Make a Rubber Band Travel Clothesline ( for Less Than $1 )




Introduction: Make a Rubber Band Travel Clothesline ( for Less Than $1 )

I have always loved the concept of those rubber travel clotheslines (I'm an engineer; what can I say.) They stretch to accommodate different spans, and there's no need for clips or hangers. I was not, however, about to shell out $10 plus shipping and handling to get one. (if you're not as cheap as I am, you can buy one here)

So, while feeling creative and bored on a recent business trip, I decided to try and make one. Here's what I did.

(My apologies for the less-than-stellar picture quality. A camera-phone is all I had with me at the time)

Step 1: Preparation

Gather together 60 rubber bands (I used 3.5" by 0.25") and put some water in the sink.

(Note: I used 60 and that seems to work well. you can use more or less, just make sure it's a multiple of 3)

Step 2: Divide and Conquer

Divide the rubber bands into three even piles and toss one of the piles in the sink. Lubing them with some water is going to make them easier to knot together

Step 3: Making the First Strand

Take all the rubber bands that are in the sink and knot them into a long strand

Step 4: Make Two More Strands

Once you're finished with the first strand, toss in the next set of bands and repeat the process. When the second strand is done do it once more with the remaining bands to make the last strand

Step 5: Bring the Strands Together

Knot the 3 strands together near one end, and start braiding the long strands together.

Step 6: Finish the Clothesline

As the braid nears the end of the strands, tie another knot to finish things off, and you're done!

Step 7: Using Your New Clothesline

Before you can hang clothes on it, the line must be hung. I can think of two ways of doing this:

1: Wrapping the end around a sturdy object, pushing the knot through a hole made in the braids. It's pretty strong, and easy to remove quickly.

2: The second option isn't as quick, but it's stronger. Wrap the end around an object and run the whole clothesline through the loop at the end. Pull tight and you've got a great grip that won't slip. It's just a bit more difficult to remove.

Once the line is hung, just poke a piece of the clothing you're trying to dry through a hole in the braid. The rubber will grip it tight.



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16 Discussions

I bought one a few years ago for about $14, and it's deteriorating. This will make a perfect replacement!

Suggestion: If you have some velcro type straps (ie for electric cord control), you can make a quick-release attachment for the ends.

is it just me or have rubber bands gotten even more ephemeral over the years? I can on occasion need a rubber band, and access my stash, and find the rubber degraded enough that they break after say a year and a half in storage. I've had a bit better luck with the ones I cut myself from old inner-tubes.

4 replies

You're right, Kill-a-watt, modern rubber bands suck. I prefer to cut old bicycle inner tubes into bands. They're much stronger, longer lasting, cheaper (bike shops give them away) and more ecological.

I'm going to make a clothesline out of some right now. Great idea, Br3ttb!

I still have this thing somewhere, I'll need to dig it out and see how it's holding up. in subsequent years I put more focus on efficient packing ( etc) and wound up not needing a clothesline anymore.

When backpacking, I use paracord, doubled, twisted, and strung between two trees. You pull the twists apart and stick in the corner of a towel. Works great out in the woods, but I'm not so sure about a hotel room.

yeah I think creative knot-tying on a piece of paracord is the most elegant/robust solution to this problem. my inspiration to do this 'ible was seeing a product out in the wild and deciding that I could make an inexpensive version.

Man why am I always so late seeing these things? Maybe because for whatever reason lifehacker just decided to put this as 1 of their highlighted articles in the brief synopsis they have on Yahoo! and I have in My Yahoo! so I just saw it? I've always draped my clothes all over anything I possibly can when I need to wash then dry in a sink (or very clear river, lake, ocean? huh?) though I didn't realize until I arrived home several years ago after camping in the mountains here in CO & having washed my hair in the very cold river that it was no longer merely "auburn" as I prefer vs. "red" because of the metal content apparently in the river my hair was suddenly very bright and more on the new penny when they were still made with copper color! I always have to clean all the surfaces when I drape my clothes to dry and knowing that rubber bands aren't an item that lasts overly long but they do last longer when you freeze them how long would your particular clothes line last if in a very hot, dry climate and if there is water (best be but never know....) do you or would you soak the rubber bands in the water whilst not in use? I wonder if the hair ties I use to put my hair in a pony tail or whatever might work slightly better and yes, I actually do have TONS of them! I guess I just can't think this rubber band line could last much longer than perhaps a month??? I'm curious about this. I used to deliver papers for a few years and used rubber bands on the days I could get away with it and even brand new they're not an item of longevity....not that anyone is actually bothering to read let alone reply to my comment as it's ohhhh maybe almost 3 and a half years after this article was originally written or posted? It's a bloody brilliant idea for when I travel to Oz and New Zealand but if it's something that you need to replace after a month or a bit longer then what other options might there be? I don't want to actually make myself buckle down to make something like this just to learn it's shot after the first month give or take and need to make another which would never happen with me! Hell, I won't even bother to cook-but that's because I truly and really HATE COOKING!!! Ok, I splurge at times and instead of just eating directly out of the can sometimes I'll nuke whatever. But on a positive note maybe I actually rather like to clean...unless you're a nasty hoarder with stuff piled out the windows! :) Sorry so long I'm thinking aloud via my fingers I suspect since I love to type and I type faster than I think. You know, my brain isn't as fast and doesn't keep up with my fingers??? Oh my DOG my finger's know not what they type! I'm going to bed now sorry...

And thank you for the notice below this box about being nice. I don't know how to be anything but. And never say anything in anger because you will apologize for that the rest of your life and it will never be good enough because you said and you can't take it back! 


Pretty Cool! Any idea if this one weighs less than the commercial ones? Nice instructable!

1 reply

Thank you! as far as weight, I have no clue. my only motivation for this was to save money, and fight boredom. If I had to guess, I'd say mine weighs more because of the knots, but not by much.

Nice one ...should be useful when camping too ... things tend to get wet when camping in the UK!

It is possible to make the individuals strands dry as well, although they do tend to twist more. Twisting can be minimized by pinching tight at the knotting point. Good thing to make while on a boring conference call.

1 reply

Used the clothesline while travelling last week. Works even if the line can't be pulled taut.


absolutely! I haven't seen any zombies yet, but I have contemplated launching water balloons down the hallway.