All clothes dryers work by blowing heated air through your clothes to remove moisture, but there are several different types of dryers available which employ different technologies, features and levels of sophistication.
You'll need to consider:
- how often you'll be using your clothes dryer
- the kind of items you'll be using it for
- the available space and ventilation in your laundry
- the impact on your energy costs
- your environmental footprint.
Want to know how we get our review results? Check out how we test clothes dryers
What are the different types of clothes dryers?
In most cases, yes. Will you be putting a full 8kg of washing into your dryer each time? Or just a couple of items?
Most people take the load out of the washer and put it straight in the dryer. This is why it's a good idea to match the capacity of your dryer to your washer.
It refers to dry clothes.
So, let's say you have an 8kg washing machine and fill it to capacity with 8kg of dry clothes. When you take the wet clothes out after the washing cycle, an 8kg capacity dryer is capable of drying that load – even though it's heavier now since it's wet.
To prevent dripping walls and mould-ridden ceilings, you need to ensure the moist, hot air from the dryer is removed from your laundry efficiently.
Setting up your dryer near an open window or using an exhaust fan may do the job, but if this isn't possible then you're likely to need a venting kit. Some dryers come with one; for others it's an optional extra. However, not all venting kits suit all situations. Discuss the installation with the sales staff to make sure you get what you need.
Remember, some dryers only have an exhaust vent at the front and can't be ducted. So if your laundry has poor ventilation, check that the model is vent-kit compatible before you buy.
Our clothes dryer reviews can tell you which of the dryers we've tested are front-vented and whether or not they can be ducted.
Wall-mountable or stackable
Mounting your dryer on the wall or stacking it on top of a front-loading washing machine saves space.
- Some manufacturers only sell stacking kits as an optional extra, and they may only stack on their own brand of washing machine.
- Only vented dryers can be wall mounted – condenser and heat pump condenser dryers are too heavy and will need to be put on the floor or stacked on top of a washer.
Your lint filter needs to be cleaned regularly in order for your dryer to operate efficiently and to reduce the risk of fires, so it's helpful if the filter is at the front and easy to access.
Clean your clothes dryer's filter after each use to reduce the risk of fires.
The drum reverses the direction of tumbling at regular intervals for more even drying and to minimise tangling.
Some models come with a rack that can be mounted inside to hold items you don't want to tumble, such as gym shoes or delicates.
This claims to automatically detect when the load has dried.
Auto programs can take the guesswork out of clothes drying by switching your dryer off when it's done, saving energy and preventing the risk of damaging your clothes through over drying.
In practice, they can be a little hit and miss depending on the size of the load you're drying.
A note on clothes dryers and child safety
While shutting the dryer door and having it turn on automatically is convenient, the chance of having your small child climb into the dryer and shutting the door behind them is a horrible but very real possibility
For this reason, we don't recommend dryers with this function for those with children or regular young visitors. There are more safety tips below.
A vented clothes dryer will be one of the most energy intensive appliances in your home, using anywhere from 2.75kWh to 9.25kWh per load.
For example, your energy costs 30 cents/kWh. Say a dryer uses 5kWh per load, and you use it three times a week (roughly 150 times a year) on average. 0.30 X 5 X 150 = your dryer is going to cost you $225 a year to run.
The good news is, a clothes dryer is one of the easiest to economise on when keeping an eye on the household budget – particularly given Australia's surfeit of sunlight.
If you're a heavy dryer user, consider buying a heat pump dryer as their running costs are much lower.
If you're always doing laundry, you can cut down on drying costs by air-drying outside or switching to a heat pump dryer.
- Air dry your clothes wherever possible – clothes dryers use a lot of energy to run, but sunlight is free.
- Keep your lint filter clean – a blocked lint filter makes it harder for air to circulate through your clothes, making your dryer less efficient and creating a fire hazard. You should clean your dryer's filter after every load.
- Use the highest spin speed on your washing machine, and if you're shopping for a new washing machines, look for one with a higher spin speed – this extracts more water so your washing will take less time and energy to dry.
- Opt for an energy efficient dryer. If you can't avoid using your dryer all year round – because you live in an apartment complex with restrictive body corporate laws, for example – opt for one with a high energy efficiency score or consider a heat pump condenser dryer – they 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.
- Open a window or use your home's ducting (if it's available) – venting moisture back into your laundry space just makes your dryer work harder to dry your clothes, costing you more. If you can't vent, consider a condenser or heat pump condenser dryer – they cost more to buy but are cheaper to run so they can save you money in the long run, and won't leave you with water dripping from the ceiling and down the walls.
- Be skeptical of dryer balls and other gimmicks – some people will tell you that adding these to your dryer will reduce the time and energy required to dry your clothes. We tested dryer balls and found the only thing they dried up faster were the liquid assets in your wallet.
All dryers we've tested in the last few years have overheat detection, which means they turn off when the temperature gets too hot.
But to make sure you're extra safe, follow these few steps that most dryers will detail in their manuals:
- Follow the instructions in your manual.
- Plug your dryer directly into the power socket, not into a double adaptor, extension cord or power board.
- If wall mounting, ensure your drier is securely fastened to the wall following the manufacturer's instructions. Consider professional installation if DIY isn't your thing.
- Kids love to explore and can easily climb inside your dryer – if you have small children, avoid models which start automatically when the door is closed.
- Allow good ventilation around the dryer.
- Don't load clothes that have had flammable materials spilled on them such as oils. Wash these in hot water with extra laundry detergent before drying.
- Only load clothes, towels and linen.
- Do not put items of clothing with rubber or foam attached to them.
- Don't store flammable items near the dryer.
- Clean your lint filter after every load (it saves time, energy and reduces potential damage to your clothes).
- Follow the clothing recommendations regarding tumble drying.
- Avoid using fabric softeners.
- Don't leave your dryer on while you aren't at home.
Kids can easily climb inside your dryer, so avoid models which start automatically when the door is closed
If you're not sure which brand of dryer to choose, check out our clothes dryer reliability survey. The results are based on the real-world experiences of thousands of consumers, so you can see how they all stack up before you buy.
These scores are also listed in our clothes dryer review, so filter for the highest rating where available.