DIY Built-in Laundry Drying Racks

Do you have or use a drying rack in your laundry room? Up until last May, I didn’t have one, and got by with hanging my wet clothes on a plastic hanger to dry. Obviously, this isn’t always the best solution, because sometimes you end up with little pokeys in shoulders or creases in pants. Know what I mean? But if you’ve been following me for a while, then you’ve already seen the built-in drying racks I built to solve that problem.

I originally spotted them here while looking for ideas for my laundry room makeover, and as I mentioned in that post, they’re my absolute all-time favorite feature of my new laundry room. Today I thought I’d show you how I put them together. You’re not going to believe how easy they are. Aren’t you excited to get to read another tutorial from me? :) (You can’t tell I have a background in education, can you?)

I started with a trip to the store, where I bought a couple of these:

That’s right, mesh laundry bags from Walmart for $1.87 a piece. I figured whatever material I used was going to need to stand up to moisture, so this stuff ought to do the trick. I was able to make two drying racks from a single package.

Oh, and while you’re there, you Silhouette owners might as well pick up a giant pack of lint roller refills, sitting practically right next to it. You can read my post about how I use these as an alternative to vinyl transfer paper here.

Then head over to the hardware store and pick up some 1/2″ PVC piping. I found these at Lowe’s in the plumbing section.

This stuff is super handy and super cheap, at just $1.25 for a 10 ft piece. That was enough for me to do a whole rack, with some left over, so I bought 4 pieces.

Next up, you’ll need some PVC elbows.

Again, PVC is very cheap, so you can buy these at $0.22 a piece, or get a 10 pack for $1.98. You’ll need 4 per rack. There are bins and bins and bins full of these things, so take your time and find the right ones. You want the 1/2″ to 1/2″ elbow with a slip end (slip x slip), not a threaded end. If the package says threaded, put it back.

The inside should be smooth looking, not threaded like a screw. That way you can adjust your racks to fit perfectly, without having to take them apart.

Lastly, you’ll also need some drawer slides. This is where it gets a little pricey. I’m all about saving money where I can, but this is not one of those situations. Trust me, I started this project with some of the cheaper under mount ones shaped like an L, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get them to work. Get some heavy duty side mount ones instead. Visual learners might benefit from the crude illustration below (I couldn’t resist):

Okay, so it’s not drawn to scale, but you get the idea. And in case I haven’t made myself clear, here’s one more illustration:

So suck it up and buy some nice ones like the ones I used for my two-tiered drawer organizers.

Yes, I know. These can run anywhere from $12 to $20 a piece. But you’re saving WAY more than that by doing it yourself, right? Gotta love DIY!  :)

In the space where you’ll be installing your racks, install wood side rails if necessary, for each rack. That way the drawer slides won’t be hindered by the protruding edge. In the picture below, I removed the drawer slide on the top so you could see what I’m talking about.

Then install the outside part of your drawer slide on top of the wood rails.

Now you can start putting together the frames for your racks. Cut the PVC piping down to the correct size so that you have a rectangle that fits within the space. Use an elbow at each corner to attach the sides. There will be some give with the corner pieces, so the measuring doesn’t have to be exact. Just be sure you hold it inside the cabinet to get the size right before you go on. Also, make sure all the printing on the pipes is facing the same direction (in this case, down).

Next, lay the PVC frame on top of your laundry bag and cut all the way around, adding an inch to all the edges. This stuff stretches, so that will be plenty. When you’re done, you’ll have two pieces. Just use one for each rack.

Sheesh my hands look old…I need some lotion! Either that or one of my daughters hand models!

Now, you may be smarter than me and can come up with a better way to hold the mesh onto the PVC, but I tried stapling it (big fat fail), screwing it on (too much work), and finally settled on clear packing tape. Just pull the mesh around the piping as tightly as you can, and secure it with clear, heavy duty, packing tape. Oh, and be sure you have the printing on the pipes face up before you start taping so it doesn’t show once you turn it over!

Now you need to attach the inside track of the drawer slides to the PVC frame. This part is a little tricky, because of the fact that the PVC is round, and the drawer slides are most definitely not. But you need to get the slides installed exactly vertically (up and down). It can’t be angled slightly one way or another, or your rack won’t slide properly.

Here’s how I did it. Lay your rack down on a flat surface, and then lay the inside track of the drawer slide right next to it, being sure that it’s straight up and down, not leaning. Use a sharpie to mark a hole in each end, preferably through the elbow so the piping won’t have a chance to shift around during use. This is why it’s important to get everything fitting well before you put the mesh on.

Next, drill a pilot hole through the marks.

And attach the the inside tracks of the drawer slides with screws. Mine looks a little wonky in the picture, but it’s just the camera angle. Because I never would have left it like that for a post. No, not me.

Okay, confession time, it is a little wonky, but I was too impatient to stop and straighten it out before taking the picture. Ugh.

Anyway, all that’s left to do after that is to slide the rack into place, and enjoy!

You might notice that I cut the corners out of the mesh in the picture above. When I rebuilt the top rack for this tutorial (yes, I did that for you), I left the corners in tact because I thought it might look neater. You, of course, can make it however you want. :) Are you up for it?

You can see more diy projects from my laundry room here:

Laundry Room Makeover
DIY Pottery Barn Roman Shade
Pottery Barn Inspired Wall Clock
Laundry Tip: How to Safely Make your Own Bleach Gel

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Me and My DIY

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