Unless you enjoy taking frequent trips to the launderette or have plenty of space to hang the washing out to dry, or are blessed with fine weather all the time, purchasing a tumble dryer is certainly something to consider. It will help you get your laundry done faster -- in a damp climate, it can take a long time to dry an entire family's clothing. Tumble dryers also reduce your ironing load since tumbled clothes have fewer wrinkles. Most tumble dryers work in the same way, so the features are the main way to distinguish between dryers.
- Venting or Condensing?
- Most dryers are of the venting variety, which means that the moist air is vented out of the machine to the outside of your house or flat.
- A condenser machine is a little more expensive. The water from clothes is accumulated in a reservoir, which needs to be emptied periodically. These machines are less convenient since they need more attention, but they can be useful if you don't have a way to vent your dryer to the outside.
- Tumble dryers are rated for their energy efficiency on a scale of A-G, where A is the most efficient.
- Efficiency may cost a few pounds more at first, but in the long run (a dryer may last 10-20 years!) it will save you money.
- Moisture Sensors
- The machine stops drying when it senses your clothes are dry, rather than when the preprogrammed cycle ends.
- The automatic dry cycle prevents overdrying, which can damage and shrink fabrics.
- Moisture sensors are standard on most new dryers today, although some inexpensive off-brand units may still use a thermostat.
- Works better than a thermostat sensor and gives you a choice of how dry you want your clothes.
- Moisture sensors also save you money in the long run - they detect that your clothes are dry and shut the machine sooner, saving energy, and they reduce the amount of time your clothing is subjected to heat, saving wear and tear.
- Compact models may have a capacity around 5.7 cubic feet.
- A capacity closer to 7 cubic feet is more useful and allows clothing to tumble more freely and dry faster.
- Heavy Duty Dryers
- If you have a large family, you might want to invest in one.
- Most dryers can handle an average load of laundry.
- If you frequently dry large, bulky items, you might want to invest in a large capacity dryer.
- Lint Filters
- Make sure you get a dryer with a wide and sturdy lint filter. This is a sign that more lint will be captured and, ultimately, the dryer will last longer.
- Control Buttons
- Look for a dryer with a dial control. They're cheaper than the electronic controls and more straightforward than push buttons.
- Electronic controls may also be more prone to breakage.
- Sound Reduction
- If your dryer is close to your bedroom or kitchen, you might want to find a particularly quiet dryer.
- Drum Lights
- If your dryer is in the basement or another dim area, find a dryer with an internal light.
- This way you'll be able to find those socks that inevitably get stuck in the back.
- Other Features
- The "touch-up" programme gives your clothes a quick dry if they're still a little damp. It also helps get out wrinkles.
- The "damp dry" programme leaves clothes slightly damp for easy ironing.
- The "express dry" cycle dries small loads at a high heat in under 30 minutes.
- Temperature controls allow you to use a lower heat for delicate clothes.
- A dryer rack will allow you to dry sneakers, caps, or other items you don't want to tumble freely.
- Extended tumble will periodically tumble your clothes after the drying cycle ends to keep your clothes wrinkle-free if you can't take them out right away.
- Buzzer - lets you know when your laundry is done.
Electric vs. Gas Dryers
- Uses heating coils to dry clothes.
- Slightly less expensive.
- Use a gas burner to generate heat to dry clothes.
- Slightly more expensive than an electric dryer.
- Requires a gas hookup.
- 50% cheaper in lifetime energy costs, so the extra initial cost has paid for itself in a year or so.
Fires involving tumble dryers are an all too common occurence. To avoid a fire in your own home, make sure you check and clean the lint traps and vent systems as often as possible. A top-mounted lint filter is easier to clean than one inside the drum, so keep this in mind while doing your shopping. Also, if you tend to be forgetful, make sure you get a model with a warning light that reminds you to clean out the filter.
A combination washer/dryer takes up less space, so it can be conveniently placed in smaller areas. However, make sure the machine can dry as much as it can wash to avoid laundry backup. Keep in mind also that you will be able to do fewer loads of laundry per day if you have a combination machine — these are really only practical for one or two people, or for families that do most of their drying outdoors or on racks.
You can also get a clothesline or a drying rack , but they take longer and you can't use dryer sheets.
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