An Indoor Clothes Drying Rack

An indoor clothes drying rack is an easy-to-build "rainy-day" home project that can save you both money and energy.

| March/April 1981

One of the worst energy gobblers in any home—aside from the dwelling's heating system and water heater—is the clothes dryer. Not only are such appliances power hungry, but they're also incredibly wasteful: All the nice warm, humid air they produce is usually blown outside!  

In the summer, of course, it's easy to avoid the energy waste by relying on solar power to "fuel" that old standby: an outdoor clothesline, However, you may have wondered, what can a person do on those all-too-frequent rainy spring (or snowy winter) days when the weather refuses to cooperate?

The answer may be an indoor clothes drying rack. My dad has been building the devices for our family's use since 1949. My Mom depended on the handy racks for 30 years without the backup aid of an electric dryer. The "granddaddy" of our present indoor clothes dryer was made of wood, but that early model eventually fell apart ... but only after almost 12 years of continuous use!

Dad was, I think, a tad disappointed that his original design didn't hold up better, so he came up with an all aluminum model that is sturdier, is relatively simple to build, hangs over the top of any door in the house, and stores easily. The homemade dryer is also a natural energy-saver, since it uses no fuel other than the warmth already circulating through the house (while allowing humidity to transfer from the wet clothes to the often dry indoor air). The sturdy frame can handle anything from diapers to blankets and it'll usually dry a full load of wash within 24 hours.

Drying Rack Construction

Basically, the portable clothes rack is nothing more than four parallel bars riveted to two end pieces to form a square frame ... plus three hanger units that secure the contraption to the top of a door. Clothespins are then attached—using nuts and bolts—at regular intervals along the crossbars. To make your own over-the-door dryer, you'll need 22 feet of aluminum flat bar (the best size is 1/8" X 3/4"), 42 one-inch-long bolts and 84 nuts, 26 rivets, and 42 clothespins (I recommend wooden pins with large springs, because I've found that plastic fasteners—and those with small springs—just don't last as long as do the "old-fashioned" kind).

Before you can put your drying rack together, you'll have to divide the aluminum into several different lengths. First, cut four 33 1/2" pieces, and bend the metal—using a vise—to a 90° angle ... at points 2 inches from each end of every strap. These will become the crossbars, from which you'll hang the wet clothes.

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