How to dry clothes without a dryer - tips from the experts

If you haven't got a tumble dryer - or you're worried about the cost of running one - then check out these tips on drying clothes fast

A close up of clothe pegs pinning laundry to a clothes horse
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With winter drawing in and energy costs a concern for many, people are wondering how they can dry clothes without a dryer. We've spoken to the experts and come up with six useful tips.

As the days get colder and wetter, hanging laundry outside has become less of an option. And with concerns over how much a tumble dryer costs to run (opens in new tab) amid rising energy bills (opens in new tab), it's no wonder so many people are looking for the cheapest way to dry clothes (opens in new tab). But the solution isn't as simple as putting washing on your radiators, as the moisture from the laundry raises the question of how to stop condensation on windows (opens in new tab) - as well as concerns about its impact on our health.

That's why we've got in touch with the experts to find out the best ways to dry clothes indoors, without using a dryer. Lucy Ackroyd (opens in new tab), Head of Design at luxury towel and bed linen retailer Christy (opens in new tab), says, "If you’re hanging your laundry to dry inside your house and using different rooms to do so, having a washing routine is key to being organised and allowing your home to still feel like a warm and welcoming environment - without it feeling like a laundrette!"

How to dry clothes without a dryer

1. Use the towel hack

Karl Huckerby (opens in new tab), cleaning and home expert from cleaning equipment company Spare and Square (opens in new tab), recommends this trick to speed up the drying time of clothes after they've come out of the washing machine.

He says: "Roll your clothes into soft, dry towels to absorb the excess water. This is more beneficial if you use one towel per item of clothing, but if you're short on towels you can roll up multiple items of clothing at a time." 

Once your clothes are rolled up, give the towel a slight twist to help absorb as much moisture as possible - you can also try slotting some paper towels between the towel and the garment, to speed up the process. 

2. Take advantage of sunny days

Temperatures may be dropping, but we're still seeing the sun shine despite the cold. And drying clothes outside remains one of the best methods - even in winter - not least because it reduces the moisture levels in our homes.

Professor David Denning (opens in new tab), who is Professor of Infectious Disease in Global Health at The University of Manchester, has warned against the health risks of drying washing indoors, saying, "Most of us are either immune to the fungus which grows in these humid conditions, or have a sufficiently healthy system to fight the infection. [But] the fungus can cause pulmonary aspergillosis – a condition which can cause damage to the lungs and sinuses."

Karl Huckerby says you can avoid these risks by utilising a sunny, windy day. He says, "If you're lucky enough to have some outdoor space, this should still be utilised to dry your clothes in the colder months. A windy and sunny day is perfect for drying clothes, and even if it doesn't dry them completely, it will give them a good head-start."

Sarah Dempsey, cleaning expert with MyJobQuote (opens in new tab), agrees, saying that while the best way to dry your clothes in the summer is on a clothes line in the garden, in winter, you should "Try to position your damp washing close to an open window or somewhere that provides good air flow."

3. Use your washing machine's highest spin setting

Before you even start your wash, make sure to choose a setting that will wring out as much water as possible, to save drying time. 

Karl suggests using your washing machine's highest spin setting to help dry clothes quicker. He says, "This will help to wring moisture out of your clothes, and will make air-drying them much easier and quicker," adding that making sure not to overload your washing machine is a great way to ensure your clothes will dry quicker too. 

"Overloading the washing machine will result in sopping wet clothes, and if you're washing the likes of towels and sheets, this can especially be a hard problem to solve."

A person pressing a button on a washing machine

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sarah Dempsey adds that it's a good idea to give your washing an extra spin at the end of the cycle, to remove surplus damp and water. She also advises to give your washing a good shake when you remove it from the machine, for extra aeration.

4. Invest in a dehumidifier

Using a dehumidifier is another great way to avoid the health risks associated with drying washing indoors. Dr Denning explained "It’s estimated that as many as 87 per cent of us dry our clothes indoors in the winter. One load of wet washing contains almost two litres of water, which is released into the room," - using a dehumidifier can prevent you breathing in all this moisture.

Karl says "A dehumidifier is the perfect solution when it comes to drying your clothes indoors, as it pulls moisture from the air and your clothes to completely speed up the drying process, without having to worry about mould forming due to the excess moisture in the air. Simply place your clothes on a drying rack and turn on your dehumidifier, and your clothes will dry out quickly."

Sarah Dempsey agrees that a dehumidifier is a worthwhile investment if you're looking for the best way to dry clothes during the colder months, saying, "In the winter, it's not always possible to keep windows open for ventilation, and this is where a dehumidifier comes in handy." 

Find out how much it costs to run a dehumidifier (opens in new tab) with our handy guide. 

MeacoDry ABC Dehumidifier - View at Amazon (opens in new tab)

MeacoDry ABC Dehumidifier - View at Amazon (opens in new tab) | John Lewis (opens in new tab) | Meaco (opens in new tab)

RRP: £149.99 | Dimensions:
H46 x W29.5 x D25.1 cm | Weight: 11.3kg 

Meaco are experts in humidity monitoring, having won awards for their products from Which?, Good Housekeeping, QuietMark and Stiftung Warentest to name but a few. Their ABC dehumidifier is energy efficient and quiet - so it won't disturb you - with multiple features including a child lock, laundry drying setting and a timer.

5. Create an internal washing line

Georgia Metcalfe, founder of online bedroom retailer French Bedroom (opens in new tab), shared this tip to make drying clothes indoors easier. She says: "Place hooks on the backs of doors and even walls to create an internal washing line as this will provide an open space above the floor, then hang up washing to dry." 

She adds that hanging heavier and bigger items - such as bedding - on bannisters is a good way to make sure they dry quickly: "Bedding needs a large surface area to dry, so drape wet sheets around the banister to maximise indoor space and allow the fabric to breathe."

Sarah Dempsey suggests that you could invest in a retractable clothes line (opens in new tab) rather than placing hooks around your home, and adds that hanging coat hangers off a clothes airer can create more space for drying clothes - as well as making sure they dry crease free. 

She says, "It's worth making an initial investment so that you can get a good clothes airer for drying your clothes. During the winter, heated clothes airers are a great option." 

AMOS Eezy-Dry Electric Clothes Dryer - View at Amazon (opens in new tab)

AMOS Eezy-Dry Electric Clothes Dryer - View at Amazon (opens in new tab)

RRP: £95.99 | Dimensions: 70 x 23.5 x 24cm | Capacity: 15kg

This heated clothes dryer is great for meeting the washing demands of a family household during the colder months. It can hold up to 15kg of damp clothing, working out to roughly 25 separate items - though if you hang smaller items on two tiers you can fit up to 50 items on the dryer. There are also optional bars that can be added on either tier, giving you even more space for your laundry.

If you're worried about energy usage, check out are article on how much it costs to run a heated clothes dryer (opens in new tab).

6. Do your washing first thing in the morning

Doing your washing early in the morning means you'll be able to give your clothes more time to dry, as well as utilise more sunlight and warmer temperatures.

You don't have to get up early to do this either. Consider loading you washing machine the night before and putting it on a timer, so that you're wash will just be finished when you get up in the morning.

Lucy Ackroyd shared this tip with us, saying: "I recommend washing your bedding first thing in the morning - remember to keep in mind that the higher your thread count, the longer it will take to dry so this may impact where you choose to hang your damp washing."

Do you need heat to dry clothes?

While warm sunshine is certainly helpful, you don't actually need heat to dry clothes. Washing can dry in cooler temperatures too, as long as they're not in a damp environment.

As Sarah Dempsey explains: "While heat is a very helpful tool for drying clothes, it's not the only factor. High levels of humidity in the air can result in longer drying time, so, in some cases, you may find that your clothes dry much more quickly on a cold winter's day than they would on a humid summer day.

"Solar radiation is the most effective method of evaporating the moisture in your clothes. So, where possible, hang your clothes out in the sunshine for the best method of drying. You'll also find that wind can further speed up the drying process - and even help with getting creases out of your clothes."

How to dry clothes inside without causing damp

Airflow is key to preventing damp caused by drying laundry. Karl says, "Damp, mould and condensation is caused when there's an excess amount of moisture in the air, and in this case, when the excess moisture is from your wet clothes. To combat this, it's vital to ensure that your home is well-ventilated."

He adds that the best ways to avoid damp when drying clothes are by regularly, making sure all ventilation fans are in good working order, or using a dehumidifier.

Sarah Dempsey offers some additional advice, saying, "Don't layer too many clothes near each other, as this will increase drying time. Try to spread clothes at least an inch apart and turn them over every few hours to help them dry quicker and more evenly."

She adds that avoiding using radiators to dry clothes is also a great way to prevent damp, explaining that: "Drying your clothes on radiators can increase the moisture in the air, and this can lead to damp and mould forming. If you do choose to hang your clothes on a the radiators, it’s best to use radiator drying racks with the help of a dehumidifier to keep the moisture levels in the air down."

Georgia Metcalfe agrees, adding, "A layer of clothes over a radiator will also reduce its efficiency in heating up the room and raise bills."

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