Adorn your backyard with an old-fashioned clothesline, made from 4×4 posts and cotton rope; everything you need to build the country laundry icon. -Full directions with hardware list-
Part of the Old-Fashioned Summer Blog Hop with friends*
I always wanted a clothesline adorning a country farmhouse backyard, simple linens and blue jeans swaying in the breeze.
BUT J.R. (my husband) did not share the same sentiment. He would rather NOT have another thing to mow around (or under) on our property. So this little dream detail was pushed further down the honey-do list.
A year or more passes, I insisted I wanted a clothesline for my 34th birthday. (I also asked for a pressure canner; A girl with big homesteading wishes lol)
So we bought all the materials (despite his resistance) and built the outdoor clothesline in its entirety in two days. By day 3, I was hanging every piece of laundry I could get clean on those cotton ropes.
By day 6, I had every linen in our house clean. Empty laundry hampers, y’all! There was so much clean laundry it didn’t fit in our closets. 😝 Naturally, J.R. wondered where all those shirts came from, and decided he liked the clothesline after all.
Moral of the story; birthday gifts can be DIY projects. Husbands don’t know what they like. And a clothesline will undeniably add an old-fashioned nostalgia to your yard AND lifestyle. WORTH IT!
Why in the world do you want a clothesline?
- Both of my grandmothers had a clothesline. Hanging clothing outside to dry feels like a forgotten memory, as though I get to revisit simpler times.
- It allows me to shorten my laundry times; less waiting on my dryer to stop running. I can do MORE laundry in a single day than I ever could before having a clothesline.
- Saves electricity; more money in our pocket longterm.
- I get to spend more of my day in the warm sunshine, instead of being cooped up in the house.
- The laundry feels crisp and smells fresher than any fabric softener could.
- I notice more details about our clothing, and I care for it more closely. Thus, clothing items will last longer.
- Sunshine helps remove stains.
- If clothes are hung correctly, you won’t have to iron them. At all.
- I enjoy keeping my neighbor’s guessing, “What is she doing now??” lol.
- I can stage pretty quilts on the lines while I photograph my porch and swing. (insert eye roll…but you know that will be sooooo charming.)
Denim Jeans dried on a clothesline will literally stand on their own. They will dry so “crisp,” you will question if they are made of splintered wood. Ironically, J.R. says this is exactly how he likes jeans. Stiff and uncomfortable for the win. Whatever you like, honey.
Towels…white fluffy towels are not possible on a clothesline. They will be crunchy, ready to abrasively exfoliate (and dry) all of yourself. I can say I value this trait in a wash cloth. I no longer need face scrubs. hehe.
To combat the few crunchy clothes, you can always toss the dry clothes into the electric dryer for a few minutes to soften them. Yes, I know this just added another step. BUT it’s worth it. The towels will smell fresh line-dried, but regain softness. Trust the process! Or have crunchy towels, up to you.
Sometimes you will have to flick away bugs, tiny beetles or maybe a june bug. But no fear. Just give everything a shake before you toss them into the basket. Hey, bugs like the new backyard addition too.
Last downfall, clotheslines are dependent on the weather. You must watch for rain, and be ready to run out there if a pop-up shower arrives. Clotheslines are also very seasonal. Late Spring after pollen has subsided through Fall are your ideal times for drying clothing outside.
How did you Build it?
Have you ever considered installing a clothesline in your backyard? Keep scrolling for the complete DIY tutorial: How to build an old-fashioned post & rope country clothesline. Note: J.R. will demonstrate most of the steps. I will let you determine whether he is enjoying building my birthday gift.
Build your own Old-Fashioned ClotheslinePrint Recipe
- 4 8' 4×4 posts, ground-contact treated lumber Cut List: 2- keep 8' long; 1- cut into 2, 4' lengths; 1- cut into 4, 2' lengths (45 degree ends)
- 6 eye bolts
- 3 turnbuckles
- 4 8-10" screws
- 16 3" decking screws
- 2-4 bags quikrete
- 100' feet clothesline rope
- Gather hardware and materials.
- Mark the distance of your clothesline. We spaced our posts 25’ apart.
- Dig two posts holes at the designated locations, approximately 2’4” deep. The ideal height of the finished post (with cross beam is 6’ tall. Dig accordingly.
- Set 8’ post in the center of the hole.
- Fill around post with quikrete, use the recommendation on the bag for amount.
- Using a level, be sure post is straight and plumb. Add water to hole. Allow quikrete to set up, following the bag directions.
- Repeat for second post.
- While Quikrete is setting up, cut remaining posts according to cut list. Cut List: Cut one 4×4 into 2, 4' lengths; Cut other 4×4 into 4, 2' lengths (with 45 degree ends)
- From your cut list, select the 2, 4’ cross beams.
- Add a decorative corner to the bottom ends of each cross beam by cutting a 45 degree angle, approximately 1.5” x 1.5”.
- Determine the spacing of your lines. We chose to do 3 lines, outside lines spaced 6.5” from the ends, middle rope on center.
- Drill the line locations according to the eye bolt diameter. Add eye bolts and loosely tighten. (We will firm them down later.)
- Set the cross beam center on top of your upright posts.
- Attach them to the upright post with 2, 8-10” screws.
- Repeat on second post.
- Next, attach the angled support beams (the 2’ 45 degree posts, from the cut list).
- Attach them using 2 decking screws, top and bottom.
- Paint or stain your posts as desired. I used 1 coat of Zinsser primer and 2 coats of outdoor paint, in Sherwin Williams Pure White.
- Unroll the clothesline rope, tying one secure knot at one eye bolt…we used a poacher’s knot. Advice: research a good knot on youtube and tie accordingly.
- Here is where it gets tricky. Getting adequate tension on the rope. Pull the rope as tight as you can and tie it to the opposite eyebolt. Hang something heavy on the line (I used a quilt).
- Then PULL the line at one end to determine the slack in your line. We had approximately 1.5’ of slack. Cut the line now, noting the amount of slack.
- Tie the turn-buckle on the line where the slack was determined. Use the same knot you used on the eyebolts.
- Hook the turnbuckle on the eyebolt.
- Now, you may think that is sufficient tension. But it isn’t. We need to keep tightening.
- Now, tighten the eyebolts into the cross beam as deep as they will go. Sink them, both ends.
- Then, tighten the turnbuckles. Your line needs to be extremely taut.
- Test the tension now with that same quilt.
- If you still have slack, try continuing to tighten the turnbuckles. If that isn’t enough, repeat steps 20-26. You may need to cut more of your line to remove the remaining slack.
- Overtime, the ropes will loosen and break down. Tighten them or replace as necessary.
Now that your outdoor clothesline is built, don’t forget the accessories!
Carry a pretty wicker laundry basket: Amish Large Laundry Basket, Water Hyacinth Basket, Jumbo Oval Wicker Basket, Round Wicker Basket.
Grab your clothespins: Wooden Peg Clothespins (vintage inspired), Wooden Clamp-Style Clothespins, Wire Clothespins
Use a Canvas Clothespin bag to keep track of all your pins.
Wear a Cross Back Apron to immerse yourself in the country lifestyle. And just feel special.
Project Source Links:
Add these to your cart to simplify the process-
- Clothesline Rope
- Large Screws for cross beams
- Decking Screws for support beams
Feel free to save images for later on Pinterest, and follow me on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.
And be sure to check out more old-timey summer inspo from friends below!
More Old Fashioned Summer Inspiration
The Tattered Pew | Eleanor Rose Home | Midwest Life and Style | Green Valley Gable | Our Tiny Nest Blog | White & Wood Grain
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I absolutely adored this blog post Stacey! My mom would always hang our clothes out to dry in the summer and they always smelled so good when they were done drying. I had no idea the sun helped to remove stains! I also loved your sheets. Pinning for later!
I love this idea, Stacey. I wish we had space for one in our backyard. It looks exactly like the one my grandparents had on their farm, right down to the design and white paint. Definitely the quintessential nostalgic farmhouse must-have.
Maybe someday when we have my dream average I can talk my hubby into building me one. I’ve pinned your tutorial in hopes I can put it to good use someday!
There is nothing better than tucking into bed after a long day with freshly laundered sheets that were nun out on the clothes line to dry. That is THE sleep.
Brittany Hutchison says
Ok you have me convinced!! I need a clothesline! Also you are so right, my husband also doesn’t know what he likes until I show him! I so enjoyed this post Stacey!
Ok this is just the sweetest! And oh so practical too. I too also love to keep my neighbors guessing. Ha! Enjoy it my friend and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your summer!