Appliances

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.
  • Expensive to run.

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.
  • They’re cheaper to run but you have to use it at least daily to compensate for the hefty purchase price.

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.
  • 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.

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:

  • Line dry your washing – the ultimate cost saver! It’s free to dry washing on the line so use it whenever you can. Save your clothes dryer for rainy days or to finish off a still-damp load.
  • Clean the lint filter – after every load. This makes it easier for air to circulate through your clothes so the dryer is running efficiently. A full lint filter is also a fire hazard.
  • Use the highest spin speed on your washing machine – this extracts more water, which means your washing needs less time and energy to dry your load. If you’re thinking of replacing your washing machine, front loaders generally spin at faster speeds than top loaders.
  • Separate loads – into heavy and lightweight materials (lighter clothes dry quicker) and shake out your clothes before drying them (tight wads of clothes take longer to dry).
  • Choose an energy-efficient dryer. If you need a dryer to use year-round (for example, because you live in an apartment), go for a heat pump dryer. They cost more to buy but are cheaper to run.
  • Ventilate. Duct your vented dryer outside as 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 as it won't leave you with water dripping from the ceiling and running down the walls.

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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