How to Hang Clothes On A Clothesline – The RIGHT Way!

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Hanging clothes on a clothesline reduces wear and tear on clothes and gives them a wonderful fresh smell. This technique makes it easy!

How to Hang Clothes On A Clothesline - The RIGHT Way!


How to Hang Clothes on a Clothesline

You can watch our video demonstration about How to Hang Clothes On a Clothesline here.

Many people want to learn to hang clothes on a clothesline whether they want to save money, save the environment or just because line drying clothes makes them smell so nice. What many of us don’t realize is how much line drying will save in wear and tear on clothing. Unfortunately, after the first attempt or two at hanging clothes on a clothesline, many people get frustrated and quit.

It seems like hanging clothes on the clothesline should be a simple thing. How hard can it be to stick a clothespin on the fabric and put it on a line? Alas, as many of us have found out, if you don’t follow certain guidelines the results are stiff and wrinkled clothes.

Like so many other homemaking skills, there is an art to hanging clothes on a clothesline. It takes practice to get it right so don’t give up if it seems difficult the first time around. With practice, you will be able to hang an average load of laundry in about five minutes and take them down in about the same amount of time, keeping them as wrinkle free and soft as if you dried them in the dryer, so keep at it.


Here are a few things you will need to know before you start:

I do these things to keep my laundry items “dryer” soft. You can do one or all of these if you want.

  1. If I have a dryer, I always fluff my clothes in the dryer for about five minutes before I hang them on the clothesline. This uses almost no electricity and it makes the clothes just as soft as if you had run them through the full cycle in the dryer.

    When I don’t have a dryer, I try to hang my clothes on a windy day. It has the same effect as a drying in a dryer. In Kansas, that can be almost every day but, for those of you who live where a five mile per hour breeze is considered a gale force wind, don’t despair. There are other things you can do. : )

  2. Just before I hang each piece of clothing on the clothesline, I give it a sharp snap or shake. For shirts or some pant legs, I hold them from the bottom when I snap them. This won’t take as long as you think. I just give the item a snap as I am going from the laundry basket to the clothesline, so I’m ready to hang it when I get up to the line. You don’t need to do this with everything, like socks or underwear. Generally, you only need to snap things that you don’t want wrinkled or things that you want soft like towels.

  3. I always use fabric softener, but you could also use vinegar.

  4. Fading: Here in Kansas, the humidity is high enough that the sky is hazy and diffuses the sun’s rays slightly so I don’t have much of a problem with sun fading. When we lived in the Pacific Northwest, fading was a real problem. If you find that to be the case where you live, just turn dark items like jeans or t-shirts inside out.

    It also helps slow the fading to bring clothes in from the clothesline as soon as they are dry. Conversely, I leave my whites out as long as I can because it bleaches and brightens them.

  5. You will need clothespins and a clothespin bag or apron. You can get clothespins and bags at Walmart or at dollar stores. They are usually sold with things like ironing board covers. I prefer a clothespin apron. I made my own clothespin apron so it would perfectly suit my needs. It is about ten inches long with just two large pockets on the front to store the clothespins. It ties around my waist like an apron. Regardless which you prefer, either a bag or apron is just fine.

Clothespin Bag

Before You Start

Properly hanging clothes on a clothesline starts before you even leave the house. I know it may seem like I’m being a little too much like Martha Stewart in some of the next few tips I’ll be sharing but there is a method to my madness. Most of these things not only make hanging the clothes go faster but they also help speed up the process when I bring the clothes in, fold them and put them away.

If you are brand new to hanging clothes on a clothesline, don’t feel like you have to do all of these things at once. You may want to start by just practicing hanging things the way I will show you in part two of this post. After you get some experience hanging clothes on a clothesline, you may want to try these tips in order to speed things along.

Before I put the clothes in the laundry basket to take them outside, I quickly sort them on top of the washer or dryer. This doesn’t need to be done perfectly and it will get easier the more you do it. First, I pull out the big items like the sheets or tablecloths. I fold the sheets in half and gently lay them in the basket. Then, when I am ready to hang a sheet, I just pick it up out of the basket by its four corners and quickly hang it, since it is already folded and ready to go.

Then I prepare the pants or jeans. I fold the legs with the seams together and then I fold them in half and lay them on top of the sheets. This will make more sense when you see how I hang them.

Next, if there are any large towels, I pull them out and lay them in the basket.

Then I lay separate piles of like items on the washer or dryer- One pile of tee shirts all together, one of shirts together, another with hand towels together and so on. Then, I stack them into the basket with the largest items first, working my way up to the smallest items. You will understand more about why I do this when I explain about wind direction in part 2 of this post.

I lay the wash rags, dishrags and underwear in a flat pile with the corners together, like you would lay a stack of papers. I do this because then I can pick up the whole pile or half of the pile if it is very large it is and take it to the clothesline. Because the corners are together I can pin one corner after the other very quickly without having to go back and forth to the basket each time to get another pair of panties and I don’t have to stop to straighten each one. These smaller items go into the basket next.

Lastly, I organize the socks. I straighten out the socks and flatten them, laying them one on top of the other with the toes together. Again, I can pick up a stack of socks and quickly go along the line hanging them without having to return to the basket each time.

In part 2 of this post tomorrow, I will include pictures and explain how to hang clothes on a clothesline, including how to handle each of the different items.


Here is my video demonstration of how to hang clothes on a clothesline:


For more helpful tips to make organizing, cleaning and laundry easier, take a look at our Keeping It Clean e-books.


Here is a favorite poem of mine. I hope you enjoy it!

The Clothesline Said So Much
Author Unknown

A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by.
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.

For then you’d see the fancy sheets
And towels on the line;
You’d see the company table clothes
With intricate design.

The line announced a baby’s birth
To folks who lived inside
As brand new infant clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.

The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed
You’d know how much they’d grown.

It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.

It said, “Gone on vacation now”
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, “We’re back!” when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare.

New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy gray,
As neighbors raised their brows,
And looked disgustedly away.

But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody’s guess.

I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung on the line!



For more helpful tips to make organizing, cleaning and laundry easier, take a look at our Keeping It Clean e-books.



  1. Janel says

    I hang my clothes too and some things I put in the dryer for 5 minutes to get the wrinkles out as well. I enjoy doing my laundry this way and it doesn’t even feel like a chore at all. I just LOVE your clothespin apron…such a smart idea! Janel from NJ

    • says

      Even though I’m disabled I hang my clothes on the line in the warm weather and inside during the cold. I also only use vinegar in the wash as fabric softeners are not good for you and my health is already compromised. Thanks for this great site

  2. MAREE says

    I love that poem, I had never thought about how much we know about our neighbours by what’s on their clothesline. It’s true. I’m from Australia and have lived in the States for 10 years. In Australia we never owned a clothes dryer until I had 3 small children and lived in the tropics where we had rain that would last weeks and it would be so humid that everything would mildew before it dried. Mind you our electric bill was 1/3 of what we paid upon moving to the States with 3 middle school kids. I miss my Hills Hoist (as they’re called in Australia). That’s where you met your neighbour to chat over the fence, and a good housewife was the first to have her laundry out in the morning. It was so hot we could have it washed, hung, dried, folded and put away by lunch. I would always fold my clothes at the line before I went back inside. Where I live now we are not even allowed to have an outside clothesline. I hang most of my clothes on hangers on a chain from my back porch. The chain works great and there’s no folding or double handling you just take them down and hang them in the closet(unless they need to be ironed). The chain stops them from blowing down and they don’t all bunch up on the line, also no peg marks to iron out. I have teenagers now and they too use the chain method instead of a dryer. Sheets etc I just hang over the back porch rail, noone sees it anyway and there is nothing you can buy in a bottle that smells like fresh air. I too had a clothes pin apron that my friend made me for my Birthday one year.

  3. Jill Cooper says

    Maree, I loved your post. I eat up anything our Australian, New Zealander, or English friends write. I know you’re in the states now but I still loved to hear about the way you do things.
    The chain idea is a great idea. I have always tried to figure out how to keep the hangers from bunching up and blowing off and that would be perfect. I usually put a clothes pin on each side of the hang but it really wasn’t the best solution.

    You are right too about talking to your neighbor. It is nice to sometimes chat once in awhile with your neighbor over the fence. I wonder if more women wouldn’t have to go in for counseling if they could just spend a few minutes chatting with a neighbor over the fence or with coffee once in awhile.
    Sorry I digress again.
    I did love reading all you wrote.

  4. BlessedBy3JDCs says

    Oh my gosh!! Thank you so much for your tutorial on hanging out laundry. I have a modest 3 string line right now… but i’m saving to have one specially built for me by a friend. I love hanging clothes out on the line. I also love the idea for a clothes pin apron.. I’m going to make one for myself and my daughter today.

    God bless you for having this site for us home making illiterate :)

  5. karen says

    I have a question that is probably going to make me sound like a total idiot, but…here goes. People talk about the “lovely, fresh smell” of line drying. Frankly, my clothes smell like sweat when I line dry! I wash them first. Am I doing something wrong?! :(

    • Terri says

      Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the rise water of each load. Vinegar not only softens the clothes it also deodorizes. If the problem persists add a tablespoon of baking soda along with your laundry detergent to the wash water, then follow with the vinegar in the rinse.

  6. Anonymous says

    Jill I was wondering if you wash your dish rags (clothes) and dish towels with your other laundry? I think it is unsanitary especially with under clothes. I take and change both of them daily and put them in a small basket on my washer and wash with hot water and clorox one a week. I hang most of my clothes out also. I have 2 lines under my roof covering the deck and then I have a line that is one of those pulley lines I think it is what you call it. It is attached from a post on the deck to a tree. I don’t have to go out in my yard to hang clothes out. Pam from NC

  7. Jill Cooper says

    Pam I use to do them separate and still don’t wash what I call “nasty” rags and things in with my other stuff. I have called the Clorox company, county extensions and places like that and asked if it is save to wash these things together and they say it is fine as long as you are using Clorox.

    This makes sense because if you are using Clorox it kills the germs that is why we use it so there can’t be any cross contamination with all the germs killed.

    Where the cross contamination comes in is a few years back people started getting phobias about using Clorox and stopped using it, washing everything together with out using the proper product to kill all the germs so cross contamination came in to play.

    If you follow through logically even if you wash your underwear seperate the next load you wash will be contaminated because there still will be germs in the washer so you will get cross contamination anyway.

    You really don’t need to worry because the minute the Clorax hits the water every thing is fine. Plus we can be careful to a point but if you think about it most people don’t worry about washing their hands each time they put a load of laundry in or sort their clothes and you probably get more contamination that way then washing your dish rags and undies together in Clorox.


  8. Jill Cooper says

    Karen I’m not sure why your clothes are smelling that way. The only thing I can think of is you might try a different detergent, and sometimes if clothes are left to set in the washer for awhile they turn sour and then can mildew. Once this happens you have to rewash the clothes and sometimes this won’t totally get the smell out because the minute the clothes get wet again that sour smell comes back.

    If it is whites you can use bleach which will help and you might try Clorox II for dark things or vinegar.

  9. Angie says

    Tawra – I just ran across this article – very good and I love to hang out my laundry!! – and noticed that it was part 1 and I’d love to see part 2….did it get lost in cyberspace? Thanks for all your great hints and help with economizing in our homes!

  10. Jan says

    I have been hanging my clothes out for years. I don’t have as much time now, nor do I hang them in temps colder than 40 degrees, (now that I don’t have to) but I love all your tips. It’s nice to know that I have been doing it right. I have a pulley line and if you haven’t smelled sheets from the line, you don’t know what you are missing. Here in New England, you always have to pay attention to the sky, so all your clean clothes don’t get rained(or snowed) on – Can’t wait to see the photos tomorrow

  11. says

    I like to hang everything on hangers that I can, even T-shirts. I have lots of those cheap plastic hangers, and after five minutes in the dryer, I put the shirts on hangers and then hang them outdoors. I had my husband drive nails a couple feet apart underneath the deck (which also protects against fading) but if I have more than will fit there, I just hang the hangers on the clothesline with a clothespin between each to keep them from sliding to the middle.

    In the winter, I hang them all in the basement on a clothes rod in the laundry room that we installed for that purpose. It not only saves on the dryer, but it humidifies the house, which we need with our wood heat. My boys like their T-shirts on hangers, and it’s a great deal less work than pinning to the line and later folding them!

  12. Cinbad says

    My sister bought a very sturdy wooden clothsline from the Amish in Pa(about 2 years ago). It cost around $50.00 but it will last and won’t need replaced like those bought at a regular store. I use a very sturdy plastic small rack I bought over 20 years ago as well as a rack I bought from a store that sells moveable clothes racks to stores. It has wheels and is moveable throughout one floor level easily. It cost about twice a more expensive type( $35.00 vs $70.00 about 7 years ago) but is easy to set up and is being used over 7 years later with only wear on the tires. The other type broke when I displayed clothes for a yard sale. I hang shirts pants and Dresses on it. My shower rack came unglued and I had been using the rack to display clothes at yard sales so I started using it to dry clothes and continued after fixing the shower rack.

    • says

      I have not bought one yet but this is one of the coolest and cleverest drying racks I have seen in a long time. You need to watch the video on it to get the full impact of it and all the different things it can do. I don’t usually push spending money but this rack would pay for itself in just one month of drying clothes on it.

      • says

        I am courious about assembly. My sisters wooden rack folds down and opens easily(takes up very little space) and came fully assembled. The store rack I bought to hang clothes only needs minimum assembly. I pulled it out of the box and put in the two poles and then added the the top rack that holds the clothes. It took about 2 minutes for me to assemble and I am not good with assembling things. How easy is this to assemble? It looks like you might have to put a lot more parts together. Also how sturdy are the wheels? Are they like ones I have seen in stores that might come apart?

        • says

          Cinbad I really from what I can tell don’t think the assembly is that hard. One on the reviews said she had it out of the box, assembled and using it in less then 5 minutes. I have bought another type of rack from this same company (before they came out with this one) and I have been very pleased with it. I actually have two of their things. They had only about 5 negative reviews out of 100 which isn’t too bad.

  13. says

    I love your demonstration! Thank you! I never knew there was a science to it, but it makes total sense! I would have just hung shirts by the shoulders and walked around with pointy shirts! Wish we could hang our laundry here, but our (silly) neighborhood covenants won’t allow it.
    My grandma used to have the same kind of cart you have! That brings back a lot of memories! We used to ride in it all over the basement! She woulda tanned our hides if she knew! Thanks again for the clear and informative presentation! Oh, I tried to post this comment under the YouTube video as well, but it kept giving me an error. Have a great day!


  14. Tracy says

    I gave up on my dryer.Been using two clothes dryer racks
    For the last five years. Our underwear last longer.
    I stay home and do two to threes loads a day.
    It takes a day to dry them .And we all do the laundry
    here and make sure it dry on time for school and work.
    Family folds ,checks with me or will do their own clothes.
    My son wears a uniform and not using the dryer. and just ironing them. They have lasted the many months.
    I also save on my electric bill and keeps my clothes lasting longer.

  15. says

    When I dry clothes on a clothes line I button the top button of shirts and one or two other buttons to keep it from blowing off the hanger and put a clothespins on the hanger to keep it from moving(less clothes pins to remove later. I only bought 1 pack of clothes pins to use instead of 2 packs because of putting the clothes pin on top of my hanger. Be careful not to break them by overstretching whe putting on the hanger. I do this for metal as well as my plastic hangers. I also like the idea of not folding shirts and T-shirts using this method. The portable rack I described in my previous post,can be used indoors and rolled outdoors as well.

  16. says

    For lady with the clothes that smell, are you near a factory or are there animals that poop around your place? Is there an open sewer anywhere near as well? Those are the only things other than mildew that I can think of that causes an odor.

    • says

      Usually that smell is mildew and even if you rewash things, rinse them in vinegar and other things that doesn’t always get rid of the smell and it can keep coming back. It depends on how bad the mildew is etc. on whether these things work too. I have only had success with washing things in Clorox to get rid of this and even that has not worked a couple of times.

      You need to be real careful about leaving wet clothes laying for a long time and not drying them because they can all be ruined. Of course it makes a difference in where you live. For example I didn’t have near the problem if I forgot my clothes when I lived in El Paso and Colorado but here in Kansas it can get bad.

  17. Debbie says

    When you mentioned making your own clothespin apron, I thought of my husband’s canvas nail apron they have at all the home improvement stores. They are short, tie around your waist, and are separated into several pocket sections.

    • says

      yes one of those would work too Debbie. The main thing to look for in an apron is to make sure that your hand can go in and out the pocket easily and if it is full of clothespins it will make a difference too. You don’t want to have to struggle each time reaching in and out because even something that small can slow you down and get a person frustrated when hanging out the clothes so just give it a “hand” test before you buy.

      • Free says

        If you don’t want to spend any money and don’t have the material/skills to make an apron, an old purse (with a roomy interior) works pretty well. Just slip it over your neck.

        • Free says

          Other free solutions include plastic ice cream pails; plastic jugs with the top cut off at an angle, keeping the handle intact; and old t-shirts on a hanger. For the t-shirts you can either sew the bottom closed, or you can cut the side seams, about 3-4 inches up, then cutting through both front and back, cut small strips across the whole shirt, then tie front and back strips together twice. This creates a fringe look. You can tie it inside out, then turn right side out if you don’t like the look. Cut a slit down the front from the neck to make the opening larger, then hang on a hanger (to hang on the clothesline). Here’s an instructable that shows what I’m talking about:

  18. Emily says

    We have pollen allergies so we avoid hanging clothes outside.
    Did you know that it is illegal in some states to hang men’s and women’s undergarments on the same line?

  19. says

    I hang all my own clothes, too. I just wanted to say that I purposely walk back and forth to the laundry basket while hanging out my clothes, and I call this “Exercise”! Have a great day!

  20. Bea says

    I just loved this video. You have a nice yard. Seems like you have some privacy, which is nice, and I like trees and nature, so your yard looks pretty. Also, I like your outfit. That greenish top is so feminine. You are so pretty too Jill, and sweet. Also, great poem!

    • says

      Bea I’m afraid that was Tawra’s back yard in her old house before she moved. It was really pretty there and was like living in the country. Thank you though for your kind words. I told Michael I wanted him to make me look 20 lbs. lighter and 20 years younger but he said he couldn’t work miracles – HA!HA! Thanks a lot son in law : ) : ). He did a super job of editing out my bloopers though. Anyway glad you enjoyed it.

  21. Bea says

    Oh well, Tawra’s yard was nice. I like yards like that, but don’t have one either. No privacy where I’m at, but at least I have a clothes line, and a back porch. The next time it rains, which should be tonight, might even SNOW, I will collect some rain water or snow, to rinse my hair. That is something to look forward to.
    Also, you are not in the least overweight or old. You shouldn’t think like that. You are a gracious, lovely lady, like the Bible talks about. And you’re welcome.

    • Free says

      hehe Reminds me of when we were kids, whenever we were at my grandpa’s in the summer time and there was a good rain we’d grab the soap and shower under the downspout (clothes on). Playing in the rain and getting clean, too. :)

  22. says

    I’m so glad you posted this, and the video was extremely helpful too! We’d tried a clothesline a time or two, but had been frustrated with the results, if I’d known this then, we probably would have stuck with it a lot better!
    Thanks again!

  23. Maggie says

    Jill, Loved the video. I had forgotten about the clothes basket. My mom had one just like that. In our first house, we only had a clothes line for the first 2 years we were there. I hung clothes out all year but winter when I used the laundramat dryers. As a kid, my mom did not have that advantage and I can remember bringing in clothes that would stand alone from the ice and how her hands would ache from hanging them in the cold winters of VA. One thing I had was a long stick with a nail on the end which we called a clothes line pole. This was used to push the line up higher when heavy items like sheets, blankets and jeans were hung up. We had several when I was living at home (6 people have lots of clothes) but for my two lines we just had one. My husband made it for me with a 2 by 2 piece of board about 6 ft long. You hook the nail over the line and prop up the line with the pole. Worked great.
    Thanks for showing us how to hang clothes. I wish I had a place for a line in my yard today.

  24. Carmen says

    I really liked your video! Where did you find your laundry cart? (The one you had outside with you.) I’d love to find one, it would be very helpful.

  25. Carmen says

    Ooops! I just saw your answer on the other post. Sorry! I’ll have to have my husband modify something for me. :o)

  26. sherry stewart says

    I have a problem, I am new to using a clothesline and everytime I hang clothes I use those little “S” thingys to hold the line together so it doesn’t sag. Well when I go to reel it out into the yard into the sun, the “S” thingys seem to drag and then everything bunches up together and I have to start all over again! I have one of those long clothes lines between to high poles with a pulley thing. Please help! thanks

  27. Bea says

    Jill, I like the barretts you have in your hair. Your hair looks pretty. You inspired me to use barretts in my hair like that too.

  28. Marla says

    I have been hanging clothes for about a year now, but just recently watched your video and am now sorting them first and hanging with the heaviest parts down….it make a HUGE difference ~ thanks for sharing!!

    One question: I do not have a double line, I have a pulley type clothesline….what is the best way to hang pants and shorts on a single line?

    • says

      Marla it is a little different when you have only one line. I have only one line now too and I usually hang them by the waist band. I do it this way instead of the legs because it is a toss up of having the weight at the bottom which helps with wrinkles but that then causes a crease in the bottom of the pant leg where you pin it and I don’t like that so I opt for hanging by the waist in this case.

  29. Cher says

    When my dryer died last year, I was determined to NOT immediately go out and buy a new one, but take my time so I could buy the right dryer for a good price. In the meantime, I started hanging my clothes outside. And, low and behold, I loved doing it. The sunshine is wonderful, the clothes smell great, and I saved a ton of money on electricity. Who’d’ve thunk it? At any rate, I loved the video. I even learned a few new tricks. I really liked the clothespin apron you had. I have googled, yahooed and binged for a similar pattern, and there is none. It doesn’t look hard. Did you make it or buy it? Thanks again!

    • says

      Cher they are real easy to make even if you have only basic sewing skills. My first one I did I took an old apron (one you tie around your waist), cut a few inches off of the bottom and about an 8-10 in. band of coordinating fabric across the bottom. Sewed around 3 sides which made one large pocket. I like 2 pockets better but so put a seam down the middle of the large pocket.

      Look around though because you could maybe find an apron with large pockets or even check at a hardware store for maybe a canvas apron that carpenters use too. I don’t know how much you can sew but it is just a short apron with 2 large pockets on the front if you can get an apron pattern you could maybe make one. I know I maybe didn’t explain it to well so let me know if you have other questions.

  30. Veronica Tidd says

    Growing up in England during WW 11 mother washed the clothes in a “copper”. as far as I remember it was a cement or brick structure with a large copper bowl inside and room for a fire underneath. The water was heated and the clothes added. Dirty parts like collars were rubbed with a bar of yellow soap. The whole cauldron was stired with a large woodern paddle kept for that purpose. Clothes were lifted out and rinsed in the adjoining sink in cold water as we only had one cold tap in the cottage. They were then carried outside and put through the mangle to remove excess water before hanging on the line to dry. A mangle is two sets of rollers with a handle to turn them. We also used what was called a clothes prop to hold the line up. It was a long piece of wood selected with a fork at the end.
    The copper was also used to heat water on bath night. We had no bath room but a tub in the kitchen which during the week was covered with a board to use as a counter. Our clothes pins were made by the gypsies who sold them door to door. Two pieces of wood were whittled into shape and held together with a band of metal cut from a food can
    We also had an outhouse and during tough times tore up sheets of newspaper to use as toilet paper.
    We were clearly poor but didn’t feel we were as we had enough of everything to survive. No phone, no fridge, a wood cookstove, no car just bikes. TV was only just being invented so a few rich people had those for what they were worth. It was certainly a different time and it is so comforting to see you both sharing tips on living a simpler life

    • says

      Thank you for your story Veronica. I love hearing stories like that. Most now a day really don’t have a clue what it is like to make do and to not have sometimes even the necessities. They consider modern conveniences necessities so I love to hear from someone who has their feet planted solid on the ground.

  31. Maggie says

    Veronica, Loved your story. I was trying to remember what that pole was called that held up the line and “clothes prop” was what my mom called it. I used one at our first house when we did not have a dryer. Also, my mom’s first washing machine had a mangle on it. It was electric though and you had to be careful your arm did not get taken in with the clothes because there was NO automatic cutoff. We used to hear tales of children who had their arms “mangled” (probably where the term came from) because they were messing around with the machine. These could have just been tales to keep us away but we never knew for sure. I’m complaining because I have to throw the laundry in the automatic tube and you just reminded me how much harder it was for my mom. My chore will be easier tonight thinking of this.

    • says

      Can’t believe how funny things are sometimes. I had never heard of the word clothes prop until Veronica and you mentioned it and then I go to sit down and read my book this afternoon and in the first paragraph what does is talk about??? A clothes prop. Now what are the odds? : ) Thanks to you guys I knew what they were talking about.

  32. Jeanne T. says

    We don’t have a back yard for a clothesline, but I did purchase a very sturdy drying rack at Bed, Bath, & Beyond a couple of years ago. I think it has saved us money for our electric bill. I do dry our sheets and towels in the dryer, because there is just no room to do otherwise, but I no longer put clothes in the dryer. Shirts and pants get hung on the shower curtain rod. Socks and underwear, etc., to on the drying rack. Even when drying sheets and towels I try to make sure I do not “over dry”.

  33. Claudia says

    My husband and I are buying a home and to my delight there is a clothesline in the backyard. I remember helping my mother hang clothes on the line and I hope to teach my children that a dryer isn’t a necessity even in our overly technical society. Here’s to living life simply and I will be enjoying every minute of it.

    • says

      Claudia enjoy your new clothesline. The house I am in now I only have a rope in the backyard and do so miss the huge clothesline I had in my last house. Don’t forget with summer coming up to show the kids how to make a tent by pinning 2 blankets together on the clothesline. My kids and grandkids loved doing that and eating their lunches or snacks inside their “tent”. : )

  34. Mary Jane says

    I used to hang my clothes outside from early spring until early fall, but often had trouble with my husband pulling the clothes line down, while moving a pick up truck around the back yard. Add in that there was a lot of burning in the fall and spring, and that literally smoked my laundry. Then on good days, there was a 50 per cent chance they would get rained on before I got them dried. I started instead to just set up several wooden clothes racks, some over-the-door racks, and a couple of retractable clothes lines in the house. I often used them in the winter, as we have wood heat, and it adds moisture to the air, and dries the clothes quickly. However, a few years ago, I just went ahead and hung them to dry in the house all year round. They take a little longer in the summer, as our house is cool, but I never worry about a rainstorm, and I take them down when I have time, even if it is after sundown. For the lady who had clothes that smelled like sweat even after she washed and line dried them, perhaps it is your water. Are you using fresh water with every load, and how does the water smell when it comes directly from the tap? Sometimes soda added to the wash water will help sweeten it. Do you hang your clothes outside, or in a basement. Some basements are damp and/or dank smelling. I hang my clothes inside, but there is lots of air circulation, and I have the windows open during the summer.


    Enjoyed your video. In our early years of marriage (45 years ago!) my in-laws loaned us their old, electric wringer washer. I was so happy to receive the machine because dragging a week’s worth of dirty clothes, bed clothes, and several loads of cloth diapers to the laundry mat was quite an ordeal! Back then almost everyone had a clothesline in their backyard. My eldest daughter enjoys retelling the tale of her mother dragging a chair outside to the clothesline for her to stand on to reach the clothesline, because one of her responsibilities was hanging the laundry to dry and taking it down later, but she wasn’t quite tall enough to reach it without a little help. I do want to share a small but very useful tip in regard to hanging fitted sheets on the line outdoors. I found it necessary to turn the fold on the fitted end to the inside on both ends, because if I did not, bees would hide in the corners and I would have quite a surprise when I took them in the house to put away. Thanks for sharing your video.

  36. Tawna P says

    I usually hang a lot tighter if things are drying. I use plastic hangers for most shirts and store clip display hangers for smaller pants. Most small items I hang with one pin to save line space. I shake/snap dried laundry to straighten and soften a little. Not as soft as out of the drier but not stiff as a board.

  37. Alice O'Hara says

    I hang the heaviest items first regardless of size as they take the longest to dry. I have a pulley clothesline and use a heavy metal tightener so the line doesn’t sag. Even so, I sometimes need to use lightweight tighteners between sets of clothes. I have a separate line for the bird feeders and sometimes put additional large items at the opposite end from the feeders. I should add that I have to use a laundromat.

    If hand washing and drying on the line, I use a large white metal laundry “basket” that belonged to my grandmother who died 91 years ago. I like to think she’d have been so pleased to know it. My mother also used it at Thanksgiving to mix the stuffing!

    • says

      Alice, it is funny you should mention your grandmother’s “basket”. I was reading a true story last night about a woman who settled on the Kansas plains. She gave birth to a baby girl who was 2 months early. The mom warmed a quilt and put it in the bottom of a “basket” like you mentioned then filled some jugs with warm water, wrapped them too and tucked them in the basket around the baby. The baby survived and lived to a ripe old age. Oh the stories some of those things could tell.

  38. Susan says

    Oh my goodness, you folks in the mighty US of A never cease to amaze me. I ditched my dryer 17 years ago because I never used it and because it used heaps of electricity. My hubby is hanging washing as I write (8.45pm AEST). I do not know a single person who uses a dryer except for emergencies in winter etc. the “Hills Hoist” referred to earlier is a rotary clothesline, an Australian Invention. My MIL swears by the kind shown in your video. Hers has a chain at either that eliminates the need for a pole to lift the line when longer items are hung.
    I grew up in windy West Gippsland and my mother used to thread clothes on the line using old stockings. I hang small items, socks, undies etc on Ikea “octopus” bizzos pairing socks and hanging like items as I go, no need to sort from the machine. Australians typically have smaller machines than our US counterparts so we wouldn’t find socks and sheets and shirts and tops together e.g. A load of towels, a load of bedlinen, a load of whites, a load of lights a load of darks. I sort my washing before it goes into the machine.
    We don’t all use dryers but I could tell plenty of stories of OCD clothes peg habits.

    • says

      For you Americans who don’t know what clothes pegs are they are what we call clothes pins. I love how we use different words for different things even though we all speak English. I know what you mean Susan. I haven’t had a dryer to use for almost 30 years now. Even when I had 2 babies in cloth diapers I didn’t have a dryer. Thank goodness I had the old fashioned radiators that were huge and I would spread the diapers and things on those in the winter. What I found out with those is when the heat was on they would dry so fast that by the time I got the last radiator covered with things the stuff on the first one was dry so I could fold those up and reload it. I had an interesting laundry system back then. That is why I can’t understand why people can’t keep up with their laundry now a day when all they have to do is move them from the machine to the dryer.

  39. Wendy says

    I was surprised that you washed jeans, lingerie, dark shirts, rags, socks & sheets all in the same load. I have always separated the colours, darks & lights/whites & lingerie. I’d have washed the dark shirt, dark t-shirts & jeans in one load & hand rinsed the rags separately, before adding the relatively clean clothing. I’d wash the towels & doona cover first, then jeans & darks, then sheets & socks in the following load. The lingerie & pj’s/nighties & bras would be left until last. I prefer to do a few small loads to ensure that it’s separated from the other washing. However I’d also usually have enough sheets & pillowslips for a whole load, and the same for towels which is why I usually wash all the heavier items first e.g. towels. Then jeans & sheets, then T-shirts, shirts, etc. I like to make sure that there is plenty of room for the detergent to mix in well, and the clothes to wash thoroughly. I also use a little bi-carb soda with the detergent & white vinegar in the rinse. It seems to keep all the colours nice & bright.

    I then hang them out in the same order. However, I usually hang the lingerie in the shade as I live in Australia in the sub-tropics, so the sun can be very harsh & can damage good lingerie esp., the elastic in panties & bras. I do the same with other fine fabrics too. I like to hang the heavier things out first so that they will have longer to dry … & when I am ready to bring the washing in, it’s all dry at once & I can fold directly off the line & into the basket … ready to go into the linen closet & various bedrooms.

    I also hang T-shirts inside out, as well as anything else that can fade. If an item can go on a hanger, then it is automatically hung. I like to be able to take them in quickly if it starts to rain. It also saves ironing a lot of items however if something still needs ironing, it’s much easier to hang in the robe in the ironing room .. & if not, I can hang it straight up in the robes ready to wear.

    I use hangers for all slips, shirts & T-shirts as I am also very fussy about peg marks on clothing, as well as that slight pull that one gets at the bottom of T-shirts when they shrink that little bit as they dry. I also use 3 pegs in towels, for the same reason … & hang them not just at the end corners, but I like to turn them over the line to the band part of the towel so there are no peg marks or that ‘out of shape stretching’ that leaves a middle sag happening at the bottom of the towels. They always come off without any peg marks & always hold their shape beautifully. Maybe I’m a little fussy, but I loathe peg marks & any stretching on clothing, tea-towels, bath towels & face cloths. I don’t think it’s an Aussie thing … just me … & the way I was raised. :)

    I’ve also recently been shown a different way to hang flat sheets on the line. Instead of pegging the ends of the sheets to the line, hang the folded part of the sheet onto the clothes line. I have a disability so having to pull the sheets off the line in the old way wasn’t always easy, but this way is so much easier on my arms. It’s also faster to fold into the basket. :)

    • Wendy says

      I’ve just read the post about the copper boiler. I remember having one of those in our laundry, but we had hot water in both the laundry & kitchen, so I don’t think there was a fire underneath it, although I had an Aunt who had an outside one when she lived on their farm. We also had a washing machine wringer & also had long lines with wooden T bars at each end & a wooden prop. However, we had an automatic washing machine as soon as they were introduced. We also had a clothes dryer, but when they first came out, it was a cabinet type with racks inside & the hot air blew up from the bottom of the cabinet. I don’t think anyone else owned a dryer in those days. When I was first married & living in the UK, about 12 years later, I was actually given an old washing machine with a wringer. It was a lot better than taking things to the Laundromat. I had a choice of a washing machine or clothes dryer. After discovering what happens to washing that’s pegged on the line in a British winter, I opted for a dryer. If necessary, I could always wash things by hand, but I couldn’t dry it until we’d installed the gas central heating. :) Of course when I returned home to Oz, it was back to an automatic washing machine & a Hills Hoist. I also bought a tumble dryer, but hardly ever used it, unless it rained for a couple of days, because in those days, we had terry towelling nappies. Disposable nappies were only just beginning to come onto the market & were NOT very good! Disposables were only used in emergencies. I think it was hand rinsing, soaking & bleaching, then washing the nappies, then hanging them out, brining them inside & folding them … along with breast feeding that seemed never ending, that were the two things that took all day & night when one had a new baby in those days. To think that was only 40yrs ago! Oh to just change a nappy & toss out the old one would be heaven …. & to just mix up a bottle & feed the baby instead of all those glares & nasty comments that were given to anyone who dared not to breast feed .. & feed meant, every time that baby cried! Life certainly has changed! Most mothers with babies couldn’t go out to work before disposable nappies anyway … because there were far too many jobs to do around the home, that unless they had an exceptionally amazing mother, or mother-in-law to care for the baby. In those days, the best gift a new mother could be given was a nappy service for the first two to three months!

      There’s one thing though that I think we Aussie women should do, and that is to introduce the Hills Hoist into the USA! I’d love you to Google it & tell me what you think! I just know it would be so well accepted that women would only use their dryers in times of cold winters. There’s nothing like the small of clothing & linen coming off the line after drying in the sunshine. :) I bought a dryer about 12 mths ago .. & still haven’t used it! lol

      • says

        Enjoyed your story. I to remember those days.We do have Hills Hoist here or some very similar. Tawra even had one in one of the homes she lived in. People here don’t use any type of clothesline because they just plain think it is easier and faster to use a dryer. Part of that is because they have never been taught how to properly hang clothes and that type of thing so at times it easier. I have hung clothes for so many years that I can do it just as fast as putting them in the dryer and I don’t have to worry over wrinkles or stains near as much on the clothes line drying them.

  40. Nanalin says

    I have raised four children and the moments spent hanging out the laundry became joyful moments in my day. It is not only an inexpensive way to dry the laundry, but it is also allows Mama a refreshing break from the daily routine indoors. I have always cherished that time.

    One thing I have learned over the years, however, is the importance of separating your laundry before washing. To economize during winter months, I often place everything in the washer and then in the dryer, allowing the lint filter to do its work.

    When line drying, it is necessary to separate your laundry into piles like the old days and wash darks with dark items, light with light items and white with white items. Otherwise you will have lint on your laundry when you line dry.

    Hope that helps someone. I have used a clothes line for over forty years when the weather is nice. It’s one of those count your blessings moments every time for me!

  41. metoo says

    I have been hanging my clothes to dry for 30 years. My mother always had (and still does have) a clothesline and I always liked the smell of line-dried clothes. However, the last couple of years I have been having the same trouble as a previous poster with the clothes smelling like sweat. This is not a sour smell, or a mildew smell, my washer is impeccably clean as it always has been, the clothes NEVER sit wet or even sit in the hamper for more than a day, as I wash all of my laundry every day. The clothes always smell nice coming off the line but after being in the closet or drawers for a day or so they smell like sweat, or more accurately, like dirty laundry in the hamper. I have tried everything from vinegar, baking soda, changing detergent, using less detergent, more detergent, double rinses, bleach (my whites always get bleach but still smell on the line) and I even got a new washer, but this problem still persists. It is not my drawers and closets, because the clothes smell great if they are dried in the electric dryer. I am about to try putting some Calgon in my wash to see if that helps, as this is the first house I’ve had hard water in, so perhaps that is the problem. I am not inexperienced in line-drying but this has confounded me for several years and I have used my dryer more than ever. Has anyone else had this problem and managed to figure it out?

  42. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    Metoo says her clothing smells like sweat after a couple of day. Did they smell like sweat before you washed them? I find that when my mom washes my clothes in her huge very modern washer but in COLD WATER my clothes stink like crotch very soon afterward. To me this means that they didn’t get clean in the first place. When I wash my clothing in HOT WATER they do not stink. I hope this answers your problem.

  43. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    I have also found that greasy stains do not come out of my clothing unless I wash them in hot water. After my mom washes them in cold, I wash them again in hot and the stains come right out.

  44. Amanda says

    loved the post! Newly married and trying to bring some of the old ways of doing things back to life, and trying to save money :) Where did you get your laundry basket?!? I love it! Or if you made can you post the pattern. Would save my back from all the bending!!!

    • says

      I was so lucky and found mine at a garage sale for about $1. I did have to recover the bag on it but I used the old bag for a pattern and it wasn’t hard at all. Tawra has found them at garage sales too. I have known some to use an old TV tray and attach a laundry basket to it or set one on there. You could try to find a taller table to set your basket on too.


  1. […] spin. We set up a line drying system outside and in a spare room. Fortuitously, I found a blogpost at Living on a Dime about the best way to hang clothes. This information found its way to my email […]

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