How to dry clothes fast without a tumble dryer to save time, energy, and money

Prevent a drying rack of wet clothes from becoming a permanent fixture in your home with our expert tips

White tiled and marble utility room with fitted washer and dryer
(Image credit: Future PLC)

The task of drying clothes quickly can often be a nightmare in winter, particularly now that we're cranking up the heating and feel that bit more conscious of how much it costs to run a tumble dryer.

While there's no miracle solution for how to dry clothes fast, there are various ways to get laundry washed, dried, and folded way with little to no fuss. Finding ways to give the tumbler a break will mean you save energy at home, helping the planet, and our bank balances.

How to dry clothes fast

We've included a few products that will help dry clothes faster, as well as tried-and-tested tricks to get you home and dry. As well as knowing how to wash clothes properly to prevent shrinking disasters, it's good to know how to dry clothes fast when time is tight.

White tiled and marble utility room with fitted washer and dryer

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

1. Make the most of a sunny winter day

'Don't stop using the washing line altogether just because it's not summer – on a dry and windy day it's still a good option,' says money-saving writer Gemma Bird (@moneymumofficial). You could also cover the laundry on the line with a dry ground sheet if it looks like it might rain later.

Lynsey Crombie is the UK's number one home and lifestyle expert and original clean-fluencer. She believes that drying clothes outside is the best option for the longevity of your clothes.

'By drying our clothes outside, we keep them fresh and well aired,' Lynsey says. 'This avoids moisture being trapped in the fibres, encouraging musty smells that are always unpleasant. Putting clothes away clean and aired will enhance the life of any garment over time, which means your favourites remain your favourites for longer!'

Garden extension with potted plants into lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC)

2. Try out the drying rack hack

If you don't have any outdoor space, don't worry. Place your drying rack next to a radiator and tuck the top end of a bedsheet down the back of the radiator. Then place the sheet up over the top of the drying rack. This will insulate it, stopping warm air from escaping. Using a fan can also keep air flowing, which will help the water to evaporate.

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(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

3. Keep windows open a tiny bit

 'A key consideration for drying any clothes indoors is being mindful of mould forming,' says Georgia Metcalfe, founder and creative director of French Bedroom. 'It is essential to open windows a sliver, even in cold weather, as the evaporation will need somewhere to escape, and prevents this problem further down the line.'

If you've spotted mould forming around windows or on the ceiling, don't panic. There are plenty of ways to get rid of damp, condensation and mould easily.

Kitchen with wooden countertops overlooking into large open windows

(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

4. Hang clothes on the curtain rail

'One of my favourite drying tricks is to hang clothes on a hanger and then hang them on the curtain rail with the window ajar,' says Lynsey Queen of Clean. 'You will be surprised at how quickly clothes can dry like this. Plus it also makes the clothes less creased, so much easier to iron.'

Good hangers, available at Amazon are essential for keeping your garments in shape.

Double hand basin in a wooden vanity unit with a bath and white shower curtain

(Image credit: Future PLC)

5. Bite the bullet with a heated clothes airer

Buying one of the best heated clothes airers available right now will make life so much easier over the colder months, and will give you the simple pleasure of toasty clothes when getting dressed in the morning.

'If you're worried about the cost of turning on the tumble dryer this winter – or don't have one and are dreading the return of trying to dry wet clothes and bedding over the radiator – then a heated clothes airer could be an affordable and energy-efficient alternative,' says Amy Lockwood, Ideal Home's Decor Editor. 

'Compared to a normal clothes airer, the heated elements will cut down drying time considerably, allowing you to dry clothes overnight, or in just a couple of hours depending on the volume of wet washing you're tackling.'

Aldi heated clothes airer

(Image credit: Aldi)

6. Invest in a dehumidifier

A dehumidifier with a laundry setting is also a total saviour if you have a lot of washing to get dry, and will remove the 'damp chill' factor in the air. Having lived in old buildings that suffer from mould in the autumn and winter months, we can personally vouch for the Meaco Zambezi Dehumidifier. The cost to run a dehumidifier depends on the kind you have, but you can expect it to be between 5p and 14p an hour.

It does feel like a big investment, but a dehumidifier cuts drying time drastically by sucking in air from the room and removing moisture and blowing warm dry air back out. Watering houseplants with the water they collect also feels very satisfying. Equipped with one of the best dehumidifiers on the market, you'll also be less tempted to put the heating on purely to get those thick winter jumpers dry.

Meaco dehumidifier sitting in hallway

(Image credit: Meaco)

7. Create a dedicated drying space

This one may not apply, but if you are lucky enough to have the space, Lynsey Crombie recommends choosing a spare bedroom or unused room for drying your clothes quickly.

'Keep the room well-ventilated,' she says. 'Open the windows and shut the door so the fresh air can circulate.'

8. Don't overload the washing machine

This simple tip won't just mean your clothes are cleaned more easily. But they will also retain less water, and dry quicker. 'If you've got too much washing in, the water is really going to be retained and your clothes are going to come out so much wetter,' explains Lynsey.

White kitchen with wood accents and fitted washing machine

(Image credit: Future PLC)

9. Use radiator airers

Avoid overloading your radiators, as this makes your boiler work harder and increases bills. Instead, hang clothes on radiator airers, at Amazon. Clothes will dry with fewer creases and air will be able to circulate around the items.

10. Take clothes for an extra spin

Get rid of any excess water by doing an extra spin cycle at the end of a wash. Ali Orr, founder of Nearly New Cashmere Co says, 'the fastest way to dry clothes without a dryer is to put your washing machine on a fast spin at 1200 rpm, once the clothes have been washed.'

Alternatively, use a rinse cycle. Chris Michael from Meaco says that before you take them out of the washing machine using a rinse cycle will keep the amount of water left in the clothes to a minimum.

This is also one of Lynsey's favourite tips. 'A 10-minute spin at the end gets more water out, especially if it's jeans, bedding, or heavy towels. Then it comes out a little bit drier for when it goes in the tumble dryer, or on the line.'

'You can even do two spins,' she adds. 'And running the washing machine is cheaper than running a tumble dryer so it's better to get water out in that one. I've been doing that for years and it makes a massive, massive difference.'

Small utility room with beige cabinets and fitted washing machine

(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

11. Time it right

Try to do your washing in the morning. That way, you can hang it out to dry during the day when the heating is most likely to be on. Hopefully, your sheets should be dry by bedtime.

Commenting on this tip, Lysney says, 'People are scared of drying clothes outside this time of year, but if it's not raining we still dry clothes outside. We get it out for 7am and bring it in around 4pm.'

White utility room with sleek black cabinetry

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

12. Use tin foil balls

If you are lucky enough to own a tumble dryer, popping a couple of tin foil balls in the drum can help speed things up, and reduce static. 'Now this is a really old tip, my nan told me about this one, years ago,' explains Lynsey. 

'So, make some really hard tin foil balls, do three or four and pop them inside your tumble dryer, particularly if you're doing delicates... and this will reduce that static in there.'

Blue painted utility room with fitted washer and dryer

(Image credit: Future PLC/Kasia Fiszer)

Playing on this idea, the new Boss it Rapid Dryer Ball equips the same concept of helping you cut the cost of running a tumble dryer and help you dry clothes quicker. Lynsey even dubbed it a 'game-changer' when talking about it on ITV's This Morning.

Alternatively, you can also use tumble dryer balls or new tennis balls. These will help separate the items in the dryer to speed up the drying time.

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend. 

With contributions from