Turn a Ladder into a Laundry Drying Rack

Project difficulty: Easy

Time to complete: 3-4 hours

Materials needed: Old wooden ladder, sanding materials and tools, paint and/or spray paint, six hooks with screws on the ends (two to attach to the ceiling, four to attach to the ladder), shower hooks that can fit around the rungs of the ladder (you choose however many), chains (4) from hardware store

Did you know that laundry dryers account for 6% of all electricity used in the United States in a year?* Plus, certain items of clothing just aren’t the same after running them through the dryer. A convenient and energy efficient approach to drying clothes is to repurpose an old ladder to serve as a laundry drying rack. Examples of this project can be found around the web, but we've simplified the steps to try to make this laundry rack as easy to create and use as possible.

Once complete, the ladder hangs parallel to the ceiling, so it works in small spaces where there isn't room for a drying rack on the floor. This is a great way to save energy by air drying clothing, and it adds a bit of charm to any living space. Depending on how much effort you want to put in, you can sand and paint your ladder drying rack in no time to make it perfectly match the style of your home. 

You may want to complete steps one through three a day before starting on step four so the paint has plenty of time to dry. You can also choose to leave the ladder unpainted.

  1. To begin, gather all your supplies and tackle the ladder first. Use a sander or sandpaper to remove any bumps or old paint.
  2. Next, paint the ladder to your liking. Allow it to dry and apply a second coat if necessary. Do not use varnish, since hanging wet clothes on varnished wood can ruin the varnish. Paint provides a more water-proof seal. Be sure to paint in a well-ventilated area.
  3. If you want to add hooks for drying more clothes to your ladder (see step four), paint those in a contrasting color and allow them to dry. You can also paint the chain you'll use to hang the ladder from the ceiling if you like.
  4. Once the shower hooks are dry (if you painted them), hang them sporadically on the rungs of the ladder. Of course, you can always drape clothes over the rungs, but shower hooks can give you the option to dry more clothes at once.
  5. To hang the ladder from the ceiling, screw four hooks into the ladder. The hooks need to be evenly spread out to keep the ladder balanced — two on each side rail, parallel to each other. 
  6. Attach the four chains to the hooks screwed into the ladder. You can paint these chains the same color as your ceiling so they blend in more. 
  7. Take your two remaining hooks and screw them into the ceiling so you can attach two chains from one end of the ladder to one hook and the two chains on the other end to the second hook. Make sure the hooks you purchase can hold the weight of the ladder.
  8. Finally, hang the ladder from the ceiling with two chains in each hook. 

Another, even simpler option is to lean the ladder against a wall instead of hanging it from the ceiling. In this case, you would leave out steps 5-8.

*According to the California Energy Commission http://www.energy.ca.gov/