Can You Attach a Washing Line to a Fence?

Do you want to cut free from your energy bill or reduce unnecessary waste? For many, washing lines (typically in your backyard) can help out with just that.

You can attach a washing line to a fence if your state and/or community requirements allow it. Some states/communities have “Right to Dry” laws that allow washing lines to be put up. It may also depend on the rules of your Home Owners Association (HOA).

I will explain the laws regarding washlines with some advantages, disadvantages, and alternatives to them. I will also guide you through the process of finding and setting up your very own clothesline.

“Right To Dry” States

Each state is classified into three separate categories. First, if your state is not listed below, then clotheslines are completely banned. Second, some states have laws that protect your right to wash with a clothesline, no matter what. Lastly, some states have laws that allow clotheslines, but you are still entitled to community-based- laws from your HOA or other agency. Check the table below for the United States’ standing on clotheslines.

Protected By Law:Subject To Community Regulations:
HawaiiNew Mexico
North Carolina

Why Ban Wash Lines Outdoors?

  1. Some believe that wash lines decrease property value, which is not good for property owners and governments.
  2. HOA’s and Local Communities oftentimes believe that washlines are aesthetically displeasing and don’t contribute to the well-being of a community.
  3. Wash lines can make for angry neighbors. Make sure to check with your neighbor before attaching it to your fence (since you oftentimes share the fence with them). If you can’t attach it to the fence, you can always dig a hole and attach it to a pole.

If you would rather not use wash lines now, we have listed some indoor alternatives below!

Advantages To Wash Lines:

Wash lines are good for the environment and for your family! Here are some statistics to back that up:

As Sightline Research Institute Intern Jake Kennon states: “Clothes last much longer… households in the Northwest states use 4.3 percent of their annual electricity consumption to dry laundry. To put that into perspective, even our refrigerators only gobble up 3.5 percent… Oh, and clotheslines never burn down your house; in the U.S. alone, dryers cause more than 12,000 residential fires annually.” Source

Others have also found that wash lines save money, enhance the freshness, remove strong odors, increases physical activity/weight loss, and increases winter humidity (which fights against sicknesses that come with that weather).

Best Wash Line Options

Reviewers from personally tested and provided a great list of the best washlines available this year (2021). Here is what they found and will best apply to putting up a washline on a fence. Cheaper, more readily available outdoor washlines can be found through Home Depot, Walmart, or even Dollar Tree.

Best Overall: HAWATOUR Portable Travel Elastic Clothesline Adjustable Clothesline with 12pcs (available here on Amazon). This washing line is small, durable, and very easy to set up. It’s not too long (only 10 feet), so you might need a couple to make it work.

Best Retractable: Minky Homecare 49 Outdoor Retractable Clothesline ($28 through Wayfair). This washing line is easy to install anywhere (including a fence), and can extend to 49 feet of drying space. When you don’t need to use the line, you can retract it for more practical use. Some wish it could hold more weight though, so keep that in mind.

Best Wall-Mounted: Aero-W Wall Mounted Collapsible Clothes Drying Rack. (available here on Amazon). These wash lines can easily retract to any wall or wooden surface and are easy to tuck away when they are not needed or when people come over.

How To Set Up AnOld Fashioned Wash Line

You will need: a long strand of rope, screw hooks, and some pants (to try out the durability of the line)


  1. Measure Your Space Out! This is the most important step. Measure out the area where you will be placing your washline and make sure that your option will fit around the perimeters of the yard. Also, measure how tall you (or the person who owns the clothesline) is to put the line up to its appropriate height. Experts recommend getting a slightly longer and larger rope so it lasts for a long time and is reusable if parts of the rope become unusable.
  2. Drill screw hooks on opposite ends of the fence. Most people put a screw hook on one end and the other on the opposite end. However, if you want to make it more compact or need more drying space, you can make several rows by drilling multiple screw hooks. Make a special effort to be sure the screw hooks are in the fence tightly and securely. Also, double-check to be sure you are not drilling in the screw hook into anything important.
  3. Use a rope and securely tie a knot on both ends as straight as possible.
  4. Once the rope is securely on the screw hooks, use a hammer to ram the screw hooks with the rope in place. It should be as tight as a tightrope.
  5. Some recommend trying out your wash line by placing a shirt on top of it and seeing how it reacts. If the clothesline weighs down or the pants fly off, make it more sturdy. If it passes the test, it is good to go!

Alternatives To Washlines

Do it inside! Many clotheslines are portable and lightweight for use indoors. Buy some fans, lay out your clothes in a spare room, and let the magic work indoors! Once those clothes are dry, flip them over and repeat.

There are many different options for indoor, portable clotheslines that are just as wide as an outdoor line and can fit in any crevice in your home. You can easily find portable washlines in any home improvement store.

Put your clothes on some hangers and buy a portable clothes rack! Get a fan and you’re all set.

Fence Frenzy

We at Fence Frenzy absolutely love taking on the challenge of building, or even restoring, a fence. Especially elaborate and exotic fence designs that really make us scratch our heads! We're happy to share everything we've learned with you.

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