What are the parts of a rotary washing line?

The different parts of a rotary washing line

The rotary washing line has become a standard device found in most gardens or outside areas all over the world. The rise in the popularity of rotary washing lines is due to a range of different reasons. One reason is the increased concern about climate change and the effect of modern drying technology such as tumble dryers which typically use large amounts of electricity. The high energy consumption of tumble dryers can also lead to expensive electricity bills which makes the rotary washing line a much more affordable option with no cost per use and being a much cheaper initial purchase.

It is also suggested that people are now favouring using more natural methods in order to dry their clothes, as research has proven that it is better for the material in most articles of clothing. The combination of artificially produced heat and the tossing from the rotation of the barrel can constrict the fibres of materials causing them to shrink and change shape.

What are the elements of a rotary washing line?

Rotary washing lines are typically built of up of four main sections. These sections vary slightly from the different models, but they all have similar functions. Understanding the reasons behind these rotary clothesline sections allows you to get the most out of your device and allow you to properly maintain your rotary washing line to prolong its life. At Washing-Line we have compiled a list of all the best rotary washing lines to provide you with everything you need to make the right decision.

Bases and Spikes

The lowest section of the rotary washing line is the spike or base. This section is what anchors the rotary washing line providing stability to the device allowing it to remain steady during windy conditions which is important. Whether your rotary washing line has a spike or a base will depend on what type of rotary washing line you want.

The standard rotary washing line is a permanent fixture. These are cemented in to provide extra support and are much more stable than portable rotary washing lines. When you purchase a rotary washing line it comes with a metal base that the post fits into, this is the section that should be cemented into the ground. Inserting your rotary washing line in this manner allows you to pull your rotary washing line our of the hole and store is elsewhere when not in use. If you do remove your rotary clothesline when it is not in use, make sure to cover this hole to prevent accidental injury to anyone using that area as well as preventing debris blocking it.

Portable rotary washing lines, on the other hand, use both spikes and weighted bases. The spike makes it easy to hammer into the ground so that the rotary clothesline can be used and then pulled back out afterwards. The other option with portable rotary washing lines is a weighted base. This base can be weighted itself or alternatively have a base can be a plastic container which you fill with water to weigh it down.

Poles and Posts

The middle section of the rotary washing line is the pole or post. This provides the height of the clothesline which aids in exposing the clothesline to the wind which speeds up the drying process of the clothes. These poles are typically made of metal and are extremely strong which is vital to withstand the elements such as the weather. This stability comes from the lowest part of the pole anchoring in the ground taking the strain of force from the weather on the exposed part.  

Most poles or posts are just a metal pole designed to fit into the accompanying base section. However, on more high-end rotary washing lines the pole can be extendable. This allows you to extend the pole to a higher height in order to dry clothes quicker, as well as collapse down to reduce the space used us when not in use.

Lift-O-Matic and Hoist Systems

Rotary washing lines save space by being able to collapse their rotary arms and clothesline down into the pole or post. This also helps protect the rotary washing line from the weather when not in use. You will probably recognise this section on your rotary washing line as on most models it is a plastic section that surrounds the pole and sits at the bottom of the rotary arms. This section works by being squeezed and slid up or down the pole to erect or retract the rotary washing line respectively. This section is more commonly recognised in the models available on the market as a lift-o-matic rotary washing line.

The alternative to Lift-O-Matic rotary washing lines is a hoist rotary washing line. These are typically slightly more expensive but are more efficient and safer to operate due to the easy to use handle. The way a hoist rotary washing line works is by extending the rotary arms outwards when turned in one direction and retracted back in when turned in the other direction. The advantage of hoist rotary washing lines over lift-o-matic rotary washing lines is that they are much simpler to use. They are also safer as one issue with lift-o-matic rotary washing lines is pinching your fingers whilst erecting or retracting the rotary arms.

Rotating Element

The most definitive part of the rotary washing line is obviously the top section. This is what makes the rotary washing line really stand out against the traditional clothesline. The rotating element that sits in the stationary pole allows more air to flow through the clothes which in turn helps speed up the drying process.

This section typically includes three or four arms from which clotheslines hang in between. Unfortunately, these clotheslines can sometimes sag after extended use. If this happens then you should read our article on how to tighten a rotary washing line. The design of this section means that it can be retracted or extended using the hoist or lift-o-matic part mentioned in the previous section. The rotating elements are known to be extremely durable and robust to withstand the weather when they are in use. You can also protect them when they are not in use by using rotary washing line covers.

Additional Features

In the above section, we have included all of the sections of a typical rotary washing line and their functions. However, that list is not a one size fits all and does not cover all the parts of rotary washing lines available on the market. The continuous development and innovation in clotheslines mean that there are always new models coming out which include new additional features. 

These are designed to make rotary washing lines easier to use as well as speed up the rate at which they dry clothes. Below we have identified a couple of our favourite new features available on rotary washing lines, outlining what they are and their functions.

Wind Brake

Some rotary washing lines come with a wind brake which controls the speed at which the rotary arms rotate. This additional feature can be especially useful for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, if the weather is extremely blustery outside then you can tighten the brake so that the rotary washing line spins slower rather than wildly out on control. On the other hand, in relatively calm weather, the wind brake can be loosened allowing the rotary washing line to spin more easily. 

This will increase the volume of air passing through the clothes and speed up the drying process. The last reason why a rotary washing line wind brake is extremely useful is to fully stop the device. Tightening the hand brake fully will lock the spinning element of the rotary washing line so that you can easily peg or unpeg clothing.


When you are not using your rotary washing line and it is in the fully upright position with all of the arms pushed into the main structure you can put a cover over the device to protect it. These covers are relatively inexpensive and can increase the life of your rotary washing line. Another advantage of using a rotary washing line cover is that it can disguise your device making it more fitting with the design of your outside space.

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