How to Make a Retractable Clothesline

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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

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.


Step 1

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.

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Step 2

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

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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


Step 5

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).

Step 6

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

Step 7

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


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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