Do dehumidifiers dry clothes? Why they could be your secret weapon this winter...

Do dehumidifiers dry clothes? Is it cheap? Should you close the door when drying clothes with a dehumidifier? All your questions, answered by the experts

A wooden clothes airer with drying clothes
(Image credit: Future PLC)

In the colder, wetter months, getting laundry dry can be a chore, so you may be asking yourself – do dehumidifiers dry clothes? After all, they're the go-to gadget to keep damp at bay from our homes, so can they help with never-ending piles of laundry, too?  

You'll be pleased to hear, the short answer, is a resounding yes. In fact, some of the best dehumidifiers even have a special laundry mode, which, with one click, will set the fans on high to extract the surrounding moisture from the air and push back out warm air, naturally bringing the humidity levels down to around 40% which is the perfect setting for drying clothes. 

Even if you don’t have a dehumidifier with a dedicated laundry mode, don’t worry because most dehumidifiers with a decent extraction rate of above 10L per day can help to dry clothes, saving you plenty of time and money over the colder months. Here's what you need to know...

Do dehumidifiers dry clothes?

To reiterate – yes, dehumidifiers do help dry clothes. After all, they work by drawing in moist air, cooling it to turn it into water and then collecting it in a water tank before pushing warm, dry air back out into the room. 

Dehumidifiers can help dry laundry indoors by recreating warm, dry and airy environments that would be found when drying clothes outside on a washing line. Because the machines suck the moisture out of the air, the laundry dries quicker, which means you won’t be left with piles of wet washing hanging around the house. 

If you are sick of waiting for days for your laundry to dry inside only for it to smell musty and damp when it's done, or you’re spending a fortune using a tumble dryer, a dehumidifier could be the answer to your problem. 

meaco dehumidifier in laundry room with basket of clothes

(Image credit: Quiet Mark)

'A dehumidifier is a great solution to speed up the drying of washing indoors,' agrees Chris Michael, managing director at dehumidifier and air quality specialist Meaco. 'While the dehumidifier is drying the clothes, it also protects the room that the clothes are in from potential damage that would otherwise occur due to the increase in moisture, such as damp and mould issues.'

How long do clothes take to dry with a dehumidifier?

This depends on a couple of factors such as size and type of dehumidifier, the amount of laundry, the type of fabric, and the humidity level already in the air.

Generally, it can take anywhere between four and six hours to dry a load of laundry. However, if your washing basket contains heavier items such as towels or jeans, then it may take a bit longer. 

'Many dehumidifiers have 'Laundry' modes, which is a setting that sees the unit run for six hours at full speed,' notes Chris. 'This is typically how long is required to dry an average load of wet washing. The dehumidifier will then switch itself off to save electricity.'

'Most dehumidifiers can help dry laundry and remove this moisture from the air, but some can do it better than others. A 12-litre compressor dehumidifier is best for one person with a limited amount of washing to be dried, and one of the larger machines will be best if you’re drying washing for 3-4 people on a regular basis. A 25-litre is best for those that have larger families or large volumes of washing every week.'

Dehumidifiers that dry clothes the fastest

At Ideal Home we've tried and tested plenty of dehumidifiers over the past few years to compile our edit of the best-in-class. These are the dehumidifiers that dry clothes the fastest based on our testing process.

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

To speed up the drying process it's worth placing the dehumidifier in a room with good airflow and to make sure that all windows and doors are closed. When putting your clothes out on the drying rack, be sure to space them out evenly, leaving some space in between items.

'The smaller a space, the smaller the air volume, and the faster a dehumidifier can reduce the humidity in the room,' explains Chris. 'If drying laundry, selecting as small a space to do so will enable the dehumidifier to dry washing quicker, improving energy efficiency.'

Chris Michael headshot
Chris Michael

When Chris and Michelle Michael started Meaco in 1991 the brand specialised in humidity monitoring and air quality control equipment for museums and art galleries. Chris is now a regular advisor to museum conservators, helping to guide them in creating the ideal air quality. In 2005, Meaco expanded into the world of domestic dehumidifiers, with Chris now heading up the manufacture of low-energy and low-noise humidity solutions for the home.

Blue utility room with wooden hanging rack

(Image credit: Future PLC)

What setting should I put my dehumidifier on to dry clothes?

As we've mentioned, a lot of models come with a dedicated laundry mode. This mode typically uses a higher fan speed and a more aggressive dehumidification cycle to help clothes dry faster. Models such as the MeacoDry Arete One will automatically switch off after six hours when placed in laundry mode so that it saves energy.

If your model doesn’t have a specific mode, then don’t worry, you can still use it to dry your clothes. Select continuous mode and reduce the humidity setting to around 40%, which is ideal for drying clothes and will prevent the dehumidifier from over-drying the air. 

Manufacturers will state the maximum room size that the dehumidifier is suited for and it’s worth keeping this in mind as you’ll need one that will match the room if you’re going to get the best results. There’s no point in having a small dehumidifier if you’re planning on using it in a large room and you have a large amount of laundry to dry.

meaco dehumidifier in laundry room with basket of clothes

(Image credit: Quiet Mark)

Is it cheap to use a dehumidifier to dry clothes?

The cost to run a dehumidifier depends on a variety of factors.  These include the size of the dehumidifier, its energy rating and how often you use it. Some models focus more on energy efficiency than others, so make sure you fully research the running cost of your particular machine before you purchase. 

Nearly any model of dehumidifier is going to be far better for your bank account when compared to getting your clothes dry using a tumble dryer, however.

Laundry room with an open laundry basket

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

 If you’re still on the fence about investing in a dehumidifier, then one of the best heated clothes airers might be just the ticket to help you get that laundry warm and dry without having to fork out for the tumble dryer.

Ignore that tumble dryer and put your dehumidifier onto double duty by helping to dry your clothes more quickly this winter.

Rachael Penn
With contributions from