Whether it's La Niña or a late-night laundry emergency, you can't always get your washing dry the washing the good old-fashioned way. When it's just too wet, too cold or too late to hang your clothes on the washing line, you'll need to bite the bullet and use your clothes dryer.
But if you're concerned about the cost to your wallet or the cost to the environment, here are six ways to use your dryer more efficiently.
1. Air dry your clothes wherever possible
Clothes dryers use a lot of energy to run, but sunlight is free. Even if it's raining, can you find a dry spot to pop your laundry on a drying rack?
The drier you can get your laundry before putting it in the clothes dryer, the better.
Clean your lint filter after every load so your dryer runs at maximum efficiency.
2. Keep your lint filter clean
Cleaning the lint filter can be annoying, but it's an important habit to get into.
A blocked lint filter makes it harder for air to circulate through your clothes, making your dryer less efficient and creating a fire hazard.
Try to clean your dryer's filter after every load.
3. Use the highest spin speed
The more water you can remove from your laundry load, the less time it'll need to spend in the dryer.
Choose the highest spin speed available on your washing machine, or if you're shopping for a new washing machine, look for one with a higher spin speed – this will extract more water, so your washing will take less time and energy to dry.
Vented dryers pump moist air out, and will draw it back in again if you don't have a window or door open.
4. Open a window
If you have a vented dryer, it's going to blow moist air back into the room. This means your dryer will have to work harder to dry your clothes, which will cost you more.
Open a window in your laundry space whenever you use your dryer, or use your home's ducting (if it's available).
If you can't vent the air outside, consider a condenser or heat pump dryer. They do cost more to buy, but they won't leave you with water dripping from the ceiling and down the walls.
5. Choose an energy-efficient dryer
If you can't avoid using your dryer all year round, opt for the most efficient one you can find – look for a high energy efficiency score in our reviews.
Or buy a heat pump condenser dryer. These cost more to buy but are cheaper to run, so they can save you money in the long run. The more you use your dryer, the better an option this becomes.
We've found that dryer balls don't work, so don't waste your money.
6. Be skeptical of gimmicks
Don't get sucked into paying for gimmicks. Some people will tell you that adding dryer balls to your dryer will reduce the time and energy required to dry your clothes.
We've tested dryer balls and found they just don't work. Save your money and put your time into smarter ways to use your dryer.