How Long Does It Take To Dry Clothes?

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There are loads of different ways that you can dry your laundry. Sometimes you might be in a rush – the rest of the chores could have gotten out of hand, and you just need the clothes dried quickly so you can fold them and get the job done. Other times, you might not mind if it takes longer if you’re saving energy.

Let’s take a look at the various options, how long they take on average, and also how much power each one will use. Then, you can make an informed decision on how to get your family’s laundry dried in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

drying clothes

How Long It Takes To Dry Clothes In A Tumble Dryer

On average it takes 40 minutes to dry clothes in a tumble dryer. Smaller loads may only take 20 minutes, but thicker fabrics could make a load take up to 90 minutes. Energy-efficient heat-pump dryers generally take longer but use a lot less electricity.

Most American homes use a vented dryer, which is the fastest dryer option for your clothes. But, heat pump tumble dryers are gaining in popularity as they’re so much more efficient. They use refrigerant rather than a heating element to remove moisture from fabrics.

As a result, drying times with a heat pump dryer will usually average out at between 90 minutes and 2 hours, but it could be much longer. You can speed up drying times by using wool or plastic dryer balls.

If your dryer is taking longer than the average 40 minutes, it might be a sign you’re overloading it, or you may just need to clear out the lint shield and vent.

Read more: How long should a dryer take to dry clothes?

tumble dryer

How Long It Takes To Dry Clothes At A Laundromat

The average drying time at a laundromat is 30-40 minutes for the load, but smaller loads can be faster and take only 20 minutes. Laundromat dryers work similar to those at home, but usually have a larger capacity for clothes.

While a large capacity does mean increased airflow, the biggest factor in drying time is always the heating element, and so just because laundromat dryers are bigger it doesn’t mean you’ll speed up the drying time for your clothes.

Instead, it means you can get more dried at once – some laundromat machines can hold twice the volume of a home dryer. So, while the drying cycle takes the same amount of time, your laundry is done twice as fast since you get two loads done at once.


How Long It Takes To Air Dry Clothes Inside

Air drying clothes indoors takes around 6 hours for thin fabrics such as synthetics, while thicker fabrics like denim can take 24 hours. Drying time will depend on the temperature and humidity of your home.

Hot air rises, so the higher you can hang your clothes indoors the better. You can dry some synthetics in just 4 hours if they’re hung in a dry, warm place but if your home is humid or cold it may take twice as long.

Suggested read: The Best Way To Air Dry Clothes In An Apartment

drying clothes indoors

How Long It Takes To Dry Clothes On A Heated Airer

Using a heated airer with a cover will dry lighter fabrics in around 2 hours, and thicker clothes such as denim and sweaters in 4 to 6 hours at most. The heat from the airer will assist with water evaporation, drying out the fabrics much faster than airing alone.

If you don’t want to turn the radiators on in your home, but you’d rather save on your bills by not using the dryer, then a heated airer is a cost-effective option.

It’s not ideal if you need to get multiple loads of laundry done in one day, though as heated airers take quite a lot of space and only fit one machine-load of clothes, at most.

How Long It Takes To Dry Clothes Outside

On a warm day in summer, most clothes will be dried outside in 2 to 4 hours, although it depends on the fabric type. On a cold day, some fabrics may take 10-12 hours, depending on the humidity.

Drying clothes outside relies on a combination of the temperature and the wind speed. The temperature helps to evaporate moisture from clothes while a breeze can help draw water out of fabrics.

Temperature is definitely the most important factor, though. clothes will dry much faster on a summer’s day even with no breeze than they would on a cold, windy day in winter.

Also, you have to bear in mind that there are some fabrics where direct sunlight isn’t recommended. Silk and wool can both have their color altered by the UV rays of the sun, so they may need to be hung indoors instead. Sunlight is actually good for white fabrics though, as it makes them even brighter.

laundry on washing line

How Long It Takes To Dry Clothes On A Radiator

Depending on the temperature you’ve set the radiators to, it’s possible to dry most fabrics in around 2 hours when hung on a radiator. You can speed up the process by turning the clothes around, so that the wet surfaces have the most contact with the heat.

Radiators are one of the fastest options – beyond a dryer – for drying clothes in your home. If you have the radiator turned up high, then they can dry some clothes in an hour.

However, they can cause condensation and increased humidity, and if you have the radiator set too high the constant heat can damage some more delicate fabrics. Another downside to using a radiator to dry clothes is that it makes your house look messy.

You should never dry clothes on an electric radiator, as this could cause a fire. But with a water-filled gas radiator, there’s no risk of that.

clothes on radiator

How Long It Takes To Dry Clothes With A Fan

Using a non-heated fan to help dry your clothes on an airer can halve the time it takes for the fabrics to dry, so light cottons and synthetics may be dry in just three hours. Fans help with the evaporation process, meaning water is drawn from clothes at a faster rate.

Wet clothes become dry when the water being held in the fabric evaporates. But, if the air is stagnant, then there’s not as much space for the water molecules in the air to diffuse, which means less water is drawn out of the fabrics. It can also result in condensation, as stagnant water molecules clump together.

A fan pointed at your clothes keeps the air circulating so that your fabrics are constantly surrounded by fresh, dry air. This means water can evaporate faster, drying your clothes much quicker.

Of course, you could combine a fan with a heated airer for even faster results if you’re in a rush, but the speed that a fan works at means you probably don’t need to.

Suggested read: How Much Electricity Does A Fan Use?

standing fan

How Long It Takes To Dry Clothes With A Dehumidifier

Using a dehumidifier to dry your clothes will take somewhere between 3-5 hours depending on the type of fabrics and the size of the room. This is slightly less effective than using a fan but it will protect your home from excess moisture in the air.

Dehumidifiers work by extracting the water particles in the air and storing them in a tank. So, if you use a dehumidifier near your laundry, it will help to keep the air dry and encourage the water in your clothes to evaporate.

For drying clothes, dehumidifiers are slightly slower than using an electric fan. But, the benefit of a dehumidifier is that you can use it in a room with multiple clothes airers and it will be as effective for all of them. With a fan, you need to have it directed at the clothes, so you would need multiple fans.

Also, fans don’t reduce the humidity in the room, they just move it around. Ideally, you should use a fan with the window open. Otherwise, you could encourage mold to grow in your home. With a dehumidifier, the water is all collected so you don’t have to worry about this.


How Long It Takes To Dry Clothes With A Hairdryer

Drying your clothes with a hairdryer will take around 20 minutes, making it one of the fastest ways to dry a single garment. However, because you have to focus the heat on one item at a time, it would take many hours to dry a whole load.

Also, it’s quite boring and tiring having to hold a hairdryer and point it at your clothes. It’s a manual job too because you need to move the hairdryer over the wet areas of the fabrics, and not just leave it pointed at one area – hairdryers tend to have quite narrow jets of heat.

If you’re in a rush to get ready and need a single item to be dried fast then they work really well, but for full loads, a hairdryer is best avoided.

Suggested read: Hairdryer Wattage Explained

drying clothes with hairdryer

The Best Way to Dry Clothes

The best way to dry your clothes will depend on a number of things. If you want to save money and protect the environment, then drying clothes outside during the summer is the best option, and it’s still pretty quick. During winter, you can speed it up by drying clothes indoors with a fan or using a dehumidifier.

A dryer is always going to be the fastest way to dry a whole load of clothes, but they use a lot of electricity, so they’re not too kind on your bills or the planet. If you’ve time, then there are much more cost-effective options available.