The 7 Best Clotheslines of 2023

Our top pick is the Whitmor Retractable Dryer.

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Sheets on a clothesline


In most homes, a clothes dryer is a major energy guzzler, so making the switch to a clothesline system, even just some of the time, can save households a significant amount on energy bills. In addition, clotheslines are gentler on garments, helping to preserve size and quality longer than a hot, tumbling electric dryer.

Clotheslines can be easily made by reusing extra rope or cords that you have in the home, although it's good to be thoughtful about the material because some are too thin for large loads, may fray and leave fragments on clothes, or can rust or stain garments if made from wire. If you don't want to DIY, there are plenty of clothes-drying products available, including space-saving alternatives such as retractable clotheslines, pulleys, and reversible umbrellas. 

After researching the options, here are the best clotheslines.

Best Overall

Whitmor 5 Line Retractable Dryer

Whitmor 5 Line Retractable Dryer

Courtesy of Amazon

Whitmor specializes in innovative, space-saving products for the home, and this retractable dryer rack can be used indoors or out. It's ideal for laundry or powder rooms, covered porches, and balconies. The rack is a hybrid between a traditional retractable line and a fixed, multi-line clothing rack.

The five cords can expand up to 34 feet for a total of 170 feet of drying line to maximize space. When not being used, it simply retracts back into the holster, so you can reclaim that space in the home or yard. Installation is fairly easy, and hardware is included.

Price at time of publish: $91

Best Rope

T.W Evans Evandale Cotton Clothesline

T.W Evans Evandale Cotton Clothesline

Courtesy of Amazon

For a classic clothesline to be effective, a high-quality rope is essential, and this rope clothesline from T.W Evans Cordage is durable and cost-efficient. Made of cotton with a synthetic core, the off-white rope has solid braiding that doesn’t shed fibers or stain clothing (like wire clotheslines that may rust). Plus, it has the ability to hold up to 42 pounds of wet laundry without stretching or bending like plastic-coated nylon. The 200-foot bundle can be added to a pulley or used separately. Founded in 1929, T. W. Evans Cordage Co. supplies hardware stores nationwide.

Price at time of publish: $17

Best Outdoors

Best Drying Rack Umbrella Clothesline

Best Drying Rack Umbrella Clothesline

Courtesy of Best Drying Rack

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty option that can withstand the elements, the umbrella clothesline from Best Drying Rack is a great investment. The clothesline is mounted into the ground (without cement) and can hold three to four loads of laundry. It can easily open and close or be moved to another location in the yard.

Made in the United States since 1915, the clothesline is constructed from steel and wood parts, so unlike plastic that takes a beating from the sun, it's designed to last for decades. The clothesline can rotate to adjust according to the position of the sun (and requires a 9-foot circle to do so) and measures just over 5 feet tall.

Price at time of publish: $269 for standard

Best Retractable

Minky Homecare Outdoor Retractable Clothesline

Minky Homecare Outdoor Retractable Clothesline

Courtesy of Amazon

Retractable clotheslines are an excellent space-saving option and very affordable. The Minky outdoor retractable clothesline stands out in that it has two built-in retractable lines to double the space without having an extra-long line, which leads to sagging.

Each line is 49 feet long (for a total of 98 feet) and made of PVC-coated cord that is sunlight-resistant to increase longevity. The clothesline can hold up to 55 pounds, which typically is more than one wash load, or about 15 pounds more than standard retractable lines. The unit is designed to be mounted to a wall but can be easily removed and stored.

Price at time of publish: $21

Best Umbrella Clothesline

Greenway Umbrella Clothesline

Greenway Umbrella Clothesline

Courtesy of Walmart

If you're interested in an outdoor clothing rack that's not a permanent fixture, consider the Greenway umbrella clothesline. The rust-resistant rack provides 51 feet of drying space with a load capacity of 33 pounds, and it measures 55 inches tall.

Weighing just 4.5 pounds, this portable clothesline can be easily packed away to be used on camping or RV trips and includes a carrying cover for storage. Although it can be used on decks and hard surfaces, it's best to anchor it to the ground (anchors are included) in case of wind.

Price at time of publish: $65

Best Pulley

Skyline Enterprises Workhorse Clothesline Pulley Kit

Skyline Enterprises Workhorse Clothesline Pully Kit

Courtesy of Skyline Enterprises

Made by Ohio-based, Amish craftsman, the Enterprise Workhorse pulley clothesline has a number of features that make it stand out. For safety, there’s a non-pinch finger guard and a cable guard to keep the line from derailing. An included line spacer helps keep clothes from tangling, plus, there’s a spring mechanism to lock the pulley so the wind doesn’t take the laundry for a ride. The powder-coated finish protects the pulleys from rusting. The 8-inch pulleys can hold up to 100 feet of cable (which is sold separately) and can be either mounted to a wall or a pole. It's a sturdy unit if you prefer a pulley-style clothesline.

Price at time of publish: $159

Best for Light Items

Joom Retractable Clothesline

JOOM Retractable Clothesline

Courtesy of Amazon

Whether you’re drying wet bathing suits, undergarments and socks, baby clothes, or other delicate hand wash items, the Joom retractable clothesline is a top choice for indoors. The stainless-steel, wall-mounted clothesline is ideal for use in the bathroom, mud room, or laundry area. It comes in a variety of different finishes like brass, black, nickel, or rose gold.

Although the clothesline can hold up to 22 pounds, its optimal use is for lightweight items, so the line doesn’t sag. The locking mechanism allows the clothesline to extend to any length up to 9.2 feet.

Price at time of publish: $21

Final Verdict

The Whitmore Retractable Clothesline is our top pick overall for its versatility (indoor and outdoor use), the unique, space-saving design, and reasonable price. If you’re looking for a drying line for the outdoors that’s built to last, the Umbrella Clothesline is an excellent option, and if you need a simple, affordable option, the classic Clothesline Rope from TW Evans Cordage will get the job done. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is line drying better for clothes?

    Yes, using a line results in less wear and tear on your clothing compared with a clothes dryer. If your garments seem stiff when they come off the line, give them a good shake.

  • What are the cons of using a clothesline?

    Depending on the weather and your dryer, line drying can take longer. If you have a lot of laundry, it can also take up a lot of space. If your clothesline is outdoors, you’ll also need to plan around the weather, because you don’t want to leave your clean clothes out in the rain or snow. That said, you can still use a clothesline in cold weather.

  • Can you leave clothes on a line overnight?

    Yes, but if you’re using and outdoor clothesline, outdoor drying has some drawbacks. If you pass through the dew point, your clothing may end up wet again. There may also be unexpected rain overnight. Outdoor lines work best on sunny days.

    You can always leave clothes on an indoor clothesline overnight.

  • What states ban clotheslines?

    None! In fact, some states, including Florida, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, and Vermont, have “right to dry” laws that void any more local bans on clotheslines.

    However, some home homeowners associations do have rules limiting or regulating outdoor clotheslines, sometimes citing safety concerns. 

Why Trust Treehugger?

Author Amber Nolan lives off-grid and utilizes clotheslines regularly—including both an umbrella clothesline for outdoors and a standard, rope line indoors for drying on rainy days. 

This article was updated by Arricca SanSone, who first learned to hang-dry clothes in her Grandma's backyard on an old-time pulley system.

View Article Sources
  1. Howland, Jon. “Clotheslines Bans Void in 19 States. Sightline Institute.