20 Energy Saving, Eco-Friendly DIY Clothesline Idea



In today’s world, people are becoming ever more conscious of the ways their behavior impacts the planet. Everything we consider a modern convenience, from electricity right down to how we do our laundry, can hurt the environment. 

One way to reduce your carbon footprint is to build your own DIY clothesline. Of course, you can buy pre-made, but making your own costs less money, especially since you can use, reuse, or repurpose things you already have on hand. Here are twenty eco-friendly DIY clothesline ideas to get started. 

Important Details to Consider When Setting up a DIY Clothesline

While a DIY clothesline may sound self-explanatory, it’s more complicated than merely stringing up some line and hanging clothes from it. Here’s what you need to consider when thinking up clothesline ideas.

Clothesline Size

Think about how much space you have and how much you need. Chances are, you’ll have to weigh one against the other, but it doesn’t limit you as much as you might think. For instance, just because you live on a postage-stamp-sized lot doesn’t mean you can only dry three items at a time.

You should also consider how much laundry you plan to hang from your DIY clothesline. The weight of the clothes alone can determine what size and type of clothesline option is best.

Types of Materials to Use

Wood is the easiest material to work with when building a clothesline even if you’re building a folding line or drying rack. If you’re creating an outdoor clothesline, though, pressure-treated wood works better than regular wood unless you plan to seal the wood against the elements.

Also, cotton line stays cleaner for longer than nylon or plastic line. It’s prone to stretching and sagging sooner, but you’re less likely to end up with a weird line across your light-colored laundry. Cotton is both eco-friendly and cheap.

Additional Options

Clotheslines take up space, so a retractable or pulley clothesline can work when you don’t have room for a permanent one. 

Multi-line drying racks increase the amount of line on which to dry your clothing. Whether you have a small yard or just a patio, or need a space-saving indoor clothesline, having multiple lines gives you that space.

Free DIY Clothesline Ideas to Consider

You have a variety of DIY clothesline ideas to choose from whether you need them outdoors or indoors, lots of space or very little. 

Wooden T-Post Clothesline
Wren Everett / Insteading
T-post DIY clothesline ideas are the most common, and you can build one using extra landscaping wood or other wood you have in your garage. Pressure-treated lumber is better, but if you seal what you’ve got, you should be okay.

Find the plans at Hobby Farms
Two Trees Clothesline

If you have two trees positioned so the ground between them gets a lot of sun, you can string up a cotton clothesline between them. Be sure to avoid using anything you have to screw into the trees, though, because you don’t want to harm them. 

DIY Clothesline From Swing Set

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If you’re able to source an old swing set, you can transform it into a DIY clothesline! Paint it white or customize it to add a pop of color to your backyard.

Plant Hanger Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Homestead Revival

Lots of people have hangers installed on their homes to secure hanging plant baskets. You can string up a clothesline between them for a quick, easy drying line that’s nearly invisible. For people who have minimal space or whose HOAs won’t let them have regular clotheslines, this may be a good alternative.

Find the plans at Homestead Revival
Fence-to-Fence Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Mom Colored Glasses
This type of DIY clothesline requires very few materials and can stretch across your yard or across a corner. Or both. All you need are a few materials and two sturdy fences.

Find the plans at Mom Colored Glasses
Disguised Post Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Liberated Gardener

This DIY clothesline is a cross between a standard T-post and garden trellis line. Using wood you already have or decorative posts, you can disguise your clothesline posts as garden ornaments. The easiest way to build them is to cut the wood decoratively, and then make a T-post line.

Find the plans at Liberated Gardener
Fence-Mounted Clothesline

You can build a compact, multi-line rack on a fence with just a few materials including repurposed or recycled wood. As long as your fence is stable and strong, you shouldn’t have a problem using it for this type of drying rack.

Pulley Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Practically Functional
DIY pulley clotheslines give you the ability to move your line as you hang things up and take them down. The pulleys allow you to take it down when you aren’t using them so they aren’t in the way of anything else you do outside.

Find the plans at Practically Functional
PVC Pipe Clothesline

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Do you have leftover PVC pipe from other home improvement or repair project? If you’re saving it because you don’t want it in a landfill, you can repurpose some of it to build a T-post clothesline.

Find the plans at Hunker
Retractable Clothesline

Retractable clotheslines work well for people who have extremely limited space or don’t want to deal with permanent structures. Pull them out when you need them and reel them in when you don’t.

Fold-Down Deck Post Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Instructables

A deck makes an excellent place for a clothesline, but you probably don’t want it there 100 percent of the time. This clothesline uses posts that fold down when not in use, giving you full use of your deck when you’re not doing laundry.

Find the plans at Instructables
Outdoor Foldable Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Enduring Technology Press
You can build one of these clotheslines using repurposed rods from old bed frames or other discarded furnishings. It’s suitable for the side of your house, garage, or shed, and it doesn’t take up nearly the amount of space traditional clotheslines do.

Find the plans at Enduring Technology Press
House-to-Post Clothesline

With a few pieces of extra two-by-four, two-by-six, or other structural boards or posts, you can build a clothesline, with or without pulleys, that goes from the side of your house to the end of your patio or deck, or somewhere out in your yard. 

Upcycled Plastic Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Viajar & Amar
This may not go well with our recommendation that you use cotton. Still, if you’re building indoor clotheslines (especially temporary ones) you can reuse plastic shopping bags to do so.

Find the plans at Viajar & Amar
Retractable Multi-Line Indoor Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Just About Home

For people with tiny laundry rooms, anchoring retractable clotheslines inside cabinets can give you the line-drying you desire without taking up precious space.

Find the plans at Just About Home
Simple Indoor Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Don’t Waste the Crumbs

With a little hardware and a rarely-used space, you can put up a clothesline anywhere in your house. Depending on where you put it, you can make it retractable, removable, or permanent.

Find the plans at Don’t Waste the Crumbs
Indoor Basement Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Lady Goats
For this project, you merely need scraps of wood, even if it’s just 3/4-inch plywood. With that and some handy rope or cotton line, you can make a multi-line retractable rack anywhere in your basement.

Find the plans at Lady Goats
Crib Spring Indoor Drying Rack
Photo Courtesy of A Diamond in the Stuff

This isn’t a clothesline per se, but it’s a great way to repurpose the springs from an old crib. Suspend it from the ceiling with some chain and eye bolts, and hang your clothes from it.

Find the plans at A Diamond in the Stuff
Space-Efficient Indoor Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of Lifehacker
This is similar to the indoor basement clothesline — with a twist. It’s not retractable, but you can create more than a dozen drying lines. The design is adaptable enough that you can use any shape space.

Find the plans at Lifehacker
Closet Clothesline
Photo Courtesy of today’s Mama
You can string up a simple line along the ceiling in a laundry closet and line dry your clothes indoors but out of the way of everything else.

Find the plans at Today’s Mama

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