It was always a sad reality that a summer heatwave was never going to last forever. Although one upside is the fact that our homes and workplaces won’t feel like a Swedish sauna for long, we appreciate the days we can hang out damp laundry and know that it will dry in a matter of minutes.
Luckily, there’s a genius device that might just change your life: the heated clothes dryer. In a nutshell, it’s a normal clothes dryer that emits a certain amount of heat (typically between 60C and 70C). Keen to supercharge your drying time? Opt for a pod-style dryer, which uses a fan to blast warm air around clothes suspended from rails inside an enclosed canvas pod.
To help you choose the best heated dryer for your needs, we tested a range of options to find the perfect model. And we can honestly say we’ve never paid more attention to our laundry, whether it’s the speed at which damp clothes dry or the benefits of three tiers over two when it comes to drying our shoes, smalls and sweaters.
But before we begin, let’s bust some myths about heated dryers, starting with the misconception that they’re dangerous. Because the dryers are thermostatically controlled, this simply isn’t the case. Although we’d advise turning it off overnight (more for your peace of mind than anything else).
Additionally, many models have timers that mean the dryer will turn off after a pre-set length of time. Another reason we’d advise against leaving heated drying racks on for hours is because certain materials – especially delicate ones – simply don’t fare well when exposed to heat for prolonged periods and may become slightly stiff due to the extreme dryness.
Always spin the clothes first and, if you’re drying handwashed laundry that you’re reluctant to wring out, allow the garments to drip dry over a bath or in an outside area for 20 or 30 minutes first.
Our final myth? That drying stands are expensive to run. The average tumble dryer costs 35.7p an hour to operate, while the average heated drying stand costs just 13.7p. And that, dear readers, is precisely the type of money laundering we love.
The best heated clothes airers for 2021 are:
Best overall – Dry:Soon drying pod: £69.99, Lakeland.co.uk
Best value – Dunelm three-tier heated airer: £95, Dunelm.com
Best for small spaces – Dunelm heated airer: £29.99, Dunelm.com
Best for families – Black and Decker three-tier heated airer: £99.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best for quick drying – DriBuddi: Portable energy-efficient indoor electric clothes dryer: £69.99, Jmldirect.com
Best for compact, collapsible design – Homefront electric heated clothes airer: £44.95, Amazon.co.uk
Best for ease of use – Dunelm heated airer with wings: £40, Dunelm.com
Best for large amounts of clothing – Dry:Soon deluxe three-tier heated airer and full accessories bundle: £222.95, Lakeland.co.uk
Best stylish heated clothes airer –John Lewis & Partners three-tier heated indoor clothes airer: £100, Johnlewis.com
Dry:Soon drying pod
This pod-style dryer, which costs under 15p an hour to run, holds up to 12 hangers and will dry clothes with a maximum heat of 70C. We were equally surprised by both how compact it was when stowed away and how easy it was to set up – it was ready to go within one minute of removing the parts from its tardis-like box (this includes the 20 seconds it took to heat up). No tools were required – we simply inserted the main shaft, which comes in two parts, into the base, attached the three legs, then slipped on the top and cover.
It’s wonderfully quiet, producing the same noise as a household fan, and took up around the same amount of room as a coat stand. It also has wide, flat feet, which kept it stable on the vinyl flooring in our kitchen without leaving any marks when we moved it to our carpeted lounge (something that was easy to do – it’s incredibly light and can easily be lifted with one hand). The cover’s snug fit helps speed up drying times, which can be set to 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 or 180-minute slots, although there’s also an option for manual control, which allows you to turn it off and on at will.
Buy now £69.99, Lakeland.co.uk
Dunelm three-tier heated airer
Numerous dryer-related traumas have left us with a fear that we’ll slice off a fingertip when setting up rail-style dryers but this one, which costs under 4p an hour to run, does a great job of teaming a reassuring sturdiness – enhanced by rigid corner struts – with a smooth unfolding mechanism that banished any finger-slicing concerns. It took about 20 seconds to set up, and another 30 seconds to heat up, quickly becoming warm to the touch.
Its size makes it ideal for families – it holds up to 15kgs of clothing – and the heated section incorporates curved inserts for shoes, which was a godsend on a particularly damp day when we were able to not only dry some freshly-washed clothing but also some damp trainers after a rain-soaked walk. Its aluminium construction means it’s incredibly light and it’s wonderfully simple to use – simply flick the switch (with its protective clear rubber cover) on and you’re good to go.
Buy now £95.00, Dunelm.com
Dunelm heated airer
Best: For small spaces
This is a brilliant option for anyone who wants to supercharge their drying times without sacrificing more space or spending more on electricity. It costs under 1p an hour to run, has enough room for a large load of washing and is incredibly easy to set up – we simply clipped the drying rail onto the base using the incorporated clips. It felt reassuringly sturdy and we loved its design – instead of four feet, this X-shaped stand sits on two solid beams, which gave it a more stable feel and meant no pesky imprints or marks were left on our newly-laid carpet. Simple controls – a rubber-covered on/off switch – ramped up the ease of use (it heats up in under 30 seconds) and we loved that we could tweak the height by tiny increments.
Buy now £29.99, Dunelm.com
Black and Decker three-tier heated airer
Best: For families
This is another brilliant option for families. Its generously-sized shelves meant we could choose to hang our clothes or drape them flat across the heated rails, and it’s large enough to take a full load of washing – 15kgs, to be precise. It’s incredibly easy to set up and comes fully assembled – simply fold out the shelves, turn it on and you’re good to go (it also takes under a minute to heat up). The combination of a 1.6m power cord and a lightweight aluminium design makes it perfect for rooms where space is at a premium, allowing it to simply be moved at will.
Buy now £99.99, Amazon.co.uk
DriBuddi: Portable energy-efficient indoor electric clothes dryer
Best: For quick drying
Powered by a 1,200W motor, this pod-style dryer will hold 18 garments (or up to 10kg of clothing) and can be left on for 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 and 180-minute time slots, or just switched on or off at will. It’s another dryer that is ridiculously easy to set up – we simply slotted the shaft into the base then popped the collapsible parasol-like topper, with its six hangers, onto the top. It’s got the same small holes at the top that other pod-style dryers have and the clever position of the zip at the top allowed us to control the amount of air circulation, which will come in especially handy when drying extra-damp garments. It was one of the quickest dryers when it came to heat-up times and was warm to the touch in just 10 seconds.
Buy now £69.99, Jmldirect.com
Homefront electric heated clothes airer
Best: For compact, collapsible design
A slimline dryer that is ideal for smaller homes, this sleek heated garment airer resembles a standard bathroom towel rail and costs less than 2p an hour to operate. It’s incredibly light (weighing in at just 2.4kg) but will hold the same amount of washing as a two-metre-long washing line. Although there’s plenty of room for smaller items, its thicker rungs make it particularly suitable for larger pieces such as towels and sweatshirts, with no risk of the individual rungs sagging or popping out of place.
Buy now £44.95, Amazon.co.uk
Dunelm heated airer with wings
Best: For ease of use
One of the most versatile dryers of our range, Dunelm’s winged heated airer, which costs under 3p an hour to run, can be used with its two wings either folded out or tucked in. This means it takes up less space when not used at full capacity, and we could fold away one of the wings when certain items had dried faster than others. It’s another dryer with an incredibly lightweight aluminium design – we were able to move it using just one hand – and it’s carpet-friendly too, with beam supports instead of separate, carpet-branding feet.
Buy now £40.00, Dunelm.com
Dry:Soon deluxe three-tier heated airer and full accessories offer bundle
Best: For large amounts of clothes
This is a great pod-style dryer (although it can also be used without the cover) for bigger households keen to dry large amounts of laundry (up to 15kg) in one session. Its accessories bundle includes garment-specific items that transform its capabilities, whether it’s the mesh shelves that are designed for smaller items such as socks and pants that can be laid flat, or the six-peg hanger to keep items in place. Our advice? Clip the hanger to the bottom of heavier items such as sweaters and dresses to pull them taught and minimise drying times. Although it’s one of the larger dryers in our roundup, its wide, spacious design means easy access to the various racks and its timer gave us the option to turn it off or on, 12 hours in advance. It can be used with or without its cover, which also doubles as a storage bag when not in use.
Buy now £222.95, Lakeland.co.uk
John Lewis & Partners three-tier heated indoor clothes airer
Best: Stylish heated clothes airer
A sleek step ladder-style, three-tier dryer with four hooks for two pairs of shoes, this is a brilliant airer for anyone who wants to dry different types of garments without sacrificing too much space. It’s another fabulously versatile offering – when drying larger items such as towels, the lower rails can be folded aside to allow plenty of room for the garments to hang, and the shoe hooks can also be used for smaller items such as underwear. A combination of ultra-solid corner struts and hinges ensures this dryer stays in place and allows each shelf to hold up to 5kg of clothing without buckling.
Buy now £100.00, Johnlewis.com
The verdict: Heated clothes airers
Lakeland’s Dry:Soon drying pod dries clothes quickly and efficiently without taking up huge amounts of space and it’s much quieter than the average pod-style dryer, too. We also loved Dunelm’s three-tier heated airer for its versatile yet compact design and its low running costs – just 4p an hour – while Dunelm’s heated airer is an absolute must-have for smaller homes or those on a budget. It costs under 1p an hour to run and has a design that means it will hold a wide range of garments while still allowing for great air circulation.
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