Mary Russell first inspired me to consider going solar in the clothes drying department, but her inspiration fell short of me taking action. Then my sister-in-law, Judi, kicked in. She lives on a farm and hanging out laundry is part of her lifestyle. Still, no action on my part. Despite the exhilarating smell of fresh clothes (you know it's true), bridging the chasm between not having a clothesline and my lazy, hypocritical butt has been too far a stretch. Plus I'm an obsessive compulsive freak when it comes to physical surroundings. I see houses as art. A droopy clothesline would drive me to distraction.
All that said, I am pleased to report that my problem is solved. Earlier this year, I installed the clothesline of my dreams.
This is the simplest and most beautiful clothesline I can imagine. And the whole thing costs less than $15.
- Hooks - 4
- Inexpensive clothesline rope - 50 ft
- Small rope U-clamp - 1
- Closet pole (ten feet) - 1
- Tools required - cordless drill with 1/4 bit
How to get it done
First decide where you'd like to have a new piece of functional art around your house or apartment. Just look for a triangle of three connection points where there's good sun for at least part of the day.
In our case, the installation stretches across the driveway, with two hooks on trees and one on the house. One tree hook and two house hooks would work just fine, too. Use a cordless drill to make starter holes for the hooks. The fourth hook goes at the top of the clothesline pole. More on that later.
To install your new clothesline art, tie one end of the rope to one of your hooks, then stretch it loosely to the other two hooks. Don't cut the rope until you decide where the middle of your clothesline will be. The "middle" is where you will put your clothesline pole.
My "middle" is closer to one tree, as shown, but that's just a choice I made. It could have been anywhere. Play around with different locations.
I know you're thinking ... clothesline pole? Trust me. The clothesline pole is the coolest part of this system. It's striking as a design element, ... and it's essential for full functioning.
Once you know where your middle will be, use the clamp to form a Y shape in the rope, with the bottom of the Y being doubled up as shown. You'll also be able to use the clamp to create tension on the rope, just by sliding it "up" the Y.
The pole story
If your triangle of sun involves a driveway or parking area, you run the risk of clothes interfering with access. Having a clothesline pole allows you to lift both clothes and line way above the cars, yet lower it down for ease of hanging. My wife Jane is five feet tall, and this system works perfectly for her. The bottom of the pole is just sitting on the ground. No holes to dig, no nothing. Just a wooden pole pressed held up by tension of a single rope.
People have been using clothesline poles forever, but usually they're holding up long, droopy lines. In this case, sliding the clamp along the rope allows you to tighten the line so that it feels architectural and crisp. Having that sense of design is what made this work for me.
It's not often we come across something cheap, attractive and functional that makes it so easy to do the right thing.