What Is Air Dry On A Washing Machine?

Nowadays, washing machines come with a whole load of features that can be very confusing to use, especially for many people who are used to the traditional washer without all the bells and whistles. One feature you may see on your washer but don’t use is the “Air Dry” setting. But what is it, and is it even worth using? 

The “Air Dry” feature on a washing machine makes use of a stream of room-temperature air to remove excess moisture from clothes. Compared to traditional drying methods like in tumble dryers that rely on heat, the air dry function circulates the room-temperature air throughout the garments with the help of the drum’s rotation. 

Let’s have a closer look into the air dry feature, its pros and cons, and more in this article!

How Does Air Drying On A Washer Work?

The air dry setting on a washing machine works by circulating air around the drum while the clothes rotate. Unlike traditional drying methods that use heat, air drying uses unheated air that helps to gently dry the clothes. 

Control panel of washing machine

This feature is extremely useful for garments that are sensitive to heat or are prone to shrinking. The tumbling action, in combination with the airflow, helps to evaporate the water from the fabrics, allowing them to dry without the application of additional heat.

The result? A drying process that is gentle on your clothing, and not to mention, using less energy that would make a significant reduction to your electricity bill. 

What’s The Difference Between Air Dry And Spin Dry?

Air drying and spin drying are both methods used to remove moisture from clothes, but they do so in quite different ways. 

Spin drying uses centrifugal force to expel water from the clothes by rapidly spinning them in the washer drum. This method is very effective at removing a significant amount of moisture but does not necessarily leave the clothes completely dry. 

top loading washing machine drum

On the other hand, air drying does not rely on spinning but uses air flow to gradually remove moisture. This is gentler on clothes and reduces the risk of damage and wear.

DID YOU KNOW? Air Dry cycles tend to be longer (usually around 1-2 hours) since it doesn’t use heat to expedite the water to evaporate. 

The Pros And Cons Of The Air Dry Setting On A Washer

Now that you know what the Air Dry feature is, it’s okay to wonder whether it’s worth the try. 

If you’re still in doubt, let us tell you its pros and cons and you decide whether it’s a good fit for your needs and preferences. 

Advantages Of Air Dry Setting

Here are the main advantages of using this feature:

Gentle On Clothes 

Air drying is much gentler on clothes, reducing the risk of shrinking and excessive wear. If you want your clothes to last a longer time, the air dry feature is one you should definitely try. 

Energy Efficiency

It uses less energy since there’s no need to heat the air, making it more environmentally friendly. If you’re concerned about your ecological footprint, the air dry setting will be your go-to option. 

Great For Specific Fabrics

Ideal for delicate fabrics such as silk, wool, and synthetics that can degrade or get damaged under high temperatures. If you mainly own clothes that are made with delicate fabrics, using the air dry feature would be very efficient. 

Disadvantages Of Air Dry Setting

Of course, the positives come with a few negatives. Here are the disadvantages of using this feature: 


Air drying takes longer than traditional drying methods. Since it doesn’t use heat, you cannot expect it to work as quickly as tumble drying which efficiently removes excess moisture. 

Less Effective for Heavy Fabrics

Thicker materials like towels will not dry as effectively with air drying. If you have to wash a duvet or comforter, use the spin dry option instead. 

Leaves More Wrinkles 

Since the air dry feature does not use heat, it will not remove the creases or wrinkles on your fabric compared to using heat. 

How To Use The Air Dry Setting On Different Washing Machines

Using the air dry setting can vary slightly between different models and brands of washing machines. Here’s a general guide on how to use this feature:

  1. Check the care label – Ensure that your garments are suitable for air drying. Some fabrics are sensitive and may not do well when air dried. 
  2. Select the air dry setting – Use the machine’s control panel to choose the air dry cycle. This might be labelled differently depending on the brand, like “air fluff” or “no heat”.
  3. Load the machine – Place clothes loosely in the drum to allow air to circulate effectively.
  4. Adjust the settings if necessary – Some machines allow you to adjust the duration of the air dry cycle. Choose a longer cycle for thicker fabrics.
  5. Start the cycle – Begin the cycle and allow it to run until it’s done. Check the clothes for any remaining dampness and repeat if necessary.

Remember, each brand of washing machine might have specific instructions or additional features associated with the air dry cycle, so it’s best to read your washer’s user manual for accurate details. 

Air Drying Vs. Line Drying – Which Is Better?

And there you have it: When used properly, the air dry feature can certainly make a difference to your laundry sessions. However, if you have to choose between air drying and line drying, which one is better? 

White clothes on clothes line

Air drying and line drying are energy-efficient ways to remove moisture from your fabrics. However, while both air drying in a machine and line drying involve drying clothes at room temperature, they differ in a lot of ways: 

  • Convenience – Air drying in a machine is more straightforward and less labour-intensive compared to hanging each item on a line.
  • Space – Line drying requires sufficient outdoor space or proper indoor drying racks, whereas air drying can be done entirely within the machine.
  • Weather Dependency – Line drying can be affected by weather conditions, while air drying in a washer is not influenced by external weather. Feel free to do your laundry whenever!
  • Fabric Softness – Some people find that line-dried clothes can feel stiffer compared to air-dried clothes from a machine. 

While Air Dry is a fantastic feature, it’s not a 100% good substitute for line drying, especially if you live in an area with sunny or windy days. 

Line drying outdoors not only provides the benefits of ultraviolet light, which has natural disinfecting properties, but it also gives your clothes a fresh, natural scent. However, for those living in apartments or in areas with fickle weather (hello, UK!), the air dry setting is a convenient alternative. 

Do you have questions? Feel free to leave a comment below!

SEE ALSO: What Are The Benefits Of Drying Clothes In The Sun?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the air dry mode in a washing machine?

The air dry mode in a washing machine is a feature that uses a stream of room-temperature air to remove excess moisture from clothes by circulating it throughout the garments as the drum rotates, without applying heat.

Is the air dry setting on washing machines good?

Yes, the air dry setting on washing machines is good as it is gentle on clothes, energy-efficient, and suitable for delicate fabrics that may be damaged by high temperatures.

What are the disadvantages of the air dry setting on a washing machine?

The disadvantages of the air dry setting on a washing machine include it being more time-consuming than heat-based drying methods, less effective for heavy fabrics like towels, and it may leave more wrinkles in clothes since it doesn’t use heat to remove creases.

How long does the air dry setting on a washer run?

The air dry setting on a washer typically runs for about 1-2 hours, as it does not use heat to expedite the water evaporation process.

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