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Are dehumidifiers good for drying clothes?

Dehumidifiers with laundry-drying settings, plus tips on drying clothes indoors more safely

Hanging wet washing indoors could be turning your home into an unhealthy breeding ground for mould and dust mites – but, at this time of year, you might not have any other option. Could a dehumidifier come to your rescue?

Sometimes you’re obliged to dry clothes indoors – if you don’t have a tumble dryer or an outdoor clothes line, for example. Even if you do have a garden or balcony, this wintry weather isn’t really conducive to drying clothes outside.

But when moisture in the air meets cold surfaces, such as windows and walls, it condenses. And mould spores and dust mites adore damp environments. That’s particularly dangerous if you have asthma or a weakened immune system.

A dehumidifier could come in handy here. Read on to find out more about using a dehumidifier to dry your clothes, and get tips on drying wet washing indoors in winter. 

Just want to know which dehumidifiers will do the best job of keeping your home’s humidity levels in check? Head straight to our round-up of Best Buy dehumidifiers.

Drying clothes indoors with a dehumidifier

When you’re washing and hanging clothes indoors, a dehumidifier will tackle the evaporating moisture in the air, preventing it from forming condensation. 

Some dehumidifiers have a dedicated laundry setting, which tries to create the ideal drying conditions: low relative humidity (allowing the moisture from the clothes to escape into the air more quickly) and air movement (aiming to recreate the conditions you get when you hang your washing on a line outside on a warm, dry, breezy day). 

Manufacturers also claim that dehumidifiers are kinder to your garments than tumble dryers, as they don’t work using heat. So they shouldn’t shrink your clothes or leave them feeling stiff and baked, as tumble dryers sometimes do.

We’ve reviewed 26 dehumidifiers with a clothes-drying setting. If your dehumidifier doesn’t have one, still make sure you turn it on when you’re drying your washing. Or, if your model has an auto setting or in-built humidistat, it will automatically detect when there’s excess moisture in the air and adjust itself accordingly.

Dehumidifiers with laundry settings

Three of the models in our latest test have a clothes-drying mode.

Meaco Dry ABC 12LG – £160

The Meaco Dry ABC 12LG is designed to run super quietly, which sounds perfect if you’re going to have it running at night, if you work from home a lot, or if you’re easily irritated by background noise. 

You can set it up for continuous drainage by attaching a water tube to it, and connecting it up to a drain hose outlet. This means you won’t need to take the tank over to the sink yourself to empty out. The water tube isn’t supplied, so you’ll need to buy one separately if you want to do this. 

It also has a built-in humidistat and a digital display showing you the humidity levels throughout the day.

Read our full Meaco Dry ABC 12LG review to find out how it fared in our tests.

Ebac Argo 18L Smart Dehumidifier, £200

In addition to its laundry-drying setting, this Ebac has an air-purification mode that’s designed to clean your air of allergens. There’s also a Smart Control System designed to keep monitoring your home, and adjusting the machine’s running pattern according to changes in the weather and your lifestyle (hanging washing, for example). Again, you can set it up for continuous drainage. 

We also tested the Ebac Argo 21L Smart Dehumidifier, which is more expensive (£250), and designed to draw more water from the air per hour.

 

Read our full reviews of the Ebac Argo 18L Smart Dehumidifier and Ebac Argo 21L Smart Dehumidifier.

Meaco DD8L Zambezi – £224

This is an older dehumidifier with a clothes-drying function, which we’ve included here because it’s a popular model.

It has three fan levels and a rotating louvre which drives dry air up and down across your clothes. You can also direct the air left or right towards any heavier clothes that would take longer to dry. When its in-built humidistat senses that conditions in the room are OK for the clothes to dry by themselves, it will switch to fan-only mode, reducing its energy consumption. It will then turn its dehumidification cycle back on again when relative humidity starts to rise.

Sounds good, but is it also quiet and easy to use? Read our full Meaco DD8L Zambezi review to find out.

How to dry clothes indoors in winter

If you absolutely have to dry your clothes indoors, here’s how to do it most efficiently and least harmfully. 

Ventilate

It’s tempting to keep your windows shut tight in winter, but then water vapour has no means of escape. Keep at least one window ajar when you can (obviously without compromising your home’s security, and without making yourself so cold that you end up looking like Jack Nicholson at the end of ‘The Shining’). If you have an extractor fan in your bathroom, use it. 

However, if you’re running a dehumidifier, close the windows and doors of that room. Otherwise you’re making the machine work harder, as it’s trying to dehumidify a greater space.

Don’t hang clothes directly on a radiator

Direct heat could damage delicate fibres, add to your heating bill and even, depending on the heater, be a fire hazard – as well as causing condensation.

Use a clothes airer instead. You can buy ones that hook over your radiator for as little as a fiver on Amazon, larger ones from £15 and heated ones from £22.

Use coat hangers

Again, air flow is key. Hang garments such as shirts and blouses on coat hangers on your clothes horse. They’ll dry faster and, as a bonus, with fewer creases, cutting down your ironing time.

Position your clothes horse carefully

Set it up in the sunniest spot in your home, unless that’s your bedroom. You shouldn’t hang wet washing in rooms with lots of soft furnishings, even with the help of a dehumidifier. You want to limit your own exposure to damp, too. 

Avoid overfilling wardrobes

Not always easy in a small dwelling, we know. Definitely don’t put damp clothes back in your wardrobe.

The smaller your home, the more of a hurry you might be in to tidy things away. But getting mould out of a wardrobe can be a nightmare: you can’t just set to with bleach and a stiff-bristled brush, as you could damage the wood. Prevention is better than cure.

Drying clothes in rented accommodation

If you’re renting, it’s probable that you’ve experienced dampness caused by condensation in your flat or house at some point or another. Sadly, it’s often an uphill battle to get your landlord to do something about it.

There might be a term in your tenancy agreement that expressly states that your landlord is responsible for dealing with dampness – if it says that your landlord is responsible for keeping your home ‘fit to live in’ or ‘in good condition’, for example. Even if not, your landlord may still be responsible under an implied term, as your they are responsible by law for keeping a number of things in good repair: heating should work, for example, and you should be able to open your windows.

That said, you need to show that you’re using your home in a reasonable way. If you’re creating extra moisture by drying wet washing on heaters, it could be harder for you to demonstrate that your landlord is responsible if there’s a dispute. Indeed, you could be held responsible, at least in part, for damp damage due to your unreasonable use of the property.

If you’re in this position, our consumer rights guide on damp and mould in a rented property could help.

Latest dehumidifier reviews for 2018

We assess how well each dehumidifier extracts wetness from the air at room temperature and at a lower temperature. We also rate each one for energy efficiency, ease of use and noise.

These are the latest models to be tested in our test lab. Click on the links to read the individual reviews, or see all 48 Which? dehumidifier reviews.

Prices correct December 2018

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