Written by Terry Smith

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UK’s Best retractable washing line that are heavy duty and automatic for practical clothes drying.

This article was last updated on August 9th, 2022 at 6:39 am

I bought and tested a new retractable washing line for Summer and I have to say I absolutely love what I saw for the money. For me the key was ease of install, strength in how much wet washing it can carry, length, and of course, how quickly/easily it’ll retract – as well as the space it’ll save over a conventional lines and are probably more convenient still than wall mounted washing lines – in fact talking about space saving, I wrote an article about collapsible laundry baskets too if you’re interested. Anyway, the test was prompted by me moving home and needing a new setup so I thought I’d hopefully help you benefit from my experience! I went with the Amazon Vileda retractable washing line first:

My Vileda retractable washing line that I’ve been personally testing for you

And I was particularly happy with the Vinsani and especially the budget Metaltex if the Vileda single washing line isn’t enough. We found that to be a very good alternative to the top heavy duty Minky:

Vinsani retractable washing line held up very well in testing

What impressed me the most since I first wrote this article – the quality really has moved forward. You would be shocked just how much breeze these retractable washing lines in conjunction with weight can put up with. In fact, my security camera caught a 25-30mph gusts with a loaded line getting a full work over for nearly an hour and it stood up absolutely great – here’s a look:

TOP TIP FROM EXPERIENCE: Bin the screws and wall plugs that come with these units and use decent brown 7mm standard wall plugs and a decent 4.5 size (gauge) screw that is at least 40mm long. Almost all the kits I tested were adequate but didn’t fill me with confidence, not with a 10-15kg of wet washing getting thrown about in heavy wind!

As you can see, even a budget automatic retractable washing line can do the job no problem, and it’s so much less fuss than having a fixed washing line that just gets in the way. But before we go any further let’s take a look at the best retractable washing lines available

Best retractable washing lines – my picks after testing:

Best retractable washing line overall: Vileda Cordomatic 15 Metre Automatic Retractable Clothes Line [personally tested and proven] Lovely kit – my short video shows you the blow this can take with a full line of wet washing

ALTERNATIVE: Best wall mounted retractable washing line: Brabantia WallFix Retractable Washing Line with Fabric Cover – best of the best but it’s wall mounted retractable rather than a straight washing line.

Heavy duty pick of the bargains: Minky Retractable Reel Washing Line with 30m of Drying Space [personally tested and proven] – not budget but definitely the strongest option in the UK and proven to be superb since I first used and wrote about this in

Best alternative heavy duty retractable washing line: Vinsani 30 metre Retractable Reel Clothes Lines Washing Line with Twin Cable – Wall Mounted Heavy Duty Clothes Dryer 2 x 15m Lines of Drying Space – this is easily as robust as the Minky [personally tested and proven]

Budget pick: Garden Mile® 12M Retractable Automatic Clothes Washing Line – ideal for smaller washing loads

Larger budget pick: Metaltex 30 m Retractable Clothes Line, White, 30m

Worth a look: Soreli Retractable Washing line 12M

What you should know before buying a retractable washing line

Believe it or not there’s a few important things to consider when buying a retractable washing line. Firstly there’s size, then do you need a pivot or straight install is ok? Next is the build quality and does the automatic wind actually last! it doesn’t stop there though, in my testing I quickly realised you can even get tripped up on the fixing kits! So here’s a rundown of everything you should know that will allow you to be up and running with retractable washing line ten minutes after it arrives!


Don’t get tripped up on install – there’s every chance you won’t be happy with the fixings provided. Whilst I appreciate many have done just fine, I really don’t think the fixings they give you work well at all for wooden structures. As I allude to in my Vileda Automatic Retractable Clothes Line review, you will want to get some decent wood screws – anything over 40mm will do you just fine. For concrete I think the fixing kits are just about OK – you’ll need a 6 or 7mm SDS bit from all of the kits that I tested in this review. Worth knowing as you’ll be pulling your hair out if you don’t have one!

Build quality

Bear in mind these will be sat in the sun all day, and rained on frequently, the plastic needs to be pretty decent. Wherever possible I’ve selected good quality ABS plastic – if it’s not, you’ll certainly know about it in my impartial review section! The other thing to consider is the spring re-wind mechanism – this needs to be decent and last, as soon as the coil brakes it is only a washing line – much like a quality tape measure, you need a quality coil on your line. The pivot construction material is about the only other stumbling block, ideally galvanised material so it doesn’t rust!

Retractable clothes line with a galvanised pivot

How much weight can a retractable washing line carry?

This has to be a key question – the better ones will normally carry 15kg or so which is enough for the average family wash but if you had a whole line of jeans then I think you might be in trouble with big gusts of wind! As you saw from the video I showed you above, these can put up with a really good hit. If you go with the Minsky you can actually expect to carry 25kg! However it would be prudent to point out this unit does have the odd failure and I am convinced it occurs mainly on over weight use. Here’s a typical amount of washing my automatic retractable clothes line takes:

My automatic retractable clothes line carries a sensible amount of weight

1. Vileda Cordomatic 15 Metre Automatic Retractable Clothes Line - Retractable washing line Indoor washing line outdoor washing line

This line can take a good whack in the wind. Before we get into my review, here’s the quickest video I could put together that covers the basics, I’ll explain in further detail in the write up:

The first thing you’re going to notice when you receive this in the post is the size. You’re expecting something big. But actually, the Vileda Cordomatic 15 Metre Automatic Retractable Clothes Line pretty much fits in a large hand! Certainly only a little larger than a small plate. When you open the packet you’re very happy. There’s a fixing kit and the retractable washing line itself. Nothing else. Not even instructions. Happy days!

So the first thing to mention that I am not happy about myself, if you watched the video you’ll know I binned the screws. I ended up going for 50mm screws but I think anything size 4 and 40mm up is fine, size five would be bullet proof and beyond the weight rating of the line itself considerably, and if you like to be sure then use the size 5 40mm wood screws rather than those supplied and feel immeasurably more comfortable with that. Here’s a look at the fixings:

Vileda Cordomatic 15 Metre Automatic Retractable Clothes Line – fixing kit didn’t feel strong enough

I just whacked these screws in with my impact driver – if you use the screws supplied and install into concrete, you’ll want a 6mm SDS bit, I would say it’s better than a 7mm. If you feel it’s too tight a little wiggle won’t hurt. They are posi-drive so any Phillips screwdriver will do – I would recommend a PZ2 or PH2 screw bit for best fit on the screw though. Here’s a look at those screw and the retractable line mounted:

Vileda Cordomatic 15 Metre Automatic Retractable Clothes Line installed using 40mm size 5 screws rather than the supplied fixing kit

For the hook I just took out an adjustable spanner to grab hold and twisted it in – equally, if not better would be some mole grips that actually clamp the hook but I didn’t struggle at all my way – here’s a look at how I clamped the hook for install:

I used an adjustable spanner to grab my hook and just twisted it into the timber – install complete!

One thing is for sure though, you don’t want to try to twist this in by hand – you can get a start is using the wall plugs and then you’ll need a bar of some description for leverage – this could even be a screwdriver, the main point is leverage. But that’s nearly it, with that screwed in just walk the line from the retractable unit down to the hook and you’re in business. It really is that easy

Washing line is ready to go – that easy!

Then you just wander back up the other end, take up the slack and tuck the line in the gripped to keep the tension and you are done:

Tuck the line in the holder to create tension on the line

Looking closely at the line though, if you’re a parent, you’ve probably had a near heart attack as your kids run under a low or drooping washing line that nearly catches their head, and imagining what could have happened. Well, I certainly have, and I was happy that Vileda chose to make their line an easily visible red colour, so the chance of this happening is greatly reduced.

So when I compared this to other units I really liked the pivot, if you bought a second hook you could have this placed in different locations to suit you – I am almost certainly going to be doing so the best hooks for the job would be the ones highlighted – not expensive and definitely up to carrying the weight.

It’s worth mentioning, although I am sure it’s clear already, the line can be stopped at any length up to a maximum of 15m – the recoil is strong at all lengths but crucially means you can fill a gap just right – in my picture below from my security camera is 12 metres and sits spot on:

12 metre length absolutely ideal for this retractable washing line – taken from my security camera

Overall it’s pretty fair to say, when you need a strong and sturdy washing line, this isn’t a bad pick, I can’t find one better for the money! That’s not just my opinion either, it is known for its durability and strength over the internet and I am certain that you’ll be happy with the ease of install, quality, and price point!

Fair summary of my top pick:

Although not the longest washing line among our featured products, at 15 metres you can still get a decent amount of washing on there, and it would be just fine for any average sized family.

There’s only a single line, not two like the Minky retractable washing line, but the line offers a good combination of strength and flexibility. In our tests, we were able to zig zag it across a small garden using some screw-in eyelets and it made great use of the space.

The action of the line being pulled out from its casing works very smoothly on the Vileda Cordomatic, and you are able to lock it out at a length of your choosing. The retraction is probably the most trouble free we had the pleasure of testing too, and we never had to stop to untangle the line, which is more than we could say about many of the models we tried out.

This is an indoor/outdoor retractable washing line and I would agree that it could be used practically for both. The housing is solid and UV resistant, but it can also rotate and be folded flat to the wall, which would make it more inconspicuous inside the house when not in use.

· Able to pivot and fold down flat against the wall
· Red line is easy to see and less of an accident risk
· Good build quality for the price featuring UV resistant materials
· Smooth extension and retraction without any tangling

· Fixings that are included aren’t the best

2. Minky Retractable Reel Washing Line with 30m of Drying Space, Gray, 30 m

So right off the bat I can tell you that you will actually get instructions with the Minky retractable washing line which differs right off the bat to my top pick the Vileda when compared directly – that’s not the only key difference though, this one offers twice as much hanging space! This is because the line is doubled up but be warned – there is not much space between the lines and whilst yes, you will dry more clothes more quickly, the drying conditions are far from ideal like my top pick the Vileda.

The other key differences are the weight rating – which I would say this is the best for and as a result my heavy duty pick, but also this unit doesn’t work with a conventional hook and eye though the mechanism is quick attach and release.

Installation is the usual – you’ll have to have an SDS drill bit and I would recommend changing for wood screws if you intend to screw into a wooden shed etc – the screws with the walls plugs aren’t ideal for this as you’ll see from my Vileda review. The manufacturer now claims you need an 8mm SDS bit, I have to say I used a 7mm wall plug and my own 40 or 50mm screws from memory but the back plate had 4 fixing points so no worries of it pulling off really even if you did use the standard screws:

Minky Retractable Reel Washing Line has 4 fixing points on the back plate so much stronger than the two of Vileda

I have to say though, despite being my top pick I have noted over the tens of thousands of sales you get the odd few that result in a broken bracket – this is generally as a result of too much weight or a dud retractable washing line – don’t worry, the guys will replace it for you no problem and overall it’s a quality unit but I had to point out that flaw, it’s the honest thing to do!

From a price point it’s very good value, the obvious question is, do you need 30 whole metres of drying space? I feel for a plastic unit it pushes the ability to the limits – though many have had years of decent service from their Minsky – me included, mine was just fine at the old house for two years and we are a family of five with about as much washing as you’ve seen in the video above – probably because we never got anywhere near the 55lb weight rating to be honest and the average unit is very strong.

3. Vinsani 30 metre Retractable Reel Clothes Lines Washing Line with Twin Cable - Wall Mounted Heavy Duty Clothes Dryer 2 x 15m Lines of Drying Space

Because I already have three retractable washing lines on test at my home I decided to buy one for my good friend Mark. His wife had been on his case for a retractable washing line for months – mainly because Summer was coming up, they had just made a fantastic job of their garden and wanted to enjoy it. Having a fixed washing line in place was a problem for space – it’s not a huge garden. However, when I recommended the Vileda his wife was adamant one 15m line wouldn’t cut it. Given I had already reviewed one retractable line that appears to be very similar and the Minky, here we are testing it in Mark’s garden:

Testing the Vinsani 30 metre Retractable Reel Clothes Lines Washing Line with Twin Cable

What we found right off the bat, much like Vileda’s install kit. The screws and wall plug are a bit on the flimsy side if you were intending to fix into wood, but both agreed (me begrudgingly) that as masonry fixes, would just about be adequate – remember there’s a lot of weight on 30m of washing line when clothes are wet! Mark was kind enough to test though myself, I would immediately recommend tossing those in favour of a standard brown 7mm wall plug and 50mm screw with plenty of gauge – a size 4.5 or 5. But, with that said, he’s been using the washing line successfully for the last 5 months now so perhaps I am being too critical 🤔. The install is exactly the same as my top pick Vileda, but let’s go through this step by step as it relates to the Minky as well. Here’s a look at those fixings:

Vinsani 30 metre Retractable Reel Clothes Line fixings – OK for masonry but flimsy for a wood fix

In terms of the install, we used a 7mm masonry drill bit. There’s nothing fancy going on here. We simply help the washing line up in place, then with a pencil marked where we should drill.

This is where you should mark your holes

You need a decent cordless drill that crucially has hammer action. Without hammer you’ll struggle I can assure you. My Makita top pick would be more than adequate at the link provided – Mark of course showing off with his Festool (if you don’t know thats a £600 drill!!!).

Installing the Vansani retractable washing line – drilling the masonry

One handy tip worth mentioning. Your fixings are only 40mm long. So you only need to drill 40mm deep. You can put a bit of tape down 45mm from the tip to give you a guide of where to stop drilling.

Once you’ve finished drilling, and definitely before you push in your wall plugs, check that you haven’t slipped with the drill and the holes line up spot on still. You should end up with two neat looking holes. Get your wall plugs and tap them in gently with a hammer. If you’ve used a 7mm masonry bit then it’ll go in just fine and sit lovely and flush. Here’s a look at that incase you are still unsure:

Tap in your wall plugs gently with a hammer

With the wall plugs in screw in your screws provided. Leave them protruding about 5-6mm so that when you lift on your washing line you can tighten them up fully. Because of the excellent design of these units, you don’t have to fit them while carrying the weight of the unit itself. Here’s a look at the screws prepared and ready to take the unit:

Insert your screws with enough space to still allow the washing line to slot in

Now lift on your unit and tighten it up. It really is that easy and is definitely a one man job. The whole thing of course reliant on a drill – as I mention before ideally a cordless drill. There’s no tricks to this – all very simple:

Slot on the retractable washing line and tighten up the screws

Now repeat the process the other end of the garden with your hook to hold the line. As always I recommend using a long bar of some description to twist in the hook. In this case we used a hammer:

Use the bar of a hammer as leverage to twist in your hook deep into the brick

It’s worth remembering just how much weight these are holding. so make sure the fix is firm – following my rundown is going to save you a ton of time.

So in terms of use you have to say this basically matches right up to the Minky. I can’t actually find a difference with them other than the Minky is a few quid cheaper. So I’d still take the Minky in terms of price, but I think they are both equally as heavy duty.

If we were to do anything different this time it would be install the unit much higher (almost out of arms reach) and then the same with the hook. What we noticed with both lines fully loaded. The washing sags to the point it really is a bit low. Granted the clothes are wet and heavy but here’s an example. We bought the relatively cheap heavy duty washing line prop and that worked out just fine and has been no problem at all for the last 5 months:

Cheap washing line heavy duty prop helps keep the washing off the ground

Being straight up – I didn’t experience this with the Vileda when comparing them directly, though I will say a prop on the Minky would have made more sense too.

I was asked about a budget twin line retractable washing line solution in one of the emails I received start of the year. So after a good bit of deliberating and testing I picked the Metaltex 30 m Retractable Clothes Line, White, 30m. It’s got the same capacity as the Vinsani and the Minsky which in my opinion are it’s direct competitors, but it slaughters them from a price point being a good ten quid cheaper!

In terms of install on this one, I screwed into my shed with 50mm, size 5 screws. Now I want to be absolutely clear, I took aim at the stud behind the tongue and groove which is a 4 by 2 – if I just screwed into the 20mm shiplap it would definitely pull out. You need a much thicker timber to hold the kind of weight 30m of wet clothes equates to. Here’s a picture of that:

Metaltex 30 m Retractable Clothes Line screwed into my shed frame

For the hook end, I literally bodged up whatever wood off cuts I had. I dug a hole and threw a fence post in with a bag of Postcrete. (I didn’t have anything solid enough in the garden to attach the line to otherwise. Also, the post in my mind was too low so I further bodged it taller with another off cut I just bolted to it. Just digging a post in the ground, with the weights involved, and a huge gust of wind, would leave you with a liability 🙂

Metaltex 30 m Retractable Clothes Line fully loaded with washing has no problems

So far the thing has help up beautifully, and whilst the fixing kit is exactly the same as the Vansani, I prefer the 4 fixing setup of the Minsky. I would say both of those feel a little more robust but if you don’t plan to use the full 15m extension (we are using about 10m) but you need a bit more line than the Vileda provides, this is a cracking option and a genuine 10 quid saving on the top models. Loaded right up with washing it isn’t bad. I would think my biggest gripe is the fact I screwed this in quite high and yet it still needs a prop:

Despite being screwed in high it still needs a washing line prop in my opinion

Now I know we get to set the tension ourselves but I can’t pull it anymore taunt than that and also fully loaded the line does stretch a bit. It’s not bad though and when compared to it’s direct competitors it’s pretty much inline with their washing line quality.

Something that’ll really surprise you (and me). After a good few months of use the retractable coil seems to lose it’s strength. I would say of all the models I’ve tested so far, the Metaltex seems to hold up the best. And I wonder if that’s because I haven’t extended it to near full length ever (the max being 10m on each line as that’s the distance we have:

I’d have no hesitation recommending this budget retractable washing line so far – if that changes I’ll be quick to update this!

5. Garden Mile® 12M Retractable Automatic Clothes Washing Line Reel Indoor Outdoor Space Saving Wall Mounted Laundry Clothes Airer

Garden Mile Retractable Automatic Clothes Washing Line is remarkably similar in design to my top pick Vileda but only offers a total of 12 Metres in length. Since I first reviewed this unit the ratings have slipped slightly but you get what you pay for, this is the cheapest unit and so therefore not fair to compare it to a top model. If you want no thrills washing drying that tidies away nicely then this isn’t a bad shout at all.

But with the above said what’s the best use case for this retractable clothes line? Well I would suggest a small or single household with not too much weight is absolutely ideal. IF you’re a bigger family with heavier loads then I’d have to say this won’t necessarily be your top pick.

The installation is just like the Vileda and is directly in competition on that front, it would seem one has copied the other, don’t ask me who but it’s a generic design for a wall plate so no surprises the odd feature similarity is going to crop up. Just a couple of screws and wall plugs – given the weight rating the screws on these seems fine for the job unlike the beefier top picks.

The line retracts nicely enough like my top picks, the plastic seems ok for the money, I don’t feel it’s the same quality as my top pick but again, cost to quality isn’t bad at all. I’ve noted a few units broken down, but only in the same ratio to sales of the top units so not all bad at all. I wouldn’t avoid this if I was on a budget, that’s for sure.

When choosing a retractable washing line for use in the house, a major factor for me is how well it can fit into the room that I set it up in and not grab too much attention when in its retracted state. Basically, I want it to be inconspicuous. A lot of retractable washing lines are compact these days, the Minky and Bedray products featured in this article are two good examples of that, but even they can’t compete with Tensor’s retractable 3-line clothesline in that department.

The housing for the three lines is very thin and flat, and once mounted on the wall, you hardly notice it’s there. It really does blend in well, especially if you have white painted walls or light wallpaper. Even though it is extremely compact, the housing is just as durable as the Vileda model and is made from strong ABS plastic. The three lines are cotton core nylon and this makes them both flexible and strong and less likely to cause damage to the things you hang up. Each line can be pulled out individually and also locked using a little slider above it on the housing. On the model we tested, one of these did get stuck every now and again, but it wasn’t anything serious and only took a second or two to sort out.

You can get a lot of drying done with the Tensor, as each line has a maximum extension of 15 metres, giving you 45 metres overall. That’s more than any other product featured in this article. What’s more, it actually does a really good job of staying taut when under heavy loads.

The Tensor retractable washing line isn’t a budget buy, and costs more than the Vileda, Minky, Toctax, and Beldray models. It isn’t super-expensive, but then again, there isn’t anything that would make me choose this over the Vileda or Minky for garden use. For indoors, however, I would pay the extra for the sleek design.

· Very sleek design
· A great choice for indoors
· Made from durable ABS plastic and other strong materials
· Three separate lines giving you a total of 45 metres

· More expensive than some similar products

I’ve decided to throw a bit of a curve ball – this is a retractable clothes line but does so againt the wall rather than a spool. The upside, it’s robust and compact making it extermely easy to put all washing out without moving or messing around so much, the down side is the price.

If you are tired of stretching out a washing line from one point to another, every time you have to dry your clothes, then you are looking at the right line here in my opinion. The Brabantia WallFix Retractable Washing Line is a unique wall – mounted design that can be folded shut when not in use. It definitely solves the problem of stretching a washing line out over and over again and saves you time and energy – no question. But can you justify spending 4 times as much? That’s the question. If you want quality I guess read on for some key info!

For a start you’ve got 24m of line and the weight rating means I’d have no qualms loading this up with heavy washing fully. No problem at all. and the installation is far more robust, much more like hanging a TV on the wall rather than a little bracket. The fold mechanism is a simple in and out in one motion. It’s hard to find fault given it’s far superior in build when compared to the other units in this review but I remain grounded on it because of the price point.

But on the downside don’t be fooled, you’ll need an area of 2m by 2m to fit this washing line in, it’s no small compact unit at all. It’s just a different retracting method but if you’re looking for something to put up against a patio or conservatory that’s easy access then it might be what you’re looking for. Here’s a look at that install and demo process – I warn, the music might annoy you so turn your volume down!

Update: what I learned after testing it:

So many products use their term ‘heavy duty’ in their advertising these days, but none of them even come close to being as durable and well-made as Brabantia’s Wallfix, so it should come as no surprise that we picked it as the best heavy duty retractable washing line you can buy.

The Wallfix’s design is different to all the other washing lines in this article, and instead of going from point A to point B, it has multiple rows of shorter lines stacked on top of each other and separated into four sides like an upside-down pyramid.

This clever design means that you don’t need a large garden to take advantage of the 24 metres of line the Wallfix offers, and you can get a ton of washing on there at one time. What’s more, unlike other retractable washing lines, this can really handle the weight without any problems whatsoever.

The reason it can do this better than the others is that Brabantia have gone with a largely metallic construction for the wall fix, and every support arm for the washing lines is extremely solid and robust. There’s just no plastic model that can compare.

When you’re done using the washing line, it all folds down, concertina style, into its wall-mounted, stainless steel, storage box. The use of stainless steel was a great choice by the designers as it is very good at fighting rust, and therefore will extend the working life of the washing line.

Installation is actually much easier than I thought it would be, and there’s even a handy fixing guide that you can cut off the main packaging that’ll show you where to drill the holes. Basically, this means you don’t need to get your tape measure out, and takes some of the thinking of setting up, something which I think a lot of people will appreciate.

If I was to pick one thing that I think will hold people back from buying the Wallfix, it’s the high price. This is easily the most expensive retractable washing line in this list, but personally I think it’s worth every penny and will last you for years.


  •         Most heavy-duty model we tested thanks to metal construction
  •         Comes with stainless steel protective case
  •         Folds down very compactly even though it gives you 24 metres of washing line
  •         Easy installation with helpful fixing guide, as you can see in the video I provided


·         Might be too expensive for some people

This retractable washing line is of 12m length and can handle the weight of 15kg. It is just perfect for daily use around the house and very similar to the Budget pick but not quite as good as the top pick in my mind. That’s not to says that the the Soreli Retractable Clothes Line isn’t worth a look but the problem is the design is very similar to the Vileda but far more expensive with a smaller washing length – it just makes it a hard one for me to push up the list, that said, it’s worth looking at if you want a small robust unit.

Just like the top pick this installs in the wall exactly the same way and is in direct competition on that front, and it also has the same fixing issues. The hook and eye are exactly the same and so is the casing, the only big difference in the two are the price point and the length of the unit.

The coil is pretty strong, the plastic is decent quality, and you can expect decent service, I just don’t see how you can pick this over the top pick myself and I think that’s a justifiable comment when ten times more of the one I recommend as first pick are sold – if it wasn’t available I would definitely turn to this unit though!

For camping enthusiasts, hikers, or backpackers, the Toktax washing line could be just the product you’ve been looking for, and will make the task of getting your clothes dried out much less hassle. It’s not just for those aforementioned groups either. In fact, anyone who travels on a regular basis would benefit from having one of these in their suitcase or bag. We’ve all woke up in the morning on holiday to find our towel has slipped off the balcony. Wouldn’t it be much more secure pegged to a washing line, along with your swimwear?

Its design means that you don’t have to worry about screwing the housing into any walls or anything like that, you just wrap the line around whatever is at hand, and use the carabiner and locking beads to secure it in place. It’s a much simpler installation than any of the other retractable washing lines in this list.
Made from ABS plastic, the Toctax washing line is sturdy enough but I would take care not to drop it due to two pieces on the housing that are used to reel the line in or out. These parts seem to be thinner than the rest of the shell, and I think too many hard knocks would damage them.

The nylon rope itself is nice and strong and can support a fair amount of weight. We didn’t test it to the maximum 45lbs, but it held up well with a couple of towels, some wet shorts, and a few t-shirts while being hooked up between a couple of trees.

At 8 metres long this is far from the longest washing line in this list, but considering it is completely portable, it’s a good size and more than enough for a small family on a caravan holiday or camping trip. It’s not going to be enough for huge loads like the Better heavy duty washing line of the Wallfix, but then again, it’s not meant to.

Considering you get the washing line, an aluminium alloy hook, 20 metal clothes pegs, and 10 buckles, this product is very good value for money and I have no problems naming it as the best retractable washing line for camping.


· Great choice for anyone that likes to travel
· Inexpensive but well made
· Very versatile and portable
· Good value for money, with plenty of extras


– Well made, but some parts might get damaged if you drop it

So, you’ve aways got a large load to dry at once, but you can’t bring yourself to shell out for the Brabantia Wallfix. Not to worry, this 35 metre heavy duty retractable washing line from Better (yes, that’s the name they chose for their brand, and not my opinion) is an excellent alterative. Let me just be clear about the 35 metre thing. It’s not one single line that runs for 35 metres, but 5 parallel lines of 7 metres each. This keeps things quite compact, and so you don’t need to have a garden the size of a tennis court to use this model.

What you do need is a solid wall to fix it onto. This is because the Better heavy duty washing line isn’t lightweight like the Vileda, Minky, and Beldray products. In fact, it weighs 3.4 kilograms, and this is why I would only recommend it for outdoor use where you can screw it into the outer walls of your house.
This extra weight is just a byproduct of the very solid build quality that this retractable washing line has. Even when all five lines were filled with wet and heavy clothes, towels, etc. it showed no signs of sagging.

A nice feature of the Better heavy duty washing line is that you don’t have to use all five lines at once if you don’t want to. Let’s say you only need a single line or maybe two for a smaller load, no problem, you can just pull out the ones you need. Although we’ve crowned this product as the best budget for large families, it isn’t a cheap product, but when compared to other true heavy duty washing lines like the Brabantia Wallfix, we think it offers the best value for money. Yes, you can find cheaper multi-line models, but they won’t work as well or last as long as this one.

· Heavy duty and can handle large loads
· Very solidly made and durable
· 5 separate washing lines that can be used individually or at the same time
· 35 metres of line all together

· Quite heavy and needs to be fixed on a strong wall

11. Beldray LA026996 Clothes Outdoor and Indoor Use, 12 Metre, Retractable Washing Line

From the most expensive, to the cheapest now, with our choice for best budget retractable washing line- the Beldray LA026996, which will give you a good bit of change from a tenner, and won’t disappoint you as long as you don’t expect too much from it.

For the low price, the build quality is actually very good. It’s not up to the standard of heavy-duty products like the 35m line from Better and probably won’t last as long, but for what it costs I was not disappointed by the quality of the plastics used in its construction. It also comes with a metal mounting bracket, not plastic, which adds to the durability of the product. The Beldray can pivot on this bracket in the same way as the Vileda Cordomatic, a feature I wasn’t expecting on such an inexpensive retractable washing line.

Just like with the Minky washing line, it’s really easy to detach the main housing from the bracket with only a screwdriver, and as we said earlier, this is good for winter storage and preventing frost damage to the plastic. The quality of the actual line is good too, and there’s 13 metres of it to play with. Obviously, this probably isn’t the best choice for larger families who should go with either the Wallfix or Better 35m line instead, but I think it’ll more than suffice for a lot of people.

At 15.5L x 16.5W x 5.5h cm you could definitely call the Beldray retractable washing line compact, and as it can pivot on the bracket, it doesn’t have to take much space, so it could definitely be used for both indoors and out. The only place where I can honestly say this product shows that it is low budget is the smoothness of the line extending and retracting. I’m not saying it’s faulty or anything like that, but it just doesn’t feel as smooth as the Vileda and Minky models. This is a small thing though, and all being said, the Bedray is a quality product for the money.

· Good quality considering the very low price
· Made from solid ABS plastic
· Very compact at 15.5L x 16.5W x 5.5H cm
· Can pivot on its metal mounting bracket


·Not as smooth as some of the other, more expensive, models
If you like the sound of the Beldray but would prefer a double line, you’re in luck as they also do one of those. We tested it, and it was a decent product, but we decided to go with the Miny for the best dual line.

FAQ for retractable washing lines

Unless you want yourself feeling left high and dry, and not your clothes, we suggest having a quick read through of this buyer’s guide. Below, you’ll see that we’ve highlighted a few of the factors you should be considering when buying a retractable washing line, so you can approach your buying decision from a more informed viewpoint.

Are they indoor, outdoor, or truly outdoors?

The first question that you need to ask yourself is- where do I intend to use my retractable washing line? Is it for setting up in the bathroom to pop towels over? To set up in the garden like a traditional washing line? Or maybe you want something that you can take camping with you?

Actually, a lot of the most modern retractable washing lines can be used in the house as well as in the garden, but some might have casing/housing that is a little on the large side and might not look great in the house, especially if is a bright colour that doesn’t fit into your home décor. For these reasons, we went with the sleek Tensor washing line for our best indoor pick.

If you’re an outdoorsy type, you’re probably here for something to take camping with you, and if that’s so, we recommend the toctax retractable washing line. The reason being that you don’t need to fix it in place with screws or glue like with most indoor and outdoor models.

What are the size and lengths available?

Before you start giggling like school kids, I’m referring to the size of the casing, and the length of the line. Both of these factors correlate to what we said above about whether you are in the market for an indoor retractable washing line or one for the garden, such as the Minky retractable duo model.

The size of your family is something else to think about here, and how much washing you need to hang up at a time. A heavy-duty retractable washing line with multiple lines like the Brabantia wallfix, or the Better 35m washing line, is more likely to suit your needs here than our best overall- Vileda’s cordomatic, as it only has a single, 15 metre, line.

The retractable clothesline you can see in the following image is about the most common size, so take a look and decide if you’d have that in your house or out in the garden:

How long do they last?

We all want the things we buy to last more than just a month or two, and so, the durability of any product is always important.

When it comes to retractable washing lines, there are a few things to be aware of that will no doubt affect how long your chosen model will keep on working at its best, and those things are- the housing, the internals, the line, and the fixings.

The majority of retractable washing lines will be housed in a plastic casing like what you can see in the following photo- , although some have metal too, like the Wallfix model. Obviously, metal is more resistant to impact damage and temperature variations, but rust is always a threat to any metal object left outdoors. Plastic housing, on the other hand, won’t rust but it can be affected and degraded by UV and frost, depending on the quality of the materials used.

Of course, manufacturers and designers have found ways to limit the weaknesses in these materials, and you can get weather resistant plastics, and metals like aluminium that won’t rust and steel with corrosion resistant coating. Toctax’s camping washing line comes with an aluminium alloy hook for just this reason.

The best lines to look out for are a combination of metal and plastic, with the latter coating the former to give you the benefits of both materials. As for fixings, it’s always better to go with metal, in my opinion, and I often go out and buy better quality screws and brackets if I think the provided ones aren’t going to last.

What should I pay?

Always one of the most important factors is price, and the amount you are willing to pay for your retractable washing line will probably affect the overall quality of the product. For example, if you want a near indestructible washing line like the Brabantia Wallfix, you’re going to have to shell out a lot more than you would for the Beldray washing line.

With retractable washing lines though, it is possible to get your hand on something that will do the job, do it well, and give you plenty of use out of it, without breaking the bank; the Vileda Cordomatic and Minky retractable duo washing lines are both great examples of this, as well as our best budget pick from Beldray.

How many lines is too many?

You can now buy retractable washing lines with more than one line. In fact, our choice for the best budget washing line for large families, the Better 35m heavy duty model, has four separate lines.

Multiple lines can be very handy if you’re short on space. Let’s say you have a small garden, or maybe even just a balcony or small spare room to utilise- multiple, parallel, washing lines can help you make the most of your available space.

However, there is one flaw to this design that stands out, and that is when you have a lot of clothes on each line, the inner lines won’t get as much air flowing through to them and might dry at a slower rate.

For people with larger families, or those who just get through a lot of clothes, a single line isn’t always practical, and it would just take too much time to get all the washing done. So, in the end, it comes down to your specific circumstances and needs, and you have to weigh up the pros and cons of each type of retractable washing line.

Personally, I think dual lines like the Minky are a good size for small to medium families.

Conclusion for best retractable washing lines

There’s are loads of retractable washing lines and that’s great for us as the buyer. It’s kept the prices extremely competitive so there’s some cracking bargains to be had. The most important aspects of finding the best retractable washing line are the ease of use, how far the lines retract, easily cleanable, and how much weight the the retractable washing line may carry without failure. The other important consideration is the construction of the product and how long it can last in good condition.

Often, washing lines take up space and ruin the décor of your garden / balcony. The Minky Retractable Washing Line provides you 30m of drying space and is ideal for small gardens, patios, and balconies.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

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