Which is the best alternative to a tumble dryer – a dehumidifier or a heated airer?
If you don’t have a tumble dryer then both of these can make drying your laundry way faster – because honestly, who wants to spend all their time dealing with laundry?
And they also cost less to buy and run than a tumble dryer – handy if you’re trying to save money.
This is handy in the winter months when you can’t hang your clothes out to dry in the sun.
I’ve been testing out both for several months and I’m going to go through the energy costs, how they work and which one can dry clothes faster.
For this I’ve used two specific items, I’ve got a MeacoDry ABC 10L and a Dry:Soon Heated Airer from Lakeland.
Dehumidifier vs heated airer – what are they?
A dehumidifier works by extracting moisture from the air. It cools it down to turn it into water that gathers in a tank and then pumps out warm dry air into the room.
It’s often used to tackle problems like condensation, damp and mould. However a dehumidifier can help to speed up drying clothes because it’s pulling moisture out of the air around your wet clothes, and projects warmer, dry air back out.
I really notice in our small utility room when I;’ve been using the dehumidifier that room feels so much warmer. When you put your hand to the air as it comes out the dehumidifier it feels kind of cool but that’s actually warm air, the breeze just makes it feel cool.
A heated airer is basically a big radiator with bars to hang your clothes. The bars of the airer heat up – not quite as hot as a radiator but they get pretty toasty.
It’s important you spread the clothes out as much as possible on the airer, as the more contact fabric has with the hot bars, the faster it will dry.
How you use a dehumidifier or a heated airer
One key difference between these two devices is the type of room you can use them in to dry clothes.
With a dehumidifier you need to select a model that works in the size of room you have – a small unit such as my 10L one will not work in a large airy room. It works in my small utility room.
You also need to use a dehumidifier in a sealed room.
However for the heated airer the opposite is true. Ventilation is crucial, as the heated airer is drying clothes with heat, not extracting moisture from the air like the dehumidifier.
If you don’t ventilate the area around your airer then you could get damp and mould in the room where you are using it.
How long do they take to dry clothes?
How long your laundry will take to dry depends on: the type of items (towels, jeans and other heavy items take longer) and how much laundry you’re trying to dry.
A larger load will take longer with both. Wet fabric hung close together will take longer to dry even with the airer. The dehumidifier can try two loads of laundry faster, however you’d need plenty of space on an airer to hang them out.
Generally speaking it takes six to eight hours to dry a load of normal clothes.
Throw towels and/or a thick hoodie into the mix and it will take closer to nine to 12 hours.
Bed sheets will take just three to four hours.
Which one wins on time? Having used both on various different loads of laundry I give the edge to the dehumidifier in terms of time.
You can speed up the drying time with both by regularly turning your laundry over on the airer, or by moving the airer so all sides of it get blasted by the dehumidifer.
Getting a cover for your airer, or covering it with a bedsheet, can also speed up the process a little by trapping warm air. It’s the same with the dehumidifier too! I think you can shave maybe 45 minutes off drying time with this.
What about energy costs?
I can tell you what these specific devices cost to run. Please bear in mind that costs vary depending on the make and model you buy. Some it may cost more or less.
The Meaco costs around 5p and hour to run.
This heated airer cost 9p an hour to run.
So in this specific comparison, the dehumidifier wins quite clearly on costs. Do remember though that this is based on the current energy price cap and that may change.
How do these costs stack up against a tumble dryer? You can expect a tumble dryer to cost between 60p and £1.40 per cycle – that of course depends on what model you have but this is just a rough guide.
Say we run the dehumidifier for six hours, that’s still cheaper than the tumble dryer at just 30p.
And it’s the same with the airer too, although the costs get a little closer with this particular model.
Are they easy to store?
The airer folds down for storage and can be tucked away.
However the dehumidifier is bulky, although still smaller than an airer. It can be moved from room to room and stored in a cupboard if you have space.
Which is best?
The cost of these two items was around £150, so not too different. You can get cheaper models,
For example Aldi’s heated airer is always selling out so keep an eye out for its return!
I think £100 is the minimum spend for a decent dehumidifier.
Which one should you actually invest in?
My preference is the dehumidifier. It costs less to run (this one does anyway), it can dry more clothes – because you could have two drying racks lined up next to each other at once, and I think it is just a little quicker at drying clothes than an airer. Although it does help if you’re available to rotate your drying rack.
If you really want to turbocharge drying your clothes, and don’t mind the extra energy costs then combine both of them together.
Whichever one you choose, unfortunately they won’t sort your clothes for you, but they will make the process much faster.
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