Can You Dry Clothes With A Fan? (read this first)

If you don’t have access to an outside space or the weather is not suitable for drying clothes outdoors, using a fan indoors will help to get clothes dry faster. 

It can take anywhere from a few hours to 12 hours to dry clothes when air drying. It’s all dependent on the types of clothes you’re trying to dry, how warm and ventilated the room is and whether there’s a decent air flow.

Will Using A Fan Help Dry Clothes?

Trousers on drying rack

If you need to dry clothes indoors either due to having no access to a garden or bad weather, there are a few things that will help get those clothes dry, These include;

  • Using A Drying Rack
    By using a drying rack or clothes airer, you can ensure that the clothes are spread out enough to allow them to dry naturally.
  • Keeping The Room Warm
    The warmer the air is in the room, the faster the laundry will dry.
  • Allowing Adequate Ventilation
    For the washing to dry without getting that damp, musty smell often associated with indoor drying, you will need to crack a window open to allow steady air flow.

How Does Using A Fan Help?

If you position a fan strategically in the room with the clothes rack and open window, you can speed up the drying process and help prevent dampness. Simply place the fan by the clothes rack and open the window in the room.

The fan circulates the air which means the clothes have a constant flow of fresh, dry air. This will get the clothes dry in a shorter time and reduce the risk of mould or mildew (which causes that musty damp smell).

It has been estimated that using a desk fan works out at just slightly more than a penny per hour which is far cheaper and way more environmentally friendly than using a tumble dryer.

It’s also worth pointing out that drying clothes indoors is best done on a small scale. This is because there will be less water molecules present from fewer clothes. Which means they will dry faster without getting a damp, musty smell.

What Makes Clothes Dry?

Clothes on a clothes line

Clothes dry when the water in the clothes turns into vapour, this process is called evaporation. For clothes to dry, the air needs to be dryer than the clothes. Fans make this process happen faster because the moving air forces water molecules away from the clothes.

This is why it’s a good idea to open a window to help the water vapour to disperse.

Humidity Plays A Big Part

Temperature also plays its part in the drying process. Heat breaks the bonds that tie water molecules into the fabrics. These water molecules are then assimilated into the air which needs to be removed as far away from the clothes as possible to continue the drying process.

If the air is too full of water vapour it is called humidity. If the air around the clothes is humid-has a high level of moisture, the clothes cannot release any more water.

You Need Good Airflow

This means that clothes will dry faster in air which has a lower humidity. Which is why airflow is so important. If the air is very humid, it means it already contains a high percentage of water molecules.

This means it cannot accept many more, which means the moisture remains in the clothes. Once that humid air has been moved away from the clothes, more water molecules can be released and the clothes become dryer.

This means using a fan to disperse the air filled with water molecules will speed up the drying process. The faster the fan’s speed, the more water molecules will be dispersed which means the faster the clothes will dry.

Sunlight Vs Fan Power: What’s Best For Drying Clothes?

electric fan

This leads us on to an important question because drying clothes outdoors in sunlight on a windy day fulfils all of the requirements for drying clothes. Which are:

  • Heat 
  • Airflow
  • Reduced Humidity

The sun provides the heat, the breeze provides the airflow which reduces the humidity of the air. Which normally means clothes dry faster in sunlight outdoors on a windy day than indoors even with the help of a fan.

However, sunlight damages fabric in several ways. For a start, sunlight can cause colours to fade. This leads to clothes looking dull and worn. Sunlight can also weaken fibres over time making the clothes more susceptible to tearing or fraying. Finally the breeze can become too strong in an instant which can lead to the fabrics becoming damaged.

Using a fan indoors, regulates the airflow to a safe, comfortable level which will not damage the fabric. There’s little or no direct sunlight to damage the material and yet there’s enough heat and airflow to create almost perfect drying conditions.

Sure, there are going to be purists among you that will automatically say that natural sunlight is always preferable. But is it really? Not when you consider the damage that could occur subjecting clothes to direct sunlight and strong winds.

SEE ALSO: Tumble Dryer Alternatives: How to dry clothes indoors without a Dryer

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I dry clothes with cool air?

The air temperature isn’t as important as the moisture content when drying clothes. Excess humidity will prevent clothes from drying because the water molecules will remain trapped on the wet fabric until the air is dry enough to receive more.

How do you air dry clothes with a fan?

The secret to drying clothes indoors using a fan is to open a window and position the fan so that it forces air through the clothes and out of the window. This takes moisture from the air and transfers it outside. Which allows the clothes to expel moisture into the now less humid air.

Does a fan use a lot of electricity?

An average 110 watt floor fan uses around 3p of energy per hour. Whereas a desktop fan uses around 1p per hour. So to answer the question – no not really.

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