It’s funny how something as simple as an old-fashioned pulley clothesline can bring back incredible memories of childhood. But that is exactly what happened yesterday for both Mary and I. 

old-fashioned pulley clothesline
The post holding one end of our old-fashioned pulley clothesline

We spent a few hours in the afternoon installing our latest addition to the farm, a pulley clothesline. All the while, all we could talk about were childhood memories of fresh clothes!

What is it about the scent and feel of clothes hung outdoors to air-dry that simply overtakes your senses? 

That incredible smell of putting on a t-shirt just taken off the line. Or better yet, the amazing aroma and feel of fresh, soft sheets as you climbed into bed at night. 

Childhood Memories…

Growing up, my mom had two outdoor clotheslines. One on the screened-in back porch, and another that stretched across the width of our backyard. The backyard clothesline was a staple in our lives. Not only did it air-dry all of our sheets, shirts and pants, it also served as the home-run wall for backyard baseball games with my brother, nieces and nephews. Even at 92, my mom’s screened-in back porch clothesline is still in use today.

And for Mary, the memories fly back as well. She can remember first having an old-fashioned T-post line that was eventually replaced with a backyard clothesline tree. Their clothesline served a dual purpose as well,  doubling as a great hide-and-seek spot between the hanging sheets.

Whether it was longing for that fresh scent again, or perhaps a little nostalgia, we have always wanted to put up a clothesline of our own at the farm. Last weekend, while driving through Amish country, we noticed house after house with clothes hanging out to dry. I think it finally made us realize it was time to have our own. One thing we noticed while driving was that almost all of homes used a pulley clothesline. It allowed the user to send clothes out and bring them back from a single point. We loved the system and the look, and set about creating our own at the farm.

Creating Our Old-Fashioned Pulley Clothesline

Installing the pulley clothesline was actually an amazingly simple process. We used a basic kit that came with two pulley wheels, a tightening ratchet, spacer, and a 150′ of line.  Product Link : Heavy Duty Pulley Clothesline Kit

old-fashioned pulley clothesline
Setting up was simple, screw in a hook and hang the pulley!

We started by sinking a 6″ x 6″ a 10′ post at the edge of our side yard about 50′ away from the edge of our back porch. We then attached a pulley wheel at the top of the post, and a second pulley wheel on the porch post at a matching height. Since our post is elevated, it will keep the line high enough that it can easily be walked under in the yard.

Once the wheels were installed, we ran coated steel line in a loop and installed a small ratchet link to combine and tighten the line. We added a few rolling spacers to keep the line straight – and we were in business! All in all, it took about two hours, and most of that was in sinking and putting the post in concrete. Total cost – $60.

Now we can hang and send clothes out right from the back porch, and reel them back in when dry! Isn’t funny how its the little things that can make you happy. 🙂

Here’s to the fresh smell of clothes hung outdoors – Jim and Mary! If you would like to receive our DIY, Gardening and Recipe articles each week, you can sign up via email at the very bottom of this post. You can also like and follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram to receive all of our latest tips and articles. This article may contain affiliate links.

11 thoughts on “Building An Old-Fashioned Pulley Clothesline – The Smell of Fresh Laundry!

  • July 27, 2017 at 10:45 am
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    I just finished hanging up a load of towels and washcloths!!
    When I was a girl, everyone had a clothesline or lines. I have 3 stretched between trees. We’ve been married 38 yrs and have never owned a dryer. Occasionally, we make a sojourn to the laundramat to dry things. But only in periods of extended bad weather. A good c line will pay for itself in 1 – 2 months.
    We lived in New Mexico for a few yrs. I was astounded at how few c lines I saw. I could dry 6 loads easily in 1 day.
    And I agree. Sun dried towels and jeans are the best. Sun dried everything is the best!

  • July 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm
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    Hanging clothes outside is good for your health too. Your body can absorb vitamin D from clothes dried in the sun.

  • July 23, 2017 at 9:22 pm
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    This is something I want to add to our new homestead. We used to have a retractable clothesline at our home in Florida. We had the only clothesline in the neighborhood. Most people think that HOAs can prohibit them, but they can’t. At least in Florida, there are Sunshine Laws, and anything that conserves energy by using natural resources cannot by law be prohibited. That includes clotheslines, solar panels, rain barrels and wind turbines. Take that, HOA!
    Thankfully, we no longer live in an HOA and have to deal with that nonsense.

    I’d love to see a wider shot with your clothes hanging, so that we can see how high they are off the ground and the entire set-up from a distance.
    Thanks for the information!

  • July 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm
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    I just went on a tour of an Amish farm and they said, they use that system, so their clothes lines can be walked under, they hand them high off the ground, very clever. I love to hang my clothes out they smell so fresh. Thanks.

  • July 23, 2017 at 1:39 pm
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    Tutorial? Or more pictures of the components?

  • July 23, 2017 at 10:26 am
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    I have always used clotheslines and I wouldn’t live anywhere that they weren’t allowed. I don’t bother with a pulley – it’s really not that hard to walk along the line taking the clothes down. I use 2 4x4x10’s, make a t with a cut to preference 2×6 and put simple (large) hooks spaced apart to a distance that I can easily have 4 lines of clothes and walk between them. I like the plain old rope for the lines as it doesn’t mildew here in FL and I don’t like the steel lines. I hate using a dryer and love the rough, fresh texture of towels so much better hung out than in a dryer with poisonous dryer sheets. Even in the winter in Ohio when I lived there, I hung out clothes most of the time. Sometimes they were frozen but then I’d bring them in and hang them on my indoor wood dryer by the woodburner.

  • July 23, 2017 at 10:21 am
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    Now you just just need to post a picture with your clothes blowing in the breeze. 😉

  • July 23, 2017 at 10:21 am
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    I love air drying my clothes! The only true solar dryer. My driver died over 4 years ago and I have never replaced it. I have a 5 wire clothesline in my backyard that I like to use for sheets and blankets. I have 4 large wooden drying racks that I use almost exclusively for drying my clothes. I can put them in the sun to whiten my whites. They also come indoors in the winter. I have been known to freeze dry my clothes in the winter, too!

    Anything to save electricity and the wear on clothing! I

  • July 23, 2017 at 8:53 am
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    I do a similar air dry on my back deck with a 4-sided umbrella. When I lived in South Florida, I put one in my large garage. I always had dry clothes, summer, winter, rain or shine. Got tired of running to get clothes in before rain!

  • July 23, 2017 at 8:48 am
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    I have an abundance of clothes line in my back yard, too much actually. But it is too low to easily walk or mow under it without a lot of crouching. Another picture or two would be helpful. But what is a “ratchet link.” And what are “rolling spacers.” Thanks for some follow up.

  • July 23, 2017 at 8:47 am
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    I live in Newfoundland and clotheslines have been used for generations. They are an everyday item really,it’s more uncommon to see a home without a clothesline. Great for saving on your electric bills and as you stated nothing like the smell of clothes of the line.😊

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