Clothes dryers: how slow is too slow?

A clothes dryer should save time and effort.

Woman loading clothes in clothes dryer.

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?

Photo of Fisher & Paykel model DH9060P1.
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.

Troubleshooting

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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Carol B.
17 Oct 2020
Robin Hood Dryer

Just purchased a new Robin Hood Dryer 2 weeks ago, finally got round to using it yesterday, far too many choices. Am I missing something here but surely all you want is Hot or Warm (Synthetics etc.), no longer available. To dry a Bath Sheet you have to set it for 120min as that is the only way it will dry on hot. Gave it 40 minutes then turned it off and removed bath sheet, - all dry. Give me back my old Kelvinator 2 settings. Has a setting for cold dry - who wants that, supposedly for freshening clothes that have been stored - over the top!!!!

Johanna M.
17 Oct 2020
Crispy dry

Every time I opened the drawer of our brand-new Electrolux clothes dryer, the washing didn't seem to be dry. We finally got a technician round, who said that the machine was set to European standards and wouldn't get clothes "crispy dry". I said I didn't think that my glasses should fog up every time I opened the door. He adjusted it, but said it would never get clothes crispy dry, even if that's the way we liked them. So now every time I dry a load of clothes, I have to – nine times out of 10 – put it in for an extra 20 minutes to get them what the technician considered to be dry. Funny that there is so much choice of clothes dryers these days but you still can't get one that drives your clothes the way you want them dried.

Peter L.
17 Oct 2020
Less speed, more energy efficient

Sure, a heat pump dryer is relatively slow, but why not set the timer and let the dryer run over-night?
You might also like to ask your power company about night-rate fees and save even more on running costs with your energy-efficient dryer.

Malcolm S.
17 Oct 2020
Clothes dryers rest

Why do you not report the results