How to Build a Clothesline; Savings and a Throwback

I have such wonderful childhood memories that revolve around basic homesteading chores. One of which was hanging the laundry out on the clothesline. Everywhere I move, I build a clothesline. Of course, for electricity savings but I think also for nostalgic reasons. I always loved hanging out the laundry with my Mimi and then gathering it back up. I even have fun memories of running out there really fast when we heard the thunder of and unexpected rainstorm!

How to Build a Clothesline

build a clothesline, two oaks farmstead

Post with stakes and boards screwed on to keep it plum

build a clothesline, two oaks farmstead

Cemented post

The first step in building a clothesline is to determine the best placement. The main things that you want here are sun and wind exposure but, if you have farm animals, you might wanna stay upwind! Other than that, your placement is whatever you feel is best.

Plan it out and Cement it in!

Step 1. Once you determine placement, measure out your planned distance. (Between your two posts) Knowing your correct measurement is important so that you know how much cable that you will need.

Step 2. Get to digging! I hate post hole digging and so does my husband, but since he is much taller and stronger than I, he draws the short straw every time. Our ground is full of clay and very hard to dig. We typically have to get it started, then pour water into the holes and let it soak. Hole digging in our area ends up taking a while.

build a clothesline, two oaks farmstead

Clothesline arm with steel brackets for strength

build a clothesline, two oaks farmstead

Clothesline arm with eye screws, and cable attached with tensioners

Step 3. Once your holes are dug, you can cement your posts into them. As for posts, we used 4x4x8 posts that we happened to have. We sunk them about 2ish feet into the ground. It is very important to plum your posts and stake them down before adding concrete. The best way to do this is to screw a board onto your posts on two sides, as pictured, and drive a stake into the ground next to it. Use a level to plum the post in both directions and then screw the board to the stake. This makes your post very solid and it will hold it still while the concrete is setting up.

Step 4. Add the concrete mix. You can do this a couple different ways. You could put some water in the hole, then pour in the mix, then more water and stir. Or you could do it like we did. We mixed it in a wheel barrow and poured it in already mixed. Once the concrete is in the hole, take a stick and poke it all the way around to make sure there aren’t any air pockets.

Build and Tighten

build a clothesline, two oaks farmstead

The other end of our clothesline, no tensioners, just eye screws

Step 5. Once your concrete has set up, (typically the next day), you can add the arms to your posts. This can be done in a variety of ways. What we opted for was a 4x4x4 post, laid across the top of our cemented post and then attached with steel brackets for strength. (This is also the simplest way to make a strong connection.)

Step 6. You have to determine how many lines you will have going across and place eye screws. (Be sure to pre-drill the holes to get them started or you might end up doing this for quite a while.)

Step 7. Run your cable from eye to eye. Depending on how long your cable is, you could kind of zig-zag it. You will need a tensioner on each cable to be sure to get it stretched tight. (Just a note. Your cables will stretch and you will have to retighten them. The tensioner comes in very handy there!)


build a clothesline, two oaks farmstead

Completed clothesline, before removing stakes and boards.

Step 8. Start hanging out that laundry! Enjoy the benefits of fresh air, sunny skies and less electricity use!

Now there are certainly ways to enjoy a clothesline without having to go through so much work. There are also clotheslines out there that are quite self contained and don’t take up so much room. I’m aware that some don’t have enough outside space to build a ¬†clothesline like ours and there are really great ones out there that will work for you too!




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