6 DIY Clothes Drying Rack Ideas That Work in a Pinch

No dryer? You've got this! Bring out your inner MacGyver with these DIY clothes drying rack ideas.

Published November 14, 2023
clothes-drying rack

My grandmother lived in a delightful older home that she and my grandfather bought in the 1950s, and it was never wired for a dryer. So, she (and my mom by proxy) dried their clothes on a clothesline in the backyard. Although dryers are standard today, they don’t work 100% of the time!

So when you rely on a dryer and it stops working mid-cycle, don’t panic. Anyone can cobble together a DIY clothes-drying rack with things you probably already have.

Stretch Out a Curtain Rod

One easy solution is to take down a tension curtain rod or shower rod and attach it between two relatively narrow walls (or remove your shower curtain for a while and use the road as a drying rod). Just string up your clothes on a few hangers and space them out on the rod. Make sure you don’t hang everything too close together, or nothing will dry.

Need to Know

If your clothes are sopping wet, try to hang the rod over water-resistant flooring, such as tile or vinyl.

Make the Most of Your Coat Stand

Coat stands are harder to come by in modern homes, but every so often, someone has one perched in their doorway. If you’ve got a trusty coat rack, you can give it the same curtain rod treatment. Put your clothes on hangers and hang them from the spokes, spacing them out so they get enough airflow.

This is a great option if you’ve got heavier items you’re trying to dry because the coat rack is built to hold hefty coats and thick outerwear.

Transform a Baby/Pet Gate Into a DIY Clothes-Drying Rack

drying clothes

Many pet gates/baby gates have thin slats/spokes running throughout. Hang one of these bad boys in between some chairs, and you’ve got a makeshift drying rack.

Depending on how far apart the slats are, you might only be able to fit thinner items like t-shirts, socks, and underwear between them. But feeding the clothes through one end of the slat and over again will give everything a lot of space to air out.

Pull the Ladder Out of the Garage

If you really can’t find anything else, chances are you’ve got a ladder in the garage. Pull it indoors, make sure it's clean, and use the steps to hang clothing on hangers. Although you could use the steps themselves to lay things flat to dry, only use it this way if you’ve thoroughly cleaned the ladder from top to bottom. There's no point in drying your clean clothes on grassy, cobwebbed tools.

Quick Tip

The ladder is a perfect option for drying larger items like blankets, comforters, and furniture covers. You can throw it over the top and stretch each end out around the ladder, giving it enough space to air out.

Convert Your Ironing Board

In a pinch, you can convert your ironing board to do the same job as a curtain rod. Flip it upside down and spread it between two chairs, two tables, or other pieces of furniture so you have some space between it and the floor. Then hang some hangers from the bottom lip surrounding the entire board. 

Need to Know

Remove the ironing board cover before drying clothes on it. You don’t want to risk the foam molding from the moisture.

Use a Jump Rope to Make an Indoor Clothesline

Indoor clotheslines DO exist. However, you probably don’t want to run to the hardware store to grab a metal clothesline hook and find a stud in your wall. Instead, retrieve a jump rope from your kids’ toy box and tie it to two ends of a chair, between two door handles, etc.

Once it’s relatively secure, you can start hanging clothes from it, either with hangers or just thrown over the rope. Remember that the rope can only hold so much weight, so don’t overload it with clothes or it’ll droop.

Helpful Hack

If the hangers are too heavy and you don't have clothespins, you can use chip-clips in a pinch. 

No Dryer, No Problem

Thankfully, people have been drying clothes for generations without the handy use of a mechanical dryer. With a little human ingenuity and MacGyver-like creativity, you can tap into your ancestral knowledge to DIY a clothes drying rack that’ll rival your trusty dryer any day. 

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6 DIY Clothes Drying Rack Ideas That Work in a Pinch