If your garden or balcony is a little on the small, the idea of taking up valuable space with a fixed washing line is probably less than appealing. Thankfully, you can still enjoy air-dried clothes, without sacrificing your precious outdoor space, with a retractable washing line.
Most retractable washing lines work in a similar way to a tape measure. A unit containing the coiled line is fixed to your wall, and the line can be extended and attached to a pole or hook at the opposite end, creating a usable washing line. When you’re washing is dry, simply retract the line back into the unit, to reclaim your outside space.
Not only does this mean no unsightly empty washing lines strung across your garden, but it also allows you to perfectly fit a washing line into your available space – and tighten it instantly, whenever it starts to sag. Sounds good, right?
To help you choose the best retractable washing line for you, we’ve put together this list of 5 great options, based on factors such as length, durability and value for money.
Last update on 2021-04-22 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
With one of these awesome retractable washing lines, you can finally switch off the costly tumble dryer and enjoy freshly aired clothes – without losing your garden.
Our best retractable washing line is durable, easy to retract, and can be folded flat against the wall when not in use
This Vileda Cordomatic 15m Retractable Line is our top pick of the best retractable washing lines available. It comes in a durable ABS plastic case, and the washing line itself is strong enough to handle heavy loads of washing.
The line can be locked at any length, up to the maximum of 15m, and is easily retracted, thanks to the automatic winding mechanism. If using it at long lengths, you will most probably need a prop, to prevent the line from sagging.
Installing the unit is easy, and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes – although the fixing screws supplied aren’t the best quality, and we would recommend replacing them with something stronger, for your peace of mind.
Users with particularly small balconies or gardens will be pleased to hear that the unit can be pivoted to lie flat against the wall when it’s not in use, so it takes up even less space. If you don’t have any outside space, it is also possible to install this inside.
This washing line comes highly rated by online users, and is extremely reasonably priced for the quality on offer – we really do think this is one of the best options on the market today.
- Made from strong ABS plastic, with galvanised fittings.
- Fully adjustable – line can be locked at any length up to 15m.
- Unit pivots, and will lie flat against the wall when not in use.
- Reasonably priced, in comparison to similar products.
- Suitable for indoor or outdoor use.
- Highly rated by online users.
- Fixings supplied are a little flimsy – you may wish to replace with some better quality screws.
- Line is quite thin, and prone to fraying with use.
Our best value washing line is made from stainless steel, and has a short line length which is perfect for balconies
Up next is this stylish BESy Stainless Steel Washing Line, which we’ve chosen as our value pick – although it’s worth noting that it’s only marginally cheaper than the Vileda.
This retractable washing line is made from durable and rust-proof stainless steel, with a polished chrome finish, to give it an aesthetically-pleasing look. The line has a maximum extension of 2.8m, and can be locked at any length up to this.
Although the line length is comparatively small, it might be ideal for use in smaller spaces, such as stretched across a balcony or hallway, or between windows. It’s also perfectly suited to drying delicates, swimwear or baby clothes.
However, it’s clear that the line length won’t be sufficient for larger gardens, and families with lots of washing to dry. It has a maximum weight capacity of 11kg, which isn’t too bad, but some online users report it struggling under the weight of wet towels.
To stretch across a garden, you’ll probably want to choose something longer – but if you’re looking for a short washing line for a balcony or indoors, and you want high quality and a good price, then look no further than this stainless steel washing line.
- Made from rust-proof stainless steel.
- Attractive polished chrome finish.
- Lock line at any length up to 2.8m.
- Ideal for small spaces, such as balconies.
- Can be used in combination with a tumble dryer, to dry delicates that can’t be machine-dried.
- At 2.8m, this is our shortest washing line, and won’t be suitable for large gardens and families.
- Maximum weight of 11kg – not strong enough for heavier items such as towels and duvets.
This indoor-only retractable clothes line offers an impressive 22m of drying space, in a compact area
For our third retractable washing line, we’ve chosen something a bit different in this Brabantia Retractable Indoor Line. This model has multiple extendable drying lines, and is designed to be fitted between two walls up to 4.4m apart.
It is intended for indoor use and could be perfect for those without a garden, who still want to air dry their clothes. Install it in a porch or conservatory, and enjoy up to 22m of drying space (depending on the extension) in a small area.
Made from corrosion-resistant stainless steel, it’s also suitable for use in the bathroom, and could be perfect for drying towels. Each of the 5 lines can hold a maximum weight of 2.5kg. When you’ve finished drying your laundry, simply unhook the pull-out bar and roll the lines back into the main unit, for an ultra-discreet look.
The built-in auto-locking system is designed to ensure that your lines will always remain taut, even under heavy weights. However, in practice, it is difficult to get all the lines tensioned to the same length, and even if you can, some lines tend to sag more than others.
However, this is a fairly minor flaw. Overall, this space-saving washing line is ideal for city-dwellers and those short on space, and comes with an impressive 5-year guarantee, so you have complete peace of mind in the case of any malfunction.
- Space-saving extendable clothes line.
- Impressive 22m drying capacity.
- Made from corrosion-resistant materials.
- Ideal for use in the bathroom, utility or porch.
- Automatic locking ensures the lines always stay taut.
- Easy to install.
- Includes 5-year manufacturer’s guarantee.
- Suitable for indoor use only – can’t be used in your garden.
- Can be difficult to get all the lines the same length.
- Poor installation instructions.
This retractable washing line offers 15m of drying space, and can be used inside or outside
If you’d prefer a washing line you can install in your garden, check out this 15m Laundry Sense Washing Line by Addis.
This one features a retractable washing line, encased in a durable plastic housing. The protruding grey plastic cover probably isn’t the best looking model we’ve seen, but the good news is that it pivots, so can be folded flat against the wall when not in use.
There are other things to celebrate about this option too. All the necessary screws and fixings you need to attach it to the wall are included with purchase. The smooth, plastic-coated line is a considerable 15m long, which should be sufficient for most users. You can fix it to any length, by wrapping the line around the plastic hook on the bottom of the unit.
The line can be easily retracted when not in use. A handful of online users report experiencing a problem with the retracting mechanism breaking after a few months of use, but these do seem to be in the minority – most are satisfied with the quality and durability of the product.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a retractable washing line that you can install in your garden, and that should last several years, this Addis’s Laundry Sense makes sense.
- Durable plastic casing.
- 15m line offers plenty of space for washing.
- Suitable for indoor or outdoor use.
- Easy to install – includes wall plugs, screws and hook.
- Unit swivels, so can be used in any direction, and folds flat against the wall for storage.
- Well-priced, compared to competitors.
- Not the best looking option.
- Some users have experienced problems with the line slipping, or with the retracting mechanism.
Perfect for large families, this retractable clothes line has 2 x 15m lines, offering an impressive 30m total drying space
Perhaps you’re not convinced 15m of drying space is enough for your family’s needs? In that case, you might be interested in our final washing line; this DRYZEM Dual Retractable Clothes Line.
This washing line features 2 x 15m lines, with a total potential drying space of 30m. The two washing lines can be locked securely in place, by looping them around the hook on the underside of the housing.
Lines retract easily thanks to the automatic mechanism, and are also independently retractable, so you can use none, one or both – offering you complete flexibility.
The base unit is made from durable, UV-stable plastic, to withstand all weathers, and it moves freely from side to side, allowing you to fold it flat against the wall when it’s not in use. Fixings and instructions for installation are included.
With this DRYZEM clothes line, you’re getting twice the drying space of the Vileda, for a similar price. If it’s drying space you’re after, you can’t go wrong with this small-but-mighty washing line.
- Durable, UV-stable plastic housing.
- 2 x 15m washing lines offer an impressive 30m of drying space.
- Lines are independently retractable.
- Unit swivels, so can be folded against the wall when not in use.
- Perfect for large gardens and families.
- Includes fixing kit.
- 2-year warranty.
- Lines are not the thickest and are prone to sagging (or, rarely, snapping) when full of washing.
How To Attach A Retractable Washing Line
Usually, a retractable washing line will come with a bracket or pre-drilled holes, to allow you to screw it into a vertical surface, such as a wall or fence post. You will need a drill to do this. Masonry screws may be included, or you may need to purchase them separately.
Before installing your retractable washing line, first, determine how high you want your line. Make sure it’s at a height that is easy for you to reach, but high enough off the ground that your washing won’t drag – in line with the top of your head is a good guide. Use a spirit level to mark a line where you want it, then drill your holes, and drive in the screws.
As well as installing the main unit, you will also need to install an end post with hooks on it, so that you have something to secure your washing line to at the other end. Alternatively, you could tie the line to an existing post, or tree branch.
How To Stop The Line From Sagging
Washing lines are notoriously prone to sagging, especially if you’re using them to dry heavy items, such as towels and duvets. The good news is that it’s much easier to stop a retractable washing line from sagging then one which is fixed in place – simply tighten the washing line by retracting it in slightly. Alternatively, if your washing line is struggling under the weight of the items drying on it, you could try propping it up in the middle, to prevent it sagging. In this case, install a line prop halfway between your washing line unit and the post at the other end. Make a notch in the top, or install a hook for the line to run through.
April is a freelance writer who specialises in writing about home and garden design and the environment. She is an avid wildlife-enthusiast and adventure-seeker, and feels happiest when in the Great Outdoors.