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Do you really need a clothes dryer?

We look at the pros and cons.

dryer with clothesline drying rack and stack of towels
Melanie Hearse
Last updated: 19 June 2019


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

As the wild weather batters our sheets, towels and work attire (not to mention our final nerve when there's a stacked washing line and the rain clouds roll in), you may start to thank the laundry gods for the existence of the humble clothes dryer. 

But do you actually need a dryer, or just really, really want one? Here are the pros and cons of owning a dryer.

clothes drying rack on blue background

Fed up with your indoor drying set-up? You might be ready for a dryer.

Dryer pros

Relying on a washing line during wet periods can make it nigh on impossible to keep your household in clean clothes and bedding.

Perhaps your home comes with less than a square metre of undercover outdoor space – or none at all? 

Or a lack of living space indoors renders a DIY indoor drying set-up (aka: drying racks and dining room chairs constantly loaded with wet washing) impractical, untenable, or just undesirable. 

Then there's the 7am schoolchild's call of "I don't have any dry uniforms for today!" that can prompt even the most resolute dryer-less parent to question their life choices as they hastily attempt to remedy the situation with a hairdryer/iron combo. 

There's the bonus of being able to pop your clothes straight from the dryer to a hanger, instantly reducing your ironing load. 

And is there anything nicer than popping on some warm trackies, straight from the dryer, on a cold day?

three colourful tshirts on a clothesline

Drying laundry on a clothes line is better for the environment.

Dryer downsides

Unless you're linked to solar, increasing your power consumption does come at a cost to the environment, says CHOICE whitegoods expert Ashley Iredale. 

"There's also the environmental cost to manufacture a clothes dryer," he adds. "The raw materials, energy used during manufacture, packaging and shipping, through to the end of life impact – if toxic materials have been used, or bits can't be recycled, they all end up in landfill."

And wallet-wise, they're one of the most expensive appliances to use. Ashley says heat-pump dryers are relatively efficient, but very expensive to buy, whereas the cheaper vented type costs much more to run. 

How much more? "On a cost per kilo of clothes basis, we've seen anything from 9 cents per kilogram of clothing (dry weight) for an efficient heat pump model up to 57 cents per kg for a vented model," he says.

To break down the average cost per year, let's say your energy costs 30 cents/kWh and your dryer uses 5kWh per load. Using it just three times per week (roughly 150 times a year) means your dryer is going to cost you $225 a year to run. 

And if you have a larger family, plus a couple of pets, there's a good chance you'll use the dryer more often, increasing your yearly costs. 

Then there are the safety concerns. Lint build-up can cause a fire by creating an elevated temperature in the drum, which is why you should clean the filter after every load. And remember, small children can easily climb inside your dryer, so avoid models which start automatically when the door is closed. For more safety tips, read our clothes dryer buying guide.

And finally, Ashley notes that using a dryer can also shorten the lifespan of your clothing, towels and bedding, no matter how gently they're treated.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.