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Tumble dryers: which is fastest?

Compact-vented, vented, condenser and heat-pump tumble dryers: which type is quickest? And just how long do the slowest take to dry clothes?

Buying a new tumble dryer? Nobody wants to spend all day drying their clothes, but that’s exactly what will happen if you pick the wrong model. We’ve compared vented, condenser, heat pump and compact tumble dryers to find out which is fastest.

The latest Which? tumble dryer lab reviews have uncovered gargantuan differences between the fastest and the slowest machines, with the worst offenders taking nearly 33 minutes per kilo of clothes – that’s more than twice as long as the quickest tumble dryers.

Find out how different models compare in our tumble dryer reviews.

Which type of tumble dryer is quickest?

How fast or slow a tumble dryer might be is invisible when you’re browsing between different models in the shops and that’s where our tests come in.

We measure how long it takes each tumble dryer we review to dry clothes. We use four different loads of drying in our tests and in each of our tumble dryer reviews we publish star ratings to show which machines will do a speedy job of clothes-drying and which ones will just make you wait.

We’ve analysed our tumble drying test results for the last four years – using data from a total of 231 machines in all – to share what you need to know about drying speeds.

Compact vented tumble dryers

The quickest compact vented tumble dryers we’ve tested aren’t bad for speed, taking around 18 minutes per kilo. But the slowest take much, much longer, clocking around 32 minutes for the same kilo of clothes.

Our verdict – If you only have a small space in your home or rarely dry much, a compact vented tumble dryer might appeal. But just be aware – they’ll never win any prizes for speed.

Full-sized vented tumble dryers

A fast vented tumble dryer will take less than 14 minutes to dry a kilo of laundry, so faster than a compact machine and you’ll be able to dry much more. But slow vented machines take about eight minutes longer.

Our verdict – Vented machines won’t be for everyone, due to the need to vent away warm damp air through a hose. But the best vented dryers can be as quick as any tumble dryers.

Condenser tumble dryers

Condensers can be among the quickest tumble dryers with times of 15 minutes or less per kilo not uncommon and the fastest taking just 13-and-a-half minutes. But not all condensers are record breakers – we’ve seen some that take 12 minutes longer per kilo.

Our verdict – The fastest condenser dryers will be as speedy as any tumbler you’ll find on the market. But not all machines are lightning fast. Find the machines we recommend as the best tumble dryers.


Heat-pump tumble dryers

Energy-saving heat-pump dryers cut energy use in half but they’re famed for taking their time to dry clothes with the slowest we’ve seen taking close to half-an-hour per kilo. However, their tardy reputation is changing, with the very best new machines taking not much longer than 15 minutes per kilo of laundry.

Our verdict – Energy-wise, you can’t beat a heat-pump dryer and now that prices are falling and drying times are being slashed, they’re becoming ever more compelling a purchase. But make sure you get a quick one – sluggish heat-pump dryers are among the slowest you’ll find.

Whatever kind of tumble dryer you buy, be it vented, condenser, heat-pump or compact, check out our Don’t Buy tumble dryer reviews before you buy to make sure your choice isn’t a dud.

Latest tumble dryer reviews

We’ve just reviewed six of the latest tumble dryer releases ranging in price from just £130 to £899, from models including AEG, Belling, Gorenje, Siemens and White Knight.

Follow the links below for our verdict on each machine.

Compact vented

White Knight C39AW – £130 (pictured above)


AEG T6DBG721N – £499


AEG T8DEC946R – £899
Belling FHD800 – £500
Gorenje D98F65EUK – £729
Siemens WT4HY790GB – £680 (pictured above

Prices correct as of 14 June 2017.

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