Are you looking forward to the long, sunshine filled days of summer? That sunshine can do more than just warm your skin and give you a daily dose of vitamin D. It can also dry and sanitize your laundry.

A clothesline is a very simple way to reduce energy usage and lower your budget. My family has seen an average savings of $50 per month on our electric bill since starting to use a clothesline. Even if weather or time constraints prevent you from hanging every load of laundry, it will offer you a significant savings.

A pulley clothesline is an easy and convenient solution for drying your clothes. While a fixed clothesline requires you to walk the length of the line, a pulley allows you to stand in one place while your clothes are moved further across your yard.

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This tutorial will show you how to install your own DIY clothesline in your backyard. It’s an easy project with a few simple steps.

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Install a clothesline with pulleys - cloth diapers drying on a clothesline

Purchase Your Supplies

Here is what I recommend for a 100 ft pulley clothesline:

2 Steal Screw Hooks – Amazon | Home Depot
4″ Clothesline Pulley – Amazon | Home Depot
200′ Braided Cotton Clothesline – Amazon | Home Depot
1 Clothesline Tightener – Amazon | Home Depot
100 Clothespins – Amazon | Home Depot
5-6 Clothesline Separators – Amazon | Home Depot

Selecting a Location

Selecting the proper location for your clothesline is a critical part of your installation. A popular and convenient location is a back deck, where the elevation will make it easy to keep the line off of the ground to prevent dragging clean laundry through the dirt.

Consider also how far you need to travel from your washing machine. You don’t want to carry a heavy basket of wet laundry several hundred feet to get to your clothesline. Again, it’s a bonus if your laundry room is adjacent to an elevated deck or step for easy use of a clothesline.

You will also want a location that receives enough full sun to sufficiently dry your clothes. If you typically hang laundry in the morning, you’ll want to make sure the area gets morning sun. The same is true if you typically wash laundry in the afternoon.

Avoid overhanging branches to prevent accidental bird droppings from soiling your clean laundry.

Will your neighbors be able to view what is hanging on your clothesline? Would you rather choose a more private location?

Once you have determined approximately where your clothesline will be located and where you will stand to hang your laundry, consider where your second pulley will be located. This will be the end of your clothesline.

Is there a tree or pole where you can attach a pulley? You’ll need to be able to hang your second pulley level or higher than the first. The higher you can place the second pulley, the better your chances for keeping your laundry out of the dirt.

The pulley for your clothesline should be anchored to a secure location like a stud on the house, tree, and/or telephone pole.

Hang Your Pulleys

Determine where you will hang your pulleys. Your first pulley should be just above your head at the location where you will stand and hang laundry. This is the beginning of your clothesline.

The hook is screwed into a stud and the pulley is attached to the hook. The other pulley should be 10 to 20 ft above the ground. Utility poles are a good option for hanging pulleys because you don’t have to worry about tree branches hanging above or shadowing your clothes.

You’ll want to use an electric drill to pre-drill the hole for your hook. Then, angle your long screwdriver in the hook to act as a handle as you twist the screw into the hole. Once your hook is secure in your clothesline supports, you can attach the pulley.

One end of the pulley clothesline should be anchored higher than the start of the clothesline, so clothes don't drag the ground.

Run Your Clothesline

Run your cotton clothesline through both pulleys, forming a loop. You can also string the line through your pulleys before hanging them on their hooks. Make sure the lines are straight and will pull easily.

A clothesline tensioner helps to keep the clothesline tight even after the cotton line stretches.

Install a Clothesline Tensioner

To keep your clothesline from sagging, you’ll want to make sure the line is as as tight as possible. This is difficult to do when you’re hand tying a knot.

A clothesline tightener uses bearings to help you put tension on your clothesline. It will allow you to tighten your clothesline as the rope begins to stretch with use, even while clothes are still on the line.

With the loop end of the tightener facing away from the top of the clothesline, tie one end of the clothesline to the clothesline tightener with a secure knot. Thread the other end through the middle, between the bearings.

If you have any trouble threading the clothesline, try wrapping a little bit of duct tape around the end. Now grip the tightener with one hand and pull the clothesline with the other hand until taut.

When you’re using your clothesline, you’ll load the clothesline starting at the tightener and the top pulley. Your clothesline is full when the tightener stops at the bottom pulley.

You will have to tighten the clothesline the first several uses as it stretches. This is completely normal. The clothesline tightener will make it much easier for one person to do this by themselves. You can also tighten the clothesline while it is full of wet clothes.

Our first clothesline did not have a tensioner. Hubby and I could barely tighten the line with the two of us, especially while clothes were hanging on the line. I cannot recommend this device highly enough.

Laundry is hung on the clothesline with clothespins. The fabric can be overlapped to fit more laundry on the line.

Hang Your Clothes to Dry

When pinning the laundry, fold some of the fabric over the clothesline before adding the pin. This will give the fabric a better grip on the clothesline and prevent it from falling to the ground when the wind blows.

You can also overlap your clothes slightly so they can share pins, and allow space on your line for more clothes.

Install a clothesline separator between clothing items every 10-20 ft to keep the clothesline from sagging too much. A long clothesline that is allowed to sag will cause the laundry to drag the ground, especially when it is wet.

Towels and jeans, which are heavier when wet, will need separators closer together than diapers and t-shirts.

How to Install a Clothesline with Pulleys

How to Install a Clothesline with Pulleys

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $60

This tutorial will show you how to install your own DIY clothesline in your backyard. It’s an easy project with a few simple steps.


  • 2 Steal Screw Hooks
  • 4″ Clothesline Pulley
  • 200′ Braided Cotton Clothesline
  • 1 Clothesline Tightener
  • 100 Clothespins
  • 5-6 Clothesline Separators


  • Electric Drill
  • Ladder
  • Long Screwdriver


  1. Selecting a sunny location free of overhanging branches where privacy will not be a concern.
  2. Drill holes where you want to hang the the pulleys for the top and bottom of your clothesline. Use a long screwdriver to help screw the hooks into the holes. Hang the pulleys onto the secure hooks.
  3. Run the clothesline through the pulleys, forming a loop.
  4. Tie the clothesline tightener to the end of the clothesline coming from the bottom pulley. Pull the clothesline coming from the top pulley through the bearings in the center of the tightener. Pull the clothesline tight. Tie off the end of the clothesline. You can trim the clothesline if there is considerable excess.
  5. Use clothespins to hang wet laundry on your newly installed clothesline. Utilize clothesline separators every 10-20 ft to keep the clothesline from sagging.

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