Clotheslines Rock!

Here’s an example of AH (accidental hippy).

Emily and I had just moved into our first house, a foreclosure, with terrible wallpaper, aluminum wiring, HORRIBLE carpet, basement leaks, and an absolutely godawful kitchen. It was so bad that it makes me think that someone read a book called “Terrible Tile Travesties” alongside of a book called “Tile Colors-who needs ’em when you have cheap paint!?!?”

Did I mention that the wallpaper had also been painted?

Pro tip for any “Intentional” Hippies:
If your house needs a complete remodel, don’t try to live in it and remodel at the same time. It can be done, but living without a kitchen for three weeks means you eat lots of tasty, greasy, terrible-for-every-system-in-your-body-foods.

God I love $5 Hot and Readies!

Regardless, you would think that with this many projects, we would start with one of those above, right? Wrong.

The first Home Improvement project we completed? A clothesline. Yep. The first thing we made was an apparatus to hang our underwear out in public. For the record, I do this on a regular basis, but Mrs. AH has never done this. She still insists on using that money-sucking-electric-wasting invention known as a “dryer”, and is currently giving me the evil eye for mentioning this fact…

Check out this post about dryers by a major inspiration of ours, Mr Money Mustache.

The upshot of all this? We didn’t initially build the clothesline to save money. We did it because I grew up with lined dried clothes, and the rough feeling and absorbency of line-dried bath towels can’t be replaced. I love to feel like the water isn’t just being dried off, but also scraped. My skin too. Really, I love line dried towels! You know they’re dry when they make crinkly sounds as you fold them!

Anyway, here’s a present shot of our clothesline. This is 4+ years in, by the way!


As a bonus, line drying is great for cloth diapers!


Funny, that shot only shows the pocket diapers and covers for the pre-folds. No actual pre-folds. Pre-fold cloth diapers FTW, by the way.

“What do I need to build this wonderful, money saving, green/solar energy, great towel producing gift from God?”

Before we get to the answer, we all assume that you are an adult, who follows the following instructions at their own risk. For god’s sake, if you don’t know how to use a tool, DON’T USE IT. You could cut your arm off, or get a splinter in your eye, or something else equally as horrible.

On to the answer!

The answer:

3 pressure treated 4″X4″X8′ posts

1 pressure treated 2″X4″X8′

1 80 lb bag of concrete

Some 3/16″ coated steel wire (length varies with the size of your project) (this is for your actual clothesline. Don’t buy real “clothesline,” it stretches and breaks. This is steel, and ours is in great shape 4 YEARS in)

Some eye screws (preferably coated somehow, to prevent/inhibit rust)

4 galvanized steel “Ts”

6 bolts that fit the “Ts” and their associated nuts

16 screws for the angle braces, preferably exterior grade

Post hole digger


Tape measure (optional)

Speed square (not optional)

To show my now more ingrained hippy-ness, I kind of wish that I had built this with cedar, which is like pressure treated lumber in that it doesn’t rot, but is UN-like pressure treated lumber in that it’s CEDAR. Beautiful cedar, the stuff that’s been making blankets smell great for thousands of years.

The process is simple-figure out where the sun shines the longest in your yard, during the summer, and guesstimate where your clothesline will look the best. Dig two holes, 2′ to 3′ deep, as far apart as you want, which is how you’ll determine how much steel line you need. Our posts are around 25′ apart, so we have approximately 100′ of coated steel line, as we have 4 lines run between the posts. Also, coated steel line is pretty cheap, and lasts approximately as long as the dinosaurs have been dead.

Next, saw one of the pressure treated posts in half. Use one half as the cross beam on top of one post, the other half on top of the other. Just set it on top, and get it square with your speed square, and then mount it there with your “T” and bolts. If it wiggles a little, don’t worry, but if it’s a lot, you might need to move your bolt holes and try again.

There’s some complicated measuring you can do to really make this nice, but just take your 2X4 and cut out 4 pieces with a 45 degree cut.  For those of you bad at math, that’s a 45 degree cut every two feet.  Be aware that these will be put up as angle supports, INSIDE the corners between your vertical post and cross bar. Make sure you “face” the angles appropriately. Think trapezoid instead of parallelogram. Attach these in the corners with screws, and then add your eye screws on the cross bar. Here’s a picture of all that:


Next, set your posts in the holes you dug. You can plumb these with a level if you want, but this is a clothesline, not the Taj Majal. Pour half the bag of concrete, dry, into each hole. Make sure the posts look “straight” from as many angles as you can contemplate (I did this part while taking a break for a cold beverage), and then pack the dirt you dug out on top of your concrete. Check for straightness again. Water. You know, with a hose. It helps the concrete to set up. Only use enough water that the ground is wet, thinking about soaking through the dirt to the concrete, not enough that it turns into a mud pit.

After a few days, the posts should be relatively set and sturdy. Do not string the line too early, as then your posts sag. When you do string your lines, I’d recommend staking your posts, in the opposite direction of the lines. This stake is a pain to mow around, but that’s why God made weedeaters.

I never worried about the tension of my lines (there’s a whole market for clothesline “tensioners”). The concern people have is that the line will sag under the weight of wet clothes. This is why these were invented:


If you don’t have fancy pants clothesline poles like we do–which were free from my grandmother–then modify some walking sticks or something. Even steel line stretches, and constant tension makes your poles sag, anyway.

Well, there you have it!



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Why We Cloth Diaper

Heck, why not?

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