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Clotheslines and Green Initiatives: Right to Dry Laws and States

Laura is a freelance writer living in Florida. She has a Master's degree in English.

A return to the past.  Clotheslines are back in fashion.

A return to the past. Clotheslines are back in fashion.

Back just a hundred years ago, clotheslines were a part of a washing routine. Whether you lived in the city or in the country. the only way to get laundry dry was to hang it up. As the age of appliances came into fruition, hanging clothes out on lines became passe. Now clotheslines are making a comeback as people are beginning to see it as a green and natural way to take care of your clothes.

Is putting out a clothesline in your backyard illegal? Find out!

Clotheslines Save Energy

As the world becomes more aware of energy consumption and use, everyone is looking for ways to save energy, money, and reduce their carbon footprint. One of the biggest energy hogs in an individual household besides the air conditioner/heating unit is your clothes dryer. According to the California Energy Commission, the average dryer will cost over $1500 dollars just to operate in its lifetime.

Clotheslines are a great alternative to dryers. They are cheap to install and maintain and easy to use. But what if your community restricts the use of clotheslines? You still may be in luck. Their restrictions may be trumped by state laws.

Homeowner's Associations and Clotheslines

Many in the United States live in areas restricted by deeds and covenants, known as Homeowner’s Associations. While these associations can do good things for a neighborhood like keep your neighbor from putting a car on cinderblocks in their front yard, they can also over-reach their bounds.

For example, after the 9/11 attack, there were HOAs that fined residents for hanging flags out because they were against community guidelines. Many HOA also have restrictions banning the use of clotheslines. However, in many states, these bans are overridden by Right To Dry Laws. Homeowners may be unaware that the rule is not enforceable, curtailing their use of clotheslines even if they would prefer to use one.

Right to Dry States

















New Mexico



North Carolina


A fixed clothesline is one that permenantly stays up in your yard.

A fixed clothesline is one that permenantly stays up in your yard.

Right to Dry Laws

Right to Dry laws vary from state to state; however, all of them include the wording explaining that citizens have the right to utilize solar power. These state laws automatically trump any HOA restrictions, meaning that residents of HOA restricted neighborhoods can put up clotheslines in their backyard regardless of any covenant restrictions. Furthermore, they can’t be fined by the association for putting up and utilizing the clothesline.

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Why Use a Clothesline?

  • Clothes will last longer. Clothes that are put in the dryer face wear and tear faster than those that are allowed to air dry.
  • The sun is a natural deodorizer and sanitizer. Take advantage of it.
  • You’ll be making an easy, green choice and making the world a bit better for all of us.

How to Choose a Clothesline

There are different types of clotheslines and each come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Fixed Clothesline

These clotheslines are permanent and stay up all the time. However, these can be large with a lot of line space making it a good choice for large families or for hanging out sheets and blankets. These can either be rotary lines on a pole or simply strong line strung between two poles. The choice depends on your yard space and personal preference.

Folding or Portable Clothesline

This is usually a smaller version of the rotary clothesline. These lines can be folded up when not in use, making them ideal for small yard space.

There are also portable drying racks or clotheshorse racks. These are small but they can be folded and put away when not in use. They can also be used inside when it is too cold or rainy to hang clothes out on the line.

What Else You Need

After purchasing a clothesline, you will need several laundry baskets and clothespins to hold the garments and other items in place. There are three main types of clothespins: straight wooden ones, plastic spring-loaded, and wooden spring-loaded. Some of it comes down to personal preference, however, the straight clothespins are much more likely to last as they are no extra pieces to break off or tear up.

If You Are Not in a Right to Dry State

If you are not in a right to dry state, contact your state and local representatives and let them know that you are concerned for the environment. As green laws and initiatives become more prominent and viable, many legislators may be inclined to listen to your concerns.

Ultimately, pushing greener laws makes them look good. They are helping the environment, appeasing concerned citizens and getting votes based on their legislation.

Right to Dry Laws

Calculate Your Clothes Care Costs

  • Cost Calculator | Project Laundry List
    Project Laundry List is a non profit organization making air-drying and cold-water washing laundry acceptable and desirable as simple and effective ways to save energy.

Do You Use a Clothesline or Portable Drying Rack?

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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