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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.

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.


Yvonne Haley on August 27, 2020:

I’ve been using a circular clothesline on my back deck in California for 17 years , I love to dry my clothes this way, they are fresher, it saves money and more importantly energy. However I’ve just been notified ny my HOA I have 48 hours to remove it. I’m researching whether it is legal for them to do this, the fines they impose are quite high.

Sharon Gitlin on August 07, 2020:

I looked at the relevant NC material, and it seems to be addressing solar power collection only and is not intended to cover clotheslines. My HOA has a covenant against clotheslines. I am not sure if it is enough to hold up against my HOA's restrictive covenant.

Karen A on December 06, 2019:

A clothesline concealed in a backyard is one thing but we have rental property 20 feet from our front door and the new renters have strung an ugly clothesline in plain view of our front porch and the street! Honestly, it looks like we live in a third world county!

Ken Mathewson on October 30, 2019:

I've been using a clothesline for about 55 years give or take. Love the people who talk about the cost savings (and they're right), but for me it's strictly the FRESH smell.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on August 15, 2016:

Another good thing about living in the country. I should use my clothesline more often.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on June 21, 2015:

This is a great hub, LCD. My state of Ohio isn't a right to dry one. Maybe I should contact them and go forth to encourage them to do so. Voted up!

L C David (author) from Florida on June 02, 2013:

Interesting Sean and thanks for commenting. So you can put up a clothesline, it just needs to be a particular type (if I"m understanding you correctly). Here in Florida those kinds of restrictions haven't happened so far. I have a link in the Right to Dry section for anyone to check out the guidelines for their particular state which seem to be more or less restrictive. However, all of them, as stated in my article, give you the right to utilize solar energy to dry your clothes and that is a fact that many do not realize.

Sean on June 02, 2013:

Just a quick clarification - in Colorado, you cannot just put up a clothesline regardless of HOA guidelines. In Colorado, CCOIA regulates that you are allowed to utilize retractable clotheslines, and the HOA cannot tell you not to. Other types of clotheslines can be regulated. Thank you.

L C David (author) from Florida on March 20, 2013:

Yes, they certainly don't retain that fluff. However, I use a bit of unscented fabric softner when I wash and hang towels out and that seems to help make them softer.

ExpectGreatThings from Illinois on March 20, 2013:

Great subject and hub! Every summer I mention to my husband that I would like a clothesline. Maybe this will be the year that we get one :) I remember the fun I had collecting laundry from ours growing up. Although, I don't think air drying is the greatest for towels. Ours were always so stiff and scratchy after being on the line.

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