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Avleen M.
Avleen M.Jul 28, 2020

Clothes Dryers Buying Guide

When you've just done the laundry, a warm sunny day is just perfect. But what if it's raining for days? Your lovely clean clothes might stay wet for just as long. A reliable tumble dryer can give you clean, dry clothes - and fast. Whether you're interested in a heat pump, condenser or vented dryer, a washer dryer combo, or maybe no dryer at all, this guide has all the handy dryer tips and info.

Common questions about clothes dryers

Yes, sometimes clothes will shrink in the dryer due to an excess of heat and the motion of tumbling wet fabric. Certain natural fibres are more prone to shrinking than others, namely cotton, wool and linen. If most of your clothes are made from these materials (particularly in winter), shrinking is a legitimate concern.

Ways to safeguard against it include: drip drying clothes made from these materials, drying on a lower heat setting, or choosing a dryer with auto-sensors that will more accurately stop a cycle before over-drying occurs.

This can be a tricky question to answer because it depends on so many variables. These include: the size of your laundry load (a larger bundle will take longer to dry), how wet your clothes are (dripping or simply damp), and the spin cycle you’ve used (using a fast spin cycle on your washing machine will make them more dry to begin with).

As a general rule of thumb, try to stick to: smaller drying loads consisting of damp clothes spun on a faster cycle, provided it doesn’t ruin your clothes. This will help make your drying times faster.

Dryers can be expensive but are there are affordable models, too. A basic vented dryer costs around $350-$400, while a washer-dryer combo that includes a heat pump dryer can set you back $6,000.

Ultimately, you’ll want to invest in a household appliance that lasts. It’s easy to buy a cheap clothes dryer in the short term and think you’re making a huge saving, but if you come to rely heavily on your dryer, and it turns out to be unreliable, you could spend more money in a short period of time to replace it with a sturdier model. That said, not all ‘cheap’ models will be sub-par; some may be suited to your needs. Do your research beforehand by looking for reviews that comment specifically on the features and functions you most value in a dryer.

While convenient, for many people a dryer isn’t as essential as a washing machine. If you live in an area that gets a lot of sun, or if you don’t need your clothes speedily dried, you can save money by skipping a dryer purchase altogether.

Some alternatives to traditional dryers include: hanging clothes up on a line or clothes rack outside, non-electric dryers like this Kogan Portable Heated Drying Rack, a drying cabinet or a dehumidifier, which removes moisture in the air to help clothes strung over your dining chairs dry faster on rainy days.

Types of Clothes Dryers

Heat pump dryers · See All

Fisher and Paykel heat pump dryer

These work by using hot air to absorb moisture from clothes and dry them. Heated air passes through the drum, then the evaporator, which removes the moisture. This water collects inside a removable condensation tank, which you then empty regularly. Heat pump technology is unique, as it conserves energy by recycling hot air after each heat pump drying cycle.

Pros

  • The most energy efficient clothes dryers, many heat pump dryers have an 8 star energy rating and higher.
  • Heat pump dryers are the cheapest to run. If you don't mind splashing out initially, this might be worth it if you're drying clothes frequently, for example multiple times a week.
  • Suitable for apartments, as they don't put too much moisture or hot air into a room.

Cons

  • The most expensive clothes dryers to buy, these can cost around $1,200 to $4,500, or up to $6000 for a washer-dryer combo that includes a heat pump dryer.
  • Models tend to be larger in capacity, starting at around 8kg, which can be a disadvantage or impracticable if you’re lacking on laundry space.
  • Cycle lengths are longer than for other types of dryers, as heat pump dryers use a lower temperature to dry clothes.

Condenser Dryers · See All

Fisher and Paykel condenser dryer

Condenser dryers remove water from clothes using a heater element, which evaporates moisture that collects inside a condenser tank. This small container is then removed and emptied. You can also remove leftover moisture via a hose pipe that drains water from the dryer into the sink, if that’s easier.

Although they use a similar drying method, the difference between condenser dryers and heat pump dryers is that after a heat pump drying cycle is complete any leftover air is reused, whereas with a condenser dryer it essentially goes to waste.

These dryers don’t need to be vented outside via an exhaust houe, but you will need good ventilation in your laundry, as condenser dryers increase the level of heat and moisture in the air.

Pros

  • Suitable for apartments or laundry set-ups where positioning your dryer near a window isn’t possible, since condenser dryers don’t need to be vented outside.
  • The second most affordable dryers to buy, after vented dryers (however they can still be pricey, often costing between $899 and $1,499).

Cons

  • A large capacity of 6-8kg could make it tricky to find a suitable condenser dryer if you're seeking a small clothes dryer.
  • Too heavy to be wall mounted, however you can stack a condenser dryer on top of a front-loading washing machine after buying a stacking kit to save space.
  • The most expensive dryers to run, as condenser dryers tend to be less energy efficient.

Vented dryers · See All

Electrolux vented dryer

The most basic and common dryers, vented models transfer hot, damp air from the dryer drum to the air outside, via a hose pipe. Vented dryers need to be located near a window or a wall for this reason. To prevent a build-up of hot air in your laundry, good ventilation or a venting/ducting kit may be needed.

Pros

  • Vented dryers are the cheapest type to buy, selling for as little as $349. If you’ll only be using your vented dryer rarely, it's a cost-effective pick (as these vented types are expensive to run).
  • These can be wall mounted, as they’re light in weight, which saves floor space in your laundry.

Cons

  • Vented dryers are usually expensive to run, which may not be sustainable for large households, or if you plan to use your dryer frequently. Make sure you budget for the ongoing costs of running your dryer as well as the initial purchase price.
  • Cheaper models might not have auto sensors. This means you’ll have to manually pre-set a drying time by guessing how long it will take to dry clothes. This can over-dry clothes, which wastes energy and also runs the risk of shrinking clothes.

Washer dryer combos · See All

Electrolux washer dryer

This is an option worth considering if you’re in the market for both a new washing machine and dryer. Integrating both functions into one appliance, a washer/dryer combination can save space in your laundry, and possibly also money.

A 7kg model can cost upwards of $1,200. While this can be cheaper than buying both a washing machine and a dryer separately, it’s likely more expensive than buying just a washing machine or a dryer on its own. Make sure you’ll regularly use both appliances before investing in a washer dryer combo, so it’s worth your while.

You can read more about washer dryer combos in our Washing Machines Buying Guide.

A quick note on gas clothes dryers · See All

While this guide focusses on electric dryers, gas clothes dryers are also available – though they’re much less common. You’ll need a gas connection and professional installation, which can be costly. Also, as only Rinnai and Speed Queen sell gas dryers in Australia, they’re much pricier than your average electric clothes dryer.

If you’re okay with all that, gas clothes dryers are more energy efficient than electric dryers, ands also dry clothes faster.

Other factors to consider before buying a dryer

Size

Consider how much available laundry space you have for a clothes air dryer. This will influence the size of any new dryer you're interested in. While freestanding dryers will take up more floor space, other types of dryers can prevent this. You can invest in a stackable dryer instead, which sits on top of, or below, your washing machine. Just make sure you have enough unobstructed vertical space. A wall-mountable clothes dryer is another option for saving laundry floor space. Remember also that the size of a clothes dryer is often determined by its capacity.

Capacity

The capacity of a tumble dryer is measured in kilograms, and determines the amount of dry clothes a dryer is able to comfortably house. The smaller your household or family size, the smaller the kilogram capacity that should be sufficient. A dryer with a higher capacity will house a large drum that dries clothes faster, but using more power.

You can use the below info as a general rule of thumb to determine the dryer capacity to opt for:

Another way of estimating capacity is that 1kg is roughly equal to one outfit, consisting of a top, pants, and underclothes.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is measured as a star rating in Australia. 10 stars are awarded to clothes dryer machines with the most energy efficient design possible (however this is rare). 1 star indicates that a model uses an excessive amount of water and electricity to operate.

Not only is a higher energy rating gentler on your power bill, it’s also more eco-friendly. If this is a priority for you, consider buying a heat pump dryer, which will recycle hot air. You can also increase the energy efficiency of your clothes cleaning routine generally by using a cold wash setting on your washing machine instead of warm or hot water. Even on a long cycle, this is more efficient than using a hot, quick wash.

Extra Features

Extra features on Bosch Series 8 Heat Pump Dryer

  • Anti-wrinkle function: reduces the amount of wrinkles in clothes, by tumbling them on a gentle cycle after the regular cycle is complete.
  • Auto sensors: automatically detect when a load has finished drying. This offers a more accurate (and hassle-free) method than guessing how long your clothes will take to dry, which can over-dry or under-dry them.
  • Child-safety locks: require you to enter a ‘secret code’ by pressing a special series of buttons before the dryer turns on. This prevents children from accidentally turning on the dryer, or climbing in and closing it shut before it starts.
  • Delay time function: delays the start time of a drying cycle. For example you can program your dryer to end its cycle just after you wake up, or you can program it to run during off-peak energy periods to save money.
  • Delicates program: is more friendly for drying precious garments, as it uses a gentle, low temperature. Just to be safe, avoid putting silk, cashmere, rubber or pleather in your dryer, as they may melt or become otherwise damaged, even on a delicate cycle.
  • Drying rack: protects delicate or precious items that should avoid taking a tumble. These include items that aren’t clothes, for example a child’s favourite soft toy or a pair of canvas shoes.
  • Extra dry program: does what you'd expect it to, by getting your clothes closer to a zero percent moisture content, rather than the 6% maximum moisture content allowed for dryers sold in Australia. In most cases, the extra dry program isn't really necessary and may even shrink clothes.
  • Lint filters: are easiest to access when they're front mounted. They should be cleaned after every drying cycle. If lint builds up, it can create a fire hazard or decorate dry clothes with lint bunnies.
  • Reverse tumbling: is similar to an agitator in a washing machine. The dryer drum reverses the direction of tumbling periodically, to ensure every inch of clothes are dried and tangle free.
  • Reversible door hinges: allow the dryer door to push inwards rather than outwards, making them a suitable option if you have limited space in your laundry.
  • Sanitise cycle: claims to kill bacteria and allergens that can lurk in clothing.
  • Woollen program: uses less heat, to reduce the chance of your wool or wool-blend clothes shrinking. However, there’s still some risk that woollen clothing can shrink, so use with caution.

We hope this guide has equipped you with the information you need to invest in a trustworthy dryer, or be satisfied with your decision not to buy one. Before buying a dryer, remember to consider: the amount of space in your laundry and whether it's well ventilated, the size of your household, materials of your clothing, and how frequently you'll be drying clothes. These will all help determine whether a dryer is a viable and convenient option for your household.


About the author
Avleen is a content writer for ProductReview. Her area of expertise covers furniture and bedding, home appliances and beauty products. Outside of work she enjoys scribbling down poetry and music, reading fantasy novels, and discovering delicious vegan restaurants.