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Product overview

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Clothes dryers

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Choosing the right dryer pays off in the long run.

We’ve tested heat-pump, condenser and vented clothes dryers to find the most efficient, easiest to use and fastest.

From our test

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What type of dryer?

Vented dryers

Mechanically, vented dryers are simple beasts.

They suck in air and heat it before blowing it through the clothes. Water in the clothes evaporates – and this hot humid air is blown out of the dryer, preferably through a duct to the outside of your house.

Pros

  • Cheaper to buy than condenser and heat pump dryers.

Cons

  • They expel moist air – so you need a well-ventilated laundry or ducting to the outside world to prevent soggy walls and mould.

Condenser dryers

Condenser dryers use a heat exchanger to remove heat and water from air that has passed through your clothes.

The water is collected in a reservoir or funnelled down a drain.

Pros

  • Condenser dryers don't need to be vented or ducted outdoors, although they will increase the temperature of your laundry.

Cons

  • They're often double the price of vented dryers.

Heat-pump dryers

Heat-pump dryers use a small heat pump to heat the air that dries your clothes. The warm, damp air is then cooled to remove the water, which is collected in a reservoir or funnelled down a drain. The cooled air is then reheated and recycled within the dryer. This “closed loop” system means there’s no hot air or moisture released from the dryer. They’re ideal for places where external venting isn’t possible, like apartments.

Pros

  • Heat pump dryers are energy efficient. They don't need to be vented or ducted outdoors.

Cons

  • They're expensive to buy – over 4 times the price of some vented models. Cheaper running costs don't compensate for a hefty price.

Washer-dryers

A washer-dryer does the job of a washing machine and clothes dryer in a single appliance. The dryer component is a condenser dryer, which uses a heat exchanger to remove heat and water from air that has passed through your clothes. The water is collected in a reservoir or funnelled down a drain. The heat exchanger uses water as its coolant, which means water is used for both washing and drying.

Pros

  • Good for compact spaces without room for both a washing machine and dryer.
  • The dryer doesn't need to be vented outside.
  • The washing cycle time is comparable to a standard front-loading washing machine.

Cons

  • The drying cycle takes a long time. The washer-dryers in our test took between 222 and 403 minutes (that's over 6½ hours!) to wash and dry a 3.5kg load.
  • The drying capacity may be less than their washing capacity.

Physical features

In the market for a dryer? Consider the following features.

  • Size: Larger capacity generally means a physically bigger dryer – so the capacity of your dryer is likely to be determined by the available space in your laundry area. If possible, buy a dryer that's big enough to take a full load of washing from your washing machine.
  • Ducting: Vented clothes dryers generate lots of warm moist air – a model that can be ducted outside is preferable. Ducting to the outside prevents dripping walls and mouldy ceilings. Some dryers come with ducting kits supplied, kits for other models are an optional extra. You can pick up universal ducting kits from appliance stores like Noel Leeming and Bond & Bond (priced between $50 and $70).
  • Wall mountable or stackable: You'll save space if your dryer can be mounted on the wall or stacked on top of a front-loading washing machine. Vented dryers (see "What type of dryer?", above) are generally the only dryers that you can wall mount. Stackable models are designed to be mounted on top of a front-loading washing machine of the same brand. If you want to stack your dryer, check on this before you buy it.
  • Drying racks: These are used for drying shoes and other non-fabric items so they don't tumble as they dry. Racks are usually an optional extra, available in internal and external types. External racks only work with non-ducted models with an exhaust grille in the front door.

Electronic features

"Extra dry" or "cupboard dry"? Here are the essential electronic features.

  • Sensor-and-timer or timer-only: A sensor detects when the clothes are dry enough and automatically turns off the dryer. Some members have complained that sensors switch off the machine before the load has fully dried. Models with a sensor usually have a timer as well, so if you don’t think the sensor is working, try using the timer instead.

Sensor-and-timer models tend to be more expensive than timer-only. Think about how often you'll use the sensor: there's no point paying for sensor drying if you use it only occasionally.

  • Reverse tumbling: Many models reverse the direction of their drum at regular intervals. This minimises tangling and dries your clothes more evenly.
  • Settings: Some dryers come packed with automatic settings: "extra dry", "very dry", "cupboard dry" and so on. Don't pay more for a machine with extra settings you won't use – a more limited number of settings (such as "high" and "low") should do you just fine.
  • Drying time: This varies between models, and depends on the capacity of the machine, and the weight of clothes being dried. The quickest models can dry a load of clothes in about 2 hours. Slower models can take up to 90 minutes longer.
  • Manual restart: Dryers that automatically start tumbling again if you open and close the door mid-cycle are dangerous for young children who might climb inside the drum and shut the door behind them. All of the dryers we've tested need to be manually restarted.

Dryer economics

It’s all well and good to buy a dryer that costs next to nothing to run. But if your new dryer costs you several thousand dollars more to buy in the first place than a cheaper, less energy-efficient model, you’ll need to make that money back through lower running costs.

That’s why we calculate life-cycle costs, which show the real cost of a dryer over 10 years. Inflation and interest rates mean each dollar spent on a dryer now is worth more than a dollar saved through reduced running costs in the future. We also factored in a yearly power price hike of one per cent.

We plotted the average life-cycle cost over 10 years for the top-performing models in each category. The result’s a bit grim for heat pump dryers, with 370 loads required every year to make them a better option than condenser models.

The numbers are even more daunting if your house is suitable for a vented dryer. You’ll need to dry 516 loads a year to make heat pump dryers cheaper to buy and run than vented models.

This means heat pump dryers are only suitable if you’re running a load almost every day. While this could suit some large families or workplaces, it’s not viable for most of us. For the typical family, vented dryers will be the cheapest option to buy and run. However, if your home isn’t suitable for ducting, or you don’t have a well-ventilated space for a dryer, then a condenser model won’t cost you too much more.

Average dryer life-cycle cost over 10 years

GUIDE TO THE FIGURE We’ve charted the average 10-year life-cycle costs for the models in each category which perform well enough to earn our recommended tick. The intersection of the lines is the number of loads per year required to make heat pump dryers economic with respect to condenser or vented models. Results are shown for a 3.5kg load. Note we only calculate life-cycle costs for models using our new 3.5kg load test method.

The table below shows how much the dryers in our database, which where were tested with a 3.5kg load, will cost you over their lifetime in today’s money, calculated for a wide range of loads per year.

For the dryers we recommend () in each category, the top models with the best balance between upfront price and running costs, and thus the lowest life-cycle costs, were:

Model Type Price ($) Energy per load (kWh) Cost at 25 loads per year ($) Cost at 50 loads per year ($) Cost at 100 loads per year ($) Cost at 200 loads per year ($) Cost at 300 loads per year ($) Cost at 400 loads per year ($) Cost at 500 loads per year ($) Cost at 600 loads per year ($) Cost at 700 loads per year ($) Cost at 800 loads per year ($)
Samsung DV90H8000HW Heat pump 2999 1.4 3074 3150 3300 3602 3903 4205 4506 4808 5109 5411
Bosch WTY88701AU Heat pump 3700 1.7 3792 3884 4067 4435 4802 5169 5536 5904 6271 6638
Miele TKB350WP Heat pump 2499 1.7 2594 2690 2880 3262 3643 4025 4406 4788 5169 5551
Beko DPY7504XB1 Heat pump 2700 1.8 2801 2902 3104 3507 3911 4315 4718 5122 5526 5929
LG TD-C902H Heat pump 3599 1.3 3670 3742 3885 4171 4456 4742 5028 5314 5600 5886
Asko T884XLCHP Heat pump 3399 1.1 3458 3516 3633 3868 4102 4336 4571 4805 5039 5274
Electrolux EDH3284PDW Heat pump 3000 2.1 3116 3232 3464 3927 4391 4854 5318 5781 6245 6708
Bosch WTB86200AU Condenser 2200 2.9 2363 2525 2851 3502 4152 4803 5454 6105 6756 7407
Fisher & Paykel DE8060P2 Condenser 1598 3.3 1780 1961 2324 3051 3777 4503 5230 5956 6682 7409
Electrolux EDP2074PDW Condenser 1399 3.4 1588 1778 2156 2914 3671 4429 5186 5944 6701 7458
LG TD-C8031E Condenser 1598 4.0 1821 2044 2491 3384 4277 5170 6063 6956 7849 8741
Electrolux EDV6051 Vented 1049 3.3 1230 1411 1773 2497 3222 3946 4670 5394 6119 6843
Electrolux EDV5051 Vented 949 3.3 1131 1313 1678 2406 3135 3864 4592 5321 6049 6778
Bosch WTA74200AU Vented 997 3.5 1193 1389 1781 2565 3349 4133 4917 5702 6486 7270
Simpson 39S600M Vented 750 4.0 974 1198 1647 2544 3441 4338 5235 6132 7029 7926
Simpson 39S500M Vented 699 4.2 932 1165 1631 2562 3494 4425 5357 6289 7220 8152
Simpson 39P400M Vented 498 4.3 735 972 1446 2394 3342 4290 5238 6186 7133 8081
Fisher & Paykel DE40F56A2 Vented 550 4.7 812 1073 1597 2643 3690 4737 5783 6830 7877 8923
Haier HDY-M60 Vented 519 6.3 869 1219 1920 3321 4722 6122 7523 8924 10325 11726

Reliable brands

1256 members told us about their clothes dryers in our 2016 appliance reliability survey.

Become a paying Consumer member or log in to find out which brands rated best.

Money-saving tips

Here are some tips to help save money when using a clothes dryer:

  • Spin your clothes on a high-speed cycle before drying them.
  • Don’t use a dryer for part loads – wait until you have a full load of clothes to dry.
  • Separate loads into heavy and lightweight materials (lighter clothes dry quicker).
  • Shake out your clothes before drying them (tight wads of clothes take longer to dry).
  • Clean the lint filter after each use. This maintains airflow and maximises drying efficiency.

Dryer safety

Before you throw laundry into the clothes dryer, make sure you've taken these basic safety steps.

  • Lint build-up is a fire hazard. It also reduces drying efficiency and can cause overheating. Clean the lint filter after each use – and regularly move your dryer and vacuum up lint from the surrounding walls.
  • Plastic items (such as shower caps and plastic-backed baby bibs) shouldn't go into the dryer: they'll melt.
  • Items made of rubber can catch fire. Keep them out of the dryer, too.
  • Watch out for clothes or towels that have been in contact with oils, waxes or products containing petroleum or alcohol (like hair-styling products) – they may be flammable. Make sure they've been washed in hot water before you put them in the clothes dryer.
  • Once you clothes are dry: let the dryer complete its cool-down cycle before turning it off.
  • Turn off the dryer whenever you're away from the house or are asleep.

Dryer maintenance

Although tedious, a bit of TLC will keep your dryer in tip-top condition. Here are some simple maintenance tips:

  • The heat exchangers in condenser dryers get clogged with fluff circulating in the air. Clean the heat exchanger at least 4 or 5 times a year.
  • The water reservoirs in condenser and heat-pump dryers need to be emptied after nearly every load. This is easier if the reservoir is at the top of your dryer rather than the bottom – and you can avoid the hassle completely by plumbing your machine to a drain.
  • Lint filters should be cleaned after every load. This improves drying efficiency and reduces the risk of fire. Cleaning will be easier if the lint filter’s near the front of your machine or on the door. Some dryers have more filters than others.
  • Sensors won't work effectively unless you wipe the drum with white vinegar or stainless-steel cleaner every few months.

Buying second-hand

A clothes dryer is a basic appliance and you can buy one cheaply second-hand.

  • Buy only if the dryer looks tidy and well cared for. Stick to well-known brands.
  • Check that the door opens and shuts properly.
  • Under the Electricity Act, all electrical appliances for sale must be safe – whether they're new or second-hand, bought privately or from a dealer.
  • If you buy from a second-hand dealer and then discover the dryer's faulty, you're covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. If you buy privately, you're not.
  • Check whether the dryer automatically restarts if you open and close the door mid-cycle. Dryers that automatically restart can be dangerous if you have young children about.

Bosch and Miele awarded Top Brand

The Top Brand award recognises brands that perform consistently well across product testing, reliability and customer satisfaction.

Bosch has top test performance across all types of dryer and above-average reliability. Miele has good test performance for its condenser and heat pump dryers with excellent owner satisfaction.

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