How Long Do Heated Airers Take To Dry Clothes?

Living in the UK where you tell when it’s summer because the rain’s warmer, means we’re always looking for new, improved and cheaper ways to dry our laundry. The Energy Savings Trust recommends using a clothes airer in a closed room with an open window to be the most cost effective way of drying laundry.

The problem is this can take ages to dry clothes which often end up smelling damp and musty. Heated airers are a better option and can get cotton or linen items dry in around 4 to 5 hours.

Thicker items like sweaters or jeans can take around twice that long, but that’s still far quicker than a standard unheated airer. 

How Long Will It Take To Dry Clothes On A Heated Airer?

The trouble is, it’s not an exact science. What we mean by that is there are many factors that contribute to the amount of time taken to dry clothes on a heated airer. Factors like;

  • The thickness of the clothes
    The thicker the items you’re drying, the longer they will take to dry. Thicker fabrics absorb more water which will take longer to be dispersed.
  • How wet the clothes are
    The moisture level in the fabric will also determine the speed at which the clothes will take to dry.
  • The make and model of heated airer you’re using
    Different heated airers use differing amounts of power to produce heat to dry clothes. This can all affect the drying time.

Ways To Speed Up Drying Times When Using Heated Airers

There are a few ways you can improve on the drying times of your clothes when using a heated airer. These simple tasks can significantly reduce the drying time needed for certain items. They include;

Running An Extra Spin Cycle 

Most washing machine programmes end on a spin cycle but it’s a good idea to run an extra spin to remove even more moisture from your laundry. This can help to reduce the amount of time the clothes need to dry on the heated airer.

Spreading Clothes Out Correctly

When arranging your clothes on the rack of the heated airer, you should place smaller items at the bottom and always leave a space between each item to allow a good flow of warm air.

Move Clothes Around

Some items might dry fast on one side because that’s where they touch the heated bar. However, by then turning that item over, you can get the other side dry quickly too.

Ensure Adequate Ventilation (open a window or use an electric fan/dehumidifier)

For clothes to dry, they need adequate ventilation to allow the moist air to dissipate. This can be as simple as cracking open a window or setting up a dehumidifier near the heated airer.

Using a dehumidifier can dry clothes up to 25% faster as it removes moisture from the air which allows more moisture to leave the laundry at a faster rate.

Another solution is to direct an electric fan to blow across the airer allowing the moist air to get to the open window faster.

SEE ALSO: Best Bladeless Fans You Can Buy Right Now

Use A Cover

Many heated airers come supplied with covers which help contain the heat. This will reduce the drying time considerably. If your heated airer didn’t come supplied with a cover, they can often be purchased separately.

If not you can use a bedsheet to cover the airer which will do the same job as a cover. Just be sure to tuck the sheet in all around the airer to keep the hot air trapped inside.


Is It Safe To Leave A Heated Airer On Overnight?

Given that it can take upwards of 10 hours to dry some of the thicker items of laundry on a heated airer. It leads to the question of safety, and whether it’s OK to leave it running all night.

As electric heated airers are earthed and also come with thermostatically controlled temperature settings as well as timers, it’s perfectly safe to leave them running overnight.  The airer will automatically turn itself off once the set time runs out.

This means you could set the airer up to run during the day while you’re at work. By the time you return home in the evening, the laundry will be dry and ready to be put away. You can then pack the airer away too, leaving your home clutter free.

However, that doesn’t mean you can leave a heated airer running indefinitely. One overnight session is fine, but if you have the airer running too long it could cause the element to overheat.

This could cause the unit to no longer heat up or it could cause the element to short out. As a result, you would need to replace the airer.

Overdrying Clothes

Then there’s the problem of clothes drying out too much, which is most likely to happen to thin cotton or linen clothes. If they’re left on the heated airer for too long they could become too dry and feel rough and scratchy.

Ideally you should remove thin items from the airer as soon as they’re dry. This should prevent them becoming overdry which is where the problem of stiff clothes begins.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Using A Heated Airer?

Let’s have a brief look at the main benefits and disadvantages of using a heated airer to dry the laundry. 

The Benefits

The main benefits include;

  • Easy To Pack Away
    When you have dried all of your laundry, the heated airer can be folded up and packed away. This means it doesn’t become a permanent fixture which frees up space in your home.
  • Lightweight
    Being made from aluminium or thin steel, heated airers are light which makes them easy to manoeuvre.
  • Cost Less To Run
    Using a heated airer is far less expensive to run compared to a tumble dryer.
  • Prevents Damp Smells
    Drying clothes on a regular, unheated airer often results in clothes smelling damp and musty. Using a heated airer eliminates that dampness and allows the clothes to dry completely.
  • Can Be Run Overnight
    The heated airer can be safely left running overnight. This means waking up to a full load of dry clothes.
  • Environmentally Friendly
    Compared with a tumble dryer, a heated airer uses far less energy which is better for the environment.

The Disadvantages

The main disadvantages include;

  • Can Overdry Some Items
    If you’re drying a mixed load, some of the thinner items could become overdried and feel stiff and coarse. 
  • More Expensive Than A Regular Airer
    Unheated airers cost less to buy and nothing to operate. Whereas heated airers cost more to buy and then use electricity to heat the bars.
  • Takes A Long Time To Dry Clothes
    Depending on the thickness of the fabric, it can take upwards of 10 to 12 hours to dry some items.
  • Not Always Capable Of Drying A Full Load
    Depending on the make and model, you might not have sufficient space to fit a full wash load onto the racks in one go.
  • Take Up A Lot Of Space
    Heated airers encroach onto the room space. With many having racks that spread out into the room a significant distance.
  • Struggle To Dry Large Items
    You might find it difficult spreading towels or sheets out on the racks of a heated airer.

How Much Does It Cost To Run A Heated Airer?


As with all electrical appliances, the cost of running a heated airer differs depending on the make and model. The equation you need to work out how much electricity any appliance uses is:

Power (kilowatt) X time (hours) X price (per kWh) = cost

Energy prices as of writing in the UK have been capped at 34p per kWh which means we can work out how much the average cost will be for various size heated airers. Assuming it takes 8 hours to dry a wash load;

  • A 220W heated airer will cost around 60p to dry
    (.22 X 8 X .34 = 59p)
  • A 300W heated airer will cost around just over 80p to dry
    ( .30 X 8 X .34 = 81p)

There is another point worth considering here, a 220W heated airer might cost marginally less to run. But they can usually only hold around 10 kg of laundry. Bigger heated airers might cost more to run but can often hold more weight.

This means although it could cost you an extra 20p per time, you could potentially dry half as much again.

How Much Does Using A Heated Airer Compare With Tumble Drying?

Tumble drying is the most expensive way to get your laundry dry. A typical 9 kg vented dryer will cost around £1.85 per cycle which is around £1.00 more for every wash load than using a heated airer.

Even though the heated airer takes way longer than a tumble dryer, it can save you a significant amount of money over the course of a year.

SEE ALSO: Best Dehumidifier For Drying Clothes Inside (perfect size for laundry)

Frequently Asked Questions

Are heated clothes airers worth it?

Overall, heated clothes airers offer a great, inexpensive way to get clothes dry indoors.

How can I make my heated airer dry faster?

To make your heated airer dry clothes faster, you should ensure the room is well ventilated by opening a window, use a dehumidifier in the same room to remove excess moisture, Use a cover on the airer to keep the heat in.

Is it cheaper to run a tumble dryer or heated airer?

It will cost around 60% more to run a tumble dryer compared with a heated airer. The benefit of using a tumble dryer is the speed the clothes will dry at. This is around 8 times faster than that of a heated airer.

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