How to Install a Pulley Clothesline

Ian Kelly

The introduction of the electric clothes dryer in 1937 caused the popularity of outdoor clotheslines to diminish. In addition, many cities and homeowner associations banned clotheslines for aesthetic reasons.

Reduce your electric bill with an outdoor clothesline.

However, since drying clothes outdoors saves energy and reduces the threat of fires and pollution from flying lint, clotheslines are making a comeback. Install a pulley clothesline between two anchor points to eliminate the need to drag a heavy washing basket back and forth while hanging your laundry.


Add more clothesline dividers if three or four are not sufficient to prevent a longer clothesline from sagging under the load.

  1. Choose two convenient anchor points spanning a level stretch of ground. For example, choose either two tall trees, an 8-foot tall, 4-by-4 anchor post and a tree or a tree or post and the side of your house.

  2. Mark each anchor point on the opposing posts with a strip of masking tape at a height to suit your own physical stature. Stand in front of the post, reach upward and apply the masking tape to the posts at the highest point that you can reach comfortably without stretching.

  3. Stand on a small step stool or ladder. Drill 3/16-inch pilot holes into the opposing anchor points, using a cordless drill. Insert a threaded hook into each hole. Twist the hooks clockwise to tighten them, using the pliers.

  4. Secure the looped end of a line tightener to one end of the clothesline with a bowline knot. Form a small loop about 12 inches from the end of the line to hold the line tightener. Pass the end of the line back over itself from right to left. Grip the junction with your left thumb and forefinger to prevent the loop from unraveling. Pass the end of the line upward through the loop, around the back of the line and back down through the loop to form the knot. Tug the line on both sides to tighten the knot.

  5. Slip the mounting rings of two 8-inch diameter clothesline pulleys over each anchor hook. Let the pulleys hang downward.

  6. Pass the long end of the clothesline up around the first pulley so that it rests in the groove. Walk over to the second pulley while holding the line. Thread the clothesline over the second pulley and into the groove. Walk back to the line tightener while holding the end of the line.

  7. Pass the end of the line through the hole in the front of the line tightener. Hold the tightener in your left hand and tension the line by pulling it firmly through the tightener with your right hand until the entire clothesline is taut. Trim off any excess line; the spring-loaded pawls in the tightener will grip the line and prevent it from sliding back out.

  8. Hook the upper line through the opening on the pulley end of an elongated S-shaped clothesline divider, so that the pulley groove rests on top of the upper line. Loop the lower line through the gap in the upper face of the bottom section of the divider to support the lower line. This will prevent the lower line from sagging under the weight of wet laundry.

  9. Attach two or three more line separators, depending on the length of the clothesline. Space all separators at even intervals along the length of the clothesline.