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How to use a dehumidifier to dry clothes

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The cold nights are creeping in, there is a cost of living crisis and it feels more expensive than ever just to live right?! Then I’m here, talking about yet another home purchase that I think is a must have – give me 5 minutes of your time before you make up your mind! I’m going to explain how to use a dehumidifier to dry clothes, but also to help protect your home from damp, mould and poor ventilation.

I’ve already got a great post full of tips for easy clothes drying in a flat, and I do mention using a dehumidifier there but I’m going to expand on it more in this post, including the tips that I use to help me get clothes dry as fast as possible so I can keep on top of the washing with 2 young children, a puppy and mud on everything most days!

If your home has ever had an issue with mould or condensation then it is probable that drying clothes at home is contributing to this issue in a big way.

As you get your laundry dry the wet clothes release moisture into the air. This dampness in the air makes your home feel colder and when condensation forms on windows or walls and ceilings mould will quickly follow if it is not dealt with.

Line drying is the dream, of course, but it isn’t always possible in the colder months. The old saying is that if the path is dry the clothes will dry, but if you’re out at work chances are you’ll miss the warmest hours of the day and come home to a load of wet or damp washing that you’ve now got to bring inside and hang up to dry anyway.

Personally I’ve looked into tumble dryers a lot, but worry about the fire risk, so I have a Dry:Soon 3 tier heated airer from Lakeland. This has been a real workhorse in my home for the last 5 or 6 years, I even use it sometimes (unplugged) in the summer months when my rotary line is full of towels and bedding. While I do firmly recommend a heated airer, to save time, you can use the dehumidifier method with a standard clothes airer, indoor washing line or even if you’re hanging clothes up to dry on a curtain rail or your radiator.

A pile of clean washing - t-shirts, joggers, swim wear and socks.

What is a dehumidifier?

A dehumidifier typically works by drawing the air in from the room, running it over a coil that is cooled to a low temperature and then the water vapour from the air condenses and this liquid drips into the collection bucket underneath the coil. If you have it running continuously while drying clothes the average dehumidifier will just need emptying every day or so (dependent on the size).

Why use a dehumidifier?

The damp air, from drying clothes indoors, will be dried out and the fan within will push this cold air close to your laundry and help to dry it faster. You can find specific dehumidifiers that have a feature that allows the air to be pointed specifically to the washing. I personally have two different dehumidifiers, without this feature, and they still work great.

Less humidity allows the moisture within the laundry to evaporate faster, leading to quicker drying times. Also, you’ll find that you don’t have damp smelling clothes if this is an issue you’ve been struggling with. This is because clothes are not taking as long to dry and this reduces the chance of nasty odours building up.

What’s the best setup?

Personally I have found that placing my heated airer into one of the smaller rooms of my home, my office, with the dehumidifier next to it, has led to faster drying times, no damp smelling clothes and the office itself feels warmer when I open it up in the morning just from having it running overnight.

The best distance for a dehumidifier is to place it around 4 – 6 foot away from your wet laundry. If you’re going to need to use an extension lead it is advisable to use a single plug one, as many dehumidifiers will have a note in the manual that states they are not to be used with an extension lead to prevent overloading your sockets.

Many dehumidifiers have a setting where they will switch off when the air reaches a specific humidity, I tend to aim for around 50%, which means if I turn the dehumidifier on in the evening before bed it will switch off some time overnight and won’t be drawing power constantly. I then just empty it when I wake up, pouring the water down the sink, and get another load of washing on.

A chicken and chorizo paella with text overlay that says the best EVER meal planning tips

How much does it cost to run a dehumidifier?

It will vary, depending on the model. I’ve got two, one uses 216w and one uses 240w per hour. This means that they will use around 1kWh of energy per 4-5 hours. Currently 1kWh of electricity costs 28.6p as of January 2024 due to the energy price cap. The running costs are fairly reasonable.

I use mine overnight, when I’ve rotated the washing on my heated airer and switched it off, and it seems to be running for around 6 hours before reaching the desired humidity and switching off. This will vary depending on how wet the washing is and how much washing you have, as well as the size of the room and the location in relation to the wet washing.

What size dehumidifier works well?

The size that you see quoted, 11L for example, refers to the amount of litres that the dehumidifier is able to extra per day.

One of the models that I have is an 12L one, with a capacity to hold 2.6L of water. This would mean potentially emptying it up to 5 times a day, but I never have to do that even when leaving it running while it reaches my desired humidity setting.

If emptying it frequently is something that concerns you, or isn’t possible for mobility reasons, then you can buy models that have an option for you to remove a small piece at the back and fit a hose, so you can have it automatically drain the water away.

If you’re looking to use the dehumidifier for multiple rooms, due to damp or condensation issues, then look for a larger capacity one. It is very rare that a machine will reach the full quoted capacity anyway, due to environmental conditions, so do keep that in mind.

As I’m only using them in 1 room at a time, one upstairs and one downstairs, I have models on the smaller size, like the 12L one I’ve linked below.

Zoflora disinfectant, cleaning cloth and pink rubber gloves

Should you close the door when drying clothes with a dehumidifier?

Dehumidifiers work best with the windows and doors closed. If you have an outside door it is best to ensure that the handle is pulled up and the door is locked with the key.

My top tips for using the dehumidifier and drying clothes faster:

  • Close the windows and doors nearby if you can.
  • Space clothes evenly to allow the best airflow.
  • Use a heated airer if you can to dry clothes faster.
  • Try to avoid covering radiators or your homes heat sources.
  • Use the laundry or drying mode if your dehumidifier has one.
  • Rotate your clothes frequently if possible. Fold dry items and space damp items out further.
  • Avoid piling clothes on top of each other as this will leave damp spots that will never dry and will also attract bad smells.

What dehumidifiers do I rate?

Personally I love Meaco ones. I do also have a Challenger one, which is a brand sold by Argos. This seems to be working well in my home, though it is a new addition so I can’t speak too highly on it yet on that basis.

Here are some great rated models from Amazon:


*Meaco ABC 12L *Pro Breeze 12L *Meaco 8L

I find having a dehumidifier drying clothes is one of the best things I’ve done in my house in years. It has helped us avoid damp and condensation and it helps me to keep on top of the laundry too.

While this method is not as fast as a tumble drier it is also cheap to purchase an airer and a dehumidifier, and run them, than to buy a tumble drier and run that.

Drying clothes indoors is not ideal, but this is a great way to help protect your home.

If you enjoyed this post I’d love it if you could pin it on Pinterest!

A pile of clean washing - t-shirts, joggers, swim wear and socks.

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