The best way to dry laundry in winter
Research report
April 2021

The best way to dry laundry in winter

How do you dry when the weather turns grim?

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susan p.
23 Mar 2021
drying clothes in winter

Move to Nelson. Drying clothes is rarely an issue.

Kate C
14 Dec 2020
Garage line

I have a clothes line fitted to the wall inside the garage and leave the garage door open slightly. It works well, in the middle of a cold wet winter it takes a couple of days on the line but that's no biggie, and the clothes never smell damp. The line is not very deep but quite long, I can get plenty of washing on it and it doesn't intrude into the car spaces.

Debbie K.
02 Feb 2021
Garage line 2

I have also done the same thing in our garage, but we had the added benefit of building our house so we put a high long, openable, window on the north side of the garage. The line is positioned under the window and I dry my clothes in the garage all winter and in the summer lightweight things dry in there overnight.

Michael D.
07 Jun 2020
Consider a condenser drier

Condenser driers have been ignored in this report, but should be considered.
A vented drier either vents all your precious heat to the outside, or dampens your environment.
A heat pump drier will empty your bank account.
A condenser drier extracts water from the clothes, and then condenses it into a reservoir which you will need to empty. However all the energy used is converted into heat and released into your environment. Keep one in your kitchen or laundry and you will end up with a cosy room, rather than a cosy back yard.
This may not be an ideal solution in the summer, but at this time of year it is efficient and actually pretty green as no energy is wasted.

Allrighty
02 May 2020
I'll cut my budget other ways before giving up my dryer

A good vented tumble dryer is the only way for me. I have limited time and effort to devote to laundry. I've done my share of poring over weather forecasts and plotting how and when I might be able to get my clothes clean throughout the winter. Then I got a clothes dryer, used it regularly, and life got a lot better. It's now on my list of necessities.

Amanda M.
02 May 2020
Woodburner and DVS

I use a clothes rack in front of the woodburner and we also have a dvs system so no probs with condensation. For the bigger items like sheets, I hang over the doors overnight (if almost dry from being hung outside) but if crappy weather, I put them through the dryer. I have a condenser dryer so no condensation and very easy on the power bill.

Oneironaut
04 Dec 2019
Heat pump dryers don't work well in NZ's cool, damp climate

Heat pump dryers work most efficiently in warm, dry atmospheric conditions (i.e. the type of conditions in which there’s no need to use a dryer). When I bought my Miele heat pump dryer, it was about twice the price of a standard vented dryer with the same capacity but was advertised as being about twice as energy efficient. Because I have to use a dryer for all of our laundry, I hoped that over time, the greater energy efficiency of the heat pump dryer would be more cost effective overall. How wrong I was! During Auckland winters, when the air is cool and damp, the heat pump dryer’s set programs (on which the manufacturer’s energy efficiency data are presumably based) vastly underestimate the time needed to fully dry a load of laundry. In reality, it can take more than twice as long to dry a load of laundry as a standard vented dryer would take; moreover, tumbling for twice as long causes twice as much wear and tear on the laundry itself. I would NEVER buy another heat pump dryer, and nor would anyone else I know who has ever owned one.

Debbie K.
02 Feb 2021
Heat pump dryer

Many thanks for your comment - you have saved me a chunk of money 👍

Mairi C.
12 Jun 2019
Using dehumidifier

I dry my washing outdoors if it is not raining. On wet days -- or when I formerly lived in an apartment -- I put the clothes rack and dehumidifier in the bathroom.
This removes the noise factor from a living area.
In the apartment, before I had the dehumidifier, I put the clothes rack in the bedroom and kept windows open to get a through draught. The sheets and towels were hung on the outside, underwear, socks, etc in the middle and shirts on coathangers at one end. The sheets had to be folded to fit on the rack and needed to be refolded at intervals.
Mairi

Paul v.
11 Jun 2019
Drying rack in the garage.

Dry clothes on drying rack in un-insulated garage. Plenty of air movement as garage door is not air tight and garage gets aired when the garage it opened to take car/bikes out. Normally dry in about 20 hours year round.

Brian M.
10 Jun 2019
Better winter clothes drying

Local business owners in Millwater are import agents and sell a device called a Spindel - https://www.facebook.com/spindel.nz/ and these are amazing. Probably more efficient for winter drying than anything else, by removing so much moisture in the first place

Lynsie Anne M.
08 Jun 2019
Danger- unattended dryer!!

Any electrician or electrical service person will tell you "Don't run a dryer at night or any other time when it is unattended" Many a house has burned down when a dryer has over heated. In fact a friend has just recently had her house burn down when she turned on the dryer and went out to take the baby for a walk. Fortunately there was no one home. Don't do it and Consumer should not be telling anyone to turn dryer on at night even if it does save money.

Peter I.
08 Jun 2019
How about running the vented dryer on cool?

Would love to see the effectiveness and cost of running the vented dryer with just the tumble action and cool air. If it takes 4-6 hours at just the wattage of the motor that would have to be a win. If your sensor dryer has that functionality. Curious.

Edit: Just checked & average 240v dryer motor is round 90watts. So 2.5c per hour.

J A G C.
08 Jun 2019
Only Dry Outdoors

As a physics & chemistry graduate, I know that you MUST get your wet washing outside, OR buy a drier VENTED to the outside. Regards, Jim, 73.

Cleone
08 Jun 2019
Outside, then vented dryer on free hour of power.

I use Elctric kiwi so I have a free hour of power each day. I choose a 4pm hour although I sometimes change (with cell phone alert set at the time) and bring in the clothes from the line and switch on the vented dryer. I also switch on the washer, dish washer, heater and heat pump at that time and occasional cooking. About 15% of my power use is free.

Anne C.
08 Jun 2019
Rack and heated towel rail

What works for me is a combination of a drying rack and the heated towel rail for items that take longer to dry.
As I don't have a timer on the towel rail it is not costing any extra to use it for clothes

Charles Lloyd
08 Jun 2019
No free lunches, except a breezy clothes line!

An excellent study, based on real situations. A good breeze 'snaps' the washing which also gives a nicer finish than just hanging still on an indoor rack.

Anna B.
08 Jun 2019
Lycra and sports clothes

We are an active family and as far as I am aware you can’t put Lycra etc in a clothes dryer. Has anyone got any tips on drying sports clothes other than putting separately on the clothesline?

Gary B.
08 Jun 2019
Lycra

I do put it in the drier anyway or else hang it on the heated towel rail...

Discerninator
11 Jun 2019
Lycra

We hang ours in the carport/garage (warmish spot), then finish them off in the dryer on a cool setting if they're still a bit damp. I actually this with our merino layers as well!

Lucy T.
31 May 2019
Dehumidifier actually better option

I'd like to challenge your conclusion that the dryer was the better option:
With the dryer, you used 50c of electricity, and got dry clothes.
With the dehumidifier, you used 50c of power and got dry clothes, a dryer room, and 3 degrees of heat gain. It's unclear what the $ value of the heat gain is as we don't know the insulation level or size of room, but regardless, you get a larger net benefit using the dehumidifier than the clothes dryer.

John P.
08 Jun 2019
Lucy's comment demhumidier the better option

I agree Lucy!

Mary B.
26 Jul 2017
Drying Clothes

This was a very helpful test! Now I will not feel guilty using our clothes dryer.

Robyn G.
26 Jul 2017
Cost of running a dryer

Hi,
I'm a little confused. Here you say cost of a dryer is 50c but in your cost of running appliances article the cost of a dryer is 86c - $1.06. Which is correct?
Thanks

Previous member
26 Jul 2017
Re: Cost of running a dryer

Hi Robyn,

Our running cost calculation (86¢ for a 3.5kg load) is based on a typical dryer. It accounts for the average energy use of dryers we’ve tested over the years and errs on the cautious side so we don’t mislead with an underestimated cost.

The 50¢ figure came from my particular dryer and a smaller 3kg load, with electricity use measured at the wall socket. It’s correct for that particular situation and useful for the comparison with the dehumidifier energy use, but won’t necessarily be typical for different dryers and different load sizes.

Cheers,
Paul - Consumer NZ Head of Testing

Diana
22 Jul 2017
DiDi

I am an avid believer in using a dryer but first pick a day when there is some wind, hang on line (spun at 1200 in washing machine) and then take in before temperature drops. The difference from fully wet to nearly dry is huge. Obviously the wind reduces the weight of water. Then finish off in my sensor dryer by putting in similar weight clothes in a not quite full dryer and it takes about 30 minutes to dry a load. If there is one thing that worries me, it is children being put into damp clothes. I'm South Auckland rural if that makes a difference.

Discerninator
11 Jun 2019
Hang first, finish off in vented dryer

I totally agree - I have several lines in my garage and carport (no outside washing line) where I hang wet washing, and finish them off in the dryer to get rid of residual damp. Saves a heap on power - only do smalls in the dryer straight from the washer.

Dee T.
22 Jul 2017
Non vented dryer in an uninsulated living area

Daughter has a new dryer but the one bought is unfortunately not a vented model. The electrician has warned her that her ceilings are too low for its usage inside. The landlord does not want her to have it outside on the deck....thinks that will be unsafe. Would a dehumidifier nearby inside handle the moisture escaping from the dryer????

Diana
22 Jul 2017
DiDi

If they are normal ceiling heights - don't agree. I use mine unvented with the window ajar and no issues with damp. Yes there can be condensation while drying but the trick is to hang a DampRid Hanging Moisture Absorber in the room that removes any damp afterwards and for me lasts over a month so about $2 a week. Been doing it for 5 years and zero mold in the room. Home when doing it so can leave the window wide open if desired.

Previous member
24 Jul 2017
Re: Non vented dryer in an uninsulated living area

Hi Dee,

If the dryer is a condenser or heat pump model, without a vent, it is fine to use in an unvented space – in fact those are designed to be used unvented as they capture all moisture inside the machine. If you can’t vent outside, I’d recommend one of these types as the best option by far.

If you have a vented model, ideally the vent will be piped outside. Alternatively, it can be used in a well-ventilated space, like a garage or laundry with a window open. As a last resort you could run it venting inside with a dehumidifier running to suck up the moisture. I wouldn’t recommend it, but if there’s no other way it’s an option – it will cost quite a bit more to run the dryer and dehumidifier (you’ll need to run the dehumidifier longer than the dryer to collect the moisture).

After the first run, see how much water is captured in the tank. If you get a couple of litres, you’ve probably collected most of the moisture. I’d also recommend you assess how damp the room feels before and after drying, and check for any signs of damp appearing.

Thanks,
Paul - Consumer NZ Head of Testing

Anne H.
22 Jul 2017
Dry with the fire on

I have a woodburner and when I hang up inside with the woodburner going the clothes dry and the house doesn't get damp.

Nick C.
22 Jul 2017
A dedicated spin dryer could help

We use a dedicated spin dryer mainly for reducing line time with a motorhome. When tested at home it got a lot more water out of the laundry after it had been through the washing machine spin cycle. We couldn't find any on sale in NZ and had to import it.

Tim
08 Feb 2021
See another user's comment re spindel

3 minute cycle time, 6.5kg load spun @ 2500rpm (fastest F&P spin for top loaders seems to be 1100rpm at the moment so definitely going to get quite a bit more water out

Joanna R.
22 Jul 2017
I use clothes dryer

It's convenient, quick and doesn't cost much. My towels are nice and fluffy.
I use a clothes horse in the garage for anything that I done want in dryer. Like wool clothes.

Bryson C.
22 Jul 2017
Wind dries clothes not the sun

As folk have indicated, outside drying is effective, but in winter only effective if there is a wind. It doesn't need to be sunny as long as there's reasonable air movement. The sun helps by increasing the ability of the air to absorb moisture, but if there's no wind in winter, the clothes will not dry even with being in the sun all day. However, the sun is a bonus ultra violet sanitiser.

Laraine B.
20 Jul 2017
I use lines outside

but I look at the maps on the Met Service web site to work out which day of the week would be best for my washing day. Then I use only the outside lines on my portable rotary clothes line and my husband stretches a line from the garage to the end of the house for the rest of the washing. I use a prop to get the washing up as high as possible. Mostly I get it either fully dried or dry enough to fold up and put in the hot water cupboard for a day or so before putting it away.

Previous member
24 Jul 2017
The advantages of a sunny patio

Like you, I check the weather forecast and try to schedule my heaviest washing for days when I can use the clothesline. But I'm in Rotorua - not the warmest or driest place. For the smaller loads in between I have a clotheshorse on a sheltered northwest facing patio, which will dry things in a couple of days even when it's raining. I haven't owned a dryer for 20 years, but I know I probably couldn't get a whole family's washing dried using these methods. It was good to hear how relatively little a dryer load can cost.

Brian W.
19 Jul 2017
What we da and another option

Hi we prefer to hang our clothes out on the line but as you say this doesn't get them fully dry and also the air out there tends to be smoky and the smell gets into our clothes. So we:
- Hang clothes on some lines that we put up in the garage. It takes a couple of days so no good if you are in a hurry.
- If it's sunny put them on a clothes horse in the sunroom. This gets smaller items dry and helps with larger items
- If all else fails we put them on the clothes horse in front of the heat pump if we are using it anyway. No doubt increases humidity and therefore a bit more power. It would be interesting to see a Consumer test on this option.

Barbara S.
08 Jun 2019
Heat Pump drying

I live in Christchurch and dry my clothes on a line on a sunny balcony whenever possible, even on a sunny day in winter when the air temperature is above 10 degrees. If partially dry they soon finish off in my unvented dryer. It is in the laundry and I can open a hatch which leads to the underfloor space for ventilation. If outdoor drying is not possible I can dry clothes on a rack in front of my 7 kw heat pump, which dries even towels in no time and produces no noticeable condensation. To answer a previous correspondent, lycra etc dry well on a rack.