Tumble dryer reviews: FAQs
We tumble dry over 1,500kg of clothes a year to find the best vented and condenser tumble dryers on the market. The better dryers not only dry your clothes twice as quickly as other models, but are also kind on your electricity bills - a big concern when you consider running costs can vary from £39 and £139.
How much do I need to spend - and how much do tumble dryers then add to my bills?
How much you need to spend depends on what sort of dryer you want. But it's not only the initial cost you need to think of, as different sorts of dryers will add different amounts to your annual bills.
Below we explain the costs associated with different types of dryer - to find out which are the best and worst, visit our full tumble dryer reviews.
Vented dryers can cost as little as £100, but you'll need to spend twice that to get a good vented tumble dryer, or more to secure a Best Buy model. Typically, vented models add around £100 to your annual electricity bills, but that figure will vary with the size of the drum. As a rough guide expect a 6kg-capacity model to add £87 to your annual bills, £102 for a 7kg drum and £113.50 for an 8kg drum.
Condenser dryers are a bit more expensive than vented dryers. Prices start at around £190 - but you'll need to pay slightly more for a good condenser dryer, and though we have found Best Buy condenser dryers around £250, it's more common to pay more for a a great Best Buy. Average energy running costs are about £105, but the different drum sizes you can expect to pay about £85 a year for a 6kg drum, £107 for a 7kg drum and £123 for an 8kg drum.
Heat pump condenser dryers can halve the amount you'll pay on running costs - but they cost significantly more in the shops, reducing the potential savings. We have seen a heat pump condenser dryer that costs under £500, but a more likely cost is £600-£700. Heat pump dryers tend to do well in our tests, not due to speedy drying, but by having very low running costs, typically around £46.
Gas vented tumble dryers offer similar running costs to heat pump condenser models. They are rare in the UK and will require a Gas Safe engineer to both install and service them - it is important you read more about gas tumble dryers before buying one. The gas tumble dryers we've tested are from White Knight, and will cost you around £300, plus installation. Running costs work out to about £45 a year.
Is a condenser dryer better than a vented one?
Condenser dryers collect moisture from wet clothes in a water reservoir, which you must empty when it is full. Vented dryers simply expel the moist air from the room through a hose.
Condenser dryers are usually seen as more convenient as you don't have to place it near a wall vent or hang a hose out of a window. However, they're more expensive to buy than vented machines and use more electricity.
To avoid the poor condenser models, check out the condensation efficiency rating in the test results section of our tumble dryer reviews. You can also use our tumble dryer energy costs calculator to get an idea how much it will cost to run a tumble dryer over its lifetime.
How do automatic dryers work, and are they a good bet?
Automatic dryers, also called sensor dryers, have humidity sensors that detect how moist your washing is and stop the machine when it's dry.
They should take the guesswork out of setting the machine, but we've found the sensors on cheaper models tend to be less effective.
You can help your sensor to work better by trying to dry similar fabrics together. Mixed loads - for example thick denim jeans and thin cotton pillowcases - can confuse the sensor.
I've read stories about fires starting in tumble dryers, how can I avoid this?
Some manufacturers, such as Beko and White Knight, have recalled tumble dryers due to potential fire risks. To find out more about which tumble dryer models have been recalled and what to do if you own a recalled tumble dryer read our guide to tumble dryer recalls. You can also tell us about your experiences of unsafe appliances with our quick appliance safety questionnaire.
It’s also a fire risk to let fluff build up in your dryer, so regular maintenance is a must.
You should clean all lint filters every time you use the machine to maintain good airflow. Wipe the drum with a damp cloth regularly, and check the vent outlet and hose of vented driers for fluff.
The heat exchanger in condenser models needs washing out about five times a year, more often for heavy users. Some machines have a light that shows when this needs doing.
Any tips for drying clothes?
- Separate out fabrics and dry similar clothes together. This reduces the drying time and increases the evenness of drying.
- Loosen your laundry when you take it out of the washing machine. This prevents lengthy running times and creasing.
- Don't dry large objects, such as duvets, because there won't be enough space for air to circulate. This can overheat the dryer.
- Clean the lint filter after every drying cycle - not doing so will mean your dryer will not be as efficient and will cost you more money.
- If you're washing your bedclothes, remember to fasten the duvet cover. This will stop smaller items like pillowcases from getting inside and staying damp.
How can I prevent tumble dryer accidents?
Avoid children or pets being injured in a tumble dryer by following these precautions:
- Unplug your dryer when it's not in use.
- Turn the program dial to the off position if you remove your clothes mid-cycle.
- Many older dryers restart automatically if you interrupt the cycle - choose a machine that doesn't do this if you're concerned about children or pets playing near the machine.
- Ensure that your dryer has a door that can be opened if it's pushed from the inside. Some driers require too much force.
- Avoid dryers with a handle-operated catch on the door, as these can not be opened from the inside.
- Choose a dryer with a child lock. A mechanical child lock can be engaged after each cycle. It prevents the door from closing, so a child can't become trapped inside.
- Electronic child locks prevent children from turning dryers on or changing the program settings.
Is a washer-dryer a better idea?
Buying a washer-dryer may seem tempting if you want to save space or money.
Bear in mind, though, that they have to repaired more frequently than separate washing machines and tumble dryers – possibly because you're asking them to do twice as much work.
Our recent reliability survey showed that about 30% of washer-dryers up to six years old needed a repair, compared with about 20% of washing machines.
Washer-dryers can usually wash more clothes than they can dry, meaning a single washing load may need to be dried in two or more loads.
Can I stack a tumble dryer on top of my washing machine?
If both your appliances are made by the same manufacturer, you should be able to buy a stacking kit to fix your dryer on top of your washing machine. These kits can be bought from manufacturers or department stores, and are an alternative to a washer dryer if you're short for space: you get the function of two appliances with the footprint of one.
You can also buy universal stacking kits if you have a washer and dryer from two different brands. These kits are designed to fix any dryer on top of any front-loading washer - though a brand-specific kit may fix them more firmly.
It's not advisable to simply place a tumble dryer on top of your washer. Any jolts or the vibration of a high spin could dislodge the tumble dryer and cause damage.