Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hills Rotary Clothesline

We have been using a Hills Rotary Clothesline for close to two years now. The model that we have, the Rotary 450, can no longer be purchased, but appears to be equivalent to the Rotary 7 "Large" Clothesline that is currently available.

Hills is an Australian company that has been making rotary clotheslines and other similar products for several decades. We purchased our's from Breeze Dryer, which is the US distributor for Hills products. The Hills website lists distributors for several other countries for those located outside of the US.

Our first experience with the Hills Rotary Clotheslines was at the 2010 Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA. Breeze Dryer was a vendor at the fair, and we stopped by and looked at the clotheslines and talked to the sales rep. Its very possible that we would have purchased one that day if not for the difficulty of transporting it. Andrea ended up making an online order several months later, which did end up costing more due to shipping.

So far we have been very happy with both the quality of the Hills Rotary Clothesline and the customer service provided by Breeze Dryer. When the package first arrived we left it on the back porch for a while, because it was going to take up so much space inside. Unfortunately Luke decided to chew on the box one day, and managed to work his way to the lines and chew some in half. Andrea called customer service and they sent her a whole set of replacement lines. When we stopped by their booth at the 2011 Mother Earth News Fair the sales rep remembered us, because he had never had to send replacements parts to a customer due to damage caused by a dog.

Before deciding on a rotary clothesline we considered just putting up a normal clothesline. We identified several advantages of a rotary line, though, some of which are specific to the Hills products. After using it for for some time we have identified additional benefits that we had not previously considered.

One of the big benefits with the rotary clothesline is that they require much less space than a traditional line. Even though we have a large yard, the most convenient spot for drying clothes would have not been big enough for a traditional line. The Rotary 450 fits there perfectly, though. This also means that much less walking is required to hang up, or take down, laundry. Even if one were to hang clothes in one section, then go around to the next, it would require much less walking than hanging clothes on a traditional line of equivalent length, even if two or three lines ran parallel. It isn't necessary to walk from section to section with a rotary line, however, as one can just stand in place and rotate the line as needed. This means that the clothes basket can be placed on the ground, allowing two hands to be used for hanging up clothes, instead of having to try to carry the basket and hang up clothes at the same time, or repeatedly moving the basket from spot to spot.

We have also found that clothes dry faster on the rotary line than they would on a traditional clothesline. The primary reason for this is that the rotary line spins with the wind, which not only means that the clothes on all sides are being exposed to the wind, but all are also being exposed to the sun, regardless of its position in the sky. With a traditional line only the clothes on the line closest to the road would get morning sun at our house, with the others not getting sun until afternoon or until the others were removed. Large items can also be dried much more quickly on a rotary line by stretching the item over multiple lines. Often Andrea will often stretch an item over two or three lines, which allows it to be doubled over so it doesn't touch the ground without having the two sides touch. This could also be done with a traditional line provided there were two or more lines running parallel. When drying a quilt or other very large item, however, one can lay the item out over the entire clothesline, so that most of it is laying parallel to the ground, which allows it to get more sunlight, as well as more air flow underneath.

Lastly, the Hills Rotary Clotheslines make is easier to keep clothes out of the reach of those who might try to grab them, such as children or dogs. Luke was very bad when he was a puppy to try to pull the clothes from the line. The ability to raise the clothesline made it easier to keep them away from him. Andrea was able  to hang the clothes, then use the crank to raise them an additional 18 inches. At that height some shorter garments were out of Luke's reach. Andrea would never have been able to reach the lines if they were at that height at all times, though. Also, we thought that we might have to end up fencing in the clothesline for a while, but thankfully Luke finally calmed down. If we had decided to fence it in, a rotary dryer would have been much easier, and cheaper, to fence in due to its smaller footprint.

Even with all of these benefits, there are a few disadvantages to the Hill Rotary Clothesline when compared to a normal clothesline. The first, and perhaps biggest disadvantage for many, is the cost. Andrea and I believe that our Rotary 450 was a good investment, especially since it should last for many years. Many people, however, may not be able to justify spending as much for a clothesline as for a cheap electric clothes dryer.

Another disadvantage, especially for those of us who like to consider the environmental impact of our purchases, is that the buying a product like this means using new materials for a task for which recycled materials could be used. In most cases I would think that the actual lines would be purchased new, but posts for a typical clothesline could certainly be made from salvaged products, or even wooden posts cut specifically for the purpose from trees on the individuals own property. For this reason, if I were to evaluate the purchase of a new rotary clothesline purely on its environmental impact I would likely decide that a traditional clothesline would be the better choice.

Finally, even though the Hills Rotary Clothesline can be relocated to another location doing so requires the purchase of an additional ground socket. Since the ground socket must be cemented into the ground, it would be difficult to move it, although I am considering trying to do so once we build our house. The purchase of a new ground socket means both added expense and wasted materials, including the Portland Cement, which I like to use as little as possible. Also, once the clothesline is moved, you're left with the old ground socket still cemented into the ground. Even though it only protrudes a couple of inches above ground level I believe it would certainly be in the way, especially when mowing grass.

Even though there are a few disadvantages to the Hill Rotary Clothesline I believe that they are more than outweighed by the advantages. I expect that we'll be using ours for many years to come, and have seen nothing that makes me think the product will not be up to the task.


  1. This is a great design. I like that it rotates in the wind. Now if I can simply come up with spare parts, I believe this can be made inexpensively. Although without the crank to raise. A 4x4 post and weld some pipe to an old spinning jenny, you should be in business......Jimbo

    1. Sounds like you might be able to address all of the disadvantages that I listed.