How to Select an Outdoor or Indoor Clothesline

Laundry on clothesline
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The benefits of drying clothes outside are many, but what type of clothesline is best? Choosing a clothesline is usually a matter of space and personal preference. Here's a list of some of the most popular models on the market.


  • 01 of 06

    Guidelines for Installing an Outdoor Clothesline

    Hanging clothes on clothesline
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    Whichever style of clothesline you choose, follow these guidelines for installing your outdoor clothesline:

    • While most clotheslines are approximately seven to eight feet above ground level, install the line at a height that is comfortable for you. Extend your arms above your head and use that height as a guide. I'm short so my line must be lower and some large items tend to drag the ground. I simply compensate by doubling big pieces them over the line.
    • If you have a long span of clothesline...MORE (more than 25 to 30 feet) between two t-frame supports, add a center support for best results to prevent sagging.
    • To prevent the fading of clothes from too much exposure to the sun, place your clothesline in a breezy shaded area. Conversely, if you would like to use the sun to bleach your white laundry run your line north/south to get the best exposure to sunlight. Hang the white pieces that need the most bleaching on the outside lines if you have four or more lines. Colored clothes can be hung from interior lines.

    But what if you don't have access to an outside area or your neighborhood has banned clotheslines? Opt for an indoor drying rack that can be placed outside for brief periods.

  • 02 of 06

    Line for Outdoor Clotheslines


    When purchasing a clothesline system, think about the type of line that will be used. Look for line that is sturdy, will not rust and will not stretch and sag. You'll find wire, plastic or vinyl coated wire, cotton and nylon. The most durable and study is plastic or vinyl coated wire.

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  • 03 of 06

    Folding Frame Clothesline

    Folding frame clothesline
    Courtesy of Hills Paraline Folding Frame Clotheslines

    Folding frame clotheslines are attached to a wall or sturdy fence. They can be opened when in use and then folded away to save space.

    This is particularly good for small yards and for a small family. Available in different sizes, there are indoor and outdoor models. 

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  • 04 of 06

    Indoor and Outdoor Retractable Clothesline

    retractable clothesline

    Retractable clotheslines are perfect for space saving in a small yard. I had one when my sons were young so it could be retracted while they played. This clothesline can be mounted between two fences, two posts or two trees. You can find single lines of different size and weight and even a five line model.

    These are also great indoors for laundry rooms. The line comes in a small box or reel that is attached to one wall. When it is needed, just pull out the line and attach it to a hook on an...MORE opposite wall.

    This discreet system is much easier to put away than indoor folding racks and takes up nearly no space. These are great for both drying clothes indoors and for hold hanging clothes until they are put away.

    Before you select a retractable line, think of how you plan to use it. Single lines will not support heavy towels or linens well. If you plan to use it often, select a heavier gauge line or a multiple strand clothesline for better support of wet items.

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    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    T-Pole or Pole to Pole Clothesline

    t pole clothesline

    The T-post clothesline is a classic. The posts are usually metal and stand a distance apart with two or three wire or cord lines running between. The posts must be secured in the ground with concrete for stability and are not easily removable.

    This type of clothesline is durable, sturdy and best for large items. The disadvantages are that they take up a great deal of yard space and the lines can become dirty when not in use. (Just use a damp cloth to wipe off the lines before hanging clean...MORE clothes.)

    Learn more tips on how to hang clothes on a clothesline for the fewest wrinkles and fastest drying.

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  • 06 of 06

    Umbrella Clothesline

    Umbrella Clothesline
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    Umbrella clotheslines or dryers offer the advantage of using less space. They can be portable or inserted into a base that has been cemented into the ground. The umbrella clothesline can be removed, folded up and put away when not in use. This is a space saver if you have a small yard.

    The disadvantages are that umbrella clotheslines are smaller and the hanging space makes larger items like blankets or sheets hard to hang. They will not support as much weight as a pole to pole clothesline.

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