Around the turn of the twentieth century, clotheslines were used extensively in major cities, strung between buildings and filling rooftops. With the advent of the automatic dryer, their popularity diminished. Today, clotheslines are making a comeback -- and for good reason: There is something very satisfying about drying laundry on a line. Air-dried linens have a crispness that you can't get from a modern dryer -- not to mention the fresh, sweet smell your clothes gain when hung out to dry.
Martha prefers the strong, natural fiber of cotton line, but if you live in a very humid climate, you may want to use plastic. The height of your line will depend on your own height, but seven to eight feet is a good rule -- if the line sags, your linens will still be safely off the ground. The following technique calls for fifty feet of line; this measurement will vary depending on the distance between the trees from which your line will hang.
Rigging a Clothesline
Materials and Tools
- Masking tape
- 1/4-inch drill bit
- 2 large heavy-duty hooks
- 50 feet of cotton clothesline rope
- Line tightener
- 2 pulleys
- Line separator
- Small stool or ladder
Rigging a Clothesline How-To
- Determine height of hook by extending your arm upward to its full length. Mark the spot on each tree with a small piece of tape.
- Using a 1/4-inch drill bit, drill a hole into each tree at the marked height. Screw the heavy-duty hooks into the holes.
- Slip the end of the rope through the loop on the line tightener. To secure, make a bowline knot: Make a loop in the rope, bring the end of the rope up through the loop, around the standing part of the rope, then back down through the loop. Pull to secure. An easy way to remember how to tie this knot is: The rabbit comes up from his hole (below, left), goes around the tree, then back down his hole again (below, right).
- Run one end of the rope through the top of the first pulley. Pull the same end through the line separator, then pull the rope through the other pulley.
- Make sure the end of the rope is not frayed (if it is, make a clean cut), then slide the end of the rope through the center of the line tightener. Knot the ends of the rope.
- Using a stool or ladder, if necessary, attach one pulley to the hook on the first tree, then attach the second pulley to the opposite hook. Tighten the rope with the line tightener to eliminate sagging. Cut away excess rope.
Heavy-duty hooks, pulleys, line support, line tightener, and clothesline rope are available at hardware stores.