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In most homes, a clothes dryer is a major energy guzzler, so making the switch to a clothesline system even just some of the time can save households a significant amount on energy bills and is much better on the environment. In addition, clotheslines are gentler on garments, helping to preserve size and quality longer than a tumbling electric dryer.
Clotheslines can be easily made by reusing extra rope or cords that you have in the home, although it's good to be thoughtful about the material because some can fray and leave fragments on clothing, are too thin for large loads, or in the case of wire can rust or stain garments. If you don't want to DIY, there are plenty of clothes-drying products available, including several space-saving alternatives like retractable clotheslines, pulleys, and reversible umbrellas.
After researching the options, we present the best clotheslines.
Whitmor specializes in innovative, space-saving products for the home, and this retractable dryer rack can be used indoors or out. It's ideal for laundry or powder rooms, covered porches, and balconies. The rack is a hybrid between a traditional retractable line and a fixed, multi-line clothing rack.
The five cords can expand up to 34 feet for a total of 170 feet of drying line to maximize space. When not being used, it simply retracts back into the holster, so you can reclaim that space in the home or yard. Installation is fairly easy, and hardware is included.
For a classic clothesline to be effective, a high-quality rope is imperative, and this rope clothesline from T.W Evans Cordage is extremely durable and cost-efficient. Made of cotton with a synthetic core, the off-white rope has solid braiding that doesn’t shed fibers or stain clothing (like wire clotheslines that may rust).
Plus, it has the ability to hold up to 42 pounds of wet laundry without stretching or bending like plastic-coated nylon. The 200-foot bundle can be added to a pulley or used separately. Founded in 1929, T. W. Evans Cordage Co. supplies hardware stores nationwide.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty option that can withstand the elements, the umbrella clothesline from Best Drying Rack is a great investment. The clothesline is mounted into the ground (without cement) and can hold three to four loads of laundry. It can easily open and close or be moved to another location in the yard.
Made in the United States, the clothesline is constructed from steel and wood parts, so unlike plastic that takes a beating from the sun, the clothesline is designed to last for decades. The clothesline can rotate to adjust accordingly to the position of the sun (but requires a 9-foot circle to do so) and measures just over 5 feet tall.
If you don’t have the space to dry clothes outside, the Hastings Home laundry drying rack is an excellent alternative to a clothesline at a reasonable price. The three-tiered, stainless steel rack has multiple ways to hang several types of garments including clothing, linens, accessories, or even shoes.
The two side extensions are perfect for drying items with hangars, while each tier has eight different drying “lines” (made of stainless-steel bars) to drape towels and clothing. The rack can easily hold several pairs of shoes or boots as well. When not in use, the rack folds flat for easy storage, or, simply roll it to another room in the home.
Retractable clotheslines are an excellent space-saving option and very affordable. The Minky outdoor retractable clothesline stands out in that it has two built-in retractable lines to double the space without having too long of a clothesline (which leads to sagging).
Each line is 49 feet (for a total of 98 feet) and made of PVC-coated cord that is sunlight-resistant to increase longevity. The clothesline can hold up to 55 pounds, usually more than one wash load, or about 15 pounds more than standard retractable lines. The unit is designed to be mounted to a wall but can be easily removed and stored.
Those interested in an outdoor clothing rack that is not a permanent fixture should consider the Greenway umbrella clothesline. The rust-resistant rack provides 51 feet of drying space, with a load capacity of 33 pounds, and measures 55 inches tall.
Weighing just 4.5 pounds, this portable clothesline can be easily packed away to be used on camping or RV trips and includes a carry cover for storage. Although it can be used on decks and hard surfaces, it's best to anchor it to the ground (anchors are included) in case of high winds.
Made by Ohio-based, Amish craftsman, the Enterprise Workhorse pulley clothesline has a number of added features that make it stand out.
For safety, there’s a non-pinch finger guard, and a cable guard to keep the line from derailing. An included line spacer helps keep clothes from tangling, there’s a spring mechanism to lock the pulley (so the wind doesn’t take the laundry for a ride), and the powder-coated finish protects the pulleys from rusting. The 8-inch pulleys can hold up to 100 feet of cable, which is sold separately and can be either mounted to a wall or a pole.
Whether you’re drying wet bathing suits, undergarments and socks, baby clothes, or other delicate hand wash items, the Joom retractable clothesline is a top choice for indoors. The stainless-steel, wall-mounted clothesline is ideal for use in the bathroom, mud room, or laundry area. It comes in a variety of different finishes like brass, black, nickel, or rose gold.
Although the clothesline can hold up to 22 pounds, its optimal use is for lightweight items, so the line doesn’t sag. The locking mechanism allows the clothesline to extend to any length up to 9.2 feet.
The Whitmore Retractable Clothesline (view at Amazon) is our top pick overall for its versatility (indoor and outdoor use), the unique, space-saving design, and reasonable price. If you’re looking for a drying line for the outdoors that’s built to last, the Umbrella Clothesline (view at Best Drying Rack) is an excellent option, and if you need a simple, affordable option, the classic Clothesline Rope from TW Evans Cordage (view at Amazon) will get the job done.
The author, Amber Nolan, lives off-grid and utilizes clothes lines regularly—including both an umbrella clothesline for outdoors and a standard, rope line indoors (for drying on rainy days).
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