DIY Folding Clothesline – Sturdier for a fraction of the price

004I’ve always liked hanging laundry out to dry – sure it’s a bit more work than tossing them in the dryer but it’s cheaper, the clothes last longer and they smell better.

When I moved into my current home a number of years ago there was no outside clothesline.  When I started examining the options I quickly dismissed both the long line and the square lines that sit in the middle of the lawn as too intrusive.  Instead I wanted a clothesline that could be bolted to the side of my garage and folded out of the way when not needed.

Folding Clothesline stowed flat

Folding Clothesline stowed flat

Now there does exist such a creature – a few models in fact – but all of them are rather pricey and some looked downright delicate.  Delicate is a definite non-starter here, I wanted to be able to load it up with a few loads of laundry without worrying about the potential for collapse.

So, instead of buying I build and installed an alternative in an afternoon from materials I had on hand.  Over the past seven years it has served exceptionally well – especially considering its low cost and the little time needed to fabricate and install it.

The heart of the unit is a frame made from 1 1/2″ angle iron – in this case the material is actually from bedframes that folks have tossed out.  The frame is made up of two segments 7′ long and another two segments 3′ long.  The two three foot segments form the sides of the frame while one 7′ segment forms one end, and the other 7′ segment forms the other end – but is inset 4″ from the end of the 3′ sides. Welding the frame together is a quick and easy matter.

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Measurement along the side of the frame for the folding clothesline

This frame is bolted at one end to the portions of the assembly that are bolted to the house.  These were made from some 3″ alumimum angle – but steel material could just as easily suffice.  If you have only narrower material that will work just fine, but you’ll want to install a wood spacer behind it to allow the clothes frame to pivot freely rather than bind against the house.

In my case I fixed 2×6 members to the wall since my studs didn’t line up with the spots for the placement of the fixed pieces.

You’ll need to loosely bolt the clothesline frame to the piece of angle that will be fixed to the house.  Another bolt or block needs to be secured at the lower end of the fixed piece of angle to hold up the free end of the arm that is bolted to the far end of the frame.

Fixed portion of the folding clothesline

Fixed portion of the folding clothesline

In my case this arm is 39 3/4″ long, but frankly this was established with all the other pieces in place and measuring the length of member needed to hold the frame level.

When everything is ready drill holes 4″ apart on the sides of the frame.  Then bolt everything in place and paint any steel pieces to protect against rust.  My preferred paint in this application is aluminum anti-rust paint.  It will last for several years and does a really effective job while also being cheap.

When the paint is dry thread your clothesline through the holes and get ready to hang your first load of laundry out.

If you don’t have a welder you can use angle iron to bolt the frame together, but if you look at the price of buying a commercial folding clothes line compared to the price of a wire feed welder from a place like Harbor Freight or Princess Auto it will become clear quickly that you can pay for the welder and needed safety kit on the basis of this project alone – and wire feed welders are exceptionally easy to use so don’t let that dissuade you. After this project I am sure you’ll start envisioning more potential projects for your new-found skills around your home or homestead.