June 9, 2019

Checked Off the To-Do List: New Clothesline

One of the things on our summer to-do list is "new clothesline." I've had the old one since 2009.

umbrella clothesline with drying laundry
My original umbrella style clothesline when it was new.

After ten years of use it certainly looks like it's seen better days.

Sagging and broken lines

Held together with duct tape and baling twine.

I never actually intended to have the umbrella clothesline for so long. In fact, seven years ago I bought a new pulley style line from Lehman's.

Originally, I wanted to run it from the back porch to the barn. I loved the idea of simply stepping out the back door to hang laundry. But because we were planning to build a new barn the new clothesline got set on hold. With the new barn now built and the old clothesline ready to topple, it was time to finally put up the new line.

But where? The problem with running it from the back porch to the barn was that it would partially obstruct the driveway. The line is 75-feet in length, so we would need a good clear stretch for it. We finally decided to hang it behind the carport.

The chosen spot for the new clothesline.

From the pecan tree on the right to the utility pole near the corner of the barn (next to the white downspout) would work. That meant we'd have to clear out the shrubs and vines you see, plus move the garden shed.

Getting ready to move the garden shed.

The shed holds potting equipment plus all of the original windows we've replaced in the house. Eventually, we plan to use the old windows to build a greenhouse. I cleaned it out and Dan set up a new base for it. Last time, he dug out and leveled the ground. This time, he used pallets.

Empty, it wasn't difficult to move. Now we could get the new line up.

The tree is a good anchor point, but Dan didn't want to nail the pulley to the tree. So he strapped it instead.

Dan added a hook on the bottom to hang my clothespin bag.

The height of the second pulley was based on the length of the line. It's 75-feet long, so the pulley ended up pretty high on the pole.

The last two parts are the pole and the spacer.

These keep the line from sagging and separating.

On my next laundry day I was able to give it a test drive.

The bench accommodates my laundry bag.

At this point I was wondering if all the laundry would fit.

I was happy that it held an entire load of laundry. I was equally happy to retire my old clothesline! Dan was happy to clear out some of the wild growth behind the carport, and Meowy was happy to keep me company.

I found the umbrella line to be slow because it had so many short spaces that I would have to dig around in my laundry bag to find pieces to fit. So hanging laundry went more quickly, as did taking it down. I especially like that it's shaded there most of the day, because that means I don't have to work in the hot sun. It was well worth waiting for.

Another project checked off the to-do list! Any one else making progress on theirs?


  1. Wow, this post brought back some memories for me. I am a washer and drier sort of person. My main goal is to get past the chore of doing laundry as fast as possible. So hanging my laundry would not work - plus I now live in a condo - SO it definitely would not work now. BUT ...

    When I was a child and I visited my grand mother (being 72 now means this was a long time ago) she had a pull type laundry line off the back of her house - out a back window off the dining room. Their back yard dropped off sharply down a steep hill but the line was attached to tree back there some where. She couldn't go outside to hang the clothes because the distance down to the ground was great - hence hanging it out the window.

    Thanks for retrieved memory!

  2. By it being in partial shade, there is less fading of fabrics. I miss hanging my clothes on the line.

  3. sigh... i used to love to hang laundry, when i moved to the city i hung on racks for many years. my clothes used to last for decades!

  4. It's those little things that finally get done that mean a lot! I've always thought those umbrella clotheslines were useless. Looking first at the picture of your laundry on the new line, my immediate thought was, "But it'll never dry in the shade like that!" Then, once again, the difference in our climates registered and I knew your laundry would easily dry in the shade, keep clothes from fading and you from wilting while putting it out. You know what I'm gonna say. My lines need to be in as much sun as I can muckle so they do dry in more than four days! Our nights in the summer are often dewy and cooler so if there's no breeze and I can't get everything dry in one day, they either have to stay out for the next or be brought in and draped over every possible surface. Or I cave and toss them in the dryer to finish them off. Bottom line, hurray for your new, convenient, efficient clothesline!

  5. Gorges, so far so good!

    RT, what a gem of a memory, thank you so much for sharing that. I also have a picture of pulley clotheslines used in multistory apartment buildings in the city. What a mental picture. How things have changed.

    Jo, very true. That's one of the reasons I often hang my clothes inside out, to protect them from fading. It also helps the pockets dry quicker!

    Seeking Serenity, what a good observation. Dryers are rough on clothes, especially the heat.

    Mama Pea, I'm sure someone with a postage stamp yard would be happy with an umbrella clothesline, but I wasn't particularly impressed with mine. On muggy windless days I usually had to take it down damp. I haven't gotten a lot of use out of the new one yet, but so far so good. Unless it's particularly humid everything should do okay. If it rains, all bets are off no matter where we live!

  6. Very nice!

    Funny I was just thinking about clothes lines this morning. My current one is just two long lines tied to three large oak trees. Tends to sag periodically as we get high winds and I tighten it up.

    My parents home had an umbrella line in the garage in the winter and outside on the patio the rest of the year. Logged a lot of miles on that one and got sternly reminded several times why one is to put Daddy’s dress shirts through the wringer very slowly. It could eat those buttons alive 😊

  7. I joked with the realtor that the Amish Clothesline was the reason we bought this farm. I do love it. It was the first thing Aden built for Lorena when they bought this farm. If it had not been here I think one like yours would have been added to the deck. We have had to replace the lines but it will hold 6 big loads of wash in a heavy wind😂😂😂😂. It is the “ T “ post design with 4 lines.

    Good clothesline’s and placement are a great thing on the farm or homestead. We don’t have to use scented laundry soap to get the fresh smell of sun dried clothes. It’s the little things isn’t.

    Enjoy your new clothesline for years to come.

  8. Duct tape is a gal's best friend sometimes lol...that's great that you got your line up! I love my clothesline, it spans the entire yard, we're lucky we have a good space for it, and we get a lot of sun and wind. Back in the day I had one of those umbrella type hangers and I really hated it...it was hard to maintain the wind destroyed it over time. AND the birds seemed to like to hang out on it, I always found bird poop just underneath.

    Hmmm...today it's Sunday, a nice hot sunny day so the only thing I have checked off my to do list for today is that I've had a glass of wine and some cookies lol. ;)

  9. I forgot to click on "subscribe" so that's why I'm commenting again! :)

  10. Goatldi, eventually, everything needs a tweak, doesn't it? Lately I've seen some humongous umbrella clotheslines for sale. I suppose they make sense for a small yard, or if one doesn't want to sink posts to support a long line. Nice that you mentioned the wringer. I have one with two wash tubs. We're still getting that set up, but I'll remember about the buttons!

    Fiona, I really like the T-line clotheslines, but I couldn't find the Ts at the time so I got the pulley kind. Sounds like yours is top of the line heavy duty! I agree about the fresh sunshiney smell. Nothing better.

    Rain, gotta love that duct tape! Fortunately birds never roosted on mine! But that doesn't mean we don't get an occasional dropping. So far my new line is drying faster than the old umbrella. Love it for that.

  11. Looks great Leigh! We had an old umbrella one in the back yard growing up on a small hill sloping up from our backyard. I remember going outside and trying to spin in (it was never so well lubricated it could do so). I have not thought of that for years - thank you!

  12. Oh I think you are just going to love it more and more. I don't like the umbrella ones either for the same reason you mentioned. It drove me crazy. Your laundry looks pretty hanging out on the line.

  13. TB, I once saw one of those umbrella lines advertised as spinning in the wind to dry clothes, but at the most mine turned a bit depending on what was hanging on it. Like a sail I suppose. Once it was duct taped though, it didn't spin very well, lol

    Lady Locust, thanks! It's definitely quicker to hang and take down laundry!

  14. Its so interesting to see your washing line options! I have two - first is a hills hoist outside near the back door... it is a bit like your old one but it can be raised/lowered and it spins around, fits queen sheets on the outside and 2-3 loads in total, great Aussie design! The other is a pull out line on the veranda for rainy days, also fits 2 loads and tucks away neatly when not in use. I've never seen a pulley system like that, looks very robust.

  15. Unknown is me! Liz from Eight Acres!

  16. On the farm, we still have the wire strung between two posts kind but I've always admired the pulley kind, especially when I see them in cities strung between two buildings.

  17. One fancy clothesline. Ours is tied between two trees.

  18. you have great tools to make your clothesline strength to cover all clothes.....

    Have a nice day

  19. I have been wanting a clothes line forever and I still don't have a permanent line. I have a cord that I use sometimes, but I need better places to attach it. I regret getting rid of my daughter's old swing set. HOWEVER
    Friday the wind blew my neighbor's trampoline into my back yard...this was over a 6 foot privacy fence without damaging the fence. So I am not so sure that I want my unmentionables blown all over the neighborhood. ;)

  20. I have a short clothesline between the house and a tree. I hand many of the items on plastic hangers and use other items 'pinned' to the line to help space them out. It works for me. :)

  21. Liz! Good to hear from you. Your umbrella design sounds huge! Mine just wasn't big enough for sheets unless folded. I had a pull out line a long, long time ago, but I haven't seen much of them lately. Nice that they aren't in the way when not in use.

    Ed, I can't help but wonder if those are used in cities any more. I kind of doubt it with the use of dyers. Although if I had to carry my laundry downstairs to a laundry room I'd probably wish for one!

    Mark, I had one of those in a house I lived in about 20 years ago. The best advantage to the pulley system is that I don't have to move myself and the laundry basket along the line. :)

    Nancy, and that's my best pecan tree!

    Tanza Erlambang, and I'm very happy to have them!

    Renee, yikes! Between that and hail, you might not actually get much use out of a clothesline. Using an old swing set to attach it to would be a very good idea.

    Helen, I'm guessing the plastic hangers work very well. I'll have to try that myself someday!

  22. I love it! I love seeing all these projects you two finish. You're living my dream.

  23. Ah! I envy your clothes line! I miss the days of having one, but since moving to a fishing lodge we don’t have one...something about paying customers not wanting to see our laundry hanging out on the line......

  24. Kristin, I kinda think laundry on the line is homey, but I suppose that's pretty antiquated thinking. ;)

  25. Terrific! Our new line is on the list, and I’m excited because we have awesome breezes on the ridge! Great job, you two!!!

  26. Wyomingheart, a clothesline is the best solar and wind powered clothes dryer on the planet! :)

  27. I'm glad you solved the problem and didn't give up. As a clothesline user myself, I'm happy you are taking advantage of the weather and drying your clothes naturally too. My relatives think I'm some kind of weirdo when I tell them I hang the clothes. But they don't complain about the clean clothes when brought in from the line! And heavy stuff like rugs and blankets don't consume a ton of energy out on the line. Phil

  28. Shade for drying clothes, is a must! Otherwise they loose their elasticity and colour pigments, very quickly. I hang my clothes inside, for this very reason. Haven't found a suitable place outside, to protect my clothes from sun damage. So empathise with finding suitable locations. Worked out in the end though, and you have a functional space again. Love the reuse of bailing twine though. That stuff, is hard to break!

  29. Phil, I'd like to think more and more people are doing it!. I still have my clothes dryer and do use it if I need to wash and the weather is bad. It's old though, and for those heavy items can take two full drying cycles to get them dry. I'd like to get one of those huge wood drying racks if the dryer ever dies.

    Chris, I should update this post to say I've learned that certain times of the day some of the laundry does get some sun. I really prefer shade for the exact reasons you mention.

    On the baling twine, sadly, hay growers seem to now prefer wrapping in netting. Not sure why, but for re-purposing, it's useless! Just more waste plastic to throw away. :( Makes me glad we're growing as much of our own hay as possible, but I'll miss that baling twine!

  30. There's nothing better than a long and sturdy clothesline. But the certified arborist in me needs to comment on Dan's decision to strap the pulley to the tree rather than using a sturdy lag bolt. Unless he monitors the tightness of the strap from time to time and loosens occasionally you risk gurdeling. I can see him not wanting metal in the tree if he ever wants or needs to mill said tree but the lag bolt is the less of two evils.

  31. Klaus, that's why he used the strap instead of wire; the strap can be loosened as the tree grows. He didn't want to use a lag bolt because he's ruined chains cutting trees that have grown around metal attachments. Since he mills his own lumber, well, that adds to the potential problems, as you say..


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