There is nothing worse than all your nice clean washing ending up on the floor, when your clothesline breaks. Time and time again I’ve installed an ‘off the shelf washing line’, only to have it break a year or two later. You purchase a thicker stronger washing line, it may last a little longer, but it still breaks…
How can we get round this?
Forget the ‘off the shelf’ washing lines. Let’s make one that’s never gonna break! This article shows how I made a washing Line, and why I chose stainless steel wire. I’m going to use a straight, traditional washing line as an example, but the method I use here can be applied to any other washing line…
Things to consider:
Let’s Get straight to it:
Well not that strong? We’re not going to use it to do pull ups from, or use it as an engine hoist. However, wetsuits full of water (while you wash them down) can be very heavy. How heavy is a full load of wet washing anyway?
A typical washing machine capacity for a medium to large family is about 10 Kg (22 Lbs). But thats when dry! The wet capacity could be double that, 20 Kg (44 Lbs). So four loads of washing (to cover for all eventualities, or four wet wetsuits?) would weigh about 80 Kg (176 Lbs). Buildings commonly use a factor of safety of 2.0. So if we use this, then our washing line needs to be capable of holding 160 KG (352 Lbs). So this is our minimum breaking load.
Here’s a breakdown of how I worked out an ‘Unbreakable Washing Line’ minimum load.
|Washing machine capacity (Medium to large family):||Dry||–||10||22|
|Four loads (to cover for all eventualities):||Wet||x 4||80||176|
|Safety factor:||Wet||x 2||160||352|
To be flexible, a clothesline has to be made of wire, rope (natural), or plastic rope (nylon, etc). Or, a combination of these. Most washing lines appear to be steel wire with an outer plastic coating. Natural products can rot and dirt can become ingrained within the fibres.
Rope or wire is not usually difficult to install, it’s their ends that are the problem! We either have to be good at knots, or have a suitable clamp to hold the ends in place.
Unfortunately, many natural products will rot. Part of the circle of life (“Nants Ingonyama Bagithi Baba” which doesn’t mean ‘the circle of life’, but “Here comes a lion, father…”) Disney has a lot to answer for…
Whereas, steel or nylon may last a bit longer. Steel, will rust and break eventually (unless treated).
So, that leaves Nylon..? Nope, because we have stainless steel wire (which doesn’t rust). Horah!
Stainless steel wire and nylon are both good materials for a washing line. They both have their place, but I’m going to go for stainless steel, as it is less stretchy and will probably harbour less dirt between the interwoven strands.
The washing line may be twice the price of an ‘off the shelf’ clothesline, but you only need to fit it once…
Stainless steel has been used in marine environments for years. It is a good tried and tested product.
A stainless steel washing line should be no different to any other washing line. As with an ordinary clothesline, the correct size and type of wire needs to be selected.
We have to consider what components are best to create the clothesline. This basically boils down to what type of stainless steel wire do we use and how do we fix the ends?
There are different types of wire with different properties, therefore we need to choose the best wire to match the needs of a washing line. We need to consider…
The breaking load is often dependant on the physical size of the wire. You can see how I calculated the ‘Unbreakable Washing Line Minimum Breaking Load‘ in the section above…
The table below shows the strength of stainless steel wire (7×19 strand), dependant on the wire diameter.
|Stainless Steel Wire Rope (7×19 Strand)|
|Wire Size (dia)||Breaking Load|
|Please note you may need to consider the minimum thickness of the wire. Smaller wire may allow the clothes pegs to more easily ‘accidentally’ slip off the wire.|
Why am I using 7×19 strand wire?
The flexibility of the wire is often dependant on the size and number of wire strands. As an example, 7×19 is 7 groups of 19 wires (133 strands). To gain more flexibility, you lose a little strength (see the table below).
Having flexibility is a good idea if you intend to raise and lower the washing line. Plus it also helps on windy days (a tree will bend in the wind to help stop it getting blown over). A slight loss in strength doesn’t matter, as long as it’s taken account of when selecting the wire.
The table below shows the bendiness (or flexibility) & strength of the wire, dependant on the number of strands.
|The Bendiness (or Flexibility) – The Number of Strands|
|Strands||No. of Wires||Flex||Strength (3mm)1|
|Note 1. 3mm wire is used here as an example.|
The price tends to go up, dependant on the size and type of wire. In this case we’re using stainless steel (rust prevention), and a larger number of wire strands (to make the wire more flexible). However, the benefits outweigh the slight increase in overall material cost.
Wire, grips or clamps can to be used in place of tying a knot (as it’s not so easy to tie a knot in wire). There are various grips and clamps available. Some do a better job than others, and some have a better aesthetic appearance (please see the notes below).
In my case, I’m going to use all stainless steel to ensure the components are long lasting and require little (if any) maintenance.
Things to consider:
The table below shows the different grips & clamps that can be used, their cost, strength and how many are required (for each end).
|Stainless Steel Grips (for wire)|
(1 is low)
|Grips:||Wire Rope:||3||2 to 25||0.0787 +||12 +||2 (x3)||–|
|Simplex :||1||2 to 6||0.0787 to 0.236||12 to 3||1||50 %|
|Duplex :||1||2 to 6||0.0787 to 0.236||12 to 3||2||80%|
|Egg Shaped||1||2 to 6||0.0787 to 0.236||12 to 3||8||–|
|Loop:||1||1.5 to 3||0.0591 to 0.118||15 to 9||6||?|
|Loop:||1||2 to 3||0.0787 to 0.118||12 to 9||6||?|
There are two types of connections. Each may use a different set of components:
Things to consider:
Things to consider:
The famous phrase “How long is a piece of string” can also be applied to washing lines…
When measuring the length of a washing line, additional length needs to be added for:
It’s fairly straight forward. Dependant on the wire grip or clamp used, you may need a small spanner, or an allen key.
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