Retractable Clotheslines

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I would like to put up one of these, and our Lowes does not have any.
I was wondering if any one here has used one?
what did you like about it, not like about it?
Does it stay taunt, hold heavy items like jeans?
What brand did you buy?
ect ect

With electricity getting so high, and going to be higher, I am going to be hanging out my laundry, and I would even like to put one up in my house to use in the winter. No more dryer for me!

On top of that I am working on my hot water heater usage as well, so any tips there would be equally appreciated.

I am going to post this in the handy man forum, hopefully get some ideas there too...

Glendale/Parks, AZ

I bought mine so long ago I don't remember what brand it was or where I bought it, probably, Home Depot though.
It has lasted through our blast summer heat. I hang 8-10 pairs of levis and or sweat pants on it with no problem. I hang 10-15 shirts at a time. Everything is on a hanger and the hanger goes on the line in order to dry more at one time. I can dry one sheet at a time but in the summer here that sheet is dry in 10 minutes; takes a little longer in the winter. It is not stretched out. I love it.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

wow neat idea about the hanger, I wouldn't have thought of that,
dense I know!

Home Depot is an hour from here, but I might check it out, thanks for the tips!

lol about the winter thing, here it would just freeze and be stiff as a board.
I am thinking about putting one up somewhere in the house. Can't afford the power bill!!

Glendale/Parks, AZ

I know about your winters, spent some time at Fort Lost in the Woods.

Shenandoah Valley, VA

I had one years ago and I loved it. It was wide, had three lines, attached to a pole or the side of the house with a simple hook and could be pulled out to any length you wanted. It was nice and taut at any length. I could do two or three large loads of wash on it at the same time.

This looks similar to the one I had.

Just do a Google search for retractable clothesline. You'll come up with lots of places selling them. I think I got mine years ago at Hechingers, which does have an online store now I think but no longer has any brick and mortar stores.

Here's a better photo and a much better price for one like I had. In fact, this one looks exactly like the one I had and I looked and looked to find one that had a longer length like this one.!.shtml

This message was edited Apr 4, 2009 12:30 PM

Brussels, WI

My husband and I bought ours at Menards about 5 years ago and use it in the winter. We put it upstairs in the hallway. It has 5 lines and hangs a weeks worth of clothes for a family of 4, jeans, hoodies and all. We built our home 16 years ago and bought the washer and dryer then. The dryer hasn't been used but maybe 5 times...We heat our house with wood and it's a great trade off. Wet clothes...Dry air.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I bought mine earlier last summer and love it! Catalogue ordered it ~ it is 40 feet long so I use a line support pole which I also ordered from them. The pole helps support the weight of wet laundry. The line reel has a place on the bottom to wrap the line once or twice to hold it firm also.

Good idea on the hangers as my line size is limited. That would prevent clothes pin bumps. LOL I was reminded to hang from shirt tails instead. I also remembered (from my Mom) to hang socks over the work shirts and to hang pillowcases over the sheets, etc. to save space on the line. I also use a couple of folding dryer racks and set them out in sunshine to dry socks, undies, wash clothes... small stuff.

Sometimes when the weather is just right, I have managed to wash and dry four loads while hanging only one at a time. But that is an all day affair which I hate so I am considering ordering another line so I can hang more wash.

Some folks mentioned having seen them at walmart also.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

The one I seen at wm was only 9 feet long. I think more for hanging hand washables in your house probably.
I doubt it would hold very much weight either.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

That certainly wouldn't work at my house. 40' long is not enough for this laundry day and by the way, this one is rated for 300#.

On your water heater, is it where you could throw the breaker? I did that on ours for a few months and then didn't. I was comparing usage more than rates as they change. I found the savings negligible. We did just have to replace it after 21 years and now, I really notice the savings. Apparently the old one had developed "issues". LOL Good luck!

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


I work for a HD, and they carry these retractable reels. They come in 2 sizes--20' and 40'.
I use the 20' one.
Years ago--I had a heavy-duty one like hart posted. The reel board was bolted into the side of the house, and my husband (then...) put a strong steel pole in the yard to hook the pulled out lines on to.
When I had siding put on my house--the reel-holder was removed and i wasn not about to bolt anything to it any more. However--I still used the hook end and found that it reaches perfectly to one of the patio support poles.

I use 3 of the 20' reels ($11.97 each). I can;t say the lines are taut as can be--but there is a small lever at the bottom of the reels that you can "lock in" the tautness of the lines.
I have never had any problems with anything drooping...

As for drying shirts and blouses on the hangers--I do that too. Just use a clothes pin to hold the hanger in place on the rope--or it will go flying all up and down the string if there is a wind....or even catch a breeze and fall off.

I just bought 3 new reels as the old ones have weathered and the plastic has become brittle. I have had them for 6 years...maybe?

In this picture you can see the pole and the reels attached to a board which is held to the pole with a "C" shaped, screwed in bracket.
See that black bracket sticking out near the top of the pole that supports the roof of my patio? That is what I hook the metal piece on to that the strings are tied to.
Pieces I now use at both ends were recycled from the old laundry line hardware...


Thumbnail by Gitagal
springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

****On your water heater, is it where you could throw the breaker? I did that on ours for a few months and then didn't. I was comparing usage more than rates as they change. I found the savings negligible. We did just have to replace it after 21 years and now, I really notice the savings. Apparently the old one had developed "issues". LOL Good luck!****

have you tried the breaker method with the new heater?
I can easily access the breaker. Our hot water heater is new.
Is it ok to turn off the breaker regularly or does that damage anything?

I am SO going to buy a clothesline :)

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

No, I hadn't done it on the new heater. I was turning it off when it recovered after showers/dishes/laundry at night and turning it back on the next evening when we got home from work. I don't think it would hurt the water heater but I worried about wearing the breaker out.

This probably wouldn't be very effective if the water heater is not in an insulated spot. In your area it probably is. Here lots of folks have them on an open porch. If it were indoors or insulated, it would retain the heat better I should think.

I considered trying it again but DH kept getting crabby about not having a scalding hot shower... I kept forgeting to turn it on when we got home! LOL

On the clothesline, if you can't find on, I ordered mine from Lehmans... can't remember how much the shipping was but the line was $17.95, the prop to support the 40' line was $6.95 from them. Do you have clothespin?

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

Yes I bought some clothespins at walmart. They are large plastic ones.
I will ask DH about the breaker thing when I think of it, and see what he thinks. I have a feeling we use more hot water than I think, plus there are 5 of us. The tank is indoors, and is insulated very well. so there may not be a whole lot I can do to cut costs there. Might lower the temp a little for the summer though.

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

We noticed a drop in elec. usage immediately after we put an insulation kit (blanket) on our water heater. It is in the pantry by the kitchen and I had noticed that the pantry was rather warm.

I've always liked the retractable clothes lines. I've had them in the laundry room, carport, garage and had a tiny one in the master bath in one house. (we are military-several houses) I love how the outside ones do not have to be cleaned of bird and pollution mess before they can be used. If I ever move into a house that has the fixed clothesline, I may replace it with a retractable one.

Saint David, AZ(Zone 8a)

You might consider installing a timer on your water heater. They' are supposed to be great and should pay for itself in about 1 year. I'd have one in a heartbeat if we had an electric water heater. Here's a link to the how-to for it.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


PLEASE remember that the insulation blankets can ONLY be used on electric Water Heaters!!!! NOT EVER on gas W.H.! for obvious reasons.....a fire hazard....

As far as the settings for hot water--120* is the preferred setting. NO need for higher! It will just waste energy heating it to a higher degree--that you do not, really, use....
120* is hot enough for all the appliances and too hot for showers.

WHY would you need to lower the setting in the Summer only? When you shower you always add cold water to the hot water until it feels OK to you. SO! In the Summer--you just add a bit MORE of the cold water. In the Winter--a bit less. ...Kapish????
It DOES NOT mean you have to increase the setting on your Water heater any--right?

Also--I have found that, on the newer washing machines (the **Energy Star** ones), when the setting is on 'warm"--the temperature of the water in the washer is just lukewarm....
yet warmer than "cold".....
In my old washer--"warm" was just under "hot" in temperature! Wasting a lot of energy!!!
I had, also, stupidly set the controls on the Water Heater at 140*....NO! NADA!

Also be mindful that, in the Winter, your home can be just as comfortable at 65* as it is at 72*. You have to get used to it! Wear a sweat shirt......thick socks and warm slippers....

By now--I would almost squirm in a home heated above 65*! If it is at 72* or more--I would want to leave......A bit cooler is more comfortable. More refreshing!
You can always put a sweater around your shoulders if you are chilly---BUT--it you arrive at someone's house that is 75* (b/c they like it that way)--WHAT are you going to take off to be more comfortable?????? HUH?????

Also--I question the practicality of turning Water Heaters on and off. I am sure it would take a lot more of energy to bring the water back up to the setting than if you just left it be....
It is the same for longevity of a light bulb. If you just leave it burning--it will last longer than if you keep turning it on and off.....

Just some food for thought..........


springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

We have an electric water heater.
We have an insulated 'blanket' wrap around it, plus dh built a 'box' type thing that goes around the whole thing, out of insulated foam board. It is located in the cellar actually, under the house.
I think our WH is set on 110 if I remember right. No, we don't add cold water to it when we shower or wash dishes. Why use electric to heat it up TOO hot and then have to mix cold to cool it down? I was suggesting turning it down lower in the summer, because after working outside a cool shower would be ok. In the winter when it is cold, I would not want cool showers, but hot instead.
As you noted there is a big difference between 65 and 72. I kept the house at 69 this winter, but I always wear two pairs of socks, jeans and a t-shirt with a sweater on top. A miserable winter feeling cold all the time. :(
But propane is too high to keep my house any warmer like I would like. Usually when I visit other people's homes, which is rarely, I wear layers because I know I will probably be frozen. I finally started wearing jeans to church even because I got tired of freezing every Sunday.
A timer is the same thing as turning the WH on and off. I am not sure if it does take as much electric to bring the water back up to the setting, that is why I am asking about it. I may do an experiment to see. I know when I was little we only took showers on Wed and Sat and that was the only time mom turned on the WH. The rest of the time it was cold. Saved us a lot of money.
Yes leaving the bulb running will make the bulb last longer, but who wants to save a 25 cent light bulb when it is costing you more than that to leave it on? I do not know if that matters with the new bulbs coming out, if they last longer or not the more times they are turned on and off. I am switching over to them one at a time as my old ones burn out.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Good going on the CFL bulbs. That is something I have gradually done over the past year and do think it is paying off. I am not a dark person and tend to turn on lights in winter evenings/mornings. I also unplug things that use power even when not in use like microwaves, vcrs, tvs etc. A circuit breaker power strip works well for that. I know you know you don't need hot water for any laundry except that which is terribly soiled. Warm or cold water works well on normal laundry.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I am thinking about putting the computer on a power strip.
I don't know if that would save me any money or not, but it won't take much effort to try it.
We have two computers. We already have our tv on a strip. Makes turning it all off easier.
Just one flip!

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

I spent some time googling around yesterday and found that ONLY if you have an antique or really old water heater, does it pay you back for the cost of the timer. One site quoted a $2.80ish in yearly savings. Sure surprised me. I know from my own experience that the insulation wrap and insulating the closet it is in helps a lot. Wish I could take a pic. You do need to make cut-outs where the elements and control box are. I reattached those at the top of the opening flap like so that they can be accessed if needed.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Years ago my "frugal" Mom would keep her water heater turned off. (may still do it) What little water she used for washing up or dishes she would heat a pot of the stove. Well, my youngest brother stayed with her when he wasn't on the road (truck driver). He told me he would call her and remind her to turn the water heater on when he was on the way home so he could take a bath. LOL

Lots of frugal lessons have been learned from my Mom. She is still going strong at 91.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

By the way... did you ever see this thread on clotheslines? It is what inspired me to replace my old one.

This message was edited Apr 10, 2009 6:19 AM

West Warren, MA

Wow! Live in a small apt. no washer or dryer hook up, bought an apt. washer and had been hanging my clothes in my bedroom...have back problems so lugging clothes to a laundromat is not a good thing for me. Thank you for the info on those retractable clothes lines! Will definitely get one!!

Shenandoah Valley, VA

Frilly Lilly, there's an article here on a new power strip that automatically turns off things like computers when they're not being used, estimates it saves you about $20 a month. Funny you mentioned this, I just got this in an email from All You magazine this morning.

BTW, you coupon clippers should know this magazine has oodles of coupons every month. I think this month it's $60 worth. You can get All You at Walmart and it's around $2.24 or go to their website and they'll send you a couple of free trial issues. They have good coupons too, usually better than in the newspapers. This month, there's one for a free full sized mascara from Rimmel.

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