Outdoor Clothesline - - How is yours set up?

prairiemoon2 z6 MAMay 14, 2010

I purchased two retractable clotheslines over the winter and have yet to set them up. They didn't have one that was as long as I thought I needed, all they had was a 20ft. When I measured outside, 20ft looks entirely inadequate. Plus I don't have structures 20ft apart to install them on. I did get two of them, but I don't want to put them right next to each other and I don't want to put up two posts in the middle of the lawn or in the shrub borders either where hanging clothes will be blowing into shrubs.

I don't know why I am struggling with this, it can't be that hard....lol. I thought there might be someone here could share where they have theirs installed and that might just give me a new idea.


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It sounds like you may need to install 4x4 post/s and guy-wire/s (to keep it from tipping under the tension of the lines full of clothes) to hold one end of the retractable line.

I used a single-line retractable clothesline (20' long - which must be similar to what you have) in our garage (between the two stalls). It worked fairly well when I couldn't hang clothes outdoors. I put a clothes line prop (a stick designed to support your line) in the middle to help support a line that long.

I wised up a few years ago and bought one more of the single retractable lines ($5 at Big Lots) and we used them in the basement in a small unfinished room where we strung them back and forth between two walls for a total of 6 short lines (just under 40' of line total). FYI - This is enough line for 2 large loads of laundry at our house. I generally toss socks and bras over a drying rack (no clothes pins necessary). With the addition of a ceiling fan for air movement, a dehumidifier which runs spring-fall, and a 6-foot clothes rod on one wall where I hang everything that's dried on a hanger. (These things go right from the rod to the closet.) This is, as far as I'm concerned, the best system we've used. No sun bleaching clothes. No bird "bombs". No bugs and wasps hidden in sleeves. No wind whipping your clothes to tatters. No sudden rain shower to contend with. You leave pollen outdoors, instead of all over your clothes - a plus for people who have allergies.

We do our laundry in the evening (another big plus); and since clothes pins are one-size-fits-all, hubby helps pin them to the line so it only takes a few minutes to do the laundry. I take the clothes down the next day, fold and put them away. I have a worktable right there where I fold the clothes as I take them off the line and place them in a laundry basket.

We originally thought we would only use the basement drying room in the winter, but as it turns out, we use it all the time.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 7:36AM
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I use an umbrella clothesline like this one. Lots and lots of hanging space and I can put it up and take it down as I wish. You dig a hole, put in the green holder that comes with it, and fill the hole with concrete to almost the top. Leave enough room to lay grass (when the concrete dries) right up to the edges of the holder...and you will never know it's even there. Since the clothesline folds up and the pole is in two parts, you can store it anywhere in between the times you want to use it. It will hold three very large loads of laundry...or four normal sized loads.

Here is a link that might be useful: Umbrella Clothesline

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 9:12AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

grainlady, sounds like you have gone down the road I'm headed on and worked out a lot of the kinks. [g] I'm not sure what guy wires are, but I'm imagining that they are wires off to the sides of the post to keep it upright under strain?

For now, I would really like to use them outdoors. Since we don't have seasonal allergies, and time will tell if too many bird 'bombs' and the rest, will drive us crazy or not. I was thinking I would need a clothes line 'prop' but I didn't know what the name of it was. I will look for one of those.

I really do like your system though. I like it a lot and wish we could get that organized. We also use the basement which is open and unfinished and have regular clotheslines for that purpose which we are presently using all year too. Thanks very much for sharing your experiences and it's given me a lot to think about.

Srswirl, umbrella clotheslines would not be my first choice for some reason. I do wonder how do you hang sheets on it? I am surprised at how much it will hang. But practically speaking, with the size and layout of my yard, I do need to think about using it because it would fit my space better than the long lines. Thanks a lot.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 4:04PM
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My installation is unusual to say the least. We've been "camping out" in a small travel trailer for two summers, while building our new home. This will be the third year of the camping routine, but we are very near construction completion now. We do have all the mod cons in the trailer: satellite tv, DSL internet, plumbing hooked up to our well and septic, and an RV water softener.

I have an old KitchenAid washer (paid $200 for it) on a pallet outside, adjacent to the trailer. When not in use we wrap it with a big tarp and secure that with bungee cords. DH made a standpipe (for the washer outflow) that fits directly into the septic line, it's quite nifty. I use the trailer's outside shower hose to get warm water.

For my clothesline (no dryer in my forest laundry room) I bought about 150 feet of rope and DH strung it from tree to tree in the forest nearby, in more or less a large triangle.

On wash day I use our camping dining table to perch the laundry baskets next to the washer, and put a chair out by the clotheslines to hold the basket when I'm hanging up each load. It takes about 1-2 hours for my laundry to get dry, the air is very dry and sucks the water right out.

I just bought a Maytag Bravos TL set for the house and hope to be able to install the W/D by mid-June. I might keep my ropes up for a while, but it sure will be nice to be able to dry sheets and towels the modern way.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 4:09AM
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I have three outdoor clothesline arrangements. Basically, I have a detached L- shaped drying yard surrounding an umbrella.

Along the long axis of the L, I have three galvanized T-poles with six rows of lines running between them. They are set up for seven lines, but somehow I didn't rig it that way when I set it up last time. The poles are about 13 feet apart (with one pole at each end and one in the middle). The dimensions were chosen to accomodate the most common combination of sheets in my household: a queen-sized flat and a full sized flat. I have 6 times 26 feet of line space on that section.

At a right angle and not attached but about 10 feet away (for capturing breezes and easy mowing), I have another section of T-poles. This time, just two set about 15 apart, again with six lines strung between poles.

Within the enclosure of the L, and about the same distance away from the long lines, I have a single, very large umbrella (or Australian-style) dryer. It is rectangular, not square. Its long sides are 9 feet long, so I can easily hang a full-sized (and just barely, queen-sized) flat sheets on the outer lines of those sides. It has a total of ten lines, of descending lengths as you go inwards. On mine the lines are not all running along the same axis but arranged in concentric rows expanding outward from the center. I have had umbrella dryers with parallel lines and find they are not as sturdy. I do not remove the umbrella dryer between washdays.

Although, as I noted I could hang sheets on the long sides of the umbrella dryer, I find I don't do that very often. It's easier to hang them on the long lines. Before I had the long lines, I did, however. You learn the best hanging order for fastest drying with your own set up over time. If you're shy about hanging your unmentionables out in the yard, an umbrella dryer is the just the ticket. You can hang your underwear on the inner lines of the umbrella and reserve the outer ones for larger items which, conveniently, shield the inner lines from public view.

Now, it sounds like I have more lines than necessary, but I find that I hang many things, especially large things like sheets from more than one line at the same time for best drying. Also I find that having extra, unused, lines between lines with items speeds drying. That's very important as I live in a very cold climate and dry outdoors year round, even in freezing temps and humid northern summer days.

Umbrella dryers rotate in the wind, so catching a breeze is not as important with them. Fixed lines are less flexible, which is why I added the lines at right angles. My longest lines run East-West so they face the South, which aids drying on cold winter days. But the shorter long line set-up is better during the summer as it catches the westering sun in the late afternoon and is set to be at broadsides of my most common prevailing summer wind.

My advice is to spend the extra money to buy very heavy duty poles (choose better than hardware or big box store grade) as wet laundry blowing in the wind can generate considerable force and nothing is more vexing than a collapsed laundry dryer. Good quality umbrella dryers are now surprisingly costly ($250-375+). But mine has been in continuous use for more than 50 years so it doesn't owe me anything. (And I am sure my late Mother didn't pay anything like that for it in the 1950s.) It is made of very heavy-duty galvanized steel tubing, and has just recently needed some repairs.

The actual lines for hanging laundry are a matter of personal preference. For the long lines I use wire encased in plastic. These are initially a bear to rig tautly, and do change a bit with weather, but they can take very high winds with no damage. The umbrella is rigged with heavy-duty polyester coverd in plastic line as the runs are much shorter and it is easier to tweak.

You will need strong, spring, wooden clothes pins. Diamond is a brand I favor. Wimpy wooden ones and plastic ones don't hold up for long. (I do keep a few plastic ones specifically for delicates that might be marred by the slightly roughened wooden ones.)

Every now and then, it's useful to take a rag out and wipe down the lines as they can acquire (even here in the country) a bit of schmutz that can mark whites.

Cheryl Mendelson's book Home Comforts and her later work solely on laundry contain excellent advice on how to and the art of hanging laundry on clotheslines. Although I don't agree with, or use, all of her recommendations, she is very detailed about best practices. Your public library can almost certainly get a copy of Mendelson if you're interested.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 4:33AM
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Our t post clothes line has been here in the yard since I was a kid(now 52).After mom and dad got a dryer back in ? it has not been used.After they passed away and I got the house(3years ago)I strung up new line and have used it everytime I wash.Looks like to me Iam the only one in the area that uses one.We got a LG frontload and dryer last year and use the dryer at night or when rainin only.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 11:30AM
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I can hang queen sheets on my umbrella clothesline perfectly. I drap a sheet over one line in half. The width of the lines is the perfect length for one sheet. The one I have is not the typical umbrella style where the lines are longer on the outside and get progressively shorter the closer you get to the center post. Mine are all the same length...which is why I like it. The lines are all under the umbrella structure (think of a box frame under the umbrella supports with lines all the same length from one side of the box frame to the other). That's why I like this particular style of line. If you look very closely at the picture in the URL I had attached in my original message, you will see what I mean. It's really a great setup and holds far more than you'd think. In fact, I counted the lines today and there are 30 of them...so I could hang 30 sheets if I had anywhere near that many! LOL! I have no room for a permanent line...so it works perfectly for me.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 4:31PM
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I had to get the drying line set up for a long time, DH's work clothes are heavy and take too long to dry. So we looked at this website
and used the list for their Pulley Kit with Screws & 100' Rope as a guidance, went to hardware store, spent about $25 and got all the parts. The rope was the most expensive part -$15. We did not get the spacers - dont see big need for that so far. Our house is elevated about 4 ft off the ground. We put one pulley on the house wall by the door outside the laundry room (rear side of the house), and the other pulley perfectly level on the tree about 30 ft away. I walk out the laundry room, the stoop is my standig platfom, hang the clothes, and go back inside. Lazy!

The line is at 9ft above ground so most clothes and bedding should hang without dogs getting to it, and we still can drive our truck under it (when not in use).
Did the first use yesterday - at almost 100 F outside, his work pants were dry in less than 30 minutes. yeah!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 1:15PM
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Mine is rigged. LOL! I have a temporary one since my umbrella type broke. Right now I have lines tied from the corner of my little ones swing set to hooks attached to my house.

Unfortunely I can't use it right now as allergy season is really bad where I'm at, so I'm stuck with the drier for the time being.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 10:20AM
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Mine are very much like the one posted by srswirl, but I think I paid a little less from Amazon. I have two. (We are in the process of moving and we are at both locations off and on.) The link below is for the aluminum umbrella, rotary line. I also have the same model but in steel at the new house. Both can be collapsed and lifted out of the in-ground pipe and both were easy to install. Unfortunely, the aluminum line was damaged due to heavy snow this past winter. My DH repaired it, but I can no longer collapse it. The steel one came through with flying colors.

Here is a link that might be useful: umbrella clothesline (aluminum)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 8:18PM
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