Wall Mounted Clothes Drying Rack, Perfected

Last week I talked about building my wall-mounted DIY clothes drying rack from a Freecycled baby play pen. Several readers expressed their concern that my rack as-built wouldn’t allow quite enough airflow to ensure prompt drying.

I addressed those concerns temporarily by propping the rack when in-use away from the wall using a fruit tree branch spreader. Who knew those things were so versatile? The greater angle of the rack allowed the drying items a lot more airflow.

Good temporary fix, but definitely temporary. Now, I believe I have perfected (or at least substantially improved) the original clothes drying rack concept.

In its new form, each rack is made from two baby jail panels hinged together. When not in use, the racks hang flat, a few inches off the wall. When in use, they fold up to form a two-tiered, sideways-V-shaped rack.

I installed a small piece of leftover 1×1 trim from the garage at the right height to serve as a ledge for the in-use, folded rack.

The baby jail panels were designed to screw together. I took advantage of this design feature by slipping a bolt through the pre-existing holes and securing the fastener with a washer and wingnut.

Because of the acute angle, the clothes drying on the rack have a lot more air flow and don’t crowd each other as they hang down.

There is a ton of space on this thing – I got an entire load of diapers and half a load of pants and other assorted clothes hung up on one without even bringing the second unit into play. I think between the two racks I could have 2-4 loads worth of items drying at once.

Even though this rack projects into the working space of the laundry room when set up, I can drop it into it’s flat configuration against the wall if I need to throw another load in the washing machine. And here’s the thing: I can collapse the rack while the clothes remain on it. When I leave after starting the wash, I just prop it back up into that sideways-V shape and drying resumes.

Total cost for this project was about $3.00 for the expense of four bolts, washers and wingnuts. Everything else was free or already on hand.

Read all about the first-run version of the DIY Wall Mounted Drying rack to learn more.


  1. Michelle Marie says

    You are amazing! Something that size could be adapted for an outdoors porch installation as well. Have a great day!

    • says

      That’s a good idea – with a few additional hooks installed on the back porch, it could actually be completely mobile – outside in the summer, inside in the winter.

  2. says

    I saw a baby jail in the thrift store the other day and I almost picked it up for this purpose. One problem though for me – complete and utter lack of wall space to install these awesome puppies!

  3. says

    Love this idea! Wouldn’t work in our current house where the washer & dryer are in our basement, but if we ever have a laundry room I am definitely going to use this.

    • says

      In our last house the W&D were in the basement. It worked, but there were some definite moisture and organization drawbacks, too. I wouldn’t have done this in the basement either, my goal doing laundry there was to get in and get out as quickly as possible!

  4. says

    That is some keen handiwork Erica.
    I hate to rain on your, umm, drying laundry but… Having lived in both swamps and rainforests, I would strongly caution you to keep a close eye on your laundry room walls and corners for mildew damage. Even with the better airflow, unless you can open a window, all the water evaporating out of your clothes will now be in the room. Seattle, despite it’s wet reputation, is actually way drier than the places I’ve lived, so you might be fine, but I have too much experience with moldy walls/corners/underneaths not to at least issue a cautionary note.
    That set up would be stellar on a porch. I LOVE the innovation!

        • RLM McW says

          Yup, and add more toxic chemicals to your life – while supporting the production of same, with whatever collateral eco-damage is done in the production of toxic paints. All ordinary commercial paints are toxic, but those with fungicides are more so. Some of us would rather have fungi than additional toxins in our homes.
          Why not just wipe the walls down occasionally with vinegar? Or a tea-tree oil solution? Or hang clothes outside when the humidity is too high? Of course there is more humidity in Death Vallen in summer than in most American homes in winter – so that should be no problem! (Ok, slight exaggeration there, maybe.)

    • says

      An excellent point. I think I’ll be ok, but I will definitely watch for mold and mildew, which definitely happen in Seattle. Pluses for this room: the window can be opened and this room is the site for the whole-house ventilation fan which comes on for 15 minutes every hour. I’m going to go half-core, though, and still planning on shoving the towels and slower drying things in the dryer.

      • Barbara says

        Love this clothes drying rack. I am going to start looking at the thrift stores for the railing today. While I don’t have a window or whole house ventilation, I do have a ceiling fan and a ceiling register for my air-conditioner/heat pump in my laundry room so I shouldn’t have to worry about mildew forming .

    • kay says

      Thank you for the heads up about possible mold. The clothes drying rack is a great idea if a room has adequate ventilation.

  5. Mary W. says

    Ahhhh…nothing feels better than a successful lifehack!! Congrats on the natural high you must be experiencing right now!

    • says

      Well, truthfully this post was written last week but, yeah, when I first got this all to work for $3 I was pretty pleased with myself! :)

  6. Debbie M. says

    You’re a girl after my own heart. It’s almost a curse to not be able to look at something headed to the “resource pile” and not see a way to re-purpose it.

    • says

      My mom (also a project person) just said this to me yesterday: “I realized I would NEVER have time to do all the things that popped into my head. It was very liberating, now I can think of a project but know it’s ok not to actually do it, even if it’s a great idea.”

    • Pam says

      There is always room at the top….near the ceiling. Just use a rope to pull it up there, or figure something special . Maybe an umbrella without its skin, hanging like a chandelier.

  7. Beth says

    I have my indoor drying rack mounted over a gas furnace that blows hot air, so there is no need to worry about mildew. During the non-heating season, I dry my clothes on an outdoor clothes line.

  8. Patti says

    Amazing creative innovation, Erica. My children are grown and out of the house now but for years I searched for space in our small house to dry items during the winter. We even lacked enough space for bath towels to dry overnight. This is a great idea!!

  9. Lady Banksia says

    I love every bit of this idea! Was taken by it at the first rendition, but the improvements push it over the top!

  10. Bobbi D says

    I love this. We have hung our clothes out for 54 years and I love it! wouldn’t do it any other way.

  11. Maeghen says

    While this may be a great way of saving energy, I still need my natural fibers ( which is a good portion of my diapers and most of my clothing) to be *at least* fluffed in the dryer. I hate wearing scratchy, stiff clothes.

    • Ally says

      I always put my clothes on the no-heat “fluff” cycle to get the wrinkles out before hanging them up. Softens them considerably.

  12. says

    Absolutely brilliant. The only time I ever used a dryer was when I was forced to, living in an apartment complex where clotheslines were a no-no (silly people). In fact, I did have a “baby jail” playpen, but would never have thought to repurpose it like this – my hat’s off to you!

    We’ve always hung our wash out, in the summertime, or in the wintertime, dried the clothes on dowel racks, which aren’t cheap, but not all that expensive, either. The nice thing about drying clothes indoors is that, here in the Northeast, they moisturize your house beautifully during heating season – no need for a humidifier. Can’t believe how many people have *no clue* how easy it is to line-dry clothes!

  13. says

    I love this! We never have enough drying space, and half the year (at least) our living room is substantially taken up with the drying racks that *still* don’t fit everything (who knew having 3 children would create so much washing?!). Thanks for sharing.

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  15. says

    Gr8 idea, turning a baby-jail into a clothes-jail. Too bad I don’t have any babies! Unlike you, I have plenty of nuts, bolts and screws, but no baby-jail! However, you have inspired me to look around the place with something comparable. I really like the idea and thought of enhancing it, buying dowel sticks and supports, then attaching it to the inside of a closet door. I would not mind having the closet door open while clothes are drying. I always handwash my gym and cycling clothing, which dries usually in a snap because of the wicking fibers, but still is a pain to have all these hangers hanging from the soap dish or shower head in the tub! Cool then – ya got me thinkin’ :) Thanks!

  16. Nathan B. says

    Brilliant design! I’ve been working on something similar for my basement laundry area. I would use something like this, but A) I’ve got food storage pantry shelves along that wall and B) the walls are unfinished concrete, and we rent, so drilling into them to hang these would be on the no-no list, especially due to the water problems they’ve already gone to great lengths to deal with (basement has two sump pumps, and it’s a small house!). I think I can utilize my floor joists to hang a retractable rack or two instead.

  17. says

    Ok, I am very late to the post, but this is a brilliant idea! I will definitely keep it in mind for a future in which we have walls that we actually own and can drill into with impunity.

  18. says

    Love this idea! I dry 99% of my family’s clothes on a rack, but with a family of 7, I’m always needing more space. I live just north of Seattle myself, so an outside line is not always functional. AND…my twins just moved out of their twins so guess what I have sitting in the garage? My future clothes rack. :) Thanks for the idea and the great website. I just found you, and as an avid gardener myself, I am now following you. Keep up the great work!

  19. Judy King says

    Omgoodness I love this! How very clever of you!
    I have used the wobble wooden racks for years and been drooling over wall versions.
    Yours is the best design I have seen. Simple effective and holds a lot!
    Wonder, with little grandchildren visiting, I may want to add hmmm a latch? Or something to keep them from accidently bumping and colapsing down on them, yet still be quick for me to adjust. THANKS FOR INSPIRATION!

  20. Happy Housewife/Mom of 4 boys says

    I was so stoked to see your drying rack! Cool idea , here is some food for thought on expanding this idea for those who lack the wall space but need an alternative money saving way to dry laundry! LOOK UP !!!! Most people never think about the space above their heads! Same materials used here, only instead of the nifty hangers you used to hang them vertically, try bolting them permanently together so they don’t ” v ” bend, they stay like a ladder, and them hand them from the ceiling on hooks ! You can then use hangers like the ones in your closet to hang from the rungs , you get double the hanging space, plenty of air flow , and no walls needed! Just the ceiling! And everyone has one ! As for the basement , I do use mine in the winter, all you need is a good dehumidifier, and if you are like me and worry about every little thing, I also use a good fan. It circulates the air , and keeps down the humidity. But I am one of the lucky few who has, heating vents, 2 windows and a walk out basement. Others may not be so lucky. I hope this is helpful :)

    • Happy Housewife/Mom of 4 boys says

      If you cannot find a baby pen like this to reuse, you can make this for fairly cheap cost. Under 20$ Go to your local Lowe’s or hardware store and buy 2 – 2 x 3 x 6 pcs of wood these will be your rails for the sides. Then you will buy 18 – 1 inch diameter rods about 36 inches long. You can go as long as 48 inches and still be stable. You then use a drill to drill out holes in your 2×3’s 1″ deep every 4 inches on both pieces making sure the holes drilled on each piece line up , as you will be putting the rod into them like a ladder. After you drill them out and clean the holes of debris, make sure to put wood glue in each hole and along the inside edges , then one rail at a time place all the rods in the first rails holes then using 2 inch deck screws screw each rod into place to secure it. Next you will repeat this on the other side. After you are finished allow glue to dry and set ( about an hour ) and you are ready to hang your rack for use!

    • Laurel says

      They did this in the old days. Hoisted the clothes rack up to the ceiling using ropes & a pulley. I saw it in James Herriot’s house (now museum) in Yorkshire.

  21. Judith says

    Someone just shared this at Facebook, and I saw it for the first time. This is brilliant! Like some others here, I don’t have much wall space, but I can imagine hanging this over the laundry room door, by attaching hooks to one end that go over the top of the door. And to keep the dryer folded at an angle, you could attach bungee cords or any kind of cord from the top end to the bottom end. Unhook them, and the dryer straightens out again. Then you could move the dryer to another door if necessary. Now to find an old baby jail . . . .

    I have an expandable clothesline that can stretch across my loft/attic room twice, attached to hooks in the wall and right under a ceiling fan. I like to hang big items up there, out of the way, but it would be great to have a drying rack with a large capacity in the laundry room for smaller items. Thanks!

  22. says

    baby-jail clothing rack hanger… Great idea. I’m think of it for my 19yr old son as he heads off to his university rental townhouse this September
    . Teens and teens+ just don’t use shelves, drawers or baskets that well. Perhaps this is the answer – the new closet?

  23. Cathy says

    That is just about the coolest most innovative thing I have seen in forever! I live in an apartment and when it is down not drying clothes, it gives such a great art look to the wall. KUDOS

  24. Sandy says

    AWESOME!! What a great idea…I found this pinned on Pinterest and I think this is an awesome idea…now to go out and find a old wooden playpen….my dryer broke a few weeks ago. The answer to lower light bill and no dryer…you are an inspiration!

  25. says

    This is so great! I have one of the old baby gates that was recalled, but I hung onto the walls in hopes of using them again in some way. And I happen to be in the middle of re-doing my laundry room! We were meant to find eachother! (or at least I was meant to find you!) Thanks for the inspiration!

  26. Wendy Blakeman says

    Just ran across your blog while looking for off the wall clothes racks. Kept scrolling thru looking at other fun stuff here. I’d like to stay in touch. Some neat stuff.

  27. Tamaresque says

    I never thought of using the wall. I’ve always suspended them from the ceiling using rope and pulleys to raise and lower them. In Britain it was common practice to have a ‘clothes horse’ which was suspended from the ceiling, usually in the kitchen, so that the warm air rising from the fireplace or stove would dry the clothes. My dad used to make one for my mum in every house we lived in. I borrowed that idea and made mine from cot sides. It think your idea would need much less work, although much more wall space. :-)

  28. says

    I definitely could use one of these. When it’s raining outside, I have clothes hanging all over the place. (My dryer isn’t working, husband in process of fixing, LOL) It looks like I could put my shirts on hangers and hang from the rack. I hang pants from the legs using the plastic hangers from Walmart that have a clip on each end. This makes drying time faster.

    Thanks for the DIY.

  29. says

    Very good idea. I’m from Argentina. Please take a minute and watch my Clothes Drying Rack in my webpage and fell free to ask questions or publish it in your page.
    Regards, Santiago.

  30. dryer vent issues says

    I’m not particularly “green”, I started recycling because pizza boxes and milk cartons were taking up too much space in my trash can. BUT this clothes drying rack is a matter of practicality. The run for my dryer vent is so long moisture gets stuck in it, threatening water damage. When I had it cleaned out, the man cleaning it had never seen a vent so clogged up, so it is also a fire hazard. I’ve been having to vent my dryer into the house and every few loads clean lint off the mesh covering, plus vacuuming out the run. I started line drying jeans because it took so long to dry them. I’ve been adding more and more clothes to the line and realized that in the summer things on the line dry as fast as things in the dryer because I vent the heat out of the house due to increasing summer temperatures. I feel like I’m at war with my dryer!!! Enter this baby jail post….immediately I thought to use an old baby crib I had. So my Dad and I got to work on it this afternoon and I’ve already hung clothes on it. I didn’t read all the comments about mildew and the original stain on the wood getting into the clothes. So I’ll have to keep an eye on that. But I can spray paint the wood with a sealer and keep the room ventilated. PS I’ll probably use the other spare parts from the crib for climbing bean plants! Yay!

  31. says

    I LOVE THIS IDEA! Ingenious, I’m so glad I came across this. I have son who is fixing to outgrown his baby items, and I am going to do this.

  32. Leslie Holman-Anderson says

    This is a grand idea! I don’t have the room to do it indoors, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work as well outdoors, mounted on a fence or blank section of house wall.

  33. Allie says

    This is wonderful! You are insanely industrious. We live off grid and in a TINY house, so drying clothes in a dryer is sort of out of the question without our beast of a generator rumbling in the background. I have one of those wooden fold up clothes dryers, but being in an itty-bitty space that sucker just takes up so much room. I’m going to look into my wall options for putting one of these together. Thanks for the idea!!

  34. Carolyn says

    Hello.. This I genius and am in the process of gathering materials for this! I have exhausted local options for this type of plant hooks. Where did you find them? Please help!! :-) thanks in advance!

    • Carolyn says

      Update: I ended up buying a 6 pack of these hooks in black from Amazon (figured I will use the extra two for hanging baskets outside) we ended up using both long sides of crib rail, we cut and hinged about 3 or 4 slats up from the bottom. We installed a 1 x 2 pleat board so when the bottom is folded up it rests on that to provide air flow. Thank you so much! I have been using this daily for cloth diaper drying! It has helped so much and love, love, love it!

      • Carolyn says

        I forgot to say we used flat hinges on the backside of the rails, we actually bought a shutter hardware kit, because it was cheaper than buying the hinges separately. Hope this helps anyone who is using a crib!

  35. Sandra says

    Wow… just found this and you are the one I would want to be stuck on a desert island with. Great thinking.

  36. says

    I love this idea, so much so that it’s on my pinterest board and I am trying to convince the husband to go junk shopping this weekend. ;) I love this. And I have the wall to put it on too! :)

    Rhonda Morin


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