Drying Clothes On a Clothesline

Drying Clothes on a ClotheslineWhy Clothesline Drying?

Sitting here, reminiscing about the past. I remember watching my grandma hanging her clothes out to dry on her clothesline, while the kids played and robbed her raspberry patch. Being outside, listening to the birds while hanging laundry, it’s all so simple.  

Drying clothes on a clothesline can be a relaxing and rewarding job. Any excuse to go outside in the sunshine to do housework is good enough for me. Sunlight is a natural sanitizer that kills germs and bacteria. Plus, it makes your clothes smell fresh as they blow in the wind to dry.

John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Clotheslines can save you money by freeing up your dryer. Clothes dryers are real energy hogs. Hanging your clothes to dry saves energy and helps your dryer last longer. A dryer can break down the fibers, fade colors, and shrink your favorite clothing. Clothing hung on a clothesline to dry will last longer.

After you are done hanging your clothes to dry, play a game of Clothespin Tag.

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About Clotheslines:

Clotheslines can be made of rope, twine, cotton/polyester cord, or plastic or vinyl jacketed metal cord. String your line between two wooden or metal posts or between two trees using hooks.

Clothesline Pulley and SeparatorAttaching a pulley to your line makes it movable, so you can move your line instead of your clothes basket. Use a clothesline spacer to help keep the lines from sagging with heavier clothing.

Short on space? Get a retractable clothesline. Put it away when you are not using it.

Choose a location for your clothesline that is not a high-traffic area, not under trees that tend to drip sap or drop berries, and not under a tree or other place that is used as a bird perch.

It is best to locate your clothesline close to your washing machine, so you will actually want to hang your clothes outside.

Hang your clothesline high and taut enough that heavy, wet clothing won’t touch the ground.

Over time clotheslines get stretched and sag, attach a mini-winch (clothesline cable tightener) or a turnbuckle to your clothesline, so you can tighten it as needed.

Clotheslines get dirty and sometimes rusty or mildewed. To avoid ruining or staining your clothes, be sure to wipe down your clothesline with a clean, damp cloth before using. If your metal clothesline is rusty or rope clothesline is mildewed, it will need to be replaced.

About Clothespins:

Clothespins are made of many different materials and come in a variety of sizes. I have seen plastic, metal, and wood, spring clip, and peg-type. I prefer wood and have some that are plain pine and some that are bamboo. The bamboo ones seem to last longer, but are much smaller.

Clothespin BagPortable clothespin bags are handy, especially if you have a large amount of clothing to hang. Mine is a small bag with a little hanger that can be hung on the clothesline and scooted down the line with me as I hang clothes. You can also choose one that hangs on the side of laundry baskets or a clothespin apron. 

12 Tips for Drying Clothes on a Clothesline:

  1. Soap residue from washing may cause your clothes to be a bit “crunchy” feeling if dried on the line. To avoid this problem, use less soap, add ½ cup of vinegar to each load to help soften clothing and remove excess soap, use the extra-rinse setting on your washer, or use milder, homemade laundry detergent.
  2. Sort clothing as you pull it out of the washer. Keep like pieces together, as you lay them in your basket. This makes hanging easier when you get to your clothesline.
  3. For fewer wrinkles, remove your clothing from your washer as soon as possible after the wash cycle ends.  Give your clothing a shake and smooth them out, before hanging them on the clothesline. Pin them to the line folding as little as possible. Think about how you fold clothes and keep it in mind as you hang your clothes to dry. Line up your seams and zip, button, snap, etc. all your fasteners. Clothing will dry faster and have fewer wrinkles if hung in a single layer.
  4. Hang whites in bright sun, right side out, to let the sunshine bleach away stains and discolorations.
  5. Hang colors in shade, wrong side out, to avoid fading.
  6. Hang delicate clothing, such as lacy or silk on hangers, pinning the hangers on the line, so they stay in place.
  7. Be careful not to stretch your clothing as you hang it up to dry. This may cause permanent damage to your garment.
  8. Do not hang sweaters, other knitted/crocheted items, or items that ‘lay flat to dry’ on a clothesline. Hanging these items may cause them to stretch or pull out of shape.
  9. Don’t let your wet clothing freeze. Water expands and cause stretching. This might damage or ruin the fibers.
  10. Afraid of the neighbor seeing your skivvies, bad weather is on the way, or no room to hang clothes outdoors? Hang your clothes inside. A retractable clothesline in the basement or spare room works well for this or use a folding clothes drying rack.
  11. Give your clothes a shake or a little tumble in the dryer on cool setting, as you take them off the line to fluff them up a bit.
  12. Fold your laundry as you take it off the clothesline, unless you are going to fluff them in the dryer. This will save you time later and it helps avoid wrinkles.

Folded ClothesDrying Clothes On a Clothesline, Tips by Clothing Piece:

Sheets and Blankets-

Give larger items, such as sheets, blankets, and beach towels a shake, smooth them out, and drape them over the line, evenly on both sides and pin with several clothespins to keep them from sliding and bunching. Do the same with fitted sheets, tucking the fitted corners inside of one another.

Clothesline Sheets

Towels, Washcloths, and Pillowcases-

Drape larger towels over the line and pin them in place to keep them from sliding. Smaller towels, washcloths, and pillowcases should be hung by pinning them directly to the line by the corners.

Clothesline Towels, Washcloths, and Pillowcases

Pillows and Stuffed Animals-

It is best to use a protective covers and pillow cases on pillows to avoid soiling, but occasionally, they will need washed and so will stuffed animals. Follow the washing instructions on your pillow, for best results.

To hang pillows and larger stuffed animals on the clothesline, attach them to the clothesline with clothespins toward the end by the post or support. For a double clothesline pulley system, you can use clothesline separators. I use one on each side to support the weight of the pillow or stuffed animal. For smaller stuffed animals, hang them from the thinnest part of the animal with clothespins. 

The water will tend to wick toward the bottom of the item, so be sure to turn pillows and stuffed animals over occasionally to allow them to dry faster.


Pillow on Clothesline
Dress Shirts and Blouses-

Give your shirts a shake, smooth them out, fix the collar, and button the top and bottom buttons before hanging them on the clothesline. Hang them upside down from the side seams. You could also hang dress shirts on hangers (no metal), using a clothespin to keep them in place.  Some cotton, linen, and silk items may still need light ironing.

Clothesline Dress Shirt

Dresses and Jumpers-

Hang on a thick hanger on the clothesline. Pin a clothespin on the line beside each hanger to keep it from sliding in the wind. Use clothesline separators to keep the line from sagging, if necessary. You may need to iron dresses and jumpers before hanging them in the closet, depending on the fabric.

Clothesline Jumpers and Dresses

T-Shirts and Sweatshirts-

Line up the side seams or where they would be and hang from the bottom of the shirt. Hang the shirt fully extended, but do not stretch the fabric. Place a clothespin on each side. This will help to avoid wrinkly sags in the middle of your shirt.

Clothesline T-Shirts and Sweatshirts

Jeans, Pants, and Shorts-

Hang items with waistbands, such as pants/jeans, skirts, and shorts-buttoned and zipped, and upside down from their legs, using clothespins. Separating pants legs to give more space for air to move.  It is easier to hang them from the thinner fabric at the bottom and the weight of the thicker fabric at the waistband will help them dry without as many wrinkles.

For long pants, pants stretchers can be used to help reduce wrinkles even more. Jeans should be hung toward the end of the line, near the post, so they don’t weigh the center of the clothesline down.

Clothesline Jeans

Socks and Underwear-

Hang socks by their toes. Thinner dress socks can be doubled up on one clothespin; thicker socks need to be hung individually. 

Underwear should be hung by their waistband with two clothespins and bras by one of the fastener ends with one pin. If you have more than one clothesline and you don’t want your neighbors to see, hang your undies between other longer hanging garments.

Clothesline Socks and Underwear


Do you have any tips to add? Would you like living in a time when you HAD to hang your clothes to dry? Why? Why not?

About Nelle

I am Nelle. I grew up in rural, small town, Ohio. When I was young, I learned a lot about homesteading from my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, 4-H, FFA, and others around me.
Now, I’m all grown up, have 6 children of my own, and plan to teach them everything I know.

Here on Mama’s Homestead, we talk and write about homesteading, homeschooling, and kidsteading (homesteading with kids). We teach our kids about survival, self-sufficiency, gardening (vegetable, herb, flower), orchard, beekeeping, home keeping, soap making, harvesting, cooking, food preservation, livestock, nature, crafts, homesteading tools and wares, and more…

Welcome to my homestead…come and learn with us!


  1. Nelle,
    This was an awesome tutorial for line drying…you will help so many newbies with this step by step guide! I learned to line dry from watching my mother and grandmother, I actually didn’t know what a dryer was until I had gotten married and our first rented house came with dryer. There is something very calming to me to go outside early in the morning to hang clothes. The start of a fresh day combined with fresh clean clothes is a perfect combination for me. Good job for on writing this detailed post!

    • Hi Tracy~
      Thank you! I love hanging clothes on the clothesline, watching the kids play around me, and hearing the birds sing. It’s so simple. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Great article! There is nothing like the smell of line dried sheets, and I really think one sleeps better too. My daughter once gave her girlfriend a “coupon” for “Country sunshine and air dried sheets” as a birthday present. The girlfriend loved it.

    • Thank you! I love the smell of line dried sheets. Yes! What a fun idea for a birthday present. Not everyone has the opportunity to hang their clothes (or sheets) out to dry in the sunshine. Sounds like a perfect, simple gift to me.


  1. […] is a fun game for all ages and it’s perfect for a hot summer day after you get your clothes on/off the line. It can be played three […]

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