you save drying clothes on a clothesline?

Clothes dryers use a lot of energy to dry clothes. The energy to dry a load of clothes costs about 25 cents. Clothes dryers also put a lot of heat into your house- which will cause your air conditioner to run more during the summer. Using your clothes dryer less will increase its lifespan and ultimately save you money.

Installing a clothesline is a good investment if you use it frequently during the summer months. The cost of the clothesline will be offset by lower utility bills in as quickly as one season of outdoor clothes drying using free solar energy.

If you want to save even more money- and energy- try hanging clothes to dry indoors year round. You can set up drying racks and indoor clotheslines if you have enough space in your house. The dry indoor air in winter will dry clothes if you can find ways to hang them.

© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher


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