For decades, rotary washing lines have been the method of choice for millions of homes to dry clothes after washing, especially during the summer months. In different parts of the country you’ll hear them referred to in different ways, ranging from simply ‘the line’ to more unusual terminology like a ‘whirligig’.
What you call them is largely irrelevant, here on this site we’ll use them interchangeably. They’re popular for two main reasons, firstly they’re very efficient, especially in the British climate. It’s rare to get long periods with no wind, and rotary lines work by gradually rotating, allowing all clothing to be aired as it dries, carrying moisture away on the breeze. The second benefit is that while you need space to erect your washing line, it’s a very efficient use of space while in use, and for the rest of the time can be collapsed down to little more than a pole.
Most readers will already know what a rotary washing line is and how to use one, so we’ll move on, but if you need more information, check out our blog section to learn more.
Our top choices of lines are chosen based on a combination of user feedback and price, to help get you the best value. While features do vary a little, the main selection criteria come down to the size of the line (ie how much you’ll be able to hang on it), reliability, ease of installation and of course, price.
So, those are the lines we’ve chosen to feature as our top picks – but of course you’ll need a little more detail if you’re here to research in depth. There’s a limit to how much you can say about a washing line, but there’s a good bit more detail we can give you before we get to that point.
Livivo Outdoor Garden 4 Arm 45m Folding
The first pick goes to Livivo for one reason, and that’s price. It’s a good performing line, and it’s gone down well with people that have bought it.As you’ll discover in a moment, we do believe the Brabantia next is a better product, but it’s significantly more expensive, so this one tops our chart. If you can pay more, please do get the better line, but Livivo is a great choice for everyone else.
At the time of writing in August 2020, over half the reviews on Amazon are five stars out of five. That’s one of the strongest indicators you’re going to get of quality on the web, and quite unusual for a product that’s a relative unknown to most households.
One of the major reasons it’s highly rated so highly (as well as price) is product design, and in particular the fact that it comes supplied with a quality ground spike. If you’ve ever tried to use the plastic tubes that come with poor quality lines to mount a line in the ground, you’ll know they fall over easily.
It’s also supplied with a cover too, great for protection when the line’s not in use so the it’s kept away from the elements. While rotary lines are designed to resist all weathers, keeping the cover on at least through the winter gives your line the maximum protection and in turn a longer lifespan.
As for the line itself, it opens and closes easily, and allows for different heights. As the arms extend out further, the line will tighten more, which is great for adjustments to line tension.
With a maximum of 45 metres of line length available, this line will offer plenty of space to large households, allowing you to spread the laundry out for better drying.
Closing the line down is also simple – a button press and hold will allow you to slide the bracket down the pole until its completely closed, and the cover can be slid over the top if required. It’s a good idea to allow the arms and PVC line to dry before the cover is placed on though.
All in all, this is a very impressive line for the money. Before we move on to the cream of the crop Brabantia line, here’s where you can price check the Livivo on Amazon:
Brabantia Lift-O-Matic Rotary Airer
As we said earlier, purely on product performance, this Brabantia Lift-o-Matic can be considered the top dog. Many of us associate Brabantia with high quality (and pricey!) kitchen bins, but they make other product lines too.
The price is likely to be the only thing that puts you off choosing the Lift-O-Matic, it’s over twice the RRP of other lines on this page, so it’s understandable if you consider it to be just too expensive.
If you’re happy to step up and pay the extra though, you’ll get a matching step up in performance. For starters there’s an extra five metres of line space compared to the Livivo when fully opened, giving a huge fifty metres of line overall.
There’s even a larger sixty metre variation available too, but you’re unlikely to need to spend that much to justify the extra. If you’re buying on Amazon, there’s an option to change the line length on the product page of their website – hit the blue button below to get there.
It also comes supplied with a ground spike, but there’s no cover with the base Brabantia package. If you want a cover, you can choose a package that includes one, with the price rising even more too. Alternatively, you can buy the cover later.
A really neat feature is each arm has a hole on the end to hang a clothes hanger – if you’ve got delicate items that get imprinted by pegs, just borrow a hanger from the wardrobe and hang them on the line that way instead to dry. That’s a typical innovation you get when you pay extra for a premium product like this.
Another example is that the whole upper section height is adjustable, so if you’re short or tall you can adjust your line accordingly. It’s even
Similarly, the rotation of the line is incredible smooth compared to cheaper alternatives, helping your laundry dry quickly and evenly in the breeze.
If you want the best, take a deep breath and check out the price here:
NETTA 4 Arm 45M Line
Third up, this Netta line is a fairly basic model that’s been well received by previous customers.
It includes a ground spike and cover, meaning that you’ve got all you need to get up and running quickly (elbow grease to get the ground spike into the grond not included).
The 45 metres of line space should be sufficient for most families, has different tension positions (tighter achieves by opening the line further) and is simple to open and close.
The negative we have to mention here is that it just doesn’t feel as strong as the earlier models, and while we’ve not seen it fall over or collapse, it doesn’t fill you with confidence that a heavy load of washing and stronger gusts of wind would end well.
Overall, it’s a reasonably good line for a good price, it just feels slightly lacking compared to the earlier choices in the strength stakes.
You can see it on Amazon here:
Vileda 45m 4 Arm Rotary Dryer
If Brabantia are known for bins, then surely for Vileda its the super mop. Again though, its a big brand and again they’re anything but a one trick pony.
It’s a similar story again, in that paying for a quality brand has its upsides in product life and features, but the Vileda fails to rank higher because if we were going to spend more, the Brabantia is what we’d choose.
Vileda’s offering is perfectly good, with a 45 metre (which seems to be standard these days) line, and does the job of drying laundry well.
It’s got 3 heights of opening, which is less than the Netta, and far less adjustable than Brabantia’s product.
It’s also worth mentioning that reading through customer reviews on Amazon you’ll see several of these arrived damaged. It’s not something we’ve seen so can’t say whether that’s a manufacturing problem or a less than careful delivery driver, but we’d point you to reading those reviews to make your own mind up.
The Amazon page is here:
Home Treats Clothes Line With 4 Arms
Finally, we wanted to finish with another brand that sells well but is less known. The reason for picking the Home Treats clothes line is you get a lot for your money.
It feels a bit like a blast form the past, it that it looks a bit like it’s fresh out of the twentieth century, and reminds me of the one in the garden when I was a kid. It’s a washing line though, after all, and it does dry clothes which is what you’re buying it for!
It comes with a ground spike included and a cover too, and is priced very competitive which earns it the final spot on this selection. It’s very much a budget-buy, so if you’re tight on funds, it’s definitely worth considering.
Check it out here:
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Rotary Washing Line?
Choosing the right line for you will depend on the size of your household, the capacity of your washing machine, and how often you use it. Bigger households with larger machines will need a larger line, whereas if there’s just one or two of you, opting for a more compact solution will be sufficient.
Washing lines are very similar to anything else you buy in the sense that you get what you pay for. Making the mistake of buying a low quality product can mean the line doesn’t spin effectively or the line snaps due to poor manufacturing. On the other hand, following advice from previous customers and reputable review websites means you can have more confidence in making a more informed choice.
More generally, rotary lines are one of the best ways to get good drying performance in a limited space. Of course, a long straight is fine if you’ve got outdoor space that’s sufficient with strong anchor points at each end, but even then, many households opt for the rotary lines instead because they’re so much more compact and convenient.
How Do You Fix Rotary Washing Lines In The Ground?
If you’ve ever suffered with a line that suddenly decides to collapse, you’ll know the frustration with trying to get the pole to stay vertical.
How to mount a line will very much depend on the type of ground in your garden. Some areas have hard clay style ground, which may be able to provide enough support for the line on its own. In most areas, though, you’ll need to use a tube that’s supplied with the line in the ground. Simply digging a narrow hole in the ground may not be enough though – you may find this results in a return to a tilting or collapsed line a few days later.
If this reflects your case, you’ll need something a little more solid to keep the line upright and usable. Normally, that means concrete in the ground to provide a little weight and more importantly strength around the tube the line is inserted into. That might sound difficult, complicated or beyond your skills, but actually it’s quite straightforward. Here’s a great video demonstrating how easy it is from the DIY Doctor:
How Much Space Do I Need For A Rotary Line?
The space required to use a line will depend on the size you buy. Typically, the product will be described by its radius or diameter. The radius is the measurement from the centre pole to the outermost point when the line is fully open, and the diameter is the distance across the widest section looking down from above. Theoretically, the diameter should be twice the radius.
So, how do these measurements relate to the required space in your garden? Beyond the diameter, you should allow enough clearance around the line for clothing to swing outwards without catching on walls, fencing or other obstacles to prevent freshly cleaned clothes from getting dirty or damaged. Ideally, that should be a metre all the way around, so add 2m to the diameter or add 2m to twice the radius.
What Is The Best Washing Line To Buy?
All lines are different, all gardens are different and all households are different. For that reason, we can’t give a one size fits all answer, but we can point you towards our reviews to learn more and get much more detail to make a good decision for your home.
What Is The Strongest Washing Line?
The plastics use in lines are designed to be strong, but some are better than others. The bigger the line is you’re buying, the stronger you want it to be as you’ll be likely to be hanging more on it. Some use rope style materials, others use a plastic-like cord. There’s even some that use a steel derivative offering huge strength. The stronger ones are obviously most durable, but also tend to be the most expensive. We’d recommend checking out the reviews section to learn more about a given rotary washing line.
Can I Use The Line All Year Round?
No matter what season you’re in, it’s fine to use the line to dry laundry outdoors. Contrary to popular belief, winter drying on the line works just fine, although it’s not something that we’d recommend in sub zero temperatures, and unsurprisingly it’s not going to work in the rain.
Other than that, if it’s a dry day, washing will dry, although obviously more slowly than on a hot summer’s day!
This very much depends on where you live and your attitude towards risk! It’s really about the chance of someone coming into your garden and stealing your property – almost certainly the risk is low, but that’s a choice for you to make!
How Do I Stop My Washing Line From Sagging?
Lines often start to sag over time – it’s the nature of hanging items on it gradually causing it to stretch. The heavier the items, the more they stretch, and lines made of weaker materials tend to suffer from the problem sooner. The good news is, most lines can be tightened. Simply untie the end of the line (usually in the centre or the outermost section on one to the arms of the line) and retie it with slightly less line running through the arms. It’s often easier to do this with the line collapsed, so when you open the line you may need to tease the line around the structure of the open arms to get it even again. If the line won’t open, you may have overtightened the line and need to reverse the process a little.