Sometimes I get questions about why I use a certain product or do things a specific way. Recently a friend asked why I use drying racks instead of a clothesline, and since I thought it was a good question I figured I would answer it here as well.
From what I have read, it is generally less expensive to set up clotheslines versus buying drying racks, especially as high quality wooden racks are in the $100 range. But I think it actually depends on whether or not you have something to attach your clotheslines to and how much you spend on your racks.
When my boys were younger I had a basic clothesline. It went from a palm tree to a portable basketball hoop to a crepe myrtle tree, making a L. Using it blocked the garage and made playing basketball impossible while I had a load hanging, but we managed. I couldn't hang all of our laundry on it, but still, it helped cut our gas bills.
Young boys get older and bigger, and soon there was a risk that playing basketball in the area between the garage and carport would result in broken windows. We moved the basketball hoop to the driveway. Because there isn't a clear line from the palm tree to the crepe myrtle I had to take down my clothesline. The only tree in my backyard is an orange tree, and it isn't tall enough for a line anyway. So to have a clothesline out back I either need to pay to have T posts sunk or install a Hills Hoist (which start around $200 and go up from there).
Costco has clothes drying racks most of the year, and they are $30; however, at least once a year they go on sale with a $10 instant rebate. I have purchased all three of my Costco racks this way. I like Costco racks because they have a swing up portion for hanging shirts from. I also have a more basic metal rack that I purchased at a discount store for about $25.
But cost isn't the real reason I use drying racks; I use them for convenience. My little laundry room is just steps from my carport area. I prefer drying most of our clothing under the carport when the sun is intense so that I can reduce fading. Under the carport is also great for drying clothes on drizzly days. If I need the power of the sun I move the racks.
If it rains, especially for several days (which it did not do last winter, not at all), I bring my racks into the house and dry clothes overnight in the family room. I also bring them inside if I do a last minute load before we head out of town overnight, just so my laundry isn't hanging outside for days.
Also, those swing up rods for hanging shirts? I love them! I dry our shirts on their hangers, making it that much easier for me to hang and put away clothes. I can also arrange a sheet over that rod and have it hang over the rest of the rack. If I am drying a comforter I swing it down out of the way.
So, for me, the racks make more sense right now, both for the convenience and because I would have to invest in T posts or a Hills Hoist to dry on clothesline in my backyard. We have discussed putting T posts or a Hills Hoist up when we reinvent out currently empty (except for that orange tree) backyard.