How To Hang Clothes On A Clothesline, Part II

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clothes on a clothesline

How to Hang Clothes On A Clothesline, Part 2

This post is part 2 of our article, How To Hang Clothes On A Clothesline. If you missed part 1, you can find it here!

The way you hang your clothes on a clothesline can make a huge difference with regard to wrinkles, softness and how quickly various clothes items dry. When you have wrinkles in fabric it causes the clothes to be rough. Iron those wrinkles out and it softens the clothes. That’s why curing wrinkles and increasing softness go hand in hand.

Here is how you hang different items of clothes on a clothesline:


Jeans and Pants

Hang jeans or pants by the legs. Then the water will wick down to the heaviest part of the jean (the waistband). The weight of that water and the waistband combined will pull on the pant legs, pulling out the wrinkles. This is why when you steam a garment you are supposed to gently pull on it.

You can pull the pockets out if you want. I don’t usually pull out pockets because they seem to get dry, even here in humid Kansas.

Shirts and Blouses

Hang shirts and blouses upside down by the side seams. Just like with the jeans, this also puts the heaviest part of the garment at the bottom so that the water wicks out as I described above. Additionally, you won’t get the puckers from the clothespins that you get if you hang shirts by the shoulders.

Tee shirts

When hanging a tee shirt on a clothesline, bring the side seams together, gather the center and gently pull. Then hang the shirt upside down by the bottom. You don’t need to pull all your tee shirts. I have a few tee shirts that don’t seem to hang right so, in order to prevent the pointy sides you can get on some tee shirts, I do this. I normally don’t use this process for the kids’ shirts because they aren’t as much of a problem.


To hang a fitted sheet, I tuck one corner into another, fold it in half and hang on the clothesline by each end with the pockets (or corners) hanging down.

For a flat sheet, I just fold it in half and hang on the line.


Underwear and Socks

If you don’t want the whole world to see your undies or “smalls” as our English friends call them hanging on the clothesline, you can hang them on the back line or in the two lines in the middle. Hang socks by the toes. I usually hang a pair of socks together. This savesΒ  time and you use fewer clothespins.


When you’re ready to hang clothes on a clothesline, it is nice to have a stand to set your basket on. Then you won’t have to bend over each time you need one clothing item. Even a small table or chair helps. Tawra has this metal wire mesh table with metal legs that she uses. Years ago, I got a shopping cart from a grocery store auction and it was just perfect for me. It was the right height and I could roll it to wherever I needed it. I made the mistake of getting rid of it once when I moved. Now I use a stand from the 1950’s that I found at a garage sale. It looks like the legs you’d see on a TV tray but with a canvas bag on it. It is the perfect height for hanging clothes on a clothesline and has a place for the clothespins on the side.

Taking Clothes Off The Clothesline

These last photos are just pictures of me taking down a flat sheet and folding it as I took it down. I fold many clothes and things as I take them off of the line so almost everything is folded by the time I take it into the house. It takes so little time that I was folding things faster than Tawra could take the pictures. Less than 30 seconds. I even did it handicapped because I was holding a towel under my arm. πŸ˜‰


Here are a few additional tips:

When you hang your clothes on a clothesline, make a note of which way the wind is blowing and hang your clothes so that the smaller items are in the front. That way the wind can pass through to dry the large things at the back. If you put the large things in front, they block the wind from getting to the smaller items behind them, unless you need to hide your undies like I mentioned earlier.

Always bring your clothespins in at the end of the day. The clothespins will last longer and bringing them in prevents black marks on your clothes that can happen when the clothespins are left out.

It you haven’t used your clothesline in a while, run a rag along the lines to clean them off before hanging the clothes. You don’t have to clean the lines often but I do recommend cleaning them in the spring if you haven’t used the clothesline all winter or if you have gone a couple of weeks without using it.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed when you first hang clothes on a clothesline. This is a lot of information. Take it slowly. If you’re just beginning, start by just hanging sheets out for a while and dry the rest of your clothes in the dryer. Then later, before you go outside, look at the picture of the jeans and note how I hung them. Practice putting the legs together by the seams. Then on another day you could practice with just socks and so on.

When you’re first trying to use a clothesline, start with baby steps so you don’t get frustrated and give up. It takes practice– lots of practice, so keep trying. If you have major problems, comment and I will try to help!

Β Β Β Β Β Β -Jill

PS One of our readers, Jenni, said she found my laundry cart at Miles Kimble.

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


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



  1. MAREE says

    I have never seen them here but in Australia we had laundry trolleys, they were like the stand that you put your washing basket on but they have 4 wheels. Instead of having to carry the basket to the line you put it in the trolly and wheel it out to the line. Much better on the back. Maybe someone could invent one here..LOL

  2. Anonymous says

    You hang your fitted sheets like I do, except I go one step more and fold it into 4ths. I live in hot Texas and they do dry fine like that. When I take it down it is a simple matter to fold it up for putting it away. Same with the big flat sheet. I fold it into quarters. It goes fast. I put the pillow cases together one on top of the other. That is fine here because it saves room on my lines. (my lines are not very big) Roxie

  3. Brooke says

    Your 50’s stand looks like the stand that servers use in restaurants to hold their big trays when they are serving a table.

  4. Jessie says

    I never knew there was a “right way” cause my mom always used the dryer; we had noplace in the city to hang things. Now I have knee problems and can’t carry a clothes basket so I hang in the house, and I do hang the pants by the bottoms. I use the thick plastic hangers with pants clips, so can put a top and pants on the same hanger to save closet space. Thanks so much for this blog!

  5. Jill Cooper says

    Yes Debbie you may link the blog and thank you for doing that.

    Maree, those trolleys sound perfect for that. Boy I wish we could get some over here.

    Roxie, you are right we can’t do the 4 corners of the sheets here because of the humidity. Some days we could get by with it maybe. I do fold mine like you do. I just grab the 4 corners as I unpin them from the line and by the time I take my couple of steps to the basket it is all folded and ready to put away.

    I am so glad that those of you who do line dry commented because I really want people to understand that with a little practice line drying can take not much more time then doing it in the dryer.


  6. Anonymous says

    Jill, THANK YOU !! This is so practical. Your article explains why the pants never dried and the shirts had funny marks ! The fitted sheets seemed so “obvious” once I saw it !!I really appreciate you taking the time to write it up and post it . Thank you again .

  7. Anonymous says

    Do you have any thoughts on what to do once the weather is colder? Can I hang clothes in my basement to avoid using the dryer (and save money!) or will they not dry well?

  8. Jill Cooper says

    Yes you can hang them in the basement and they should dry just fine. I will in a few weeks run a thing on the blog on how to dry clothes in doors during bad weather or the winter because there are several different ways you can do this.

  9. Anonymous says

    I love this post Jill. My mother always used a clothesline, and she taught me basically the way you describe in the blog. I never realized the real life lesson she taught me, because as a child I thought it was fun to “help her” with hanging and taking in the clothes. Now as an adult, I still love to bring in clean sheets that have been dried outside in the sun. Thanks for all you do.

  10. Linda says

    Thank you so much for the post on line drying. Our home association will not allow clothese lines but I have put up a retractable line that I use on Saturday to hang my clothes on. No one has complained. My clothes smell so wonderful. I enjoy hanging them out so much. Thanks for your blog. Linda

  11. busymommyofseven says

    I use a childs wagon to put my laundry basket in. It is just the right height and I can just pull it along with me.

  12. Margaret2 says

    In the past, jeans stretchers were used to dry men’s work pants so they would not have to be ironed. On rare occasions, they can still be found at estate sales and country auctions. Might be worth looking out for! You must hang the jeans by the waistband after inserting the leg stretchers.

  13. Amy says

    I am so glad to see this blog post! I hang all my clothes the way you do because that’s how I was taught… but I always wondered why mom taught me to do it that way. Maybe she doesn’t know – but now I do! I wonder how many other things I do because that’s how I was taught and no one knows WHY it’s done that way.

  14. Amy says

    One of my favorite memories of my childhood – that I’ve passed along to my kids – is sniffing the sheets when bringing them in from the line!

  15. Jill Cooper says

    I will never forget a young neighbor girl who was about 12 years old. There were 8 kids in the family and the mom had left them, the father was an alcoholic. She was the oldest daughter and so often when I would hang out my sheets she would come over and carefully touch them and tell me how much she loved smelling my sheets because they always smelt so good. I always hoped that in some way that little thing of hanging my sheets on the line gave her a little pleasure in her hard life.

    We tried to do other things to help but some how I always think that those sweet smelling sheets gave her visions of nice things she could maybe have some day have and comforted her in a little way.


  16. appylama says

    I also love to hang out clothes – one thing I do differently… I leave socks and undies in the house – when the clothes have dried on the line, I put permanent press garments in the dryer with the still wet socks and run them in the dryer for 10-15 minutes on ‘permanent press’ cycle. This way, I spare myself a lot of ironing.

  17. says

    wow this is a very interesting article. wish I had know this before I had a dryer. inspires me to go get a clothsline and use it again.I miss hanging cloths out in the fresh air but it was such a chore I welcomed the dryer. Now that you showed me how easy it is I think I will try it again. Thanks faye

  18. Pat says

    We have been in mission work in Ukraine for the past seven years. We did not have a dryer until our recent move to a village. Hopefully in the spring I will have clotheslines outside. When we lived in the city we hung our clothing in three rooms of our upstairs when the weather was unsuitable outdoors.

    When we moved to the village in Dec., I did hang out a few blankets on wires that are used to support and train our grapevines. My question is, how does one know when the clothing are dry when hanging then out in the winter? They freeze first, but it seemes they never dry completely. I had to drape them over chairs since I have no way of hanging them indoors. Can you give any insight into drying clothing outdoors in the winter?

    Thanks! Enjoying your newsletter and website!

  19. jill says

    Pat one thing about frozen clothes, I have never had any luck with them drying so in the winter if it is freezing I just try to do them indoors with some of th examples in the link above.

    I couldn’t change all the sheets on the same day because I had to stagger their drying. Blankets I only washed in the warm months unless of course someone wet on them or something like that.If you use sheets they don’t get super dirty.

  20. Julia says

    I’d love to start hanging some of my clothes to dry. I’m afraid to do it outside, though, as we have a lot of trees, and I’m afraid of the birds doing their business on my clean clothes!!

    I’ve started to dry some indoors, but I’ve found they get a little “crunchy” and stiff. I’m using softener. Any suggestions on how to make my indoor dried clothes/towels softer?

    Love your site!! thanks for all the great tips!

  21. rose says

    it’s funny that i found this blog at this point and time in our lives (meaning me and my personal family life)…
    we had a washer and dryer but they both broke… i called around to several handymen (thinking i would save more if i paid someone to come out and fix them instead of buying new or used)… well, they all wanted to charge a fee for just stepping onto the property b4 looking at my machines (the last one i called said it was a $100! yes $100!!!)… i did buy one of those little portable apt “washers” (i wont say the name) and after a few washes, the thingy wont turn to move the water and clothes around… so back to the laundromat i went… after a while, i noticed the water level in the machines were lower than b4 i bought the little “washer” and the dryers were taking more quarters to dry than b4 too… so, now it seems i am spending more $$$ at the laundromat than b4 (mind you, we are on such a strict budget that i count every single little penny that is going out the door)… so, i told my family, if their clothes have a small spot on it, take a damp cloth and wipe it down, wear your pants a few days more… wash ur undies every time you change them… etc etc etc… (stretching my laundry chore days from every week to every 2-3 weeks)…
    well, last week i went to the laundromat… i used the super large machine (like normal), but the price had went up… and lo and behold, what do i notice, the water level in the machines are much lower than b4… and then to top it all off, i used more quarters than b4 too… i spent $20 on laundry that used to cost me less than $10 before!…
    i went home crying and then i pulled myself together… and thought, “what did they do in the ’30’s when money was not there and no electricity? what did grandma do when she first came to America and didnt have any money? and what can i do to save money?”…
    well, grandma did have a wringer washer and i went looking for one… unfortunately, i cant seem to locate one used and in working condition… i did manage to find one at a store but its soooo expensive (it will have to be shipped from anohter state)… i must say, my brother had one about 20 yrs ago, and our clothes never came out cleaner…
    then i thought, maybe they have (this store) has one like this type of washer but doesnt use electricity (sorta something the Amish would use)… and lo and behold, this company has such a thing! … but the price is way way way tooo high…
    so i thought, i can do something with what i have here in this house!…
    i have decided that for the time being, i will be washing my clothes by hand (yes hand!)… when its time to wring out the clothes, i found (and i didnt realize we had this!)a mop bucket with a wringer on it (it was in the garage, buried under some stuff and we found it when we were deep cleaning our garage) and i will use this to wring out my clothes and for a line? i have a chain link fence!…
    my kids think i am nuts but i told them if this bothers them, then THEY can pay the prices at the laundromat or else THEY can buy me a washer!… we have all decided to save our money and buy a washer and in the meantime, hand wash the clothes…
    why am i telling you this? bc i feel like ur one of my dearest and best friends … i have learned so much from all of you… and if my one little (little?… this is a book! hehehee :D) story can help someone else see the light at the end of the tunnel, then its a good thing…
    my mom (who is 80) says people who are frugal are survivors… (not saying other people arent) but she explained that when one is faced with some kind of hardship, its best to look above and seek help and then we will be taken care of … and learn a few lessons along the way that will make life easier for the younger generations (or our own peers)…
    thanks for all you do for us … πŸ˜€
    rose πŸ˜€

    • Krysta says

      Google “camp washer”. You only need a 5G bucket with a lid and a plunger! I’m in the cloth diaper community and it is part of the yearly “flats challenge” :)

  22. jill says

    I love your story. If I didn’t know better I would say we are related. You are too funny. Your story sounds just like something I would do when I was desperate and trying to save. I know sometimes when I tell my stories people think you have got to be kidding me you didn’t do that but now I know someone else out thinks just like me. You crack me up Rose.


  23. rose says

    jill, i am sooo happy you liked my story… and yes, i do believe we are kindred spirits…
    altho, my kids just “love” my money saving ideas!… i keep reminding them they could have lived with my brother peter (their uncle) who was much more frugal than i am … and well, some of his “endeavors” would really have you rolling… hehehehehehehheee :D…
    he was the only person i knew that could find a car for $100 and it ran better than a newer one… he once found a 1966 ford falcon in the junk yard; mind you, it had no engine and no seats… and the body looked like it had rusty cancer on it (i am sure you can just visualize the car! hehee :D)… well, he asks the owner how much for “the car” and bought it for $20… but he needed an engine… the owner did have an engine that would work from another car (and other odd pieces to go with the engine that was needed) but since my brother didnt have any money for these parts, the owner bartered with my brother (meaning my brother worked for the man for like 2 -3 weeks and got all of the parts for the car, seats, tires and etc…)… so he drives this beasty looking thing home and of course his sons and wife are like “what is that????” and my brother tells them, “the car is for sean (he just turned 18 and just got his license) but we will fix it up … you will see!!”.. beaming soooo proudly my brother while my nephew sean just about wants to die!… hehehehe… well, guess what else my brother does? … the car needs a paint job and what does he do? sands down the body (like they do when they repaint a car) and sprays paint the car (you know, from the can of spray paint!) and then waxes the car (it was very shiny too … lumpy but shiny!)… and put in a radio and cd player… and to be quite honest, the car ran like a dream and purred like a kitten… yes, it was ugly but it was safe! my nephew, i love him, was sooooo upset over this that my brother said ok, you dont like this then take MY car AS IS!!! and i will take this one… and of course, my nephew took the prettier vehicle… and guess which car outlasted the other one?? yep, the ugly junky car… and then my brother ended up selling that car (the ford falcon) for like $650 … moral of hte story: sometimes the best things in life do not come in pretty packages…
    yes jill, i do believe we are kindred spirits… and i do re-read your penny pinchin’ mama book over and over again… and guess what? i think i have gone thru some of the same things you have… or my friend jeannie has gone thru the same things as us too…
    and as far as my “washing machine” idea… my son is just about flabbergasted!… and i told him i wasnt done thinking of ways to do this… all i need is like a barrel or a garbage can (clean of course!) with a paddle like thinging to swish the clothes around and another thingy on the bottom to let the water out (sorry not sure of the correct names to use for the “thingy’s”… hehehee… and my other idea is to take a 5-gallon bucket with some water and the clothes, put the lid on it and roll it back and forth like the reg washers do and get a good workout as well, thus saving money on a gym membership :D)… and he tells me we will get in sooooo much trouble if he hang out our clothes on the fence… i keep reminding him that no dryer will come into the house bc when we did have a dryer (even when it worked well) our electric bill was so high it was like paying a 2nd mortgage (literally!)… and well, he has a choice, either cough up some money for the laundromat or else deal with it!… and of course, he knows i am right!… but the look on his face, hehehheheheee…. his eyes sooooo big! “what will the neighbors think???” who cares what the neighbors think!, that is what i tell him… and to be quite frank, my son is normally very frugal but i think its bc he doesnt like to have his undies on the fence… which i told him they will come inside so no one will see our undies….
    and as far as my nephew… that little lesson he learned from my brother was what he exactly needed to learn~… and he never forgot it either…
    jill, thank you so much for all you and tawra and mike do for all of us… and i am glad i do make you laugh and smile… bc ya know, you all make me smile with all the help and guidance i and my friends and family learn from you and the other people who post on your site…
    i hope tawra is feeling fine these days… its wonderful she and mike are adding a sweet bundle of joy to the family…
    and i hope “the gnomes” arent recking any havoc this week either… sorry i couldnt resist! … hehehehee πŸ˜€ ….
    rose πŸ˜€
    ps my “book”! ugh… i really need to shorten my notes!… i guess you can tell i talk alot… and yes that is what i do for a living… i work on the phones and i work at home… thus saving gas money, wear and tear on our vehicles and clothing expenses… but that is another story i need to tell you… and yes, its hilarious!… very hilarious… πŸ˜€ …
    have a good day jill and enjoy your grandbabies πŸ˜€
    rose πŸ˜€

  24. jill says

    That sounds like some of our car stories.We have a dead blue pickup now that looks worse than most cars in a junk yard and the green pickup we had before it my dad gave to me and was very used. He said it won’t last long so not to take it but I said that it was better then nothing. Well 20 years later after hauling things for about 13 moves and some of them 1500 miles through several mountain ranges and across country it was still going. It finally died not to long ago but even then we sold it and got $750 out it.

    You would have loved it, the whole family (all 10 of us) stood in front of it saluting and we played taps (that’s what they play at funerals in the military)then sent the video to my dad.

    I had better sign off. I have the same problem you have I could write a book (I just realized what I said I did write a book HA!HA!) every time I go on the blog. My kids say I am suppose to keep these things short and to the point but as you can tell I haven’t quite got the hang of that yet.:) :)


    PS I too had a telephone job. I was a receptionist and a telephone operator. Truly though I’m not a yakker :) :)

  25. Crystal says

    I have a question about the amount of line/space that you use. I see from the one picture that you have the T style line- and have 4 rows? What is the distance between your posts?

  26. jill says

    Crystal, you can have the posts as far apart as you want just depending on the amount of space you have and the sturdiness of your posts. I had some metal poles that extended across my whole yard one time but I have also had much shorter ones. Tawra once had some wooden poles that tended to sag because they were too far apart and not as sturdy. In that case you could add a third pole in th middle if needed.

    Just make sure you have about 12-15 inches in between the lines for air flow and to make things easier to hang. Even that isn’t set in stone, just approximately.

  27. Rachell says

    Hello, just wondering what would be the best clothesline rope. My mother always used white cotton. I recently put up my first clothesline & used a green vinyl coated wire purchased at Lowe’s next to more traditional clothelines. I used the appropriate eye hooks & wire clamps to fasten it all together- thought I really had it figured out. humph! Admittedly,it looked lightweight but I thought because it was ‘wire’ it would be strong enough.

    Well, today with my first full line it snapped. I clipped off broken part with wire cutters and restrung it. Unfortunately, I can already see through the green vinyl coating that on one end the wire is definitely again broken. So, my 40’of re-washed laundry is now relying on the strength of just the green vinyl. Holding my breath as I sit here and type-lol!

  28. jill says

    Rachell, I have used the green too and don’t like very well either. What I like best is what is called clothesline wire. It is white and a little thicker then the green. It is has like a white plastic coating. I think I got mine at either Walmart or at Ace hardware. I’m thinking most hardware stores including Lowe’s might have it. At Walmart it is in with the ironing boards and those types of laundry things.

    I know what you are talking about in the white cotton like your mother used but I think you would have better luck with this white plastic stuff. If I remember right it even says clothes line wire on the package.

    Hope this helps. Don’t give up on it. The first couple of clotheslines Tawra put up they almost caused her to tear her hair out but once you get it figured out it is more then worth it.


  29. Rachell says

    Jill, thanks so much for your help. I am going to look for the clothesline wire you mentioned. I did a quick glance at my mother-in-law’s clothesline, then added a couple more wire clamps to mine along with loooing the line throu the eyehooks. Although I am not completely happy with it & it is currently really stretched out and needs tightened a little, at least it didn’t break! Progress? :)

    I must say- my clothes smell amazing! I took each item out of the washer,shook them a little ad laid them flat or folded in half and hung them according to your directions. I was so happy to see that even my linen pants were wrinkle free. Thanks for the invaluable information!

  30. Nan says

    We used to live in an apartment with a washer but not a dryer, so we would hang clothes out all the time. A few days before we were going to move I did 2 loads of laundry and hung them out to dry. I took down about half the laundry once it was dry and folded it. Then I left the laundry basket outside on the ground while the other half was still drying. Later that day I finished folding the laundry and brought the whole basket inside and put it in my bedroom. Three green snakes came out of the laundry and looked at me. My husband got one out the door but 2 went under the baseboards. Needless to say I was happy we moved out of there and I have not hung up laundry since.

  31. Cinbad says

    I would take some of the sugestions such as hanging them in the basement. My neighbor actually had a clothes line across the whole room, which they hooked onto the wall. I have used a clothes rack and lawn furniture stored for the winter in the basement. If you don’t have a basement as I don’t in Las Vegas, Nevada then just put your rack in a room, a back porch or outside. I love my portable clothes rack because I hang my clothes on hangers put them on the rack and stick it outside on nice days and inside otherwise. I can either pull the clean clothes from it or put them directly in my closet.

  32. says

    Hi, Jill and Tawra. I have been hanging clothes, including diapers, out for over 30 years and I still have learned from you today :) I’m still using the clothespin apron I made in the late eighties. I do it because I want to save money while getting exercise and sunshine and I love the fresh smell when they come in.I also love the feeling of accomplishment when I see clean clothes swaying in the breeze. We are currently using a dog run line strung between two trees :) It’s strong, but I am having a problem with ants using my line as a highway. Last year I had a litle success with putting Vaseline on the line near the ends. It worked for a few days to stop the ants. This year, I tried rags with ammonia in them tied to the ends of the lines. Still the ants are trespassing. Anyone got any ideas to repel ants from the clothesline?

    Also, I saw a poem and picture years ago in a magazine about hanging out clothes or visiting over the back yard fence afterwards. Has anyone seen that or one like it? I’d love to read it again.


  33. Maggie says

    First, Rose, I know your post was several years ago but just wanted to say that when my washer was broken about a year ago, I had to go to the laundramat and boy, was it expensive. It was 25 cents for 10 minutes and it took way longer to dry even the light weight clothes than I remember. I used to think the dryers were too hot but if they were hotter now, they would not make as much money. Anyway, I found a part online and directions in Google to fix my washer and my husband and son fixed it for $30. $4 for the part and $25 for overnight shipping. Worth every penny. It only took them about an hour.
    Birdseye View: Check out Renaissance magazine at the library for all kinds of old photos and stories of the “good old days”. You most likely will find just what you are looking for. Can also access it online.
    I loved these instructions, Jill. Thanks for updating us. I do have a question about indoor drying. I just don’t want all that excess water dripping on my floors. My husband has ceramic tile in our basement and don’t think I want the mess with the water. And a short line on our tiny backporch – won’t the water destroy the wooden floor, over time? Thanks for your help.

    • says

      Maggie I have never had my clothes drip on the floor. Usually by the time they are done spinning there isn’t anything left in them to drip. I do have a throw rug under my rack but that is mostly because if I drop something while I am hanging it up doesn’t get as dirty falling on that as if it falls straight on the floor. I really don’t think you would have a problem with dripping. If you want to experiment take 1-2 items and hang them on the back of a metal chair or something and watch it. I think you will see it doesn’t drip.

  34. Sandi P says

    About 40 years ago I lived in Germany as a young Army wife and new mother. We lived in the attic apartment of a local house, and the laundry was in the basement. It was a sink with a washboard and a laundry wringer on the side. There were lines in the basement, but I preferred to take my wet laundry upstairs and hang them over the radiators to dry and humidify the dry air. I learned several things, such as not to use a scrub brush on Birdseye diapers (the loose weave just fell apart). I also learned the hard way that although Tide will clean almost anything, I am allergic to it! When I was soon pregnant again, I started washing my clothes in the bathtub rather than haul a baby and laundry up and down three flights of stairs. I actually got pretty good at hand wringing the wet clothes! As soon as we got into base housing, I got myself an electric washer and never looked back. I prefer air dried clothes, but right now our washer and dryer are in our shop, and I’m NOT hanging my laundry around a bunch of grease monkeys!

  35. says

    I would love to have the standing laundry basket too as that was ideal for hanging out laundry. And now I am thinking they don’t make them anymore. If I am wrong, please let me know where I can get one. I think they still make the pant stretchers. Back in the fifties we used then for my Dad’s Dickies so we wouldn’t have to iron his work clothes. So here are two great products that are a complete throwback to an earlier age and they are still great ideas.
    By the by, you could “hand wash” laundry in the bathtub using a toilet plunger with a few hole cut through it to agitate the laundry. Talk about cheap!

    • says

      Connie I do know they still make the pant stretchers but my laundry basket is hard to find and I am not sure they are still making them. I had thought about taking the metal legs from an old TV tray and sewing a bag thing to slip over it like mine or you could take some thing like a TV tray add use it with just a regular laundry basket sitting on top of it if you get desperate for something.

  36. Chanda Stehlik says

    I want to think I recently heard that ants don’t like lemons. Maybe you could rub some lemon over the ends of the line. Better yet, lemon oil???

  37. says

    I leave my clothes basket on the ground because I figure it gives me more exercise to bend down so many times.
    BTW, the dog doesn’t use the dog run line now, so it made a perfect clothesline. I could use a little more line, so when space gets short, I hang socks and wash cloths in the gap between where the shirt seams are pinned to the line. I always hang “unmentionables” behind the sheets and towels so they are not visible if someone comes up the driveway.

    Maggie, our small town library has magazine called Reminisce. It may be that’s where I saw it,since my mom gave us a subscripton one year. Thanks!

    Chanda, I’ll try the lemon oil if I can find it.Thank you.

  38. Maggie says

    Birdseye View, you are right. It is Reminisce. Don’t know why I thought it was Renassance. For those of you looking for a clothes basket, you might try Lillian Vernon or Miles Kimball or Vermont Country Store. These are online stores. We have a wonderful old time 5 & 10 cent store. although most things are more than that now, that sells whatever you cannot find elsewhere for household goods. If you are near Arlington, VA, look up AYRES on Washington Blvd.

  39. Deb Vaughn says

    I’m addicted to hanging my laundry out. I use it for prayer time and winding down time. This post got me to thinking about maybe using my daughter’s Red Ryder wagon to haul my laundry in and out and it also puts it a little higher off the ground. Wet laundry is heavy!
    I don’t like to use liquid fabric softner and have tried using vinegar on my towels, but they are still so rough. Any other ideas? I’ve been drying them because my hubby fusses so much over the roughness.
    Also, re:ants, try mixing cayenne pepper with the vaseline. I’ve heard they hate that and cucumbers???

    • says

      Deb I fluff my towels for about 5 mins. in the dryer before hanging them out. It isn’t enough to dry them or use much energy but just enough to make them soft and feel like they have been dried in the drier. What I do is toss them in the drier and then load my second load of laundry in the washer. By the time I get done with putting the soap in etc. in my 2nd load my towels have usually fluffed enough. Another thing if you don’t have a dryer is I do my towels on a very windy day when I can. That makes a big difference. They are almost softer then when I put them in the dryer.

      Also (and I don’t think this is your case) is people don’t hang their clothes out at all because they want soft towels but hang your other things out and if towels are the only thing you dry you will still be saving quite a bit.

      Oh one last thing – giving them that good snap like I showed in the video really helps a lot too.

  40. Deb Vaughn says

    Jill, I’m thinking it must be our hard water. I shake’em, snap’em and we have 15+ mph winds about 4 days out of the week. It doesn’t seem to matter. So yes, if that is the only load I dry then I guess I can live with that. I will try just doing a 5 min cycle and see if it helps. Thanks for the input! :) Deb

  41. maggie says

    Deb, You might just purchase a certain color for your husband and only dry those. I love a good rough towel for drying. The really soft ones don’t absorb water as easily, I think, but this could just be my personal opinion. There is nothing better than to sniff a dry towel that has been hung outdoors on a windy day. Unless, it is baby clothes!
    Everyone, enjoy your weekend. Finally going to be in the 70’s here in VA.

  42. Jacqui says

    One thing I have done to help dry clothes inside in bad weather is install an extra tension shower rod in the middle of the tub but up high. Then I would hang clothes on hangers and just hang on the rod. I also hang the hangers on the door jambs as well. I have one drying rack for undies, socks and washcloths. Works great!!

  43. says

    Deb, I’ll try the cayenne with Vaseline. The wagon is a good idea, too, for carrying the basket. Thanks for two ideas of the best kind- ones I can try without having to buy anything.

  44. says

    some funny stories about hanging clothes.
    during the depression my grandmother did the laundry and had the girls hang the clothes. Now the clothes lines were behind the house hidden by huge pine trees. So usually it was only the kids who saw them as they took the shortcut to school. But my grandparents had donated land for a school and boarded the teacher. One day my GM’s sister was visiting and was shocked that the girls didn’t take a 3rd pin and pin the crotch to the line so it looked like hankies instead of undies. Since the teacher also took the short cut. Just strikes me as kind of funny the attitude of another generation.
    Mom always hung clothes or had us do it and the lines were spread out over part of the back yard. When the sheets were up we played laundry tag. Hiding among the clothes and lines. Don’t remember mom being impressed with our imagination on those days.
    And taking laundry in on winter days. Using karate chops to make the clothes bend so we could get them in the house.
    Now my arms are so bad can’t hang clothes so it is the drier for me. Miss doing the hanging and smelling them as they came off the line.
    Although living in a pulp mill town the smell wasn’t always pleasant.

  45. Kim Todd says

    I love to hang out the wash too.
    We go to the laundromat once a week.When the clothes come out of the washer everything is separated as to where it gets hung up once we get home.Every item has a specific place on the wash lines(this helps so much in the winter months as I rotate the clothing from the line to a rack in front of the wood stove).
    We currently have two 25 ft lines on a pulley system in a screened in breezeway.Also we have two 5ft wooden curtain rods with holders mounted close to the ceiling where we put all the button front shirts.This helps conserve space on the wash lines.
    We use drying racks for socks and underwear.
    I use an old table to hold my wash basket with a large kettle to hold the pins and line separators.
    We had a 75foot line on a pulley system in the yard until hurricane Irene took down one of the trees.
    If you are looking for strong(very strong) clothes line I highly recommend Lehman’s.When the tree came down the clothesline did not beak.In fact we needed to use a bolt cutter to move the line so we could walk in the yard without tripping.
    I am hoping we can find a way to rig up another line outside this spring.
    I love to hang out the wash and just listen to the birds or tree frogs singing.Such solace.Time alone with His creation.

  46. Deb Vaughn says

    I’ve began unconsciously at first grouping my clothing by person, with the exception of undies that are hidden in the middle. That way as I take them down I fold and stack in the basket by person and deliver to their rooms to put away. I have 4 clothes lines but I like to do my laundry at one time so often run out of room. I wouldn’t mind another one, but hate to mow around it! lol

  47. Aeraen says

    I just discovered your blog, and truly enjoyed reading all about hanging laundry. Who knew there was a system to it? I guess we all have our own systems, but I’ve learned a few things from yours. I’ve been hanging laundry for several years, since my dryer broke and I asked myself why I was paying the power company to do what the sun does for free. I realized that if I got it fixed, my family will just fall into the habit of using it for every load, so now it sits broken next to it’s more useful sister, the washing machine. I hang my laundry all year long, even outside in the winter when it is not snowing and the temp is above 25 degrees or so.

    A few years ago, I created a removable clothesline on my deck, just waist high, so it isn’t visible from the street, but still very handy for me. In the winter, I don’t have to fight snowdrifts in the back yard to hang laundry.

  48. Marla says

    I started hanging out my clothes a few months ago, and your tips have definitely improved my technique ~ thank you!

  49. says

    What a great two-part post. I live in a townhouse with an HOA that does not allow you to hang clothes outside. I use the guest bedroom and my ironing board. You would be amazed how much you can hang around it. I have to use hangers so obviously, it is not the perfect scenario but it works for now and I’m happy with it until we move somewhere I can hang them outside. Love how detailed it was!

  50. Deanne says

    When I was a girl and lived in Chicago, everyone of our relatives lived in “flats”. Grandma had a 2nd floor flat. With a trolley line washline from her 2nd floor back porch. She stood on the porch and hung out each piece and pulled the trolley until all wash was on the line. Worked fine. I’m sure some kind of trolley could be set up for someone who couldn’t walk up and down a regular ground set of wash lines. As for hanging up clothes outside in winter, I used to soak my clothes pins in salt water so they wouldn’t freeze to the clothes and line. I don’t remember the ratio, but it worked. The frozen clothes were not very bendable but when brought in, they dried very quickly and had a outdoor smell that we all love. The pants stretchers can be found at Vermont Country store. I bought a lovely umbrella outside drying line. I bring it in the garage in the winter to store. Cannot dry in garage as not heated. But you can also get a stand to bring it in the house in the basement (if you have a basement).

    • says

      Mine is an old one from the 50’s that I found at a garage sale. I love it but I’m afraid I have not found any place that sales them now. We did do something like if for Tawra where we took the metal legs from an old tv tray stand and set a laundry basket on top but that was the best we could do. I have put my basket on an old small table that I kept by the clothes line and have put my laundry basket in my kids wagon.

  51. David says

    Hi, I live on a small ranch in Central Texas on the north end of our property. I get some good winds coming off the hay fields going north. Sometimes I will hang the light work shirts out first so by the time I’ve got all my wash on the line (about 10 minutes), they are already dry. Because of the strong winds that come out at times, I have to double-pin my shirts since I’ve had shirts in the dirt before. Also because of the strong winds, I had to make my poles out of 4 foot 4″ x 4″ presure treated boards set in concrete. I have electric fence wire strung between my poles and before hanging up clothes, I clean the wire with white vinegar. No, it is not electified. No cows on our property :)
    I do have one other pole that is 7′ tall to hang up sheets or jeans because I found out that I don’t like dirty cuffs on my jeans that drag the ground on the 4′ line. It was also impossible to hang up sheets. I love it a lot, but have a problem. This line is the only one that is running north to south. When I hang anything up, at the end of the day, I will find all the sheets, towels or jeans have traveled to the north end of the line and are jumbled and wrinkled up together. I tried double-pinning them, but that didn’t work. How can I get the sheets, etc… to stay in one place on the line?
    Thanks and God’s peace to you!

    • says

      David we have had the same problem here in Kansas. Tawra finally quit hanging her sheets out because she would find them in no mans land. You are right no amount of pinning seems to help. You might though try flipping the sheets over the line so the fold is across the line and then pin like crazy maybe even a couple of pins down the side. Not real sure this would work but you could try. The only other option which would be a pain to do would be to move the clothes line to a more protected area. I really know what you are talking about though because sometimes the wind blows so hard I can’t even hold on to the sheet to get it pinned to the line. Love the windy prairies. :)

      • says

        Jill and David, we have an almost constant wind and it dries clothes really quickly but you have to find a way to keep them on the line for the wind to do it’s magic.
        I found when hanging lighter things to put a sock or wash cloth under the clothes pin on the sheets. It makes a bigger wad of cloth and the pins don’t slide down the line as easily.

        • David says

          To Jill… I do flip the sheets so they are over the line. If I hung them up full length, they would drag the ground. This problem applies to all clothing hung on the north-south line.
          To Grandma… to others I have talked to, the ladies in my congregation that have to deal with this on their ranches, have said that your idea sounds like too much trouble to go through. But I came up with my own idea.
          My idea is that I wind a little bit of white electrical tape around the wire. Then when I pin a sheet over it, I just make sure the pin is on the south side of the piece of tape.
          Sure enough, it works. No more clothing travel down the line. Make sure you check the tape before putting on a new sheet or piece of clothing as there might be some unraveling on the tape and you may need to wrap some more around it.
          Hope this helps someone…. David

          • says

            Your idea got me to thinking. They use to use a thicker cotton rope for the clothes lines and I wonder if something like that would help grip the pins too. Just a thought.

        • Ken says

          I live in Missouri and although we don’t have the flat plain winds as those in Texas and Kansas do it can be quite windy in the spring and fall here.
          David you hit a memory. My grandmother when she hung sheets and towels on windy days she did the wash cloth trick. Hung the sheet or towel then at each end of the sheet and towel hung a wash cloth or dish towel. The extra thickness definitely helped keep the item in place. I actually do this and it works. It really isn’t extra work at all. I’m going to hang the wash cloth anyway so hanging it on the sheet or towel is no different then hanging it on a space on the line by itself. Drying time isn’t a factor as it’s windy and clothes dry fast in a good stiff wind.

          David I think the line you are using is too thin and the clothespins cannot grip the line well.

          I also think the old wooden slotted slip on clothespins have a much better grip than the wooden ones especially on a thick line. Some of the spring clothespins they sell in the discount stores are not worth dragging home.

          • says

            I really don’t think they make the new spring clothespins quite as good as they use too because I have a bunch of old ones and the new ones aren’t quite the same.

  52. Deb Vaughn says

    David mentioned he used Hotwire wire. That is pretty thin and I could see it being slippery. I actually found a “clothesline line” at the hardware store that is coated with a plastic coating and my clothes running north/south hardly slip at all. Might be worth the investment and he could put the hotwire back to use as “hotwire”. lol It is so windy at our house we are thinking of naming our place “hurricane hills”. We’ve lost flags, charcoal covers, and other things to the wind, never to be seen again!

  53. Amanda says

    Now that we live in CA, I’ve been thinking more and more about getting a clothesline to dry clothes outside. The weather is so mild almost year round.

    It does remind me of my grandma’s house, growing up in WA state. She had an umbrella style clothesline out in the back yard for drier days and 3 long lines inside that ran the length of the basement near the washer and dryer for the other 300 days of the year :)

    I grew up with the idea that her dryer was broken, and that was why she didn’t use it, mainly because that’s what she told all of us. She would tell anyone who was visiting and asked to wash a few things that the dryer was broken, then coax them into hanging the clothes to dry “because it’s easier”. Eventually, she had to move into a nursing home and we went in to sell her home, only to find out that the “broken dryer” was in PERFECT working condition, albeit 20+ yrs old by then!

  54. MerryOrchardMom says

    Thanks so much girls!!
    While I have been hanging clothes out to dance in the sunshine for a very long time
    I had no idea of what to do when ants invaded my sweet clean clothes.
    Perhaps it was the new plant based softner
    (that I suspect may contain small ammounts of sugar)
    but they came soooo thick on the line & crawling all over & into the clothes…talk about ants in your pants!
    Tried lemon juice first
    as iced honey & lemon is what I drink on hot days
    but that had no effect.
    Then I vigorously rubbed fresh lemon peel into the line even employing a zester….smelled great at least but zip.
    Next I ground pepper flakes & cinnamon into vaseline
    glopping & smearing it at both ends
    its kinda gross but the ants will not come near it!
    For maybe 2 days they bumbled about near the goop they seemed so confused it was (sorta) pitiful but then they found a new route elsewhere away from my clotheline
    its worked thru several downpours & been almost a month
    no more shaking till my shoulders feel like they may snap
    no more burning stinging little bites these were fire ants
    yippee! ThankyouThankyouThankyou!!!!!

  55. Jenni S says

    Just thought I’d mention that I found a similar laundry cart to your, Jill, with a removable liner, at Miles Kimball. I’ve never written in before, but Tawra and Jill… I LOVE your articles and newsletter! And your Dining on a Dime is one of my favorite go-to cookbooks. Thank you!

    • says

      Thank you Jenni. I am so glad you like our cook book. Thanks on the tip on where to find the laundry cart. I have been looking for them for years with have to add this info to the article. Thanks again.

  56. Charlotte says

    As a disabled person sometimes I have to think a bit to figure the best way to do things. I hang my clothes outside as much as I can because I think they smell better and the clothes are less likely to stir up my allergies.

    I don’t use fabric softener (except in the car, outbuildings and house to keep out mice), instead I use vinegar which makes my clothes much softer. I also only use about 1/4 the amount of recommended detergent. You’ll have to test to figure out what works best for you. Just cut down the amounts to the point your clothes still get clean.

    I use an old 1950 laundry cart to bring the clothes out. No bending this way. You can also use a garden cart to bring your clothes out with.

    JEANS: Before I hang jeans I put the legs together with the jean seams lined up together and then I shake the jeans holding onto the legs. That gives you a crease on the front of the jeans.. Then one leg is hung on the 1st line (with the clothes lines going from back to front) and the 2nd leg is hung on the 2nd line. This makes taking the jeans down easier and folding them easier.

    BLOUSES: Blouses are hung on hangers with the shoulders secured with clothespins.

    SHEETS/PILLOWCASES: I fold sheets and pillow cases before taking them outside. Pillowcases are folded in half so they look like a thin rectangle. Sheets are folded into quarters (this keeps them from dragging on the ground and are easier to hang)

    T-SHIRTS: I fold t-shirts in half shoulder to shoulder then hang them by the bottoms. This means you can hang more clothes on the line and makes folding easier.

    SOCKS: Pairing your socks before you hang them saves time when folding.

    ANTS: If yo have a problem with ants dig a small moat around your clothes line. Ants can’t swim. You can also use a Bundt Cake Pan or an angel food cake pan that are put around the poles.

  57. Ken says

    If anyone is interested in the umbrella style clothesline I highly recommend the Hills Hoist. It is a great piece of equipment. I’ve had mine for three years now and it is still like new. I’ve had the style you can buy in stores and they are just not the quality of a Hills, actually there is no comparison.
    There is a distributor here in the states.
    Three years ago I was hit by a tornado and my T-Posts were crushed by trees. The insurance company reimbursed me for the posts and believe it or not the clothesline and paid me what it would cost if I had someone install new ones. Well I had my eyes on a Hills for a while so with that money and a little extra I bought one. It was $289 but I don’t say this about much these days it was worth every penny.

    • says

      Thanks Ken that is good info to know. Sometimes it its hard and other reasons people can’t have a T post clothesline so we love it when our readers have success with something like this and let us know. We have had an umbrella style before and like you said they just didn’t work but sounds like this may be a good company to try from.

  58. Magdalen says

    What a lovely amount of space you havefor your clothes lines. I’m envious. Thanks for the useful ideas.Those groups that forbid washing lines are disgraceful!


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