A timeless topic, originally posted in 2009 at Simple Green Frugal Co-op.
Today I'm taking you into my basement to share how we line dry our laundry. We live on the top of a hill, and our basement is nice and dry. I actually find it remarkably bright and not so scary for an older house. By now most of you know my family lives on a pretty small piece of property; we don't have the best outdoor options for putting up a clothesline, so we brought it indoors! (2011 UPDATE: We have since found the space to have a clothesline outdoors, thankfully. It's great to have both options.)
We've lived in this house for about five years, this has been our main method of drying clothes for about half that time. Before that, we used those wooden collapsible drying racks. They definitely do not last long term, they can be flimsy (unless you spend a huge amount of money on the fancy ones), and they take up so much space... spread out from room to room. It is also nearly impossible to dry a quilt or sheets on them.
Before we move on, here's a little old house trivia... behind that door is a toilet. No sink, no tile floor, no walls to the ceiling. Just a very old style toilet on the cement floor. Many of the old homes in my neighborhood have them, nobody knows exactly why. The most common theories are: they are the original bathrooms to the houses, or they were put in during the Great Depression when it was common for folks in mill towns to take in boarders. If you have any thoughts on this, please share! It's a bit of a local mystery...
I asked my husband to build us something that could take the place of our portable wooden drying racks. We had a few discussions about the details... we decided the only new material we would purchase for the project was the length of clothesline, we simply didn't have that amount of rope on hand. The rest of the project was to be made entirely of supplies found already at the house. And there is quite a mix of supplies in here as a result. I think one of the stabilizers on the floor (in the front, top picture) is actually an old wooden curtain rod left by the previous owner.
A few more details... I wanted the rows of clothesline to stagger, similar to the design of those portable racks. Adam took this into consideration when he located and drilled the holes for the rope to be fed through. Staggered holes, staggered line. I also wanted it be wide enough to hang a quilt on, and it is! That is a pretty dreamy detail for an indoor laundry drying arrangement. And finally, I didn't want it to be too deep. I would need to reach back there! Well, all was achieved and we've been using this for almost three years now.
Looking at the photo above you'll notice a section of rope that is vertical, right in the front of the picture. When the frame was first in place, I thought Adam would just string each level individually and tie it off, then move down to the next. He explained that by running the rope continuously through the entire structure we would be able to untie it in one place should we ever need to "re-tighten" the whole thing as time passed. In the almost three years of use we've needed to re-tighten only once.
You can also see there are a few small hooks he put on the front. These are very useful for hanging ladies strappy things. :)
One more detail to note. Looking back at the top photo you can see he secured the framework to the ceiling rafters, and those braces on the floor are attached to the frame sides only, not the floor.
The measurements are: 78" wide (6 1/2 ft) x 19.5" deep. Approximately 117 linear feet of drying space!
I can easily hang three large loads of laundry on this drying rack.
The whole system works beautifully for us. Oh, in case you were wondering, my washing machine is just to the left of the screen in these photos. Everything about this is convenient as well as efficient. There is no correct way to do this, I bet if you look at the photos for a few minutes the wheels will start turning for how something like this could work in your home.