How to make a clothesline with trees

Rigging a Clothesline | Martha Stewart

Updated September 20, 2018


With the advent of the automatic dryer, their popularity diminished. Today, clotheslines are making a comeback -- and for good reason: There is something very satisfying about drying laundry on a line. Air-dried linens have a crispness that you can't get from a modern dryer -- not to mention the fresh, sweet smell your clothes gain when hung out to dry.

Martha prefers the strong, natural fiber of cotton line, but if you live in a very humid climate, you may want to use plastic. The height of your line will depend on your own height, but seven to eight feet is a good rule -- if the line sags, your linens will still be safely off the ground. The following technique calls for fifty feet of line; this measurement will vary depending on the distance between the trees from which your line will hang.

Resources: Heavy-duty hooks, pulleys, line support, line tightener, and clothesline rope are available at hardware stores.


    What you need

    • Masking tape
    • 1/4-inch drill bit
    • 2 large heavy-duty hooks
    • 50 feet of cotton clothesline rope
    • Line tightener
    • 2 pulleys
    • Line separator
    • Small stool or ladder


    How to do it

    Part 1

    Step 1

    Determine height of hook by extending your arm upward to its full length. Mark the spot on each tree with a small piece of tape.


    Step 2

    Using a 1/4-inch drill bit, drill a hole into each tree at the marked height. Screw the heavy-duty hooks into the holes.

    Step 3

    Slip the end of the rope through the loop on the line tightener. To secure, make a bowline knot: Make a loop in the rope, bring the end of the rope up through the loop, around the standing part of the rope, then back down through the loop. Pull to secure. An easy way to remember how to tie this knot is: The rabbit comes up from his hole, goes around the tree, then back down his hole again.


    Step 4

    Run one end of the rope through the top of the first pulley. Pull the same end through the line separator, then pull the rope through the other pulley.


    Step 5

    Make sure the end of the rope is not frayed (if it is, make a clean cut), then slide the end of the rope through the center of the line tightener. Knot the ends of the rope.

    Step 6

    Using a stool or ladder, if necessary, attach one pulley to the hook on the first tree, then attach the second pulley to the opposite hook. Tighten the rope with the line tightener to eliminate sagging. Cut away excess rope.

      How to String a Clothesline

      Keep your house cooler with these clothesline ideas for outdoors and garden spaces. Learn how to string a clothesline and let the sun do the drying for free!

      Laundry is like the mail, in the sense that you can expect some every day.

      In the warmer months, rural folks often take advantage of the sun’s drying power by hanging their laundry on a clothesline. With minimal investment, you can create an easy and sustainable outdoor clothes-drying option that reduces your energy footprint — and the energy bill.

      Normally, laundry is hung when the sun or breeze is sufficient to dry the clothes by the end of the day. In northern climates, this can typically be done from April through October. In the South, laundry can generally be hung all year long. Be sure to pay attention to the weather, and plan your laundry days to coincide with clear skies. If a sudden storm happens to pop up before you can get the clothes off the line, they’ll be fine. You’ll just have to leave them a little longer to dry again.

      There are many benefits to line-dried laundry. The sun is a free source of heat, and it also has disinfecting qualities, effectively killing odors. The breeze is also free, giving your clothes the fresh scent and crispness only line-dried items can possess. While hanging up clothes is more time-consuming than dumping a load into a dryer, it’s also meditative and peaceful. I love the time I spend hanging clothes on the line. The birds sing around me; the sunshine permeates my skin and reminds me that this time is a precious gift before winter returns; and, last but not least, hanging laundry saves money! Whether you have a gas or electric dryer, those machines take a lot of energy to do their job.

      Clothesline Ideas for Outdoors

      Here are a few things to consider before you take the plunge and install a clothesline.

      First, find a location that has daily access to several hours of sunlight and breeze. Next, think about the general flow of your yard. You’ll want prime sunshine, but not if you or your family members will get “clotheslined” crossing the space. If you have limited space, consider clothesline ideas for outdoors such as small clothesline models, or ones that can be folded up or collapsed between uses.

      Another important decision when deciding how to string a clothesline is the height of your line. It needs to be low enough that it’s comfortable for you to reach, yet high enough that large items, such as bedsheets and towels, won’t drag on the ground.

      Finally, think about the amount of clothes you’ll be drying. An average load of wet clothes weighs 30 to 40 pounds. If you hang more than one load at a time, that adds up. Pick a line with an adequate test weight. My family of six invested in a plastic-coated steel line that holds up to three loads at once.

      How To String a Clothesline

      If you have two solid trees or posts, a clothesline can be strung between them with relative ease. Try to find trees no more than 25 feet apart, as the clothesline will droop from the weight of the clothes. We’ve used this method with great success, although the obvious drawback is that shade from the trees can limit access to sunlight.

      You’ll need a turnbuckle, two heavy-duty J-hooks, six metal U-bolt clamps, and two rope thimbles. Measure up the tree to the height you’ve determined (we chose 5 feet), drill a pilot hole for your first J-hook, and screw it in. Measure the same height on your second tree, drill a pilot hole, and screw in the second J-hook as far as it will turn.

      Attach the turnbuckle to the second J-hook, and make sure the turnbuckle is threaded out so you can tighten it later. Next, thread one end of your clothesline into a thimble and then through the open end of the turnbuckle. You’ll want the apex of the thimble to rest securely against the metal loop in the turnbuckle. Giving yourself enough slack, clamp the end of the clothesline to itself using three U-bolt clamps, alternating sides, with about 1 inch between clamps. This side will be permanent until the end of the season. Walk your line to the second J-hook and measure the length between trees. Cut the clothesline 5 to 7 inches longer than the distance, and create a second loop just like the first one, using your remaining U-bolt clamps and rope thimble. Once secure, hook this loop onto your J-hook and tighten the tension using the turnbuckle.

      Now, your line is ready for your first load of laundry! Anytime you want the line out of the way, simply loosen the turnbuckle and walk the line back to the first tree. A turnbuckle will help increase tension over time as well.

      Retractable Line Dryer

      A retractable line installed to a fixed point on your home or a tree, from which the line can be extended only when you need to dry clothes, is a great option for people with limited space and smaller loads of laundry.

      Again, begin by picking a height at which to install the retractable line device. It should include a mounting bracket and its own hook. Be sure the intended distance doesn’t exceed the amount of line in the retractable mount — most are less than 50 feet. Drill into the tree at your desired height, using the provided mounting system. Next, install the hook on the second tree by drilling a pilot hole and screwing in the hook at your desired height. Pull your clothesline out from the retractable mount and connect it to the hook.

      That’s it. You’re ready to hang your laundry. When finished, the line will retract and remain out of the way until you need it again. Be aware that retractable systems may sag more than other lines, because the tension system is limited.

      Parallel or Umbrella Dryer

      Another great style for small spaces where you can’t figure out how to string a clothesline is an umbrella dryer. This is a single-post unit with multiple lines that are either parallel to each other or in concentric circles. While the dryer is semipermanent, you can get 100 to 200 feet of line in a compact, 4-to-6-square-foot space. Most models spin, allowing you the convenience of standing in place while loading up the lines.

      Begin by digging a hole in the ground deep enough to secure the post — 12 to 18 inches should be enough. For added durability and strength, use quick-set cement. Most umbrella dryers come with a two-piece base, allowing you to remove the top when not in use. Attach the top portion of the clothes dryer and check if it’s level. Adjust as needed. Remove the top, and allow at least 24 hours for the cement to set before using the clothesline. Some of these models fold up when not in use.

      A good tip with umbrella systems is to hang heavy items, such as towels or jeans, on opposite sides to avoid bending the post or arm extensions.

      T-Bar-Style Dryer

      These solid posts are hard to beat for durability. A permanent feature, this laundry line works well in larger spaces and only needs periodic tightening of the lines once you’ve set it up.

      You can order a kit with galvanized steel T-bars, or you can construct your own with 4x4s. Either way, make sure the two ends are no longer than 20 feet apart to avoid too much slack in your lines. The kits come with everything you’ll need, along with instructions for installation. Creating your own T-bar clothesline is a good weekend project. There are many tutorials online with various styles, but the basic idea is two wood or metal T-bars posted opposite each other, with eye hooks placed about 1 foot apart on each crossbeam. For a home-built system, you can determine the strength and durability of the materials you use.

      The initial financial investment will quickly be offset with fewer dryer runs and clothes that last longer. If you have the space and time, a T-bar clothesline is a solid choice.

      Other Considerations

      For any of these clothesline ideas for outdoors, you’ll want to invest in quality clothespins. A few American companies manufacture clothespins the way they used to be made, using solid hardwood and heavy-gauge springs for longevity and holding power. Cheap department store clothespins are short-lived, because they break easily and won’t clip over heavy, wet items, such as jeans. I rely on my grandmother’s set of clothespins, which is at least 50 years old and still going strong. And don’t forget a clothespin bag, which is a must for easy access to your clothespins.

      Clotheslines themselves come in a variety of materials. Cotton is durable and inexpensive, and a good investment for light loads of laundry. However, in humid climates, it can become mildewy. A number of plastic varieties are also good for light loads. For heavy loads, plastic-coated metal cable is the way to go. It’s more expensive, but it stands the tests of time and strength. Some have a 1,500-pound test strength! This is the line for those who need to dry a lot of clothes at once or have large, heavy items to dry, such as quilts and rugs.

      Laundry Hanging Tips

      • Hang pants upside down, using one or two clothespins per leg. The material is generally thinner at the bottom of the pants leg than it is at the waist, affording the clothespins a better grip.
      • Clothespins sometimes leave marks on lighter clothes. Hang shirts or shorts upside down, and fold the fabric over the line so the clothespin is clipping the inner material. Any marks left will not be seen from the outside. Hang socks by the toes, since most will be hidden by shoes.
      • Fold long towels in half over the line. They need minimal clipping, and by hanging them this way, they’ll already have a natural fold when they dry. This technique also makes them less likely to blow off in heavy wind.
      • If you have limited line space, clipping clothes together with a small overlap will save space and clothespins.

      Rebekah Sell enjoys reading, writing, and photography. She and her family have a strong interest in sustainable agrarian living.

      How to make several tiers of clotheslines: very practical and convenient

      06. 08.2020 14:30

      It is important to properly plan free space in every home. The issue of rational use of square meters is especially acute for owners of small dwellings. In places like this, every centimeter counts. There are many ways to save the cherished "squares". One of them is homemade clotheslines. I will tell about it further.

      Materials Required

      As a rule, it does not take a huge amount of time, effort, money or special skills to make useful and convenient things in everyday life. This case is no exception. It took me only a couple of hours and a small set of materials to get a compact and very practical dryer.

      In order to organize a place for drying clothes with your own hands, you will need:

      1. Two wooden sticks of the same length (approx. 60 cm). The diameter must be sufficient to drill through holes. A cutting cut in two is perfect.
      2. Clothesline. Its length will depend on the size of your design.
      3. Twine. It will be necessary to attach the structure.
      4. Drill. The diameter of the drill must be calculated based on the thickness of the clothesline.
      5. Scissors.

      Manufacturing steps

      First, you need to drill four holes in the sticks for the rope.

      The holes are made at the same distance from each other. It is important to leave enough space around the edges of the sticks so as not to affect the strength of the structure.

      The rope should be cut into four equal pieces, each of which should be threaded through the drilled holes.

      Fasten the rope to the stick with tight knots on both sides of the handle.

      It is important that after knotting, all four ropes between the poles are the same length. Otherwise, longer ropes will sag, and short ones will have an additional load.

      To complete the process

      Two long pieces of twine must be knotted as follows:

      • The two free ends, approximately 30 cm long, will be attached to the structure,
      • The other two free ends are needed to attach the ropes to hooks in the wall or to a tree (depending on the chosen location for the clothesline).

      The twine must be attached to the stick in two places at the edges. It is best to tie it at the point of attachment of the extreme ropes, then it will be firmly fixed, which will ensure the balance of the structure.

      You can fix the finished product in any chosen place. In the house, the dryer is easiest to hang on hooks. They can be purchased at any hardware store and fixed to the wall or ceiling with a drill and screwed dowels. Outdoors, the dryer will fit comfortably between two trees or poles.

      A huge plus is the presence of several tiers of rope. This increases the space for drying clothes several times compared to the classic version of a piece of rope fixed between trees. The usable area remains the same. In addition, the structure can be removed and its location changed. When assembled, the product takes up very little space, which is very practical and relevant for small spaces.

      How to pull the clothesline on the balcony correctly: so that it does not sag

      The housewife's balcony area is often adapted to dry clothes after washing. The advantages are obvious - wet clothes do not clutter up the living room and dry quickly in the fresh air. Therefore, dampness and fungus are not bred in the apartment. Clotheslines on the balcony must be strong enough to support the weight of things. It is also necessary to take care of a reliable fastening, then the structure will not fall at the most inopportune moment.


      • How to choose clotheslines for the balcony
      • Choose a linen drying system
        • Internal systems
        • Systems
          • Sliding
          • Wall inertial systems
          • CONSOLE or folding
          • CEOPE LANA
9ATHER reliable system
  • Nine criteria for choosing a clothesline
  • How to hang a clothesline
      • How to make a knot
    • Installation of an outdoor system
  • How to choose clotheslines for a balcony

    The cheapest synthetic models are often fragile. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the material from which the product is made:

    1. Cotton is durable, but it absorbs water and dirt, so black stripes may appear on the linen.
    2. Jute cord - similar in properties to cotton, it is a natural material made from plant fibers. It is able to absorb moisture, dyes, but over time, traces of paint may appear on clothes.
    3. Polypropylene - unlike cotton, does not stain clothes.
    4. PVC-sheathed metal cable - steel threads interlaced into one cord, covered with a polymer sheath. The cable is useful for drying down jackets and heavy blankets, it does not sag under the weight of clothes.
    5. Plastic cord - does not absorb water, does not get dirty. But rather quickly stretches and begins to sag. The weight of the coat and blankets can not withstand.

    The simplest method of fastening is to nail two nails and stretch a string between them. But the technique has many shortcomings, so it has not been used for a long time. This method of fastening does not look aesthetically pleasing; over time, the rope will begin to sag and fall lower and lower.

    Therefore, different factory drying systems are more often used.

    Choosing a system for drying clothes

    Clothes dryer on the balcony allows you to place a large batch of things. Jumpers for linen are located in several tiers, so the design does not take up extra space. There are two types of ready-made structures for a balcony - internal and external. The most common and convenient - internal, installed under the roof of a balcony or loggia.

    For the summer season, outdoor modifications attached to the balcony railing are suitable. But long sheets can hang low, reaching the window of the neighbors. In the rain, clothes will get wet, and on the lower floors they will absorb road dust.

    Outdoor dryers also have advantages:

    • Wet clothes dry faster, as they are well blown by the wind
    • Space is saved on the balcony, the room is not cluttered with drying linens.
    • If the laundry is dried below window level, it does not interfere with natural light.

    External fixings are usually installed only on high floors. Dangling sheets attached to the outside look unattractive and create a fire hazard. If an imprudent upstairs neighbor throws a cigarette butt, there is a chance that the sheets will catch fire. When the neighbors are smokers, in any case, the clothes will absorb the smell of tobacco.

    How to deal with smokers we discussed in the article: "Is it possible to smoke on the balcony"

    Internal systems

    The owner will get more confidence in the safety of things if he decides to dry them inside the balcony.

    There are four types of internal systems according to the mounting method:

    • floor;
    • wall-mounted;
    • with handrail attachment;
    • ceiling mounted.

    If you don't want to mess with the installation, it's worth attaching the clothesline on the balcony to the railing from the inside. Sometimes a similar design is attached to the windowsill of a window overlooking the loggia. The system may contain a supporting part of the ropes, or metal crossbars.

    Wall systems

    These structures are easy to install without even having to climb a ladder. Folding dryers are commonly used to save space. The installation process is a little easier than with ceiling models.


    A plastic block is attached to one of the walls. It should be located at such a height that it is convenient for the hostess to hang things. Then the strings are pulled out and fixed on the opposite wall inside the second block. This block is removable, it can be dismantled, if necessary, to tighten sagging ropes on the balcony or replace them with new ones.

    On some models, the strings are tightened with a roller adjuster.

    Wall inertial systems

    The difference from the previous version is that due to the internal mechanism, the clothesline is automatically tensioned on the balcony or loggia. Inside the case there is a drum with springs that tensions the strings.

    If the cords begin to sag, the drum turns and tightens them. Therefore, the strings do not sag, even if heavy things are regularly hung on them. The mount for the inertial system is a special bar or hook.

    When all things are dry, the case can be dismantled so that it does not clutter up the free space.

    Cantilever or folding

    The most compact, scissor-like folding design. Suitable even for cramped and cluttered balconies with furniture. When folded, such a dryer resembles a small bar. It is made of aluminum with a protective coating, less often - of wood.

    If there is not enough space, then the structure is not fully unfolded. When the structure is folded, it is almost invisible. Advanced models are produced with an electric drive, due to which the crossbars are lowered and raised with one touch.

    Electrically powered devices may have the following additional features:

    • built-in humidity sensor;
    • hairdryer;
    • disinfection function;
    • backlight.
    Liana Ceiling System

    The dryer is a structure made of metal hollow tubes through which strong cords are threaded. The tubes are parallel to each other. The principle of operation of the system resembles an elevator. If you need to hang clothes, just pull the rope and the bar will lower. Next, you can place wet things on the crossbar and lift it back.

    The structure is held under the ceiling, but you can get things at any time without standing on a stool. This is important for the elderly and pregnant women. The height is easy to adjust, the long coat can be placed so that it does not touch the floor. The hostess has the ability to pull the crossbars so that they are at different levels. In this case, the laundry dries more evenly.

    Select the length of the dryer, which is usually a maximum of 2 meters. It is attached to the ceiling with fixing containers and blocks.

    Balcony clotheslines have come a long way in evolution - from a simple stretched cord to a professional drying system with several levels. Such is the Liana dryer, which, in terms of the arrangement of its elements, resembles a tropical forest with trees in several tiers.

    Read more in the article: “Cliana for drying clothes on the balcony”

    Ceiling suspension system

    A hook is attached to the ceiling, from which two ropes go. They hold a rectangular or round frame with bars. The rungs are often placed like the rungs of a ladder. Some models are covered with a coating that repels dirt. More expensive models are equipped with a built-in hairdryer and lighting.

    The round dryer resembles a children's carousel that is hung over a baby's bed. It is advantageous to hang the ceiling system on a loggia lined with clapboard. Installation is possible with a conventional screwdriver, no need to chisel a concrete wall. Another example of a successful installation of a suspension system is high balconies, as in stalinkas or the latest residential complexes.

    How to install the dryer yourself was discussed in detail in the article "How to hang a ceiling dryer on the balcony"

    Floor dryers

    If a permanent structure is not possible at the moment, a portable floor dryer will do. In the assembled state, the structure practically does not take up space. Even the simplest modifications are equipped with many crossbars and hooks that allow you to dry a large amount of clothes.

    To make your clothes dry faster, you should buy a floor model with an electric dryer.

    The disadvantage of such a device is its high power consumption.

    How to choose a reliable system

    The cheapest option is the model with plastic slats. It is lightweight, but not suitable for heavy things. Aluminum is durable and can withstand heavy loads, but over time it begins to stain clothes. Therefore, it is advisable to choose dryers made of stainless steel or aluminum with a protective layer.

    If guests are received in the loggia, tea parties are arranged, it is better to place a folding system. In this case, it is installed somewhere on the side or on the ceiling. It is important to consider the bearing capacity of the walls or ceiling. A porous concrete wall will not withstand a lot of weight, it will have to be strengthened or installed on the floor.

    If you plan to dry large volumes of clothes, and the room is hardly ventilated, you will have to think about forced ventilation. This problem occurs if the balcony is located inside a cramped courtyard where gusts of wind do not fall.

    Many beautiful and elegant solutions are not designed for heavy weight. For example, a cantilever dryer with a scissor mechanism can withstand no more than 10 kg of wet clothes. For folding cantilever models, the load capacity is even less - up to 5 kg. If you plan to wash down jackets, heavy bedspreads, fur coats, it is better to take the Liana system to the balcony. It can withstand weight up to 20 kilograms.

    Rope is a consumable item. You have to accept that during operation it stretches. After a certain time, it will have to be replaced with a new one. Cords do not sag in cantilever systems equipped with a tension drum. However, there are cheap options with a low quality mechanism that is not able to deal with sagging.

    Nine criteria for choosing clotheslines

    First of all, you need to take into account the strength and calculate how many kilograms of clothes you plan to hang at a time. The next factor is resistance to biological factors, for example, fungus, mold.

    Another important parameter is inextensibility, otherwise the clothesline on the balcony will sag from constant loads. The product should not absorb dyes, otherwise, after washing colored items, the rest of the clothes will be stained.

    It is important that the rope design matches the style of the balcony.

    The load bearing capacity must match the wet weight. Sometimes a better quality thin twine is stronger than a thick rope.

    Equally important is weather resistance, such as low or high temperatures. The fibers of the twine should not damage the fabric, for example, hooks form on silk fabric when in contact with jute rope.

    The last criterion is that the material of the rope must not leave a smell on things. This sometimes happens if a cord with a low-grade PVC coating is purchased.

    How to hang a clothesline

    Using these instructions, you can hang the clothesline on wooden planks or attach a ready-made drying system.

    The following tools and supplies will be required:

    • electric drill and screwdriver;
    • self-tapping screws and plastic dowels;
    • wrench set;
    • pliers;
    • nails and hammer;
    • anchor bolt with ring;
    • drill attachment - concrete drill bit to match the dowel diameter;
    • chalk - to be used for marking;
    • long ruler.

    The concrete slab is marked first. Then you need to make holes in the wall, fix the brackets there with anchors. It is important that the anchors stay inside the wall and not just in the cladding. Next, a twine is attached to the brackets, or the system itself is installed.

    If there is a question about how to stretch the clothesline on the balcony, but there are no brackets, they will be replaced by homemade wooden planks nailed to two opposite walls. A number of nails equal to the number of future crossbars are driven into each plank. A knot is tied at the end of the twine and attached to a nail located on one of the edges of the plank.

    Next, the cord is pulled in different directions, wrapping around each stud. Having reached the last nail, a knot is tied at the end of the rope. The knot must be hooked onto the nail.

    You can go the easy way or the more difficult way. If a lady plans to do the installation without outside help, she can attach the cord to opposite parts of the balcony railing or grate. In Soviet times, when it was not customary to make glazing, they did so.

    How to make a knot

    Special clothesline clamps are not always available. Instead, it is convenient to use metal connectors for wires. First, the connector must be put on a screwdriver to push the internal fuse. Next, the end of the rope is threaded through the connector. Then this end is threaded back to form a loop and clamped with pliers.

    The hinge can now be hung on the wall anchor.

    There are many ways to form rope knots. With sufficient training, you can make an almost ununtied knot. For mounting to the wall, it is recommended to take a metal loop with a screw fastening, which is screwed into the wall into the dowel.

    For the dowel, you will need to drill a hole, the stronger the wall, the more powerful the equipment required - an electric drill, a hammer drill.

    Outdoor system installation

    Most often, metal brackets or steel corners are installed on the outside of the balcony. Both corners should have holes for attaching the cable. For structural stability, spacers are installed. They prevent deformation due to loads.

    It is optimal to hang a clothesline on a balcony made of synthetic fibers or metal braided. Then frosts, rains and temperature changes will not spoil its structure.

    Learn more