DIY Bathtub Laundry & Clothesline

[Author’s note: This was written during at the height of the Covid pandemic in NYC, and the laundromat across the street has since re-opened :) ]

I live in a Brooklyn apartment building with shared laundry machines. My neighbors aren’t the most careful with the pandemic social distancing, so I decided to do laundry in my bathtub.

It’s pretty easy, just be sure to scrub the tub out first, and use shampoo if you don’t have laundry detergent. Don’t put in too many clothes, you’ll need to hang them up later. I find that washing four to six days of clothes works best, separating whites and darks. Also separate out the socks if you’ve been walking around the apartment in them. Instead of re-filling the tub to rinse, I just rinse each item in the sink and hang it up.

Now to the more interesting part, where to hang the clothes? Some bathtubs come with a clothesline (lucky you), and some have a sturdy curtain rod, although your clothes will then drip on the floor. In any case, a clothesline will increase your drying capacity on top of whatever the curtain rod can hold. Clotheslines listed on Amazon usually require drilling into the wall. I rent my apartment, so I want hooks that won’t damage the tiles.

Adhesive hooks mountable on bathroom tiles

I’ve had luck with Jinshunfa adhesive hooks to hang coats and kitchenware. They look clean, the hook swivels up and down and the adhesive seems to bear the load I want. I’m sure there are other options though.

Parachute cord

Some years ago I bought a compass and some parachute cord for hiking, based on a list of essential survival tools. I never had to use either, but now is my chance — for the parachute cord, at least. It’s easy to cut parachute cord with scissors, but it has incredible load bearing strength — much more than you would need for a load of laundry.

Start of bowline knot
Up the rabbit hole, around the tree, down the rabbit hole
Don’t forget the stopper knots

Tie a bowline knot at one end. This is an all-purpose sailing knot. Every six to twelve inches, put in simple overhand stopper knots so that the clothes hangers can’t slide down towards the center. Then, tie a bowline knot at the other end. The measurement for the cord doesn’t need to be exact, just overestimate a bit and be sure to account for any stopper knots you put in. Test the length on the hooks you’ve put up in the bath, and adjust the bowlines. There are fancier knots but these work well enough for me.

Make the ends tidy

You’ve probably noticed that cut end of the parachute cord is now frayed. No problem, just re-cut the end, and gently melt it with stove burner or match.

Hang the cord on the hooks, and voila, you have a durable clothesline that won’t get the rest of your apartment wet.

Hang up the cord

Grows best near salt water. Emits code, words, and films.