Updated: 04/10/2022 11:41:16

Laundry Drying Alternatives

Running a tumble dryer has always been seen as an expensive luxury, even before the energy price rises. We take a look at some alternatives for drying your clothes going into the rainy and cold months.

Laura Jenkins

Just how much does a tumble dryer cost to run?

As of October 1st 2022, the average price per kWh of electricity will be 34p. Back in November 2021 this price was 20p, and since April has been around 28p. There are a few different types of tumble dryers, but most of us will be looking at around £1.70 - £1.99 per cycle for an 8kg model. If you have a heat pump dryer this is closer to the 75p mark, but either way your tumble dryer is one of the worst appliances in the home for energy consumption. Factor in the large upfront cost and you're paying a lot for the convenience of quick drying. So what are some of the alternatives available and how much will they cost?

Traditional clothes airer drying

Image source: Argos

The most common solution when an outdoor washing line isn't available or the weather outside is horrible, which in the UK is often, is a "clothes horse" or airer. These are usually relatively inexpensive and are widely available both online and in high street retailers. You'll be looking at an initial investment of around £20, but this will rise depending on the model, with airers on ceiling pulleys costing closer to £80. However, on their own there are obviously no further costs so this is an inexpensive way to dry your laundry.

Compare airers

In the colder months especially, it will take a few days for everything to dry, so some people pair an air dryer with other devices, leading us on to our next solution…


  • Cheap initial investment
  • No running costs
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors


  • Slow drying times
  • Can leave clothes feeling stale
  • Increases moisture in the home
  • Space saving - folds away when not in use

Our rating as a tumble dryer replacement



Image source: Meaco

Probably not the first thing to come to mind when you think of tumble dryer alternatives, but pairing a traditional airer with a dehumidifier can really speed up the drying process, as well as preventing moisture build up and mould. Many people pair their air drier with a radiator or other heat source to try and speed things along, but this can often lead to disaster for the home. Radiators increase humidity around the area and the home. Combined with wet and cold weather in the winter months or wet laundry, this can create dampness and condensation, allowing mould and bacteria to thrive. A dehumidifier in its place would remove excess moisture from the air in the room, which not only helps clean the air to protect your home and even help with allergies, but the removal of this moisture will help your laundry dry faster. The main downside with dehumidifiers is that the larger models will require a large initial investment, though this is no more than a tumble dryer, with a fraction of the running costs.

Dehumidifiers are much cheaper to run than a tumble dryer, and depending on the size and model of choice, you'll be looking at around 5p - 16p an hour to run from October 1st. Dehumidifiers are usually controlled by a humidistat, which measures humidity and turns the dehumidifier on and off depending on the levels. You can even benefit from dehumidifiers with specific laundry drying modes, but be sure to keep your dehumidifier running smoothly by cleaning the filter regularly.

For laundry drying we'd recommend models with larger tanks (10 litres+) else you'll be forever emptying it. Some models also have permanent drain features

Shop dehumidifiers


  • Fairly quick drying times
  • Prevents moisture build up
  • Significantly cheaper running costs
  • Dual function - helps with air quality in general


  • Larger initial investment
  • Requires emptying and filter cleaning
  • Can produce significant noise depending on model

Our rating as a tumble dryer replacement


Heated airers

Image source: The Range

Huge in popularity recently, heated airers seem to be the next big thing. Heated airers are essentially traditional laundry airers that can be plugged in to give off heat, speeding up drying times. Some models may include a cover that keeps heat in for faster drying times (we sometimes use a large bedsheet for the same effect). The cost to run will rely on the model, but the most popular models on the market right now are around 300w. These will cost you around 15p - 16p an hour to run from October 1st. Initial costs are around the £40 mark, but a lot of models tend to be closer to the £100 mark.

Compare heated airers

Be aware, heated airers will cause similar issues to using radiators to dry clothes, in that they will increase moisture in the air leaving your home susceptible to mould and bacteria. To prevent this you may want to open windows in your home to increase ventilation and make sure your bathroom extractor is in great working order.


  • Reasonable drying times
  • Can be folded away and stored
  • Significantly cheaper running costs
  • Silent running


  • Can produce excess moisture
  • Potentially large initial costs
  • Cheaper models don't have great durability
  • Can take up quite a lot of space when used

Our rating as a tumble dryer replacement


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Do you find yourself looking for tumble dryer alternatives? What ideas have you come up with? Share them with us below!

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