How to Make a Retractable Clothesline


The backyard traditionally featured a large clothesline for drying and airing clothes. In today's society, residents in "space poor" dwellings such as apartments or townhouses, and who do not own a tumble dryer, require alternative solutions to dry their laundry. Folding frames, crucifix clotheslines, collapsible clothes horse and the single chord clothesline offer alternatives, yet require storage space. A retractable clothesline which operates on a pulley system offers a suitable, retractable space-saving solution on which to hang clothes. It can be raised or lowered to various heights and can be attached to the ceiling or a support beam inside or outside the house.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 meter length of pine (or ply), 7 1/2 inch x 3/4 inch (190mm x 20mm)
  • 3 lengths of doweling, 3/4-inch (20mm) diameter
  • 2 eye screws
  • 2 hook screws
  • 1-inch x 3/4-inch (20mm) single pulley
  • 1-inch x 3/4-inch (20mm) double pulley
  • 1 cleat
  • 8 to 10 meters of rope, 1/4-inch (6mm) diameter
  • Pencil
  • Saw
  • Drill and bits, 3/4-inch (20mm) auger
  • Hammer
  • Bullet head nails
  • Straight edge
  • Square
  • PVC glue
  • Saw the pine into two equal lengths, each 20 inches (500mm) long for the ends. Cut to shape. Use the pencil to mark out the positions to be drilled.

  • Clamp the pieces of pine together and saw to desired shape.

  • Drill holes to accommodate the 3/4-inch (20mm) diameter of the dowel. Sand edges. Using PVC glue, insert dowel into drilled holes on each end.

  • Hammer a bullet head nail through the frame into the dowel. Secure in place.

  • Anchor two eye hooks, approximately 6 feet (1800mm) apart, in desired position (preferably off a support beam) and hang both pulleys (place the single pulley furthest away from the anchor cleat).

  • Screw an eye bolt into the center of each end of the clothes line.

  • Tie rope into each eye bolt. Draw rope up and feed into first single pulley. Next, draw through double pulley. Tie off on cleat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Install the line approximately 2 1/3 inches (60mm) above eye level. Increase or decrease the size of the clothes line based on the amount of available hanging space, the number of people in a family and the weekly or daily load of clothes to be washed. Allow approximately 33 feet (10m) of line per person
  • Protect eyes from dust particles or splinters by wearing safety goggles.

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