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Tumble dryer glossary

By Matt Stevens

There's a lot of jargon out there - so use this handy tumble dryer glossary to make sense of it all.

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A

Anti-crease

Some dryers will make the drum move occasionally after the end of a drying cycle until you open the door. This is designed to stop creases from forming in the clothes.

B

Buzzer button

Allows you to choose whether or not to have an audible end-of-program alarm.

C

Child lock

This enables you to lock the control panel to stop children from playing with the controls and settings while you’re not looking.

Condenser dryer

As the name suggests, condenser tumble dryers condense the warm damp air from inside the drum into water, which is then deposited into a container that you have to empty. As this process is contained within the machine, condenser dryers can be installed anywhere in your property. 

Cool

Clothes will be cooled at the end of the program so they're easier to handle. You can also use the cool setting to refresh clothes that haven’t been washed – tumbling with cool air knocks the smells and lived-in feel out of clothes, which is ideal if you've been in a smoky atmosphere, for example.

Cupboard dry

Clothes dried on this setting should come out of the drum dry enough to put straight into the cupboard, but some manufacturers have different definitions of cupboard dry. It's worth checking the instructions manual first.

D

Delay start

This allows you to delay the start of the drying cycle, so you can set the dryer to come on later in the day.

Delicates/Wool

This is for tumble drying woollens or delicate fabrics with gentle heat and minimal tumbling.

E

Easy care/Synthetics

Programs for drying synthetics (clothes made from polyester, for example) will typically allow you to dry about half the amount of clothing you would put in a cottons load. Most 7kg capacity dryers, for example, will let you dry either 3kg or 3.5kg of synthetic clothing in one go.

Easy iron

Useful for clothing that is already dry, this program usually involves a few minutes of heat followed by a short, cool tumble to relax the fibres of creased fabrics and make them easier to iron.

Extra dry

A longer program for multi-layered or thick fabrics such as bed sheets, towelling bathrobes or blankets.

G

Gas dryer

Gas tumble dryers use gas as their heat source to dry the laundry. As with electric vented tumble dryers, damp air is expelled from the machine through a hose - but gas dryers use mains gas to heat the air inside the dryer. Electricity is used to turn the drum and power the control panel, but this is less than 10% of the total electricity used by an electric dryer. Gas dryers have to be installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

H

Heat exchanger

Condenser dryers have a heat exchanger that cools warm, moist air to condense the water from your laundry, which is how it ends up in the water container. The heat exchanger will need to be cleaned regularly to stay effective, but some models have self-cleaning technology to save you the job.

Heat-pump dryer

Heat pump tumble dryers work by reheating air that's sucked out of your washing on one side, and cooling the air to condense it back into water on the other. Condensed water is collected in the machine as with a normal condenser tumble dryer, and the reuse of hot air means energy is kept within the machine instead of being allowed to escape. They can be expensive to buy, but are usually cheap to run.

I

Iron dry

Slightly wet clothes are easier to iron than clothes that are completely dry, so an iron dry program should leave clothes damp to the touch.

L

Lint filter

Fluff from your laundry is caught by the lint filter. This must be emptied after every use to reduce the risk of fires and to keep your dryer running as efficiently as possible. Check the manual for instructions about how to remove and clean the lint filter.

M

Micro filter

Heat pump dryers have a micro filter that will have to be cleaned. It’s a good idea to make sure the micro filter is easy to get to before you buy.

P

Program buttons

Some machines have buttons on the control panel for extra features like taking extra care of delicate fabrics, drying more quickly, delaying the start time or having an anti-crease phase at the end.

Program (or timer) dial

Chooses the drying program on sensor dryers, or the specific drying time. You can read the remaining program time from the dial on most timer dryers.

Program stage LEDs

These indicate the different stages of dryness that your laundry loads go through, or whether they are in the cooling or anti-crease phases.

R

Reversible door

Unlike the majority of washing machines, some tumble dryers will allow you to swap the direction in which the door opens, which gives you more options for where it can be installed in your home.

S

Sensor drying

This means the tumble dryer will automatically detect how wet your laundry is and stop when it's dry.

Stacking kit

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.

Synthetics/Easy care

Programs for drying synthetic clothing (like garments made from polyester) will typically allow you to dry about half the amount of clothing you would put in a cottons load. Most 7kg capacity dryers, for example, will let you dry either 3kg or 3.5kg of synthetic clothing in one go.

T

Temperature selector

Select high for drying cottons and low for heat-sensitive fabrics. Check the icons on your clothes' care labels for which to use.

Time remaining display

Many sensor dryers will estimate how long your washing will take to dry. Some dryers ask you to enter the spin speed of your washing machine in order to provide a more accurate estimate.

Timer (or program) dial

Chooses the drying program on sensor dryers, or the specific drying time. You can read the remaining program time from the dial on most timer dryers.

V

Vented dryer

Vented dryers pump the warm damp air from the drum out through a hose, which has to be connected to a wall or window vent. As this hose will need to be installed, vented tumble dryers aren’t suitable for all homes.

W

Warning LEDs

These light up to remind you to empty the water container or clean the lint filter to keep your machine running at peak efficiency.

Wool/Delicates

This is for tumble drying woollens or delicate fabrics with gentle heat and minimal tumbling.

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