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Creative (and cheap) clothes line solutions

A few days ago Becky sent us some photos of a clothes line she rigged up using an old baby gate. She lives in a condo with her family, so she doesn't have a lot of space or a yard to work with. She wrote:

So I have been trying to figure out how I can rig some sort of clothes line for some time now. I also didn't want to spend anything and today I finally realized how I could manage this. A long time ago we hung some candle lanterns from a large support beam on our deck. Since they were already there, I used these loops to attach some bungee cords that I found in my garage, 2 in each loop, and the other ends I attached to my baby gate. We never use this gate and so I am glad to finally be getting its $20 worth out of it. I hung our clothes all around the edge and for the rest I draped over an expandable rack that we already had. Anyway...I know this was a random e-mail, I was just so excited to have finally found a solution and thought that you would understand my excitement.

Yes, Becky, these are the kind of emails that make Renee and I cluck like chickens. We totally understand your excitement, and you actually inspired ME to finally rig up my own clothes line. First, check out Becky's photos:

Beckyclothesline2_3 Beckyclothesline3_3 

This is a thing of beauty. Free, functional and friendly to the environment. Love it!

I tend to spend a fair amount of time obsessing, er, problem-solving challenges around my house. I've been thinking about how to install a clothes line for A YEAR now, so it's about time I had a breakthrough. Renee actually got on TV with her clever clothes line system, so between that and Becky's email I finally got off my duff and got to work. My challenges: our yard is sloped and mostly under trees, and I wanted something that I could easily set up and take down that didn't cost a lot of money. I finally decided to use three posts that support our deck to anchor the line because the clothing would be under the deck and out of bird poop range, and the support system would be inconspicuous. Here's how it turned out:

Heatherclothesline_2

I hung one line three feet off the ground, which is a good height for the kids, and the other at six feet. Here is the $15 worth of hardware, including the clothes line, that I bought:

Clotheslineequipment_2  When I went to my neighborhood hardware store, I wasn't really sure what I needed, I just thought I'd see it and know. Plus the guys who work there are incredibly helpful and helped me figure it out.

I screwed in the hooks at three and six feet on the first two posts. The third post got, for lack of the proper term, the venetian blind cord wrapper-uppers (though these are much stronger and more durable). I wanted to be able to loop one end of the clothesline around the first hook, using the second hook as a mid-way support, and tightly wrap the end of the line around the wrapper-upper. This system has worked out better than I could have imagined.

The guys at the hardware store recommended the four strange objects toward the bottom of the photo. The larger U-shaped things actually reinforce the looped end of the clothesline so it doesn't fray and wear out. The smaller things with the attached screws and nuts are a clamp to hold the loop in place. Check out the photo below, which explains it better than I can.

Clotheslinehook_3 Clotheslinetie

See, now I can pull the line really, really taut without the loop coming untied or fraying. Then I just wrap it up around the wrapper-upper (really need to figure out what that thing is called) and the line is ready for wet clothes. It takes about 30 seconds to put up the clothesline, and I just take it down when the clothes are dried.

Some things I've learned now that I've line-dried clothes with this system:

  • When clothes aren't hanging under direct sun, they take longer to dry.
  • I can't dry a full load of clothes on this line, so I end up juggling a bit. I washed three full loads the other day, and dried two loads in the dryer. I'm not saving a ton of energy, but I do like the fresh line-dried smell.
  • I also like the ritual of hanging up the clothes. It forces me to s-l-o-w down because it takes time. The kids love to help and it's a really enjoyable way to spend time together.

Have you problem-solved your way through a tricky clothes line dilemma? Share! Send photos!

Cluck, cluck!

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