How we dry laundry

One of the benefits of our kitchen renovation in 2022 was that it gave us space to install a tumble dryer in our cellar. Previously the cellar was inaccessible, and so our washing machine was in the kitchen; now both are in the cellar and out of the way.

Tumble dryer

We bought this Grundig heat pump tumble dryer at the end of 2022. Being a heat pump model, it’s very energy efficient; if you want to know how heat pumps work, this interactive guide from The Guardian is worth watching. Consequently, it’s cheap to run; whilst it cost more upfront than a regular condensing tumble dryer, over time, it works out cheaper. It’s not a ‘smart’ model but it’s simple enough to use, and at some point I may connect it to a smart plug with energy monitoring, so I get notified when it’s finished.

However, we can’t dry all of our laundry in a tumble dryer. About a third of our clothes aren’t suitable, due to either being handmade or having care labels advising against tumble drying.

Drying laundry outside

Ideally, we would dry as much laundry as possible outside. We have a small garden with washing lines, and there’s no cost involved when you let the sun and wind dry your clothes for you.

But we also live in the Pennines, which is one of the wetter areas of England, so we get fewer dry days than elsewhere. Indeed, it’s rare that we can dry our laundry outside at all in winter. When it is sunny and there’s a gentle breeze, drying laundry outside can be the quickest way, beating even the tumble dryer. But on a dull day with no wind, even after a full day outside, our laundry can still be damp.

Heated drying rack

A Dry:soon heated airing rack, for drying laundy

So we needed a way of drying our laundry indoors that doesn’t use the tumble dryer. For this, we bought a Dry:Soon heated airing rack from Lakeland. The rack gently heats your clothes to dry them, and there’s an optional cover to go over the rack to keep the heat in.

These became popular in 2022 when electricity prices started to rise, as a cheaper alternative to tumble dryers. Indeed, they are cheaper to run than older condenser dryers. However, they don’t save much energy compared with our heat pump dryer, and so we just use it for clothes that can’t go in the tumble dryer.

How long clothes take to dry depends on how full the rack is and what material they’re made of, but I typically found 18 hours is enough to get all clothes completely dry. Our model doesn’t have a timer or a moisture sensor – just a rocker switch to turn it on and off. So I have it connected to a smart plug, and an automation in Home Assistant that turns it off automatically after 18 hours.

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