To narrow down your search for the perfect tumble dryer, you'll first need to choose between a vented, condenser or heat pump model, then select which drum size you need. Our expert guide can help you decide.
We also run through how much tumble dryers cost, including the features you tend to get when you're prepared to pay more. You should also consider how much your dryer will cost to run over time through energy use and find a dryer with quick running times to help you whizz through laundry day.
Or if you simply want to know which are the top-scorers in our independent lab tests, see our full list of tumble dryer reviews.
Best tumble dryers on test
Only logged-in Which? members can see our test results and read our expert reviews. Not yet a member? Try Which? to unlock our Best Buys, plus our pick of top three tumble dryers below.
This heat-pump tumble dryer may be expensive to buy but it’s very economical to run, thanks to its A+++ energy rating and exceptional energy efficiency. It’s effective too, so it will dry your clothes evenly and precisely, capturing moist air brilliantly – so it won’t make your windows steam up. It’s a Best Buy.
This is an exceptionally good tumble dryer, and it’s so energy efficient that we’ve awarded it our Eco Buy label. But it’s not just about energy efficiency, as it also dries evenly, accurately, and without letting steam escape into your home. So, when it comes to energy-efficient drying this Best Buy should be top of your wish list.
This Best Buy tumble dryer is a great all-rounder; it dries clothes evenly, accurately, and leaves most items crease-free. The condenser is extremely effective at trapping moist air – so it won’t leak out and cause problems elsewhere – and as you’d expect from a heat-pump dryer, it’s also energy efficient.
This is one of the most energy efficient dryers and it’s also brilliant at drying. This makes it one of the select few that will dry your clothes well without running up a huge energy bill, making it an Eco Buy and a Best Buy
All prices, recommendations and test scores correct as of March 2022.
Video: how to buy the best tumble dryer
Watch our video to help you decide which type of tumble dryer is right for you.
Should I buy a vented, condenser or heat pump tumble dryer?
There are a few different types of tumble dryers – vented, condenser, heat-pump and gas. Upfront costs and energy use vary depending on the type.
Vented tumble dryers
You can identify a vented tumble dryer by its hose. It uses this to expel the damp air created in the drying process, but the hose must be vented outside the house.
Pros They're usually the cheapest type of tumble dryer to buy.
Cons High running costs, and they use a hose to pump out damp air, so you'll need to feed it through a window or install a vent by drilling a hole through an external wall.
Vented dryers can cost as little as £100 in the shops, but you'll need to spend twice that to get a good vented tumble dryer – and more to get one of the best tumble dryers.
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 £78 to your annual bills, a 7kg-capacity drum to add £87, and an 8kg-capacity drum to add £113.50.
Condenser dryers collect moisture from the wet clothes into a water reservoir, which you must empty when it is full. They're usually seen as more convenient as you don't have to place them 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.
Check out the condensation efficiency rating in the test results section of our reviews to avoid condenser dryers that will steam up your home.
Pros As a container collects the water, there's no need for a hose out of the window or a vent in the wall, so there's more choice in where it's installed (though you'll need to make sure they're placed somewhere well ventilated with an ambient temperature).
Cons You'll need to remember to empty the container, tend to be pricier with higher running costs, and poor condensers run the risk of leaking damp air into your home.
Prices start at around £190 – but you'll need to pay slightly more for a good condenser dryer. We have found Best Buy condenser dryers that cost around £250, but you might end up having to pay more.
Average energy running costs are about £92, but you can expect to pay about £76 a year for a 6kg-capacity drum, £92 for a 7kg-capacity drum and £104 for an 8kg-capacity drum.
These designed to reheat and reuse air inside the dryer. This makes them much more energy efficient than standard condenser dryers, although it can mean longer running times.
Pros Like condenser dryers they don't need a vent or hose, and their energy-efficient heat pump technology makes them the cheapest and most sustainable type to run.
Cons Also like condenser dryers, the water tank will need emptying. They tend to be more expensive than the other types of tumble dryer, although prices are gradually coming down.
Heat-pump condenser dryers have much lower running costs than vented or condenser dryers but cost significantly more in the shops, reducing the potential savings. We have seen a good heat-pump condenser dryer that costs around £350, but a more likely cost is £500-£700. That said, prices are coming down.
Heat-pump dryers tend to do well in our tests, not because of speedy drying, but because of their very low running costs, typically around £33.
Pros Much cheaper to run than electric dryers as they use gas rather than electricity.
Cons Need to be installed by a Gas Safe-registered engineer, which can be pricey. There are very few available in the UK, (White Knight is one of the few brands still selling them).
Gas vented tumble dryers have 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, so it's important to read up 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 are about £45 a year.
Pros Integrated tumble dryers (aka 'built in') are hidden from view behind a kitchen unit door.
Cons Not many integrated tumble dryers are available to buy, installation is more fiddly than a freestanding dryer and usually more costly if you're paying for installation. We are also yet to find a Best Buy integrated dryer.
The most energy-hungry tumble dryers can cost as much as £170 per year to run if you dry roughly three loads a week. Choosing an efficient model could cut this by £142, with annual running costs as low as £38.
Heat pump tumble dryers tend to be both more energy efficient and pricier than cheaper condenser and vented models. But heat pump models can easily pay for themselves in energy savings in just a few years. In fact, choosing an inefficient dryer could actually end up costing hundreds if not thousands more over its lifetime.
Use our running cost tool below to find the tumble dryer that will cost the most and least over its life, and use the search bar to find a specific model or brand.
Can you buy an eco-friendly tumble dryer?
The most sustainable way of drying your clothes is always going to be hanging them on a washing line or on a static airer. But some tumble dryers are much more sustainable than others and will reduce the impact drying clothes in a machine has on the environment.
When your tumble dryer is beyond repair, to help you find the most sustainable tumble dryer for your home, we’ve started recommending Eco Buy tumble dryers.
To be an Eco Buy a tumble dryer must be among the most energy efficient we’ve tested, do a good job of drying clothes and be long-lasting. And all Eco Buy dryers are heat pump machines, the most energy-efficient type.
If your budget is limited, vented dryers tend to be the cheapest kind of tumble dryer you can buy. You can pick up a Best Buy vented tumble dryer for as little as £160. On average, they cost considerably less than condenser tumble dryer or heat pump tumble dryer.
However vented dryers can be tricky to install as they need a window or wall vent nearby for the hose to dispose of the hot air.
There are a few condenser tumble dryers available for less than £250, although they will likely be lacking some of the programs and functionality you’ll find in pricier models.
Spending a little more is likely to get you sensors in the drum, which automatically calculate and adjust program times depending on the size and dampness of the laundry, and a display that tells you how long your program has left to run. Stretching your budget to around £500 should ensure you don’t get a terrible machine. We’ve only tested one tumble dryer around this price that was bad enough to be named a Don’t Buy.
Spending at least £500 will give you the best chance of buying a good tumble dryer. More than two thirds of the tumble dryers we’ve reviewed that cost more than £500 are Best Buys, with many scoring very highly for how well they dry clothes and how well their condenser unit works.
If you have the money to spend you may prefer heat pump tumble dryer as these are much cheaper to run than a typical vented or condenser tumble dryer.
The most expensive tumble dryers all use heat pump technology which makes them more energy-efficient. Our tests have shown that paying a little more up front for a heat pump dryer will save you around £48 a year, on average, on energy costs.
Our testing shows that in general, the more you spend on a tumble dryer, the more likely it is to be a top performer. However, that doesn't mean you can't pick up a bargain Best Buy – we've found great dryers that cost just over £150.
Sensor or manual tumble dryer?
Sensor tumble dryers, also known as automatic dryers, use humidity sensors inside the drum to detect when your laundry is dry and stop the machine accordingly.
This means you don’t need to set the program time on your tumble dryer – you just pop your clothes in the machine and let it run for however long it needs.
A good sensor reduces the risk of opening the drum to find your clothes still wet, but should also prevent your tumble dryer from running for longer than necessary, which is good news for your energy bills.
However, our tests have found several sensor dryers that stop programs too early, leaving clothes wet. Manual tumble dryers don't have sensors and rely on you to set the time.
Just under one in five of the dryers we’ve tested are manual, as sensor drying is quickly becoming the norm. Guide times on manual dryers are often found on the control panel, but there is still some guesswork involved in programming the time.
You can help your sensor to work better by separating your washing so you're drying similar fabrics together. Mixed loads – for example thick denim jeans with thin cotton pillowcases – can confuse the sensor.
What size tumble dryer do I need?
Tumble dryers come with different capacities, ranging from compact models that can dry 3kg of laundry, all the way up to very large 11kg-capacity models.
Usually, 4kg capacity can dry up to 10 shirts and 9 kg capacity can dry up to 26 shirts.
However, when shopping for a tumble dryer, it's worth keeping in mind that capacities differ for different programs.
Our examples in the image above of how much you can fit in each capacity of machine are based on using the cottons program.
They're also based on filling the machine to 70% of its capacity, as this would allow air to circulate around the clothes, making drying more efficient.
Should you buy a large tumble dryer?
As capacity goes up generally so will costs to buy and run, although this also depends on the model.
If you do a lot of laundry, don't spend huge amounts on a large dryer.
Pros of large tumble dryers
Can make for an energy-efficient way of drying your laundry, as long as you're able to fill the drum to the program's capacity every time.
Per kilo of laundry, bigger machines will take less time to dry clothes than smaller or compact dryers.
Cons of large tumble dryers
Buy a dryer you struggle to fill and you'll risk using more energy than you need.
They're more expensive to buy, so it’s worth thinking about whether you need one this big.
Should you buy a mini tumble dryer?
Just because a small tumble dryer usually costs less to buy, it doesn't mean it will cost less to run.
We look at mini tumble dryer running costs in more detail in the section after the pros and cons.
Pros of compact or mini tumble dryers
The price tends to be quite low – around £140.
Due to the smaller size they're easier to fit into cupboards, making them less of an eyesore.
Cons of compact or mini tumble dryers
Mini or compact tumble dryers are slower and less efficient than bigger tumble dryers.
Nearly all of the models available right now are vented.
There aren't many of them around, so choice is limited.
Almost all use an old-fashioned timer control rather than a sensor.
Drying is often uneven and some can be prone to over-drying clothes.
Which tumble dryer dries clothes fastest?
Our tumble dryer tests have uncovered massive differences between the fastest and the slowest machines.
The slowest tumble dryers take nearly 35 minutes per kilo of clothes – that’s more than twice as long as the quickest tumble dryers, which can take as little as 14 minutes per kilo.
What to check before buying a tumble dryer
A tumble dryer that's complicated and fiddly to use is a headache. Our checklist below can help you make sure you’ve done all the necessary checks before you buy your tumble dryer and avoid getting stuck with a poorly designed machine.
Door A good door is easy to open, won't swing back by itself and will ideally open flat against the machine.
Control panel It should be easy to read without having to bend down.
Lint filter Ideally, clean the lint filter before or after every cycle, otherwise it can get clogged with fluff causing your dryer to become less energy efficient. Check the filter in the shop when you're buying, and make sure it's easy to remove and replace. Some filters are double-sided with tricky hinges and catches, making them hard to clean.
Micro filter Heat pump dryers also have a micro filter to clean – make sure the micro filter is easy to get to.
Water container If you're buying a condenser tumble dryer, check the water container is easy to access and remove. Some dryers have the container at the bottom of the machine, which can make it difficult to remove when it's full of water.
Water outlet With gas models, it helps if the water outlet slides open and closed rather than needing to be screwed or pressed shut.
Features and programs Watch our video at the top of the page to find out more about the different programs that could make your life easier.
The standard dimensions of a tumble dryer is 85cm x 60cm x 60cm (height x width x depth). Make sure you compare how much space you have to the dimensions of the dryer as depths can vary. If you choose a vented dryer, allow extra space for the vent hose.
Where to buy a tumble dryer
When buying a tumble dryer, make sure you're handing your money over to a reputable seller. Check the retailer's returns policy, and pay attention to customer feedback and reviews. For more details on shopping online safely and arranging refunds for faulty products, see our advice on shopping online.
AO.com, Argos, Currys PC World and John Lewis are some of the most searched-for tumble dryer retailers at the time of writing. We’ve included links to these retailers handpicked because of their stock availability, best value price or warranty options.
John Lewis sells a mixture of condenser, vented and heat pump tumble dryers. Prices start at less than £200 for basic models and go up to around £1,300. John Lewis offers a two-year warranty at no extra cost and you'll get free home delivery for orders over £50. The well-known department store also scores highly in our annual retailer survey for home appliances.
AO.com stocks a wide range of tumble dryers, all of which can be delivered for free and returned within 100 days if you're not happy with it. It promises to price match other UK retailers and you can decide to opt for a finance plan rather than buying outright. Like John Lewis, AO.com also impresses in our annual survey of home appliances retailers.
Argos offers a sizeable selection of budget-friendly tumble dryers from brands including Beko, Bosch and Indesit. You can get same-day in-store collection at selected Sainsbury's stores and if you have a Nectar card, you'll get two points for every £1 you spend.
Currys PC World has more than a hundred tumble dryers in stock, all from a wide variety of different brands. You'll get free delivery on all orders and if you find the tumble dryer priced cheaper elsewhere, Curry's promises to match or beat the price of all other retailers.
How to get the best deal on a tumble dryer
Getting a cheap tumble dryer isn’t just a case of picking the right model. Use our top tips to keep costs low when you’re buying a new machine.
Wait for the sales
Most of us buy a tumble dryer in a rush to replace a broken machine or to kit out a new home. If, however, you want to upgrade and can afford to wait a little while, you may find a cheaper deal at another time of year. January sales and around spring are the best times to keep an eye out for a deal, as these are the times most brands discontinue older models and look to sell them through at reduced prices.
It pays to shop around
Once you’ve selected the right tumble dryer for you, search for the model number online. Retailers often have different prices for exactly the same machine, sometimes by £100 or more, so compare stores to make sure that you’re not missing a promotion or deal price.
Check for additional costs
Your new bargain tumble dryer might come with some nasty surprises on the bottom of the receipt if you’re not careful. You should consider delivery charges when you’re shopping around, and installation fees if you’re not setting up your dryer yourself. Manufacturers may have deals with different retailers, so double check to make sure that everything you expect is included in the price. It's a good idea to check the warranty and the returns policy too, in case you're unfortunate enough to be landed with a faulty dryer.
Consider repairing your current tumble dryer before buying a new one
If your tumble dryer stops working this shouldn’t automatically mean you rush out to buy a new one. Repairing your dryer can save you money and reduce the environmental impact of both recycling the old one and the effect buying a new machine would have.
Tumble dryers are simple machines, especially vented and condenser dryers, and often problems can be fixed quickly, cheaply and without the need to call in a pro.
If after troubleshooting the problem, the repair needed means that you need to take your tumble dryer to bits to be able to fix it, make sure the work is carried out by a professional.
Choose a Which? Trusted Trader to make sure the work is carried out by an appliance engineer you can trust.
How to dispose of a tumble dryer
If you’re replacing your old tumble dryer, you’ll need to decide how to get rid of it. The good news is that every product with a plug, charger, batteries or carrying the crossed-out wheelie bin logo can be recycled.
If your tumble dryer is still in good working order, selling it second-hand is an environmentally friendly option for you, more on that below.
Electrical retailers such as AO, Currys, John Lewis and independents will offer to remove your tumble dryer when you buy from them. There will be a fee for this - expect to pay around £20.
But you can avoid this charge if you’re able to take your dryer to your local recycling centre.
Tumble dryers are lighter than washing machines as they’re not weighed down by concrete, or in some cases iron, to keep them stable when spinning. This means that, while they’re still bulky and will take up just as much room, a tumble dryer will be easier to load into the back of a car.
Councils across the UK can also collect tumble dryers and other appliances from outside your home. The cost of collections will vary based on where in the UK you live -sometimes it will be free.
For example, Westminster council in London charges £31 to collect up to six items, Belfast City Council and Cardiff council will collect white goods for free and Edinburgh council charges £5 to pick up a tumble dryer.
It’s useful to know the difference between the terms used to describe second-hand tumble dryers.
A used dryer means it’s just come from someone’s home and hasn’t been refurbished.
Dryers badged as ex-display or graded will have come from a shop and if they have been used at all it’s likely to be very minimal.
Refurbished dryers are likely to have been checked and repaired where necessary to make them feel like new.
We recommend buying new, rather than second-hand, as this is likely to give you fewer safety concerns. But if you do buy second-hand, ask whether a portable appliance test (PAT test) has been carried out on the tumble dryer in question, to make sure it’s safe for your home.
If you’re buying through an online marketplace, such as Amazon or eBay, ask whether the seller offers a guarantee, which will give you peace of mind should the product become faulty or unsafe.
How to avoid unsafe second-hand tumble dryers
Be careful when buying second-hand tumble dryers from certain brands.
If the second-hand model you’re interested in is from Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan or Proline (brands owned by Whirlpool), check our list of recalled fire-risk dryers to make sure that it isn’t on the list
A number of Beko tumble dryers have also been recalled in recent years. Go to the Beko site to find out which are the dangerous dryers to avoid.
The Electrical Safety First website also has more information about recalled tumble dryers and other unsafe appliances.
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 on space: you 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 washing machine – though a brand-specific kit may fix them more firmly.
It's not advisable to simply place a tumble dryer on top of your washing machine. Any jolts or the vibration of a high spin could dislodge the tumble dryer and cause damage.
The type of tumble dryer you have in your garage will depend on how it needs to be installed. All types will need a supply of either electricity or gas. As mentioned above, vented dryers will need somewhere to run a pipe outside, such as through a vent in the wall or poked out of a window.
Condenser and heat-pump dryers are the easiest to install as they recycle the heat and steam within the machine, so you won’t need a pipe for the water to escape through, although you can get versions with this. You will need to ensure that there is space around the machine and that the room is well-ventilated, though.
But it’s worth keeping in mind that, generally speaking, tumble dryers don't work as well and can develop faults in extreme conditions, such as a very cold or hot space. Condenser and heat-pump dryers are usually more susceptible to issues as they need the right temperature of air around them to work efficiently. Make sure to read your machine's manual for the manufacturer's advice on installing in a garage.
How do I install a vented tumble dryer?
If the thought of drilling a hole through the wall fills you with dread, then it’s best to have your vented dryer professionally installed. Check with your retailer to see if they offer the service or call in a handyman.
For those more at home with DIY, it’s possible to install your vented dryer yourself with a tumble dryer vent kit.
Firstly, choose a good spot for your tumble dryer. If you’re happy to vent out of the window then place it close to one, otherwise you’ll need a spot along an external wall.
Then you'll need to trace a circle on your wall the same size as the hose.
Make small holes in this area with a drill and then join them up.
Mount your vent grille over the holes, screw the plate on the wall and push the vent tube through the hole.
Connect the end of the hose to your dryer. Make sure that your vent is as short as possible, as any kinks in the hose can stop your dryer from working properly.
Who makes integrated vented tumble dryers?
If you don’t have a utility room to hide your appliances away, an integrated tumble dryer that sits behind your kitchen counters could be the answer to a streamlined kitchen.
You might expect to pay more for this aesthetic, but cheaper brands like Hoover, Montpellier, Baumatic and White Knight all have an integrated tumble dryer in their line-up.
The models we've tested start from around £220. Read our guide to integrated tumble dryers to see if they're the best option for your home.
Who makes black or silver vented tumble dryers?
Black and silver vented tumble dryers are rare. There's more colour choice if you go for a condenser tumble dryer.
If you can find one, a colourful vented dryer costs less than you might think. We’ve tested models from White Knight for less than £200.