Today I'm not going to talk about all the good reasons to have a clothesline. I'm just going to tell you that you need one and they are really easy to hang. Here's what you need:
a length of wire or cord (I highly recommend plastic-coated clothesline wire)
2 screw eyes, screw hooks, or one of each
1 turnbuckle (optional but very nice)
2 sturdy vertical objects to attach clothesline to (trees, posts, the side of the house, a fence, etc)
Don't know what screw eyes, screw hooks, and turnbuckles are? They look like this:
First of all, figure out where to locate your clothesline. Direct sun might be important if you live in a very damp, cool climate. Here in Austin I can totally get away with shaded clotheslines and my clothes still dry in an hour in the summertime. We have lots of trees out back so I strung all my lines between trees here. At our last house I strung my line between a garden shed and a wooden fence on the opposite side of the yard. When I lived in Madison I had the good fortune to have two old-fashioned T-shaped clothesline posts. Just look for solid, sturdy objects that can support the weight of a line full of wet clothes.
You can string a clothesline with virtually any cording or wire but you want to make sure it won't rust or sag horribly. Cotton cord is awful for sagging. Some braided wires rust (galvanized shouldn't). The plastic-coated clothesline wire is pretty great stuff and costs less than $10 for 100 feet.
Now you need to figure out how to attach your clothesline to the endpoints. My preferred method is to use a screw eye or screw hook on one end and another screw eye/screw hook plus a turnbuckle on the other end. Using a turnbuckle allows you to adjust the tension on the line, both when you install the line and later as the line stretches over time.
1) Install first screw eye/screw hook.
2) Loop one end of the clothesline wire through the screw eye and wrap around itself to secure like this:
3) Install second screw eye/screw hook and turnbuckle. (Make sure the turnbuckle is open at least halfway so that you can tighten it later.)
4) Pull clothesline wire up to attach to the turnbuckle, wrapping it around itself as you did before, like this:
5) Tighten turnbuckle to make clothesline taut. Don't tighten it so much that you create a weapon, but get it nice and taut so your clothesline won't sag when the clothes are on it.
All you need now is some clothespins and wet laundry! Wood clothespins last a lot longer than the junky plastic ones. The plastic ones get very brittle in the sun and they eventually break. I used to have a cute clothespin bag that my mom made for me. It hung on the line from an old coat hanger and held all the pins. After it wore out I started keeping the pins in a little cotton bag that I hang on my right shoulder and I have found that to be much more efficient. (It’s the yellow Café Bustelo bag in the photos.) I don't have to reach as high for the pins and I don't have to move the bag along the line.
I have had a clothesline in my yard for almost my entire life. It wasn't until this week, however, that I had a child-sized clothesline. As soon as we moved into this house Mr. Chanclas strung up two regular-sized clotheslines out back. They're only about 50 feet from my greywater washing machine so they are pretty convenient. This week I grabbed some of the leftover plastic-coated wire and added a short, low third line for the kids to use. The kids loved hanging napkins and other small items on it. If your little kids have trouble pinching the clothespins properly just show them how the clothespin is like a little alligator and you have to pinch his tail to make him open his mouth.
I’m planning to make a much longer kid-height clothesline so I can add hanging clothes to the chore list! (Insert evil laughter here.)