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Best retractable washing lines: neat, space-saving lines Mumsnetters swear by

Do the first signs of spring have you running to hang the washing outdoors? Here are the best retractable washing lines for quick, convenient drying, as recommended by Mumsnet users.

By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated Mar 27, 2024

best retractable washing lines

Spring has officially arrived - the time when many Mumsnet users get an insane amount of satisfaction simply from the act of hanging their washing outside. Air drying your clothes outdoors is not only more cost-effective than even the best tumble dryer, it’s also better for your clothes too. A generous helping of natural sunlight and natural breeze can help remove creases and odours from your clothes while protecting them from wear and tear caused by the higher temperature of a tumble dryer. 

If the first glimpse of sunshine sees you heading straight outdoors with your laundry basket and clothes pegs, but you don’t want a rotary washing line taking up space in your garden, investing in one of the best retractable washing lines could be the ideal solution.

Easy to set up and offering substantial drying space, these retractable washing lines can be added to almost all outdoor spaces without looking unsightly. Even better, you can quickly retract them into their casing when not in use, leaving your garden free and accessible for your kids to enjoy some time in the great outdoors.

To bring you the best retractable washing lines you can buy today, we’ve tapped into the tried and tested views of Mumsnet users, seeking their feedback on the washing lines they’ve used in their own homes and would happily recommend to others. We then combined this research with wider consumer feedback to bring you retractable washing lines to suit every family and budget.

For more expert guides to household essentials, check out our round-ups of the best washing machines, the best dehumidifiers, the best budget washing machines and the best steam irons.

These are the best retractable washing lines UK families love.

Best retractable washing line overall
What we like
  • Two lines create up to 30m of drying space 

  • Can hold up to three wash loads 

  • Lines can be used independently 

  • Quick-release bracket for easy storage during the winter 

  • UV stable protective casing 

What we don't like
  • Some reviewers found ‘hooks’ at the bottom of the casing broke over time

  • Not suitable for securing in gardens wider than 15 metres

Key specs

Price on writing: £16 | Drying space: Up to 30 metres (Two x 15 metres) | Weight allowance: Up to 25kg 

What Mumsnet users say
WeAreTheHeroes · Tried & Tested
We had a Minky one at our last house. It had two lines so was great for a full load. No complaints.
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CoffeeBeansGalore · Recommended
Second the Minky. 2 x 15m lines. Recommend a line pole/support to help with weight though. Puts less strain on the internal retractor thing.
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Our verdict

Tested by MNHQ: Read our full Minky Retractable Duo Reel Washing Line review

Boasting over 27000 five-star reviews on Amazon, Mumsnet users rave about the Minky Retractable Washing Line for its durability, ease of installation and value for money. 

Despite its budget-friendly price tag, the Minky Retractable Washing line offers up to 30 metres of drying space (enough for around three loads of washing) with two 15-metre lines that can be used independently. 

After attaching the main casing to your fence panels using a bracket and screws, the lines can simply be pulled out and secured when needed before automatically retracting back into the casing when not in use. 

While some reviewers found the hooks to secure the line wore out over time, many praised the Minky for its long-lasting design, with a UV protective casing to prevent it from the sun. When it's time to pack away for the winter, you can easily release the casing from the bracket for simple storage. 

Related: The best washer dryers, tried and tested

Best budget retractable washing line
What we like
  • Budget-friendly price 

  • Strong and durable

  • The red colour is more visible than some other retractable wash lines 

What we don't like
  • Single line offers less drying space than the Minky and Argos retractable washing lines 

  • May need to use a line prop to support

Key specs

 Price on writing: £8 | Drying space: Up to 15 metres | Weight allowance: 15kg 

What Mumsnet users say
Lshe · Tried & Tested
I have one from Vileda. £10 seems good so far and frees up the garden for the kids!
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Our verdict

If you’re a smaller household or hanging a smaller quantity of clothes outdoors, this budget-friendly Vileda Cordmatic Retractable Washing Line offers great value for money, with a single wash line which can be extended up to 15 metres in length. 

We love the red colour of the strong and durable wash line which makes it far more visible and prevents anyone from walking into it accidentally when extended. That said, many reviewers found that despite its 15kg weight limit, it does sag quite easily when loaded. You may therefore want to invest in a support prop to prevent longer items from touching the floor. 

Read next: The best steam generator irons for cutting ironing time in half

Best double retractable washing line

Argos Home 2 x 15m Retractable Clothes Lines

What we like
  • Similar in design to the Minky above but at a cheaper price point

  • Two 15-metre lines can be used independently or at the same time

  • Fittings included

What we don't like
  • Lower weight limit than the Minky above

  • Support prop recommended 

Key specs

Price on writing: £12 | Drying space: Up to 30 metres (Two x 15 metres) | Weight allowance: 15kg 

What Mumsnet users say
JamMakingWannaBe · Tried & Tested
I have the Argos own brand Minky two-line dupe. Has lasted eight years so far. For a washing pole, I bought a 2.4m length of 2x1 from B&Q and cut a v-notch to hold the line.
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Princesspond · Recommended
I just bought one from Argos with two lines, had it for several years and it’s absolutely fine still.
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Our verdict

This affordable retractable washing line from Argos is praised for being a ‘Minky dupe’ with a similar double line design offering up to 30 metres of hanging space. It has a slightly lower weight capacity than the Minky and most reviewers found they needed to use a support prop to keep it taught during use.

That said, the choice to use both lines simultaneously or one line independently as and when required makes this a good value-for-money option for most families. The fixtures and fittings are all included, so you can have it secured and ready to use in no time - as long as the weather stays on your side!  

Related: The best budget dehumidifiers for drying washing indoors

Best heavy duty retractable washing line

Brabantia WallFix Retractable Washing Line with Protective Fabric Cover

What we like
  • Easy to open and close

  • Robust and durable 

  • Ideal for smaller outdoor spaces such as courtyards and garages 

  • Convenient as can be installed closer to the home 

What we don't like
  • Doesn’t spin or move in the wind like a rotary washing line (which may help dry the washing faster)

  • Installation is a little more complex than the standard rotary washing line

Key specs

Price on writing: £75 | Drying space: Up to 24 metres | Weight allowance: 20kg

What Mumsnet users say
FrogFairy · Tried & Tested
If the shape of your garden is suitable, I highly recommend the Brabantia Wallfix. Expensive and rather than retractable it folds neatly against the wall. I love mine.
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DutifulDaughterWifeMother · Recommended
I have had mine since 2011 & it’s brilliant.
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Our verdict

If you don’t have the luxury of a large garden space, a traditional retractable washing line may not be feasible, so this heavy-duty wall-mounted washing line makes a great alternative. 

Easy to install close to the house (ideal for those with limited mobility or who simply don’t trust the British weather), it can be conveniently opened up as and when needed, before compressing back down into its casing once you’ve folded your washing away.

It costs significantly more than a traditional retractable washing line, so whilst it makes quite an investment, Mumsnet users and reviewers praised the Brabantia WallFix for its ease of use and spacious design that offers up to 24 metres of hanging space. It’s worth noting that while it looks a little like a rotary dryer, the sides of the Brabantia WallFix don’t move or spin.

Related: The best heated clothes airers for quick indoor drying

Best indoor retractable washing line

Brabantia Retractable Indoor Washing Line

What we like
  • Ideal for use in a utility room, kitchen or bathroom

  • Space-saving design retracts neatly when not in use 

  • Corrosion resistant 

  • 5 year Brabantia guarantee 

  • An automatic locking system ensures the line stays taut 

What we don't like
  • Sometimes lines can get twisted, but this is relatively easy to fix

Key specs

 Price on writing: £33 | Drying space: Up to 22 metres | Weight allowance: 12.5kg

What Mumsnet users say
ilbertian · Tried & Tested
I had this one across my balcony. It could take several loads of laundry. Very robust.
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Mumsnet writer Lucy · Recommended
I installed this up high in my utility room, we have underfloor heating in the kitchen so it dries so quickly without hanging clothes all around my home. A great purchase!
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Our verdict

If you don’t have a tumble dryer but struggle to dry clothes in winter or poor weather, the Brabantia Retractable Indoor Washing Line makes a great alternative to an outdoor washing line or rotary dryer. Making the most of the residual heat in your home, it's also more energy efficient too. 

Designed to fit between two walls, the sturdy, corrosion-resistant design is ideal for installing in your kitchen, bathroom or utility room.

With a discreet white design, the automatic locking system ensures that the lines stay taut every time, with five individual lines creating up to 24 metres of drying space. Release it too quickly and the lines can get tangled, so whilst this is easy to fix, it's recommended you retract it with care. 

Read next: The best clothes steamers for crease-free outfits

How do you use a retractable washing line?

While the exact instructions may vary from one brand to the next, using a retractable washing line is very straightforward:

  • Installation - Before using a retractable washing line for the first time, you first need to mount the main casing securely - this usually involves using screws or a mount to attach the casing to your wall, fence panel or other robust post in your garden. Wherever you mount it, it needs to be strong enough to secure the weight of a full load of washing.

  • Extend the line - pull out the washing line (or lines) extending till they reach the desired length. Some retractable washing lines automatically lock while others need to be secured at the other end with a hook. 

  • Hang washing - Once the line is taut and secured, hang your clothes using the best clothes pegs, leaving some space between items to allow the natural breeze to work its magic.

  • Retract the line - Once your washing is dry or you wish to pack the line away, you can simply unhook/unlock and retract it back into its casing. For longer lines, do this slowly to avoid tangling or damaging the washing line.

How can you stop a retractable washing line from sagging?

You should pay close attention to the maximum weight loads and avoid overloading your retractable washing lines, as this can cause the line to stretch and sag over time. 

If your line is sagging due to the weight of clothes, using a wooden pole or support to raise the height of your washing line can help. 

What’s the best retractable washing line to buy?

Thanks to its affordable price tag, hardwearing design and spacious design that can accommodate even larger families washing with ease, we think the Minky is the best retractable washing line you can buy today.

If you are limited on garden space and are prepared to pay more for convenience, the Brabantia WallFix makes a great alternative.

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users 

For the first step in bringing you our definitive list of the best retractable washing lines, we sought out the trusted opinions of Mumsnet users, to get their feedback on the washing lines that they rate, recommend and have used in their own homes.

We also looked out for any negative reviews, where Mumsetters highlighted products that they felt were poor quality, overpriced or didn’t last the test of time.

Expert opinions

Next up, we considered reviews and feedback from trusted industry experts. We want to be confident that the products we recommend are fit for purpose, so we looked out for award-winning products or those that were well regarded in the marketplace, including those recommended by laundry experts and champions such as Which.

Authentic consumer reviews

Finally, to bring you our definitive list of the best retractable washing lines on the market, we thoroughly investigated genuine, in-depth customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon, Lakeland, and John Lewis to get wider consumer experiences regarding the products on our shortlist.  

About the author

Lucy Cotterill is a mum of two and a Content Writer at Mumsnet, specialising in family and lifestyle product reviews and round-ups. Having written product reviews on her own blog Real Mum Reviews since 2012, Lucy loves to research and explore the pros and cons of products, scrutinising reviews and consumer feedback to help people make confident purchases.  

A huge fan of Spring, Lucy loves the satisfaction of hanging washing outdoors - with a double Minky retractable washing line put to good use from the moment the weather allows. In the cooler seasons, Lucy loves her Brabantia retractable washing line, drying clothes through the residual heat of her utility room.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.