Whether your tumble dryer is a new purchase from the January sales or you’re a seasoned user, keep yourself safe, your energy costs low and prolong the life of your dryer with our expert tips.
Missed the sales? Find a new bargain model in our shortlist of top five cheap tumble dryers
1) Put your tumble dryer in an unventilated room
If you’re short on kitchen or utility room space you might be tempted to put your tumble dryer in a garage. But you should maybe think twice before installing a tumble dryer where more extreme hot or cold can get to it.
Condenser tumble dryers need the right temperature of air around them to work effectively, so you should always avoid installing a condenser tumble dryer in a garage.
Vented dryers are, in theory, a better option for a garage, provided that you can install the hose through a window or vent in the wall. But you should expect some condensation if you’re using your tumble dryer in conditions between 2⁰C and 5⁰C.
Always check the manual to make sure you don’t end up invalidating the warranty if you use your tumble dryer in a garage.
Beko, for example, states that its dryers can’t be used below 5⁰C, and White Knight advises that its machines are not to be used in outbuildings.
Hoover and Candy aren’t as definitive, although they still say that their dryers will stop working if water freezes in the valves, hose or pump.
The Hoover HL V10LG-80 vented tumble we’ve recently tested was a bit noisy which could mean if you buy it you want to place it somewhere you can’t hear it. Find out how this £230 machine scored for drying by reading our full Hoover HL V10LG-80 review.
2) Neglect to clean your lint filter regularly
Cleaning your tumble dryer’s lint filter will save you money as it allows hot air to circulate freely so the dryer doesn’t have to work as hard.
It could also save your life, as lint can very occasionally get caught on the dryer’s element and catch alight.
Ideally, you should clean your lint filter after every use. A responsible 82% of Which? members remember to clean their tumble dryer’s lint filter, but only 59% of them remember to do it every week.*
Most tumble dryers we’ve reviewed have a handy light that comes on to remind you.
You can usually find your lint filter inside the door or rim of your machine. Simply detach it, pick off the lint pieces with your fingers, and run it under the tap if necessary. Make sure it’s completely dry before placing back in your dryer.
3) Dry mixed loads
We know laundry day is taxing enough without having to separate out your pile by fabric type. But just throwing everything in and pressing go could be affecting your drying results.
Even some of the Best tumble dryers struggle to get cotton clothes dry on a mixed load synthetics setting, so it’s best to only dry similar fabrics on their dedicated programs.
4) Under or overload it
Loading your tumble dryer is a fine art. Too few items, and you won’t be using your dryer as efficiently as you could be, adding more to your energy bills than necessary.
You can find more cost saving tips, and check the lifetime cost of individual dryers, by heading to our energy saving tumble drying tips guide.
But an overloaded tumble dryer isn’t good either. Cramming your drum can stop the air circulating freely, which could overheat your machine.
You should also avoid drying the odd heavier item such as a towel with lighter items such as pillow cases, as these can stick to one side of the drum, which could damage it.
If you’re worried about your household’s heavy laundry demands causing a problem for your dryer, look for a machine with a large capacity, like the Candy CS C10LF-80, which can fit 10kg of cottons.
Having a big drum is only useful if it can dry your larger loads effectively, though. See how it performed in our tests by reading the full Candy CS C10LF-80 review.
5) Leave it running when you’re not there
The risk of fire is thankfully small, but you should keep safety in mind when you use your dryer. If you use your dryer’s delay timer, make sure to only set it for when you’ll be at home and awake.
If you smell burning or see smoke coming from your dryer stop using it immediately and unplug it from the mains.
More than 100 Creda, Hotpoint, Indesit and Swan tumble dryer models made between April 2004 and October 2015 could pose a fire risk. Find out what to do if you’re affected in our Whirlpool tumble dryer safety alert guide.
6) Dry anything with oil in it
It might sound obvious, but extremely flammable oil stains are really bad news for your tumble dryer. The heat inside your dryer can cause it to combust, and your laundry can catch alight easily, sparking a fire inside the drum.
If you use cloths to wipe up spills in your kitchen or accidentally splash your clothes with cooking oil, make sure to wash them on a high heat cycle to get rid of any residue before giving them a spin in your tumble dryer.
Find more tumble dryer tips and tricks in our tumble dryer FAQs advice guide.
7) Put items in when they’re too wet or tangled
If your tumble dryer has to dry a tangled, wet mass of clothes, it will have to work harder than usual, adding to both the program times and your energy bills.
Choose a high spin speed (if your washing machine offers it) and wring out the wettest items before going in the dryer.
Also make sure to untangle any knots in your laundry. Your tumble dryer will really struggle to get these dry, and it will lead to more creases in clothes once the cycle has ended.
If you dread ironing day, look for a tumble dryer that scores 4* or more in our creasing test.
The Bosch WTW85231GB tumble dryer does just that, but has a few downsides which you can discover by reading our full Bosch WTW85231GB review.
8) Forget to empty the container in a condenser or heat pump dryer
One of the main reasons to buy a condenser dryer over a usually cheaper vented tumble dryer is that you don’t have to drill a hole in your wall to install the vent hose. However, this does mean you’re committed to emptying the container where excess water is collected after each load. Otherwise, your program will cut out mid-cycle.
9) Put certain items in it
With high temperatures and super-fast spin speeds, some items are unlikely to survive a cycle in your tumble dryer unscathed.
Some items might only be suitable for lower temperature cycles, or may be hand-wash only. Make sure to check the label before you throw your items in the dryer for the first time.
For tips on how to use your tumble dryer effectively and how to interpret dryer symbols in your labels, read our tumble dryer tips and maintenance guide.
10) Stop before the cool down cycle is complete
You might be eager to snatch your laundry out of the drum as soon as possible, but stopping your program early means you miss out on the vital cooling down cycle that’s built into each setting. Not only could you burn yourself on hot zips and buttons, but they could make the fabric catch alight in the drum.
Now you’re drying savvy, find yourself your new perfect model in all our tumble dryer reviews.
*We surveyed 1,536 members on how they use their tumble dryers in July 2018.