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Woman loading clothes in clothes dryer.
Research report
16 October 2020

Clothes dryers: how slow is too slow?

A clothes dryer should save time and effort.

The point of mod cons is to make life easier. When it’s bucketing down outside, who needs the hassle of hanging laundry on the line?

With a tumble dryer, you can bung your laundry in, press the button and come back later to dry clothes. So, if you’re going to drop a wad of cash on a new machine, you’ll want one that does the job with a minimum of fuss.

It took how long?

Fisher & Paykel DH9060P1 9kg clothes dryer
Fisher & Paykel DH9060P1 9kg clothes dryer

We've tested 21 dryers and found a few that take forever. The worst offender was a Fisher & Paykel heat pump dryer that needed 211 minutes to dry our 3.5kg test load. Heat pump dryers are known to take their time, but still … three-and-a-half hours? On the whole, we’ve found vented dryers to be the fastest, with a couple of Simpsons leading the charge at just over an hour-and-a-half.

We’ve also had a few dryers come to a stop before the test load had fully dried. When that happens in our lab, we deduct marks from the overall score. In the real world, though, you’d have to hang your laundry out to finish drying or tumble it some more (using a programme without the sensor function). What was that about dryers being “modern conveniences”? If yours is creating unnecessary work, consider it an inconvenience.


What can you do if your dryer isn’t drying properly?

  • Clean the lint filter every time you use the dryer.

  • With condenser/heat pump dryers, regularly empty the water reservoir and remove and clean the heat exchanger by running it under a tap.

  • Every few months, wipe the drum clean with a soft cloth*.

  • Clean the moisture sensors, too*. Refer to the manual for their location. Typically, moisture sensors consist of two metal prongs. When wet laundry touches the prongs, a closed circuit results. An electrical impulse can then pass through the circuit. As the moisture evaporates, the current becomes weaker. When the sensors can no longer detect moisture, the dryer turns off.

  • Make sure the dryer is vented properly. Even heat pump and condenser dryers need adequate airflow in order to operate efficiently, so open a window while the machine is running.

  • Don’t overload the machine.

  • For evenly dried laundry, sort it so that you’re drying similar items together. You risk over-drying a lightweight T-shirt if it’s lumped in with heavy towels.

*Check the manual to see if the manufacturer recommends using a stainless-steel cleaner; otherwise, use a dry cloth.

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