Make your own PVC clothesline for hanging on your RV ladder…

Even though Vaughn and Jake only had a couple of days before they fly out to help Samaritan’s Purse for a month, in Alaska, they took time from getting ready to build me a lightweight PVC clothesline for RV use – to hang off our ladder and use for either hanging wash out, or for drying swimsuits when in resorts…

DSC_0047_047e copy

A clothesline just for RVing!  It mounts temporarily, but sturdily, on our RV ladder; is lightweight, inexpensive, and can slide out of sight behind one of our couches when we are traveling.
I had noticed similar clotheslines on other RVs, but they always seemed to have clunky supports from the front of the frame to the ladder; I really didn’t like the look of those, so I told Vaughn what I wanted, showed him the dimensions that I was thinking of, and he came up with a great design!

First, he hit the hardware store, and picked up:
2 – 10′ sticks of 3/4″ SCH(edule) 40 PVC
6 – 90 degree angles, 2 end caps, and 2 Tees (you will also need PVC cleaner and PVC cement, which we had on hand)
10′ of braided cable (snare cable-he chose this because it is very strong, and does not stretch)
4 ferrules (for crimping the cable)
bungee cord (it was cheaper to take the S-hooks off a bungee cord than to buy 2 ind. S-hooks!)
and clothesline

total cost was just under $20.


 I decided that I would like the clothesline frame to be 4′ wide by 3′ deep.  Vaughn cut 2  4′ lengths of PVC, and 2  3′ lengths…


Because we are back in our hometown for a few months, Vaughn had access to his tools…

DSC_0005_005eBut if you don’t happen to have a chop saw handy, a hacksaw works just as well…  :)DSC_0012_012e He laid the frame out, putting it together, without glueing it, to make sure that was the size I wanted…DSC_0018_018eThen they took the 2  3′ side pieces and drilled 5 holes in each, 6″ apart starting 6″ from the ends.  The holes are for the clothesline to run through, so they need to be drilled all the way through the PVC.  They also took the front 4′ length and drilled a hole, all the way through, about an inch from each end (doesn’t have to be exact) for the span supports…

Next they took the second (back) 4′ length, and made the hooks that would support the back of the clothesline frame on one of the ladders steps…


To make the step hooks, Vaughn noted the middle of the length piece, then held it up to the ladder so that it was centered, and with a pencil, marked the PVC 3/4 of an inch IN (towards the center) from each ladder support.  Next, he cut the PVC through on both side marks.  Once the back length was in 2 parts, he cut a 1.5″ section out of the middle piece to make up for the extra length that glueing in the Ts would add.


Next was getting the PVC ready to glue together.  PVC is really smooth; taking the cleaner, which comes in a can with a sponge wand, they rubbed the cleaner on the insides of all the connections, and the outsides of the ends – anywhere that the PVC is going to be glued together.  The cleaner conditions the pipe to accept the PVC cement.  Be warned, once you cement PVC together, the only way to undo it is to cut it apart, so always double check your layout before committing to cement.

DSC_0024_024e They glued the frame together to make the overall frame rectangle, inserting the Ts where needed on the back section, and double checking that ALL drilled holes (sides and front) ran horizontal/side to side (not top of the frame to bottom).

To assemble the step support, use the small piece that was cut out of the middle back, and cut 3 more pieces to the same length (so you have 4 smaller sections total); these will be used to complete the support with 2  90s and the 2 end caps as shown as you have to have regular pipe between fittings…
(be sure to double check that this size of sections for between the Ts and the 90s is the right length and will clear the ladder steps – it did on ours, but your ladder may be different…)


Next, string a single length of clothesline back and forth through the side holes; start by tying it on on one side at either the front or back, running it across to the corresponding hole on the other side, then run the cord down that outside to the next hole, in and across, zig zagging until you finish stringing it,


and tie off tight.

DSC_0025_025eWith the frame done and clothesline strung, the last thing to do is to run the front span support cables.  The cables run from the front corners of the frame and hook onto the ladder supports, or a step, higher up on the ladder.  The cables support the front of the frame so that it hangs flat (or nearly flat – I actually asked hubby to run mine at a slight incline so that if I loaded it up it would not sag (I’m a little OCD like
One of the boys held the frame so that Vaughn could measure the distance from the holes in the front of the frame to a step 2 higher than the step that supported the frame.  He had cut the cable to fit and crimped it on using the ferrules (pic of a front corner span support)…DSC_0072_014They make special crimping tools, but if you don’t have one, you can crimp it other ways – Vaughn used a pair of bolt cutters and just put enough pressure on to crimp but not cut through the ferrules.
He then looped the other end of the cable through the smaller curve on the S-hook (removed from the tie-down strap), and crimped it on, trimming the ends for a clean look…  (the S-hook around the ladder support)  DSC_0065_007Because we used thin, but strong, cables for the span support, it’s a little harder to see them stretched out in the picture, or in real life for that matter (which is exactly why I wanted the clean cables instead of the chunky PVC span supports…)DSC_0076_018We had talked about making the frame 2×3 at first, so that it wouldn’t be so noticeable, but I’m really glad that we made it 4 wide by 3 deep.  It really doesn’t look too obvious, and it blends in nice with the RV…

DSC_0077_019And it works fabulously!!!


I have 20′ of pinnable clothesline space, and another 7ish feet of PVC runs that I can utilize by laying wet things over (perfect for beach towels or other large items).  Because we used 3/4 inch PVC, the frame is small enough that I can hang clothing on hangers and hook them on the sides of the rack, giving even more drying space.

DSC_0047_047eSo, for $20, and about 30 minutes (even with help from the kids 😉 ), I have a clothesline that I’m very pleased with, and so excited to be able to dry beach towels and swimsuits without them being strung up and down the entire 10 feet of our toy hauler ladder.  :)  (and since we are parked at friends’ for the next month, I’m even going to hang regular wash out (some campgrounds forbid clotheslines, while some forbid just hanging out regular wash, but OK poolwear).
I’m loving being able to dry things in the sun once again!
…now, if I could only figure out a hack to take chickens along…  😉

Lilla Rose

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  1. I love this clothes line. I have been looking for a decent design that blends in with our RV but yet doesn’t break the bank. I especially love the fact you used wire to secure the frame because it looks like it’s floating. I’m so excited not to have to hang towels, swim suites and laundry all over the chairs on the inside and out. Or sting something from a tree to the RV. Thanks for putting this info out her for us!


  1. […] we pulled in to our ‘spot’. Vaughn and the kids got some organizing done, and he made me a ‘clothesline’ that hangs off the RV ladder and is portable… I’ve had lots of help putting it to work! […]

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