Clothes line

Clothes line

[klohz-lahyn, klohthz-]

A clothes line or washing line is any type of rope, cord, or twine that has been stretched between two points (e.g. two sticks), outside or indoors, above the level of the ground. Clothing that has recently been washed is hung along the line to dry, using clothes pegs or clothes pins. Washing lines are attached either from a post or a wall, and are frequently located in back gardens, or on balconies. Longer washing lines often have poles holding up sections in the middle due to the weight of the clothing.

In the past, zoning regulations prohibited their use ostensibly because they were sometimes associated with poverty or considered unaesthetic. However, more recently, environmental concerns and sky-rocketing energy costs have prompted many governments to pass "right-to-dry" laws allowing their use.

More elaborate rotary washing lines save space and are typically retractable and square or triangular in shape, with multiple lines being used. These can be folded up when not in use, although there is a hazard of getting fingers caught in the folding version, so there is usually a safety button involved.

In Scotland, many tenement buildings have a drying green — a communal area which, while it may be used as a recreational space, is predominantly a place with many clothes lines. In Australia, one may see examples of the Hills Hoist, a type of rotary clothes line built in that country, although other countries have their own design of rotary dryer.

Advantages of using a clothes line

  • Saves money for the user
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Makes clothes smell "clothesline fresh" without using chemicals
  • Clothing manufacturers say clothesline drying results in much less fabric wear and tear
  • Provides a source of exercise
  • Provides frequent, brief exposure of the skin to the sun (Vitamin D)
  • Clothes can dry more quickly on hot, dry days
  • Eliminates heating up the house with a mechanical clothes dryer
  • Reduces airborne lint
  • Eliminates the increased ambient noise from a mechanical clothes dryer
  • No risk of fire as from a mechanical clothes dryer
  • No risk of toxic fumes from gas-powered mechanical clothes dryer
  • No static cling
  • Clothes don't shrink

Disadvantages of using a clothes line

  • Clothes must be hung indoors during inclement weather
  • Neighbours may find it aesthetically unpleasant
  • Clothes can get dirty if they fall
  • With the absence of fabric softeners used with electric dryers, clothes hung on the lines tend to be stiff
  • Wind, temperature, and humidity can vary the drying time


In the United States, Florida, Colorado, and Utah have passed laws forbidding bans on clothes lines.

In Canada, the Province of Ontario lifted bans on clothes lines in 2008.


See also


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