White sheets hanging from clothesline

7 reasons to use a clothesline and 4 things that can go wrong

Clotheslines were very popular in the US in the 60s, 70, and 80s. However, over the last 3 decades, their popularity has been fading drastically as more and more people prefer using a clothes dryer.

However, not everyone is a fun clothes dryer. Some people have decided to stick clotheslines because of their amazing benefits. In this article, we are going to discuss everything about clotheslines.

What exactly is a clothesline?

A clothesline is a type of rope that has been stretched between two points above the level of the ground. A clothesline is usually placed outdoors. Clothes that have just been washed are usually hanged on the line using pegs to dry naturally. Drying clothes on clotheslines is still used by some people in the US because they consider it a green option.

If you are environmentally conscious or if you are the type of person who doesn’t just follow what other people in your neighborhood is doing, then drying your clothes on a clothesline is a good option.

Why do people use clotheslines?

Although the number of people using clotheslines to dry their clothes has decreased significantly over the years, statistics show that clotheslines are still popular.

So why do people still prefer clothesline over other clothes drying methods? The answer is simple, clotheslines are still effective and reliable. Below are the reasons why some people still prefer to use clotheslines.

It saves energy

One of the main reasons why some people still embrace the use of clotheslines over dryers is because it saves energy. A clothes dryer is one of the household appliances that consume a lot of energy.

A study conducted by the Department of Energy and Statistics revealed that about 5.8% of home’s energy is consumed by the clothes dryer. So, using a clothesline will reduce your monthly bill significantly.

Heat appliances such as clothes dryer consume a lot of energy regardless of whether the drier is electric or gas. Clotheslines may seem old-school but are very efficient in drying clothes without consuming energy. Many people use clotheslines to dry their clothes because it helps them save on energy.

It is a green option

The world is getting warmer and warmer each day. This is mainly attributed to high carbon emission realized into the atmosphere each day. Some people still use clotheslines because they see it as one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions.

If everyone in the US dried their clothes on clotheslines just once a week, then it could greatly reduce the amount of damage that we do to the environment. Cutting down on fossil fuel not only benefit the environment but also helps to enhance people health and wellbeing.

So, if you are environmentally conscious, then one of the best ways to conserve the environment is by using clotheslines instead of a clothes dryer.

It saves money

The high cost of living has forced people to come up with creative ways to cut their cost. One of these great ways includes using clotheslines instead of a dryer. A normal clothes dryer has a lifespan of 18 years and it cost about $1,000 annually to maintain it. This is quite expensive especially if you are on a tight budget.

Using clotheslines to dry your clothes not only cuts your monthly energy bill but also eliminates the annual dryer maintenance cost. You can direct this money to other important things.

Clotheslines dry clothes faster

Clotheslines dry clothes faster than the dryer especially during the summer season when the weather is warm and dry. You can dry up to 3 loads of clothes per day in a clothesline on a good sunny day.

It gives clothes a natural fresh scent

People who have used clotheslines and dryer know that there is a big difference between how the clothes smell when they are finally dry. Clothes that are hanged outdoors are usually exposed to natural air that gives them a natural fresh scent when they dry

Clothes last longer

Clothes that are dried on clotheslines usually last longer than clothes that are dried in a dryer. A person who has dried clothing both on a clothesline and a dryer can attest to this.

Dryer usually subjects clothes to high friction that makes them wear out quickly. However, that is not the case with you hang your clothes on a clothesline.

It is safer

Statistics show that clothes dryers are one of the main causes of house fires. Some people prefer hanging their clothes on clotheslines because it reduces the risk of fire outbreak.

What are the problems with using clotheslines?

There is no doubt that line drying your clothes has many benefits and discussed above. However, it also has its fair share of challenges. Some of these problems include:

Bad weather

One of the biggest challenges of drying clothes on a clothesline is bad weather. Unlike using a dryer where bad weather is the least of your concerns, hanging your clothes on a clothesline mean that you are the mercy of the weather.

If the weather is good (dry and sunny) then your clothes will dry fast. On the other hand, if the weather is not good (wet and humid) then your clothes will stay for days before drying up. Line drying your clothes means that you constantly have to worry about the weather.

Bad odor

Although drying your clothes outdoor on clotheslines makes them smell fresh, sometimes the opposite can happen. The way your clothes will smell when you hang them outdoors depends on where your clothesline is located.

For instance, if your clothesline is located close to an animal farm, then they are likely to absorb animal odor.

It requires space

Space is becoming scarce each day. Today, not so many people live in a house with plenty of space. Clotheslines require a lot of space that receives plenty of direct sunshine. This is a huge challenge for people who live houses with limited space.

Clotheslines are not allowed in some areas

You may want to have clotheslines in your home but your neighbors may not allow you. Some neighbors may get upset when they see you hanging your clothes outside. Many homeowners’ associations have banned the use of clotheslines because they devalue their properties.

Some neighborhood only allows people to dry their clothes on clothesline only if they are hidden from the public. Residents who fail to obey this law are usually charged hefty fines. This is a huge challenge for people who want to dry their clothes on clotheslines.

What can I use for a clothesline?

There many things that you can use for a clothesline. They include:


Basic plastic clotheslines are widely used because they are highly durable and easy to clean. They are also waterproof meaning that you can easily wipe the mildew that has settled off the clothesline.

It is also pocketfriendly. The only setback of the plastic clothesline is that it is a bit thin, a factor that makes hard for the pegs to hold firm as you would like them to.


Cotton clotheslines are durable and also very attractive. They are available in many different colors meaning that you can choose one that blends well with the wall. They also not slippery, meaning that it enables you to hang your clothes tightly. They are also affordable.

Some people say that cotton clotheslines are not that strong. Yes, indeed, it is not strong like a plastic clothesline. However, it is strong enough to hold your clothes unless you are planning to hang pans and pots.


Nylon clotheslines are also very popular. Most people like it because it is water and mildew resistant, very strong and durable.

They are also very affordable. However, they are a bit slippery, meaning that your pegs may not hold the clothes firmly as you would like them to.

How much does a clothesline cost?

The cost of clothesline varies depending on the material used. Clotheslines made of high-quality materials such as nylon, cotton, and plastic are more expensive because they are strong, durable and weather resistance.

On average a good quality clothesline cost around $2 per meter.

What are the kinds of clotheslines?

There many different types of clotheslines. Each one comes with its unique pros. It is upon to choose one that suits your needs. Below are different kinds of clotheslines:

Fixed head rotary clotheslines

Just as its name suggests, fixed head rotary clotheslines cannot fold their head but they can rotate around. This type of clothesline has been around for many years and is widely used by many homeowners in the US.

It can perfectly hold huge loads of clothes at the same time. In addition to rotating, the head of this clotheslines can be raised or lowered, a factor that allows you to remove or add new wet clothes into the line with ease.

If you choose this clothesline to dry your clothes, then ensure that you have a lot of space in your garden because it needs plenty of space.

Retractable clothesline

Retractable clotheslines are still new on the market. This cabinet-like clothesline is usually mounted on the wall. Its cabinets consist of about six retractable lines that can be stretched out from one side of the wall to the other.

Retractable clotheslines are used for indoor drying. However, they can also be used outdoors for people have limited indoor space. The lines can be stretched between 30 to 50 meters depending on the model that you choose. Unlike fixed headed rotary clotheslines, retractable clotheslines are not designed to hold huge loads of laundry.

This is why they are mostly used indoors. The fact that they are retractable means that you can extend the line when you want to dry your clothes then retract and store it when not in use.

Fold-down clothesline

This type of clothesline allows you to fold it when not in use. Fold-down clotheslines are available in two options. The first option allows you to mount the line on the wall and the other option that allows you to mount on the ground outdoors. It is upon you to choose an option suits your needs.

They are also available in many different sizes and colors. Fold-down clotheslines are not suitable for people who want to dry home loads of clothes. It can only handle small loads of clothes at a time. They can be used both indoors and outdoors and is perfect for people who are looking clotheslines that can be folded and stored when not in use.

Single clotheslines

Single clotheslines are perfect for light drying. They are perfect for people who have limited space. These clotheslines can be retracted once your clothes have dried.

T-post clotheslines

T- post clotheslines are perfect for people who want to dry their clothes outdoors. Their lines are strong and sturdy and can hold huge loads of laundry.

They are highly recommended for people with large families who dry a lot of clothes each day. They are resistant to various elements of weather and rust and are perfect for drying clothes outdoors.

Is it better to air dry your clothes?

For many people, one of the biggest debates is whether to use a drying machine or air dry their clothes. Machine drying has its benefits including drying the clothes faster and eliminating the need to iron the clothes.

However, these benefits usually come at a cost and that is a high monthly energy bill. On the other hand, although air drying can take a bit longer especially when the weather is not so friendly, the benefit of air drying is far much more than machine drying.

Studies have shown that air-drying helps to prolong the lifespan of clothes. This is because there is minimum wear and tear of the clothes as it is usually the case when machine drying.

When you air-dry your clothes, the fibers tend to hold together for a long time thus increasing their lifespan. Air drying your clothing is also good for your family health and wellbeing. Air drying also ensures that you use fewer chemicals.

Remember that the sun is a natural bleaching agent. The suns UV rays help to disinfect and bleach your clothing naturally. This means using fewer bleaching chemicals on your clothes. Air drying your clothes is indeed a better option than machine drying.

How much money do you save by hanging out laundry?

Hanging your laundry outdoor can help you save a lot of money. Remember that clothes dryers are among the greatest consumers of electricity.

A report published on Save Electricity website releveled that on average, a clothes dryer consumes about 3.3 kWh of electricity at an average of 11 cents per KWH. This means that when you dry small loads of clothes, a process that takes about 40 minutes, it will cost about $0.36.

A large family can dry at three loads of clothes each day which translates to about $1.08 a day and $394.2 per year. In addition, you have the cost of fixing the clothes dryer when it breaks. This is a lot of money that you can save if you choose to hang your laundry indoors or outdoors on a clothesline.

Is it bad to dry clothes in the sun?

It is not bad to hang your clothes out in the sun. There are has been a popular misconception that drying clothes in the sun can damage the fabric this lowering their lifespan.

However, that is not true. Hanging your clothes in the sun can help prolong their life span. Hanging your clothes under the sum means they don’t wear and tear through constant stretching and rolling at it is usually the case with laundry dryers. And, your clothes are less likely to shrink.

Multiple studies have revealed that the sun is a natural sanitizer. This means that when you hang your clothes in the sun, they will smell fresher and cleaner. The sun is also a natural bleaching agent.

For instance, if you hang white clothes in the sun, it will make them whiter. It, therefore, eliminates the need of using bleaching agent which has been proven to wear down clothes fabric fast.

The sun is also a natural disinfectant. This means that when you hang your clothes in the sun, the ultraviolet rays can damage microorganism and bacteria that have stuck on your clothes.

Can I air dry my clothes inside?

Yes, you can. People who are living in a house with limited space or in areas where outdoor line drying is not allowed can air-dry their clothes indoors. Bad weather can also force you to air dry your clothes indoors.
Many clotheslines have been specifically designed for air drying clothes indoors.

However, when air-drying your clothes indoors, you should avoid hanging them in the bedroom or the living room because your family will be exposed to mold spores which can affect their health and wellbeing. Instead, you should hang your clothes in a well-ventilated room that reactive plenty of natural light. This will help prevent moisture buildup.

Will clothes dry on the line in winter?

This is a huge concern for people wishes to air dry their clothes outdoors on a clothesline. You can still dry your clothes outdoors during the winter season.

However, you need to maximize on factors involved in drying (humidity, heat, and wind). Hang your clothes when the humidity has dropped. Wind can also help to speed the drying process.

When hanging your clothes, peg them by the hemline, as opposed to hanging them by the shoulders. This technique can help speed up the drying process during winter.

Also, avoid overcrowding your drying line because it can slow down the drying process. It is possible to air dry your clothes in winter. However, you need to take advantage of every opportunity that you get as far weather is concerned.

Is it illegal to hang your clothes outside?

It depends on where you live. Some communities allow homeowners to dry their clothes outdoors while others don’t allow the homeowner to dry their clothes outdoor especially if they are visible publicly.

Some communities have made it a law not to dry clothes outside, failure to which hefty fines apply. Communities that have enforced this law say that they do this to protect the integrity of the community and property value.

Some people also get upset when they see their neighbors line-drying their clothes. If you are planning to line dry your clothes, it is important to first research to know if line drying is allowed in your neighborhood.

Some neighborhoods only prohibit line drying in areas that are visible by the public. If that is the case, then it means that you can air-dry your clothes outdoors but in areas where the public cannot view the clothesline.

Some states have started passing legislation to prevent HOA’s form banning the use of clotheslines. As of the time of this article, there are 19 states have passed such bans. Check out this article from the American Bar Association to see if your state is on the list. These bans are called “Right to Dry”. And are a big win for anyone who wants to dry their clothes outdoors.

What is the average height of a clothesline?

The general rule of thumb when installing clothesline, whether permanent or retractable is that the line should be approximately 50mm above the user’s height. Typically, most clotheslines in the US are about 6
feet tall.

However, you are free to adjust the height of the clothesline to suit your requirements. How long the line should depend on the number of clothes you plan to dry. However, expert advice that the distance should not exceed 50 feet. if the line exceeds this, then it may sag too much.

What is a clothesline elevator?

A clothesline elevator is a device that uses a pulley to raise clotheslines in the air. The elevator can go as high as you want. This is important because it allows you to air-dry their laundry outdoor without altering how you move in your backyard or garden.

Once the clothes are hanged, the pulley will safely raise the clotheslines to an addition 2 or 3 feet in the air to dry. The fact that your clothes are drying high means that you can walk around your yard freely.

What is a clothesline elevator used for?

Clotheslines elevator are used to raise or lower the clothesline. For instance, you can lower the clothesline to your convenient height, load it with clothes then raise it vertically up to 4 feet.

It is a great device to use especially when hanging long garment such as bedsheets. They are also perfect for people who want to increase the space of their yards.


Clotheslines may not be as common as they were back in the ’50s. But they still have their use in many households. They can save you money, extend the life of your clothes, and reduce your impact on the environment.

There are many kinds of clotheslines. And selecting the right one is a matter of picking what works best for your specific situation. Once you have your clothesline there are accessories like clothesline elevators to ensure the clotheslines don’t monopolize all of your space.