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Best rotary washing lines: outdoor clothes dryers for fresh, clean-smelling laundry

Is trying to get your laundry dry putting you in a spin? Maybe a rotary washing line could help take a load off your mind. We round up the best outdoor airers to buy. 

By Laura Westerman | Last updated May 1, 2022

Woman hanging washing outside

Certain things in life are unavoidable and for any busy family, a pile of laundry is one of them. A rotary washing line can be a great way to keep on top of your washing with minimal fuss. And with rising energy bills to contend with, using a rotary washing line more often than a tumble dryer could help you cut electricity costs. 

Drying clothes and sheets outside gives your laundry a nice fresh smell too. And the space-saving design of a rotary means you can hang out loads more washing than by using a normal clothes line – whatever the size of your garden.

But what are the things to consider when buying a rotary washing line, and which is the best product to buy in the UK right now? Our guide to the best rotary washing lines has you covered.


1. Best overall rotary washing line: Brabantia Lift-O-Matic Rotary Airer Washing Line

Brabantia washing line

Price: £70 | Buy now from Amazon

"Brabantia 50m lift o matic, love it, 15 years and going strong"- tried and tested by Mumsnet user, edoc

"Brabantia here as well I think it's a good 10 years old now still works brilliantly" - recommended by mommybear1

When it comes to recommendations for rotary washing lines on the Mumsnet forums, one brand comes up again and again – Brabantia. Mumsnetters love the durability of the Brabantia rotary washing lines, and the manufacturer backs this up with a five-year guarantee, covering both the line and the included ground spike to fix it in your garden.

This model has a 'lift-o-matic' system designed to hoist your washing up to 187cm off the ground, which is great for sheets and other large items. The 50-metre line length can take up to five loads of washing, it has integrated holes for clothes hangers, and the 6kg weight means it’s pretty easy to store it away in the winter, if you prefer.

2. Best budget rotary washing line: B&Q 3 Arm Blue Silver Effect Rotary Airer

B&Q washing line

Price: £14 | Buy now from B&Q

"I have a three-arm rotary dryer from B&Q and it’s still fine four years later - no rust etc. I wouldn't be without one. You can't beat the fresh smell from washing that has dried in the fresh air" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Zippy79

If you're looking for something simple that will let you dry a full load of washing outside to get that fresh air smell, the B&Q three-arm silver effect rotary dryer is worth a look. The no-fuss design has three arms, which support 30 metres of lines. And when it's fully opened out, it measures 1.92 metres across – so it's a good choice if you have a small garden.

It comes with a line tidy strap, to keep tension in the lines and stop them from drooping, and a plastic ground socket for installation using concrete – so make sure you have somewhere suitable to fix it before you take the plunge.

3. Best rotary washing line for small spaces: Brabantia WallFix Retractable Washing Line

Brabintia small washing line

Price: £92 | Buy now from Amazon

"I have this one. I adore it!" - tried and tested by Mumsnet user, taffetacatski

"Another vote for the Brabantia wall fix. I love mine" - recommended by Mumsnet user, FrogFairy 

If you like the idea of a rotary washing line, but you're worried that you don't have a suitable bit of patio or lawn to fix it to, the Brabantia WallFix could be the answer.

The clue’s in the name – you fix it to a wall rather than the ground, and it comes with the fixtures you need as well as clear step-by-step instructions detailing how to put it up. You just need to decide what height you want it to be when you're putting it up, then you fold it out when you need it, using the handy grip. It offers 24 metres of line space when it's fully unfolded, and its 184cm diameter should fit all but the tightest spaces. Once you're done, you can easily fold it back and use its protective cover to ensure durability.

4. Best rotary washing line for big loads: Heavy Duty 4-Arm Outdoor Rotary Clothes 60M Airer

Home Laundry rotary washing line

Price: £46 | Buy now from Amazon

Does your family produce a seemingly never-ending pile of dirty clothes and sheets that you struggle to find space to hang up and dry? In that case, this heavy duty 60m rotary washing line could be the one for you.

Its 60 metres of line and three-arm hoist system can be used to hang out up to six loads of washing at once, to give you more of a chance of getting on top of your laundry mountain. Of course, even with the space-saving design of a rotary dryer, this one will take up more room than others on this list – it has three arms, and a whopping 3.16-metre diameter when fully extended, so make sure you've got room. It comes with a metal ground spike and a protective cover. 

5. Best freestanding rotary washing line: Minky Freestanding Rotary Airer

Minky freestanding airer

Price: £31 | Buy now from Amazon

If the idea of digging a hole in your garden puts you off the idea of getting a rotary washing line, the Minky freestanding airer offers a neat solution. It has tripod legs to support the base so you don't need to put it in the ground and it can even be used indoors.

With 15 metres of line space, it will take one load of washing at a time and it simply folds away when not in use. Just don't try to use it outside on a windy day!

6. Best value rotary washing line: Wilko Rotary Airer

Wilko clothes airer

Price: £20 | Buy now from Wilko

"Got a cheap one from Wilko three years ago when we moved and we’ve had no probs with it so far. It has a cover and I bought a proper twist-in spike with a closing lid. It stays out (with cover on) all spring and summer and goes into the shed in autumn. I think if you look after it a cheap one will last ok, but I've never had an expensive one to compare!" - recommended by Mumsnet user, LangClegsOpinionIsNoted

This rotary airer from Wilko offers 40 metres of drying space using its three-arm design, which is enough to hang out up to 25kg of washing in one go.

As with most rotary airers, you can fold away the collapsible arms when you're not using it, so it won't spoil your view out the back window. The trade-off here is that the supplied plastic ground socket has mixed reviews for its durability, so if you´re worried about its stability, you might want to buy a stronger metal spike separately.

7. Best low maintenance rotary washing line: Leifheit Linomatic Rotary Washing Line

Leifheit rotary line

Price: £140 | Buy now from Amazon

Have you ever reached for your washing line and run your finger along it before hanging up your laundry, only to find the lines are a bit grimy? Well, the Leifheit Linomatic rotary washing line offers a handy solution to keep things clean: the lines automatically retract into the rotary arms when not in use, keeping them free from dirt, moisture and cobwebs.

It offers 50 metres of drying room, plus eight hooks for hanging shirts. Of course, it is a fair bit more expensive than others on the list, but the aluminium frame is lightweight and rust free, so you probably won't spend any time worrying about it once it's up.

8. Best rotary washing line for small gardens: Brabantia Compact Rotary Airer

Brabantia washing line

Price: £70 | Buy now from Robert Dyas

Part of the attraction of rotary washing lines is the fact they are a real space saver compared to a traditional washing line. This three-arm rotary dryer from Brabantia hits the sweet spot for smaller gardens. Its 266cm diagonal span doesn't take up too much room, even when it’s fully extended, yet the 30-metre line can cope with up to three loads at a time.

Brabantia's rotary dryers have a good reputation for being well made. This model’s robust plastic ground spike keeps the dryer stable even in windy conditions and the rotating arms dry your washing quickly.

9. Best rotary washing line accessory for rainy days: Chimney Sheep Large Laundry Mac Laundry Protector

Washing line tent

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

"We have one. We use it a lot in the summer and a bit in the winter as you can leave things out there for days if you want. It's good just to not have to think about rain and leaving it out overnight" - recommended by Mumsnet user, didireallysaythat

As if doing the laundry isn't already a chore, the Great British weather (hi rain!) can make getting things dry even more of a challenge. That's why the Chimney Sheep Large Laundry Mac laundry protector could come in handy. It's a cover with a diameter up to 2.5 metres designed for rotary dryers to keep the rain off and let you leave the washing out longer.

It’s a large circle of waterproof, breathable fabric that fixes to your rotary dryer. As well as a rotary dryer, you will need a clothes prop to extend from the centre of the dryer to keep the cover clear of your clothes. This can be bought separately.

What to consider before buying a rotary clothes line

The first thing to think about is the size of your garden, or whatever area you are thinking of using for your new rotary washing line. There are a range of different styles of rotary washing line, some of which need to be fixed in concrete while others can be driven into a lawn or garden – there´s more info about how these work below.

Depending on your needs, there are rotary washing lines to suit almost any budget, from about a tenner up to £100+. As you might expect, the more expensive models tend to be made from better materials and are likely to last longer, but this might not matter as much to you if you think you might be moving house soon, for example.

How much space do you need for a rotary washing line?

One of the benefits of rotary washing lines is that they fold away when not in use, but even the most compact fixed rotary washing lines need around 180cm square to be used. If you have a space that's even smaller than that, don't despair – there are portable rotary washing line options that can be used inside or in a garage, as well as some that fix to a wall rather than into the ground.

Of course, the more space you have, the bigger the rotary washing line you will be able to consider. Some offer as much as 60 metres of washing line space – enough to dry about six loads of washing in one go, but there's probably no point in getting one that size unless you think you will need it (the biggest ones take up about 3 metres squared when in use).

How do you keep a rotary washing line in the ground?

Once you have loaded up your rotary line with one or more loads of washing, it's really important that it’s sturdy enough to withstand gusts of wind.

Traditional rotary washing lines are fixed into the ground using a ´ground spike´ – essentially a plastic tube that is either driven into the ground or fixed in concrete. Many rotary dryers come with a ground spike included, but if you´re concerned that your garden is in a particularly windy spot, it is possible to purchase more heavy duty metal fixings for some models. Just check the manufacturer's guidance to make sure it's compatible with the line you have chosen.

According to some Mumsnetters, using a heavy metal parasol holder (which you would need to buy separately) can be a way round having to dig a hole or use concrete to secure your rotary washing line. This seems to work well for lots of people – and has the added benefit of being able to move it around – but bear in mind it probably won't be as secure as fixing it properly in the ground.

How do you clean a rotary washing line?

As with any outdoor washing line, rotary washing lines can attract a bit of dirt and grime. The most expensive rotary dryers have retractable lines, which can help keep them clean, but if you need to give yours a wash, the easiest way is to use soapy water. Just don´t do it when you have clothes up in case it stains your garments.

What's the best rotary washing line to buy?

The best rotary washing line is the Brabantia Lift-O-Matic Rotary Airer Washing Line. Mumsnetters really rate the build quality of this brand. And the 50 metres of line combined with the ´lift-o-matic´ hoist system, means you will be able to get that lovely outdoor clean feel when drying more of your washing than you thought possible.

How we chose our recommendations

Because we know that there’s nothing like real recommendations from real parents, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which rotary washing lines discerning Mumsnet users had bought. We compiled a list of rotary dryers they recommended, noting how effective they found them, and whether they were particularly good for any certain needs.

We then did some research across the wider web, looking at which rotary airers had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites and print media, and what customers’ reviews said about them.

Having collated all that information, we picked the rotary washing lines we thought would make the best buys in several interest categories.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.